Buying in bulk is key for us. I keep a very large pantry, as well. Mine is in the basement, with lots of space so I have about 1/2 as much again as Mama and much of it is home canned, home made mixes. I also do not use commercial mixes like bisquick and taco seasoning because we eat all-natural, but I make them myself to keep on hand. Most everything is stored in glass jars, mostly mason jars, but also large hermetically-sealed jars for things like pasta. My bulk beans and rice are stored in 5 gallon food-grade buckets.
I garden when we are living in the US. I put in a spring, summer, and fall garden and put up what we can't eat fresh. I love my All-American canner and my dehydrator. They save us a lot of money.
I buy our meat in bulk - we have a farmer friend that we purchase a side of beef and pork from once a year. They charge us only the market price for the on-the-hoof beef the day it is butchered. With processing, it cost us less than $1.85/lb for our beef.
We have gotten rid of all plastic and paper in our kitchen (our daily dishes are Corelleware, we use cloth napkins, and dd is now old enough to drink from real glasses). I put leftovers into Pyrex dishes (which, actually have plastic lids, so we use plastic there). It's nice that we have more recycling than trash that we leave at the curb each week. We keep a large bag of rags from old clothes, sewing remnants, etc. for kitchen use. I also have sewn velcro-topped bags to use instead of zip top bags and have Wrap-n-mats
for sandwiches. I have made my own as well - they are super easy if you can even barely sew.
Making everything from scratch is also a big $$ saver. As I said, I make my own mixes (love the Make a Mix cookbook
) and convenience food. For example, in my freezer, I have 20 premade frozen burritos. I fill tortillas with refried beans (homemade), beef and some cheese (grated myself to save $$). Roll them up and IQF. Then I can put them in a container in the freezer and grab one at a time to bake for a quick lunch or snack. You can do this with most any convenience food: make your own granola bars, snack cakes, biscuit sandwiches, etc. I also premake whole wheat waffles, ww pancakes and ww french toast and freeze them for a quick and healthy breakfast out of the toaster oven. I make up a large batch of macaroni and cheese and freeze these in small pyrex dishes for individual portions. I did a cost analysis of this: my all-natural ww homemade mac and cheese is 36 cents per serving using good Tilamook cheese, 24 cents per serving using store-brand all-natural cheese, and the boxed stuff (highly processed with lots of artificial preservatives and additives) is 33 cents per serving.
I just got a new grain grinder, so I will soon be buying whole wheat berries and grinding my own flour. That will be a saver, too.
I love saving in the kitchen!