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In the Kitchen, Time Really Does = Money

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A father and a young child cooking in the kitchen.

I read a blog post the other day that offered two dozen suggestions of ways to save money on food. The post mentioned a host of suggestions about shopping, cooking, using coupons, and more.

Looking over that list, I saw lots of good, common-sense ideas. But as I read it over, it occurred to me that several of the sensible suggestions really were variations on a theme. The basic point was this: In the kitchen, time really does = money.

As food moves from the farm to the supermarket, costs are added at each step along the way. These costs always get passed along to the consumer.

Most of the cost of the food we buy is added in the way items are packaged for sale. Think about it. Items that are pre-cooked, pre-cut, pre-sliced, pre-washed, pre-frozen and pre-packaged naturally add to the cost of purchase.

The solution? Cook more from scratch. It’s not a surprise that cooking from scratch saves money. The problem is that it takes more time than most of us are willing to invest.

I’m a guy who cooks. And I’ll be the first to admit that even though the idea of cooking more from scratch has always appealed to me, I’m not there yet. For me, sometimes convenience still wins out.

Yet I know that the people who commit to cooking from scratch find ways to stretch their food dollars even further than I would have imagined. They bake a chicken, and then make their own broth for soup from the bones and leftover vegetables in the fridge. They buy (or grow their own) vegetables or fruits in bulk, and then freeze or preserve the items for later. They make their own breads and even pasta, and enjoy the satisfaction of every luscious bite.

Does it take more time? Definitely. But for many who make the commitment, the upside is worth it. It leads to more time doing the things they truly love. And when they sit down to a meal, they know better than anyone exactly what is in their food, where it came from, and what it took to get it on the table.