Tuesday, November 11, 2008

What Being on a Budget has Taught Me

I hate waste! I especially hate it now that every penny I spend on groceries is accounted for. What's the point of spending money on something and then throwing it away in two weeks because it has gone bad? I am constantly preaching this to my family. I am pretty sure they are tired of hearing it, but it must be said! I didn't always feel so strongly, but since being married, I have especially come to appreciate every last carrot, zucchini and bag of spinach I purchase. In my quest to feed Chris and myself the best and nutritionally sound meals, I have become quite crafty and frugal during my weekly outings to the grocery store. A nice perk that has come along with this endeavor is more eco-friendly ways. I also feel passionate about living more green. I believe that it is the small things that can make a huge difference. Here are some things I have learned.

  • Only buy what you need!! ~ First of all, it cuts back on waste and you can buy the best ingredients while staying within your budget. I never realized how much excess I bought until I really couldn't afford to buy it anymore, and I survived! The biggest question I have heard regarding this is, "How do you know exactly what you will need for a whole week?" This brings me to my next point.
  • Create a meal plan and a grocery list ~ Being a self-pronounced "list-maker", this comes naturally to me, but it is easy enough to pick up. Obviously I understand that things come up, but you can always work around impromptu nights out with friends. A list helps to ensure that you buy what you need and don't stray down the cookie isle and buy those Double-Stuffed Oreos. I love the Menu planner and Grocery list at Anthropologie. They are adorable and made in retro colors!
  • Cook a majority of your meals ~ I cannot stress this enough. It is so much cheaper to eat in. And the added benefit is that you know exactly what is in your food. I always appreciate a healthy meal more when I have labored over it myself. Plus, it's fun!
  • Pack a lunch ~ What happened to the old days when we brought a sack lunch to school and work? Again, it is so much cheaper to pack a lunch and can be much healthier. I love sending Chris to work knowing that he has good, healthy fuel for his day.
  • Re-useable grocery bags and containers ~ My weekly trips to the grocery store are always accompanied by my cloth grocery bags. I love that I don't have to throw away 10 bags each week. Along with grocery bags, how annoying is it to use a plastic baggie for a sandwich, just to throw it away in a few hours? We rarely use them. I have come to love ''Fit and Fresh" re-useable containers. They are great for packing lunches and snacks. You can find them at Target and Linens and Things. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes and they each have individual ice packs that snap to the lid so your food stays cold.
  • Cloth napkins ~ I came to love the idea of using cloth naking a few years ago when I went to a friends house and saw that her family used them at every meal. They may cost a bit up front, but they can be used over and over and they add so much color and character to a table. I think it is funny that when people come over, they feel like it is "fancy" because we are using "nice" napkins. Haha! I pretty much avoid using paper products at all costs. Except in the bathroom:)
  • Water bottles and coffee cups ~ Stop before you buy that case of water bottles!! Invest in a stainless steel water bottle that can be used over again. Also, if you are planning on stopping at Starbucks on your way to work, bring along one of their reusable tumblers. You save a cup and they give you a little discount. Every little bit counts, right?
  • Make your own goodies!~ So, what I'm about to write may not be what most people think of as "goodies', but trust me, they are! I have started making my own peanut butter, applesauce and hummus. These healthy treats are delicious and made with REAL ingredients, you know, the way they are suppose to be. It is so easy and really does save money. Trust me, try it!
These are just a few practical things we do around the house to save money and help to eliminate waste in our home. I am always looking for new ideas. Let me know if you have any!

My next experiment is homemade surface cleaner. Here's a recipe I am thinking about using:

Mix equal parts vinegar and water. Add a few drops of Lavender essential oil and shake.

Have a great week!

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