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10 Ways to Save Money with a Food Dehydrator

Are you looking for more ways to save money in the kitchen? Using your food dehydrator can help stop waste, save money, and stock your pantry with essentials at today’s prices! No more waste — and more money in your pocket!

Slices of oranges being dried in an Excalibur Dehydrator on a kitchen counter. A jar filled with dried orange slices and a knife with a cloth are next to the dehydrator.

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In the United States, people waste 92 billion pounds of food annually, equal to 145 billion meals. They throw away over $473 billion worth of food annually. Shockingly, they waste 38% of all the food in America. (Source: Feeding America) Then, think about how that translates to worldwide numbers.

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How much of that food do you waste with vegetables and fruit that are going bad in your fridge right now, that you might throw out when it’s time to do another grocery store trip. How might you save that food and money for the long term?

Tips to Save More Money by Dehydrating Food!

1. Stops Waste

Food waste is a huge problem in the world today. Those fruits and vegetables that you purchased this week expecting to use them, but didn’t. Don’t toss them – dehydrate them so that you can save them for another day down the road.

Don’t toss the half-cut onion or celery in the crisper drawer hoping you’ll come back to it in a few days to use. If you’re not going to use it, you can freeze it (and yes, use it from frozen if you remember it). Then when you’re ready, you can dehydrate a whole machine full, or add a tray to something you’re already dehydrating.

Or maybe you bought a bag of oranges and you or your family have not eaten them quickly enough. Slice and dry them for a great snack that can also make a great item for gift-giving.

Buying bags of greens with every intention of salads, but find you just can’t eat it fast enough? Make green powder from them to save that money and boost nutrition later if you create green powder with them!

2. Save on sales by buying in bulk

When you find that food, it is often on a seasonal sale, such as zucchini, you can buy in bulk, and preserve it. If you’re not already growing it, buy as much as you can process in a few days at that sale price. Dehydrate using one of these 8 ways to dehydrate zucchini, then store it in your pantry.

I also take advantage of clearance fruits and vegetables when I see them at the store. Others have the Flash Food App that alerts them for local bulk options on food that is going to be discarded.

“Eat for today’s prices tomorrow!”

The next time you use zucchini and the price is extraordinary, you have it already tucked away in your pantry and you can use yesterday’s price to save today!

This also works for those of you growing a garden. It can feel daunting to have everything come in at once, but preserving now can save you tons of money in the winter when things are at higher prices or less nutritious because they’ve traveled farther to have on the supermarket shelves.

3. Stop Buying Ultra-Processed Snacks

Dehydrating can’t replace all those snacks that you might buy from the grocery store, but it can replace many!

  • Fruit leather that is more nutritious than most of what is found on the store shelves. Bonus when you make it from last year’s fruit or fruit you found on sale or on clearance. I have a very simple fruit leather that tastes great and requires no prep for the cost of a $2 jar of unsweetened applesauce and some cinnamon.
  • Trail Mix – from homemade granola to homemade dried fruit to soaked and dried nuts and seeds (more nutritionally available to your body
  • Dried Fruit Snacks – the cost of a small bag of dried apples is approximately $4.35 at my local grocery store now for 3 oz of dried apple rings. That is the cost of a 3 lb bag of Fuji apples that make wonderful dried apple rings. The bonus is that you’ll have a whole dehydrator full that is much more than just 3 ounces finished!

4. Make Your Own at a Fraction of the Cost

We talked about ultra-processed snacks, but even basics have become a pricey convenience at the store. You can make so much of what we purchase at home and save a lot of money – plus a bit of our healthy with the things that contain ingredients we really don’t want to feed to our families.

  • Instant Oatmeal Packets – these are usually very high in sugar and can be done so much less expensively at home. You probably already have the oatmeal, and with the help of homemade dried fruits plus a little non-fat dried milk, you can create many varieties of instant oatmeal for a fraction of the cost. And using those fruits that you are about to throw out makes this a no-waste project!
  • Seasoning packets. You can make bulk of your own seasoning packets for a fraction of the cost of herb blends, herb salts, taco seasonings, salad dressings, etc. Most of the dried products in them can be done at home easily from scraps that build up over time! And they don’t have to cost a bundle like the store!
  • Cream of Whatever Soup Mix. While this isn’t mostly dehydrated, it’s easy to create your own and use dehydrated foods for the seasonings and to mix it up.
A Nesco dehydrator on a kitchen counter, surrounded by five mason jars filled with various dried fruits and vegetables.

