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Mended Knees: A Lesson from the Kiddos

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Yesterday as our kids were getting dressed for preschool, one of my daughters picked out a pair of pants to put on that had a big hole in the knee.

My initial thought to myself was, “well, those pants now belong in the trash.”

I told my daughter the pants-with-the-hole weren’t going to work and that she needed to pick out different pants.

Her initial reaction (in stark contrast to mine) was to say, “That’s okay! Grandma knows how to sew and she can fix it!”

I was initially a little surprised – Grandma sews? How do you know?

And then my surprise turned to embarrassment. My own daughter doesn’t even know that know how to sew, too. Here I am, trying to teach these life-lessons over water bottles and I’m just going to throw away a pair of pants that still fit just fine when I could easily mend the knee with a couple quick stitches. I don’t own a sewing machine or anything fancy, but we sure do have some little sewing kits and mending a knee by hand is no-big-deal.

I sent my kid off to school with different pants, but that same evening I busted out the old needle-and-thread. It took all of 5 minutes to mend the knee until the hole was no-more.

How easy it is to forget and slip back into old habits. I was thankful for the gentle reminder from my 4-year-old to live frugally, try not to waste, and to take care of our things rather than simply discarding them.

In other news, we sure did run out of money before the month was over this month. Don’t you hate it when you end up with more month than money? lol ; )  We’re doing a no-spend week all week. I did semi-cheat a little because I had a Fry’s gift card (which is a local grocery store). I had to use it to get some gas (they have their own gas pumps) and some very basic necessities (lunch meat, bread, milk). But no money is coming out of our account for anything for the rest of the month. I know there are only 4 more days at this point, but we started 3 days ago so it will be a solid week in total. Fingers crossed there are no disasters and nothing crazy comes up! (knock on wood)

What are simple ways that you try to reduce waste at your house?


More Money Saving Tricks

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I’ve got 3 quick tricks to share with you today. See more in the series here:  Part 1, 2, & 3

Saving Trick 1:  Never throw food away!!!!

Seems intuitive, right? But if you are honest with yourself, think about how easy it is to let food go to waste.

Example 1:  You buy a bunch of veggies, forget about them while they’re in the crisper, and only use half before the other half goes bad and gets tossed.

Example 2:  You buy a pizza, which comes with packets of parmesan cheese and red pepper. You only use half the packets and throw the other half away.

There are so many ways that we let food go to waste. Because so much of our budget is allocated toward food products (in the form of groceries and eating out),  when I started blogging here I really wanted to make a conscious effort to cut down on any and all forms of food waste!

In the case of Example 1 (above), if I discover that we have fruits or veggies nearing the end of their shelf life, I make a conscious effort to use them! They’re easy to toss into smoothies (I like to make fruit & veggie smoothies, so I might toss in a browning banana and/or some wilting spinach or lettuce….lots of options, so think outside the box!). I also try to incorporate them into meals. If we simply can’t find a way to eat them before they are going to go bad then I will wash and pre-chop them and throw them in the freezer!

In the case of Example 2, I have started saving any/all condiments that come with food from restaurants (side note:  obviously we’re trying to reduce our eating out, but we do have a budget for it, so if it fits in your budget then why not stretch it for all its worth?). For pizza, I have saved the packets of parmesan and red pepper flakes. I find its easy to end up having them thrown away, so I’ll open them (1 by 1) and dump them into our container of parmesan or container of red pepper flakes (which we already have anyway). I have done the same thing with salsas from a local Mexcian food restaurant. They have a red salsa and a green salsa. The red salsa gets dumped right into our regular salsa container:

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And I will dump the green salsas into a leftover baby food jar (the girls no longer eat baby food, but I always saved their old jars for uses just like this!)

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Then I can use them for homemade Mexican food feasts!

