The Thrifty Kitchen

These Frugal discoveries are simple, easy frugal lifestyle solutions, ideas and thoughts I have collected over time.

Often when I discover new frugal living ideas, I get that "ah, of course, why didn't I think of that!" feeling.

You'll see what I mean when you read further.


  • Left-over tomato puree

    Once opened, freeze the large tin of tomato puree. Once frozen, place the tin in boiling water to melt the outer layer, then slide it out of the tin onto a plate. Cut it into slices, depending on the amount you'll use for stews and sauces and refreeze again.

  • Too many fresh tomatoes

    Freeze them - here's how:

    Cut a cross shape on top of the tomato skin and place the tomatoes in a bowl. Pour boiling water over them and leave the tomatoes in the boiled water for a few minutes. Transfer the tomatoes into iced water and pull the skin off.

    Place the tomatoes in freezer bags and freeze them - now you can take them out as and when you need to add tomatoes to a stew or a pasta dish.

    Make Tomato Sauce

    This also makes an excellent frugal gift .

    Pour your home-made tomato sauce into a pretty glass bottle, stick a personalised label on it and give it to a friend as a gift.

    5kg ripe tomatoes (stem and skins removed)

    2 onions, finely chopped

    25ml fresh, crushed garlic

    4 finely chopped, large green, red or yellow peppers

    5 bay leaves

    30ml salt

    5ml nutmeg

    1 tbsp cinnamon

    1 tbsp mustard powder

    2 cups white grape vinegar or apple cider vinegar

    250ml sugar

    Place the tomatoes, onions, garlic and peppers in a food processor, once pureed, place the pulp in a deep saucepan and cook it over a low heat for approximately 1 hour. Press the mixture through a sieve and discard whatever did not go through the sieve.

    Return the mixture to the saucepan and add the vinegar, sugar, salt, bay leaves, nutmeg, cinnamon and mustard powder. Bring it to a boil, reduce the heat and stir it regularly until it has lost about a third of its volume and until the mixture has thickened (approximately 25 minutes).

    Leave it to cool a bit before pouring it into sterilised bottles. Lightly bang the bottles on a solid surface, to remove any bubbles and close the lids tightly.

    Make sundried tomatoes

    Sundried tomatoes are an acquired taste. So if you love adding it to salads and pasta dishes, then these marinated ovendried tomatoes are just up your ally:

    About 10 large tomatoes

    Olive oil

    white vinegar or white balsamic vinegar

    garlic cloves

    fresh home-grown oregano or rosemary

    Black Peppercorns

    Cut the tomatoes into quarters, season with salt and place them on a baking tray lined with wax paper. Put your oven on a low heat (approximately 100 deg C) and slowly bake the tomatoes until they have dried out completely - it is important that the tomatoes are completely dry (approximately 10 hours). Leave them to cool and put the tomatoes in a few clean jars, add the garlic, herbs and peppercorns and top it up with 2/3rds Olive oil and 1/3rd vinegar. Leave it for a few days and then use it as you wish.

  • Bread

    Bread definitely forms part of our Frugal lifestyle. It is affordable and can be used in many tasty recipes, as a meal on its own and also a filler after breakfast, lunch and dinner. My family knows, there are no seconds - I make enough for one serving each. If they are still hungry, then they may have some bread.

    For a meal on its own, try these delicious toast toppings:


    oil for cooking

    1 packet of vienna sausages, roughly chopped

    1 tin of tomato and onion mix

    1 tin of baked beans

    1 tsp of sugar

    A few fresh home-grown basil leaves

    1 tbsp fresh home-grown parsley

    Heat a bit of oil in a casserole dish and cook the vienna sausages for approximately 5 minutes, turning regularly.

    Add the tomato and onion mix and cook for a further 5 minutes.

    Add the baked beans and herbs, lower the heat and cook for another 10 minutes.

    Serve it on toast brushed with garlic butter.


    1.5 cups Grated cheddar cheese

    3 tbsp Mayonnaise

    1 packet of fried bacon bits

    1.5 cups Cheese and onion flavoured potato crisps, crushed

    Mix all the ingredients together and spread it on toast. Place the bread under a grill for a few minutes to melt the cheese.

