Friday, October 24, 2008

Efficiency Week Day Five: Frugal, Eco-Friendly and Tips

So ladies, how many of you like to save money? How many of you are interested in being a good caretaker of the wonderful earth we inhabit? Living efficiently is the best way I've found to do both.

Take the chicken example from Day One. The trash generated from preparing those dishes was one large plastic bag and a bacon wrapper. If we'd eaten packaged and processed food that was "quick and easy" it would have created tons of trash. Buying bulk reduces packaging and usually the price per ounce is much lower as well. Having dinner made on days (like yesterday) when everything goes wrong saved us from driving out in search of food (lowering our carbon footprint and padding our wallet). Even a junky fast food meal costs a lot more than a homemade dinner. Last time we ate drive-thru I nearly had a fit when I saw all the packaging. Perhaps absence made this heart forget but we generated more trash that meal than we do in more than a day at home. That is just not okay. That trash has to go somewhere.

By following a clean as you go method you won't feel as overwhelmed by your housework. Way back when I had two lovely women come and clean my house every two weeks because it was just too much to manage. Now I have a better handle on it and that is two-hundred dollars a month that stay in our account.

Some closing tips:

*Keep your cleaning products near your mess. For example, I keep a magic eraser at the top of my shower. When the floor looks dingy I can wipe it clean while I'm in there. Ditto for a squeegee to clean the glass.

* If bulk cooking isn't your thing then consider a type-of-meal plan. Before I could manage doubling up recipes I did this and it really took the pressure off. Here's what we did:

Mamma Mia Mondays (spaghetti, lasagne, alfredo)
Taco Tuesdays (tacos, burritoes, quesadillas)
One Pot Wednesdays (stew, soup, chilli, fried rice)
Turkey Thursdays (turkey meatloaf, pot pie, grilled cutlets)
Fast Food Friday (eat out or make pizza, hot dogs, burgers at home)
Seafood Saturday (fish sticks, grilled salmon, clam chowder)
Sunday Funday (leftovers, so you can eat whatever you want)

*Make your kids clean up too. My boys could sort socks and fold clothes by three years old. There is no reason, short of the babies having moved out of the house, for you to be doing all the work yourself. If you think I'm mean or their time would be better spent practicing the trombone or their slap shot technique, ask yourself this : How much trombone playing do you do? How about this, How much laundry do you do? How often do you need to eat? Raising kids that can manage their own home is a responsibility too many parents shirk. It always saddens me when I see teens in that first year away from home living on cereal and McDonalds and wearing dirty gray clothes. Teach them while you have them at home so they won't have to go through the struggles of learning on their own.

* Match something fun to the tasks you have the hardest time getting to. We try really hard but don't have the best track record with washing and detailing the our vehicles. When we bought the Explorer we established a new tradition called Sundaes on Sundays. Every Sunday we get to go out for or make at home ice cream sundaes. We even bought fancy - okay, from Walmart, but nice - glass sundae cups. The catch is that we can't have sundaes until the car is clean. Now instead of being able to put off cleaning the car indefinitely, I have three little eaters to remind me. Plus, it's a great family tradition.

Thanks for stopping in each day and reading along. I hope there was something in these wordy posts that you can integrate into your routine or that inspired you try something new.


Tara said...

Nicole - this week has been simply genius! First, I have to share that I too am a fan of the Magic Eraser. As mom to two drooly dogs, this thing is my lifesaver. It gets that dried-on drool off of walls, cabinets, windows, everything.

Without kids, we don't do as much cooking ahead as you do, but I am a fan of bulk buying/package reducing. I also grew up in a family where 'sunday supper' was a tradition - so we try to do that here too. Roasts, stews, lasagna, etc. and on those days, I make enough to have at least one more meal for that week.

But I have to say your BEST TIP of the week was the 2nd vaccuum. Just recently DH (who is in charge of the vaccuuming here) said to me "We should get an upstairs vaccuum" and I told him there was no way I was spending (insert ridiculous price of current super duper dog-hair sucking vaccuum) for a SECOND vaccuum! But you are spot-on, the upstairs only gets done about half as often as the downstairs. (And don't even mention the stairs themselves!) You may have just convinced me this is a necessary household expense.

Thanks for all of the great tips and recipes!

Maggie said...

Nicole, I luv luv the cards..
please eamail me at