7 Ways to Save Money Cooking & Have Fun


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save money cooking, 7 ways to do just that

I don’t know who doesn’t want to save money cooking and have a great time! I certainly do. Check out these 7 tips, which include apps to download, ways to save money on groceries, tools to pair drinks with meals, and ways to learn how to cook without breaking the bank. Again, though, you should still be able to eat like a foodie and enjoy yourself, while living on a frugal budget. Stay tuned – we’ll show you how!

Coupons to Save Money on Cooking

1. Duh… Coupons!

There are a million places to get coupons these days. There are printable ones, virtual and electronic coupons, cash back options, rewards programs. Ack… who has time for all of that?! We do. Why? Because it’s fun and challenging to see how much money we can save. Use coupons.com to print valuable coupons that can land you free grocery items and pair that with ibotta, Target printables, free weekly item at Kroger, and SavingStar. Also, I know you guys visit the mommy blogs that tell you where to get freebies with Smart Source or Red Plum inserts that come in the Sunday paper – well, pick these coupons up for super cheap online and get them overnight, buy individual coupons if you know exactly what you want (I recommend this), or find 25 ways to get them free so that you can get 10 free items instead of just one!

Recipes by Main Ingredient

2. Ready Set Eat

Choose your main ingredient from types of meats all the way to vegetarian. You’ll notice a vegetarian example in the image above, as I’m veggie. These recipes are super to make, fast, and full of colorful pictures – many recipes you probably haven’t seen before. And the other fun part is that you can click the “find ingredients on sale” by zip code option and see where you can find everything for the best price! It doesn’t always work, but it’s a great way to spot where you can get stuff.

grocery king app

3.  Grocery Pal & Grocery King Apps

Grocery Pal (available on iPhone) will allow you to easily make grocery lists, check sales in all local stores, and print coupons right from the app, including the ability to add the items to your digital list. I wish the app would tell you where to buy what you have on your list, but it doesn’t see to make that wish come true for me! Grocery King on the other hand (available on both iPhone & Android), has a visual item catalog, which helps you see everything you need visually and if you pay them roughly a dollar a month for a subscription, they’ll even tell you where to buy your groceries for the best deal. Plus, plus, plus… with a free account, you can easily add recipes which will sync to your lists as you see fit. So far, Grocery King wins by a LONG SHOT! If you’re going to download one, definitely make it this one.

side chef app

4. Side Chef

Don’t know how to cook?! No problem. Side Chef, the app (available on iPhone and Android) to the rescue. Explore a new recipe each day on the homepage of the app and check out over 2,500 step-by-step recipes, curated and original. This app appears to be geared toward people who like lots of meat and need instructions (there are audio instructions and timers built into the app, for example). What’s great too is that there are photos of every step of the way, so you really can’t go wrong.

Potluck Recipes

5. Easy Potluck Recipes

45 of them, in fact! I looked for this list because potlucks are fun and all, but you really have to have an idea of what to make without breaking the bank. These are genuinely easy to make, inexpensive, fun, and will make you the popular one. 😉 Personally, I love the homemade cheese dips and such – they are always so tasty and who doesn’t like cheese?

Wine to Match Your Food

6. Use Wine to Match Tool or App

This is an older website, but it still works brilliantly, especially on a laptop or desktop (might be a bit difficult to navigate on a mobile device, but there’s also a mobile app for iPhone!). Choose the best wine for your meal, based on cuisine, main ingredients, flavor profile, etc. It gives you a tag cloud of the best wine choices and then links you to places you can buy them. I don’t know how much smarter you can get than this – and you just might learn about some new varietals or local blends along the way.

Cocktail Flow

7. Find Your Cocktail Flow

I’m not the greatest at making drinks or even knowing what to make! But, with this tool / website / mixology at Cocktail Flow, you’re in good hands. The website is optimized for mobile and they have an app too. You’ll never need another website, tool, or cookbook for making drinks. Why not mix a drink while you’re cooking or entertaining?

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I started Free Mania in 1997 as a teenager in small town Oregon. More than 15 years later, I'm proud that you continue to visit and that I can still help people save money, have fun, and take advantage of the free stuff that companies offer us. Today, I'm still an avid couponer, product sample queen, and deal hunter living in San Francisco, CA.