Little changes can add up over time.

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Welcome to Thrifty. A weekly column where assistant nutrition editor and registered dietitian, Jessica Ball, keeps it real on how to grocery shop on a budget, make healthy meals for one or two, and make earth-friendly choices without overhauling your entire life.

There is a common misconception that eating healthy and leading a healthy lifestyle is expensive, but that doesn't always have to be the case. There are plenty of little changes you can make that add up to big savings. As a dietitian on a budget, I love spending time in the kitchen and cooking (and eating!), but it's equally important to me to save where I can. From how you clean your dishes to the settings on your appliances, a little planning and mindfulness can help you follow a healthy lifestyle without breaking the bank. 

A sponge being cut in half by scissors
Credit: Getty Images / Kurt Brodbeck / EyeEm / Chimpinski

5 Simple Ways to Save Money in the Kitchen 

Here are a few of my favorite small changes that lead to big savings over time.  

1. Cut Sponges in Half

Our test kitchen manager, Breana Killeen, M.P.H., RD, inspired me with this incredible trick to keep your kitchen sponges germ-free. Instead of using a whole sponge at a time, Killeen cuts them in half. Not only does this reduce waste, but also it helps your sponges last twice as long so you have to restock less frequently. Sponges can carry a lot of germs, and should be replaced at least once a week. This trick will help keep your dishes germ-free without breaking the bank. 

2. Go Reusable 

Say goodbye to paper towels, plastic bags, cling wraps and other single use items. Opting for reusable towels, bags and wraps instead is better for the environment and will stop you from having to spend money frequently restocking. At EatingWell, we love our Stasher Bags and Bee's Wrap. These 24 reusable dish towels are only $14.68 at Walmart right now. Plus, once they are dirty, you can toss them in the dishwasher with the rest of your laundry. 

24 Pack Kitchen Dishcloths
$14.68
SHOP IT
Walmart

3. Store Foods Correctly 

The average family of four wastes roughly $1,800 worth of food each year. Cutting down on food waste is one of the best ways to save money. Storing food correctly helps it last as long as possible. This means less food getting thrown away and less money wasted. Check out our guide on how to best store foods like meat, bread, dairy, produce and more. Storage is especially important for perishable foods like fruits and vegetables, so a little research can go a long way to save you money. 

4. Eat From the Pantry 

There are several ingredients worth keeping your pantry stocked with so you can have easy dinners on a whim. Things like canned tuna, beans, grains and canned tomatoes can help you pull together a meal without a trip to the grocery store. Plus, shelf stable foods last a long time and won't take up space in your fridge or freezer. Whether you are trying to save time or save money (or both), we have lots of inspiration for easy pantry dinners that are delicious, nutritious and filling. You can even build a healthy meal with only 3 ingredients—it doesn't get more cost effective than that. 

5. Be Mindful with Appliances 

Being conscious of how you use your appliances can help you cut down on water and energy use, which saves you money and is better for the planet. Simple things like turning off the water while you lather up your dishes or unplugging things that aren't in use can add up over time. For more energy savings, skip the "heated dry" function on your dishwasher and let things air dry. As a bonus, it can help prevent your tools from getting worn down, warped or damaged.

Bottom Line 

Eating healthy and keeping your kitchen clean doesn't have to be expensive. Simple tips like keeping a well-stocked pantry and correctly storing your foods can help you eat healthy without overspending. With a little planning, you can save money in the kitchen and be healthy on any budget.