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A frugal kitchen has a food dehydrator

9 ways this appliance can save you money

By Karen Datko Sep 16, 2009 2:21PM

This post comes from Alex Wayne at partner blog Wise Bread.


Looking for more money-saving ideas during these tough economic times? Dig that food dehydrator out of storage. This is a frugal living tip that almost everyone can act on. Just by reducing or eliminating food waste, you can save quite a bit of money.


Don't have a dehydrator? These days, you can buy a brand new one for less than the cost of a PlayStation game. Or, visit the flea market or yard sales around the neighborhood. Still can't find one? Try Craigslist. Don't have any money for another kitchen appliance? Alton Brown will show you how to make one.

Bing: Choosing a food dehydrator

Here are nine ways a dehydrator can help you stretch your budget:


Cut down on wasted food. Americans waste $30 billion worth of food every year. With an electric or solar dehydrator at home, you can preserve the excess and prevent it from going into the garbage. Before I started drying food regularly, I must have lost at least 10% of my fruits and vegetable to spoilage every month. Are you keeping track of how much food you don't get to use?


Buy groceries in bulk. It's often cheaper to buy groceries in bulk, but it's counterproductive if you can't use all the food. With a dehydrator, you don't have to worry about that because you can dehydrate leftovers and store them for several months.


Go vegetarian or vegan for a short time or forever. One of the healthiest things you can do for yourself is reduce the amount of animal products in your diet. And, if you do that, you'll have a less expensive grocery bill too because meats are often the priciest item in the shopping cart. The health benefits and supermarket savings have an even greater effect if you're feeding a large family.


Start an organic herb and/or vegetable garden in your backyard. If you can grow some of your own food, you'll realize a big savings at the market. Besides lowering your bill, you'll actually be producing tastier and more nutritious herbs and vegetables because you can avoid the nasty, poisonous chemicals used in mass farming. Obviously, you don't need a dehydrator to start a garden, but if you know your efforts won't go to waste, you'll be more likely to do it. Having dried herbs, fruits or vegetables in stock encourages healthy cooking and eating.


Freshen up the house with homemade potpourri. Another fantastic way to use up your excess harvest is to make potpourri. By combining fruits, flowers and essential oils, you can add a pleasant fragrance to your home.


Stop buying candy. Since getting my dehydrator, I've cut my candy budget down to almost zero. Instead of munching on unhealthy, sugary candies like Red Vines and jelly beans, I snack on fruit leathers and dried fruit. Removing the water concentrates the natural sugar in the homemade "candies" so they'll satisfy even your strongest cravings for sweets.


It's a jerky machine. If you like to buy your jerky at the market, you know it's pretty expensive. It's just meat without the water. You can do that at home, and I think it's the main reason people buy food dehydrators. Of all the dehydrator recipes online, the most common are the jerky varieties. With a dehydrator at home, you can experiment. Instead of beef, how about trying venison, turkey, fish, or even tofu jerky?


You can make homemade treats and present them as gifts. My favorite gifts during the holidays are usually the handmade/homemade food and crafts. I like to make bags of banana chips and berries to give away. You can make beef jerky or other goodies and save money by not having to buy things. Just about every dehydrator recipe is a frugal recipe. This is truly budget cooking. Create personalized gift baskets or bags of dried fruit or meat with your dehydrator.


Save money on medical expenses and overall spending. It's easier to eat healthy if you have healthy food around. With a dehydrator, you can make snacks and main dishes without added fat and sugar. If you have a bag of wholesome apple chips, you're more likely to choose that over a bag of unhealthy potato chips. And, with a healthier body, you'll require fewer doctor visits and hospital trips. In turn, you'll get healthier and spend less.


So much of our budget goes toward the food we eat and don't eat. Having a food dehydrator in the kitchen will help you bring that expense down. Americans waste 40% of the food made for consumption. How much are you contributing to that figure? Considering you can get a decent dehydrator for less than $50, I'm certain it'll pay for itself in a matter of months, if not weeks. Add the heath benefits of eating well, and your food dehydrator can save your life.


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