I recently did the same exact thing with some small containers of hot mustard and chili oil that came with some Chinese we had bought. The hot mustard was emptied into our spicy brown mustard bottle and I actually have a container of home-made hot chili oil (its just regular EVOO and red pepper flakes) that I made in an old oil bottle (which I repurposed after the oil was gone). So, I dumped the Chinese’s hot chili oil into our container at home.

I realize that a lot of this has to do with eating-out stuff and (again), we’re trying to minimize our amount of eating out. But if you’re going to eat out and you get condiments like this – you might as well put them to use instead of throwing away!!!

(also, side-note…..I didn’t save the little portion containers you see in the pictures, but it occurs to me that I could have and re-used them for things like salad dressing for days I plan to eat “at the office”…..I work from home currently, but this is something I totally would’ve done in the past!)

Saving Trick #2:  Buying Bulk

This is super common and I’m sure everyone knows about it already. But we have saved so much money lately on hand soap just by buying a big bulk bottle of it and refilling smaller bottles instead of buying new ones every time we run out.

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Saving Trick #3:  Make Water Fun!

Hope had posted awhile back about how she has given up her soda addiction in an effort to save money (Go, Hope!) We aren’t big soda drinkers but every once in awhile it slips into our grocery cart. More regularly, though, money has been spent on fruit juices (which is even more expensive than soda, particularly since I always buy the “all natural” kind). You know what’s way cheaper than fruit juice???? Water….with fruit in it!!!

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I’ve gotten into the habit of filling up this pitcher daily with water and adding some fruit to it to lightly flavor the water. Some days its a squeeze of a lemon or lime (both currently “in season” and cheap). I’ve also done it with slices of strawberry, slices of orange (shown here), and even slices of watermelon. You can also mix and match flavors! One of my favorites is strawberry-cucumber.

If you stick to “in season” fruits/veggies/herbs (I’ve heard lemon-rosemary water is good), or if you grow your own then its so, so, so inexpensive! And its much more “fun” and enticing than “plain” water. Plus, this has encouraged me to drink more water, in general, which is a good healthy habit to have. You can see the girls’ sippy cups in the back. They’ve gotten into the fruit-flavored water “craze” too! : )

How have you been saving money lately? 

 


Reuse, Reuse, Reuse

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I’m happy to report that our household continues to exist without the use of papertowels!  This makes me so proud!  Never did I think we could do this.  Initially it never would have occurred to me to stop buying them but with the changes we’ve made and the support from this blog, I considered it and now we have met that goal.

We are always looking for new ways to save and discuss ideas regularly.  A lot of them are seemingly far-fetched (but I’ll never say never) like getting rid of one of the vehicles and becoming a one-car family or selling our furniture and see how little we can function with in the house.

Currently an attainable goal is getting rid of ziploc bags entirely.  With back-to-school around the corner I’ve been looking into options for the kids’ lunches.  Last school year my two kids ate cafeteria food quite a bit.  Part of that was the novelty of a full service cafeteria since they had only known a private school “catered” lunch (that wasn’t very tasty).  Our school district cafeteria does a decent job of offering healthy options but with the new real food approach in our household we will be doing packed lunches this year.  The kids are excited.

I thought I’d share some of what I found out there.  I look forward to hearing what reusable options you know about.

Lisa @ www.100daysofrealfood.com has great lunch ideas on her blog.  I recently bought the freezer pop molds and the divided lunch reusable containers and we will use this coming week as our first practice week for girl scout camp.  Take a look at the link below for some great ideas.

http://www.100daysofrealfood.com/2012/04/19/school-lunch-roundup/

A friend also told me about www.reuseit.com.  Wow!  I love this website!  I really like the sandwich wrap by “waste not” that opens up to a placemat for the kids at lunch.  Granted–my youngest might be the only one that loves this as much as I do but I’ll hand it to the boys for being open minded about things.  I also like the look of the produce bags on this website.  I’m not buying anything right now as I spent $20 on the freezer pops and divided lunch containers and that’s enough for this week.  🙂