5. Stop Quick, Expensive Trips to the Store

Face it. Sometimes, you make a quick trip to the store to pick up celery and onions for dinner and end up spending $50 more on what should have been a $5 trip at the most. Learning to dry the leftovers of meal prep to use another day saves money on waste and saves you future money by not going to the grocery store again, plus the gas it took to get there.

Or maybe you stop in to buy a quick and easy meal for the night and easily spend 2-3x what that meal might have cost for convenience. But if you’d had some meals in a jar prepared at home, you could have dinner ready in 30 minutes with very little hands-on prep. That saves you time to do whatever else you need to be doing at that moment!

This also applies if you live in environments where traveling during the winter can be hazardous or if you live very far away from a grocery store.

6. Feed Your Pets and Livestock for Less

Not only can you feed your pets snacks that are more nutritious and much less expensive than the snacks you get at the store (try these chicken jerky dog treats), but some people even dehydrate dog and cat food that can be rehydrated for meals at any point, saving a ton of money from the storebought variety.

Also, think about saving those scraps that you make now and drying them to feed to chickens in the winter to boost their nutrition!

7. Save the Freezer Room for Important Stuff

Yes, you can learn to pressure can meat. But it’s not a skill everyone wants to tackle. So you need to use your freezer for beef, chicken, lamb, pork, etc. Save room by dehydrating all those frozen vegetables, making them shelf-stable, taking advantage of the meat sales and stocking them.

Meat prices are terribly high when you don’t purchase on sale or from a farmer. Save that money and space for the things that really need it, and dehydrate what you can!

Plus – it gives you more space for ice cream!

8. Cheaper Than Freezing

Now, it seems counter-intuitive after just talking about saving the freezer for necessities, but think about this:

  • Dehydrating costs money for the process, and then nothing for storage.
  • Freezing food costs money for the process of freezing, and then the continual cost of running the freezer over time.

This doesn’t mean you can have shelf-stable meat and ice cream unless you pressure canned the meat or had a freeze dryer to process the meat and the ice cream. But the less you have in your freezer to rely on, the better.

9. Save on Hiking and Camping Trips

Stop buying expensive freeze-dried meals that are often not tasty, carb-heavy, and full of salt. They certainly have their place, but you can make many of your own meals with dehydrating, which will taste better and save you tons of money. It’s easier and much more affordable to make your own spaghetti meal full of powders and your own home-dehydrated products to dry for these kinds of meals than to buy ready-made freeze-dried meals.

10. Save Money on Gift Giving

Homemade foods are such a treat to give to friends and family. Another way to save money is to stop purchasing items from the store that are one-use or fast-fashion, and give gifts that will feed and nourish your friends and family!

  • Homemade meals in a jarare perfect gifts for families facing emergencies, single, older adults who need a little extra boost, gifts to families who have just had a baby, etc.
  • Trail mixes
  • A collection of seasoning blends or herb and spice packs – especially great for someone starting a new home!
  • Marshmallow snacks (yes – these are truly wonderful and can be a beautiful gift!)
  • Soaps – made with homemade dried flowers, etc.

Does Dehydrating Cost Money?

It is important to remember that dehydrating does cost money to do if you have an electric food dehydrator. The cost will be determined by your local utility rates, the wattage of your machine, and how you run it (running one tray vs running it full). You can estimate the cost of running your dehydrator fairly easily.

But systematically throwing out food every week quickly outweighs that cost.

Interested in purchasing a dehydrator? Learn more about what dehydrator is the perfect model for you – broken down by budget. I also give money saving tips to make purchasing one a little less expensive!

How are ways you save money by preserving foods? I’d love to hear them! Leave a comment – it may help someone else trying to learn, too!

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