Cutting the budget is not just a problem in the District of Columbia, but can be a challenge at home, too. It’s impossible to make budget saving choices without all the facts before you. The following tips are meant to help you understand the energy cost associated with various appliances in the kitchen, but cannot be perfectly accurate since cost also depends on your local utility rates and also the wattage and age of your appliances. Just use this as a guide to help you determine which appliance to use under certain circumstances.

A few tips:

  • When you cook on the stovetop always use a lid. When you use a lid you are able to cook faster and turn down the temperature, saving money.
  • When cooking in the oven, fill it up. Prepare everything for one meal in the oven to get the best bang for your energy buck.
  • Prepare ahead.  Consider fixing a second meal for the freezer when preparing casseroles. Save money now by filling that oven, and later when you have a meal you prepared in advance.
  • Eliminate that trip for fast food. Once food is cooked it can be very inexpensively reheated.
  • Only preheat if you are doing baked goods. If baking a cake or bread, it is important that the oven be hot when the product goes in. For everything else, the oven doesn’t need to be preheated if the cooking time is more than 15 minutes.
    • Quit peeking! Every time you open the oven, the temperature drops 25 to 50 degrees and more fuel needs to be used to bring it up to temperature, causing you to bake your item longer adding even more cost.

What does food prep really cost?

  • A small burner is 18 cents per hour, and a large burner double that amount.
  • An electric skillet takes only 14.4 cents per hour.
  • A microwave oven – between 24 and 29 cents per hour.
  • A slow cooker: 2.4 cents an hour.
  • A large oven: 43 cents per hour.
  • Toaster oven: 13 cents per hour.
  • Blender: 8.4 cents per hour
  • Coffee pot: 11 cents per hour
  • Dishwasher: 43 cents per hour
  • Toaster: 11 cents per hour

Think about it:

A small burner on your stove top costs 18 cents per hour, a large burner 36 cents per hour and an electric skillet only 14 cents per hour. A skillet is also usually larger and you can cook more food at the same time, further reducing the amount of time it would take to cook the same foods on a stove… so next time you prepare pancakes and eggs, make them at the same time on a skillet.

Again, a small burner, 18 cents, a large burner, 36 cents, and a microwave 24-29 cents per hour. It may seem logical to use the burner but consider the length of time you will need to prepare the food. It takes just a few seconds to melt chocolate in the microwave and several minutes using a double boiler on the stovetop. If the time is about the same or the microwave does not reduce the time by half, the stovetop is the better choice.

A slow cooker costs only 2.4 cents an hour.  You will cook longer in the slow cooker, 6 to 8 hours. It would cost you 14.4 cents for 6 hours in a crock pot, while it would cost 18 cents for  just a half hour on the range. If you were using more than one burner to cook the same foods as the crock pot, it would cost you 27-38 cents for a half hour on the stove.

Saving on food:

Cereal can be a great bargain food when purchased on sale but it has limited nutritional value and is much more expensive than hot cereals. I am a realist however, and understand that cold cereal is a must in most homes. In our home, our daughter and her dad would much rather eat a bowl of cereal as a snack than just about anything else. So how do you save?

It’s often cheaper to buy the smaller boxes of cereal, so compare. Last week our national pharmacy store had cereal for $1.29 a box. They were small boxes but still much cheaper than purchasing the larger size at the grocery store.

Bagged cereals are also a great buy. Always check these and compare the prices before purchasing. 

Check the bottom shelf and the top shelf in the grocery aisle, no matter what you are purchasing. The aisle at eye level usually houses the most expensive items. There are off brand cereals that imitate the name brands, so try them, you may find they are just as good.Combine cereals. If your family loves frosted corn flakes or frosted mini wheats, for example, purchase one box and then a box of the cheapest unfrosted variety and combine them. This not only saves money but cuts down on the sugar intake. This works great for raisin bran and bran flakes also. You really don’t need a raisin in every bite.

A few more breakfast ideas:

Cut bacon strips in half before cooking. Everyone will feel they had a special treat and again you will save money as well as calories and fat. Wrap the other half and freeze for next time.

If you want sausage with your eggs, cook half the amount you normally make and cut them into bite sized pieces. Add to your scrambled eggs and no one will ever know you used less. Again, you’ve saved money and your breakfast has been just as exciting with half the fat and calories.

Don’t waste your money on packages of instant oatmeal. I know kids love these, so make your own. You can make several varieties by altering the dried fruits and sweeteners you add. You can substitute brown sugar with cinnamon and sugar. Add raisins, dried cranberries, dried apricots, etc. For a great recipe check it out on the Totally Ready blog.

Eat more eggs. They are a very inexpensive breakfast food and provide a great source of protein. They are quick and easy to prepare and make a great inexpensive dinner as well.

March is Frozen Foods Month:

This is a great time to stock up if you have room in your freezer!  Always read your weekly store flyers so you’ll know when the sales are in progress.,

The store brand waffles are always great, sometimes even better than the famous name brand. It is still cheaper to make your own from scratch but if you see them on sale this month you may want to get a few. When I make waffles I always make more than we can eat and freeze the leftovers for a quick breakfast or dessert treat.

Store-brand frozen vegetables are great. Vegetables will keep in the freezer up to a year.

Don’t pay extra for frozen veggies with melted cheese.  Purchase your own cheese and add a little yourself to your veggies as you heat them.

Making just a few simple changes can make a big difference to your bottom line.

Keep working on your three month supply:

Week 1: Feb. 17th 6 lbs. Grains

Week 2: Feb. 24th Herbal tea and Ginger Ale*

Week 3: March 3rd 10 Cans Vegetables

Week 4: March 10th 5 lbs. Protein

Week 5: March 17th 6 Cans Fruit

Wekk 6: March 24th 3 bottles 100% Fruit juice

Week 7: March 31st 1 lb. Yeast and 1 lb. Salt*


All items are stored per person

* Total amount, not per person

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