  • Other toast topping suggestions:

    - Tuna, grated cheese, chopped onion and tomato

    - Savoury minced meat

    _ Poached egg, ham, mild mustard and thick cheese sauce

    - Left-over potato salad, fried in a bit of oil with bacon bits

    Left Over Bread

  • Serving yesterday's bread

    To revive yesterday's loaf or bread rolls, sprinkle it with a little bit of water, wrap it in kitchen foil and place it in a hot oven for 7 -10 minutes OR put it in the microwave on high for about 1 minute.


    Make French toast

    My husband has fond memories of his mom's special eggy bread. This is a family favourite, delicious with cinnamon sugar or syrup.

    4 Eggs 250ml milk

    salt and pepper 8 x 2" slices of bread or 4 thick slices

    1/2 tsp baking powder 50ml butter / margarine

    Beat the eggs and add it to the milk, add the baking powder and season to taste. Mix well. Dip the bread slices into the egg mixture and fry in melted butter until golden brown on both sides. Serves 4

    Make pastry shells

    Here's a clever idea. Make these pastry shells and fill them with a savoury or sweet filling. These will impress your guests!

    Place your leftover bread slices between two sheets of wax paper and roll it flat. Spread some margarine on both sides of the bread and push it into cupcake trays. Bake it at 180C for about 15 minutes. Let it cool down and store it in an airtight container. It can also be frozen - Once thawed, reheat it again slightly and add your filling as required.

    Filling suggestions:

    - Tuna, chopped onion and mayonnaise

    - Crispy bacon bits and cream cheese

    - Crispy bacon, cooked onion mixed into a thick cheese sauce


    Savoury minced meat

    - Tinned caramel, topped with whipped cream

    - Chocolate mousse

  • Make bread crumbs

    You can also turn old bread into bread crumbs while you're busy cooking something else in the oven. Place the bread in the oven until crisp, remove it and let it cool down a bit before crushing it with a rolling pin. Store the crumbs in an airtight container and use it to coat meat, chicken or fish.

    OR make:


    1 cup dried bread crumbs

    1 cup grated chedder cheese

    Salt and pepper to taste

    5ml dried mixed herbs or 1/2 a tablespoon chopped fresh, home-grown parsley 3 large eggs

    Mix all the ingredients together and add spoonfuls of it to your favourite vegetable soup or meaty broth. Cook it over medium heat for about 5 minutes or until the dumplings have risen and are cooked through.

    Serve it warm with a bowl of your delicious homemade soup .

    Crumbly brocolli

    1 cooked, deboned chicken

    1/2 a packet of frozen brocolli florets or 500g fresh brocolli

    1 tin cream of mushroom soup or cream of chicken soup

    1 generous cup of dried bread crumbs

    1 cup mayonnaise

    fresh lemon juice of half a lemon

    1 tsp each of dried mustard powder and curry powder

    2 Tbsp margarine

    1 cup grated cheddar cheese

    Place the chicken meat and brocolli in an oven proof casserole dish. Mix the mayonnaise, soup, mustard, curry and lemon juice together and pour this over the chicken. Sprinkle with the dried bread crumbs and cheese and dot the top with the margarine. Bake it at 180 C for about 40 minutes and enjoy!


    Fill an egg cup with vanilla essence or with bicarbonate of soda or place half a lemon in the back of your fridge to absorb those nasty food odours.


    To remove stains on your pots and pans, fill the pots with water covering the discoloured area, add apple peels and bring to a boil.


    To tighten pot lid screws or the screws on kitchen cabinets, paint some clear nail varnish on the screw threads, screw it back in tightly, allow it to dry and use as normal.


    To create more space on your kitchen work surface while cooking or baking off a recipe, take a skirt hanger and clip your recipe book onto it. Then hang your recipe book from one of your kitchen cupboard doors.


    Twist an A4 size piece of paper into a cone shape, and place it into the mouth of the bottle you need to transfer dry ingredients into.

    Or better yet, cut an envelope in half and then cut the one corner off - voila an instant funnel.

    To pour some old car oil into a bottle, my husband usually cuts the top end of a 2 litre soda bottle and then cleverly uses that as a funnel.

Most times you find thrifty ideas were right before your eyes and also more often than not, quite simple.

If you enjoyed these ideas, then also take a look at these

Frugal Discoveries

and these

Thrifty Bathroom ideas

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