11 Ways to Reduce Food Waste at Home

With a little creativity and some smart shopping, it’s possible to reduce food waste at home quite easily.  If you find yourself  throwing out rotten food on a regular basis, you’re also throwing away the money you used to purchase the food.  And that’s not good for the grocery budget!

Here are 11 ways to Reduce Food Waste and save money:

11 Ways to reduce food waste at home. Grocery saving tips.

 

Create a Meal Plan

Creating a meal plan is a crucial step to help you spend less and waste less. When you know what you’re going to eat every day of the week, you ideally will only purchase the foods you need at the grocery store.  Without a meal plan and a grocery list based on your plan, you’ll most likely find yourself wandering the aisles grabbing whatever looks good to you.  That’s fun, but you’ll most likely end up with not enough or not the right groceries for a week’s worth of meals.

If you really struggle with menu planning, then try out $5 Meal Plan. It happens to be my favorite meal planning service. It’s just $5 a month (the first two weeks are free!), and you get menu plans sent straight to your email along with the exact shopping list you need in order to create the meals. Each meal costs around $2 per person or less. This service allows you to save time because you won’t have to meal plan anymore, and it will save you money as well! If you are interested in joining for free, click here.

Account for Leftovers

If you find you usually have quite a few leftovers, account for the leftovers in your meal plan.  Maybe set aside one or two nights that you devote to eating up those leftovers.  Or, turn those leftovers into another meal.  Perhaps all that leftover spaghetti sauce will create a wonderful chili, as an example.

Buy Less

If your pantry and freezer are quite well stocked, start your “shopping” there.  By using what you have on hand already, will ensure you don’t buy more than you need and will help prevent food waste on the products you’ve already purchased.

Also, something I’ve learned about our family is, while buying a big package of celery (for example) may be cheaper in the long run than buying individual stalks, most of it goes to waste!  We’re not big celery eaters so purchasing individual stalks is actually cheaper for us because I only buy what we will use.  This same principle can apply to many different items in the grocery store.

Buy What you Love

You may have had some moments where you think you should eat more quinoa/fish/whatever, as you’re strolling through the grocery store.  I’ve had plenty of those nutritional guilt trips, but this inevitably leads to unplanned purchases for items your family may not be too excited about yet.  Focus on the foods your family enjoys, and add new ones gradually, after you’ve found recipes worth trying.

Buy Local

In all honesty, I never understood how buying local produce could save you money since the price I was looking at paying was more expensive than something I could purchase from a regular grocery store.  But then I realized that local produce travels way less than anything purchased from most grocery stores.  Because local produce travels less, you’re paying for a fresher item that will have a much longer life span!  Makes sense, right?  An obvious reason to support our local farmers.

Take Smaller Portions

Before you dish out another big portion, ask yourself if you really will finish what’s on your plate. Since it’s not likely you’ll save that little piece of chicken you couldn’t finish, stick to smaller portions. You can always get seconds!

Freeze Leftovers

Rather than scraping your leftovers into the garbage or if you don’t feel like eating them before they go to waste, put them in the freezer!  This makes for a great way to reduce waste and creates an easy meal for a busy night.

Store Produce Properly

Not all produce should be stored the same way.  Here’s a great guide on Design Mom with 6 Secrets to Properly Washed & Stored Produce.

Learn to read the labels

Take some time to learn what “Sell-by” or “use-by” dates actually mean.  The sell-by date is the last recommended day you should buy a product from the store, but you can still eat it several days to a week after. “Use-by” is the date through which the item will be top-quality.  But, if stored properly, most foods will stay fresh a few days longer than the use-by date!  Of course, if you note any weird odors, textures, or colors, throw it out.

Overlook Imperfections

Whether it’s soft spots in apples, bruises on bananas or dark spots on potatoes, all produce will develop imperfections. With produce that is past its prime, simply cut around the “bad” parts before you eat or throw veggies into a stock pot for soup, or make a smoothie with the less pristine fruits.  Just because something isn’t in perfect condition doesn’t mean it’s inedible!

If you’re dealing with mold, though, it’s time for the garbage.  Unless it’s cheese.  You can cut around the mold to salvage the rest.

Save it for the compost

Some food waste is unavoidable, so why not set up a compost bin for fruit and vegetable pieces and peelings? In a few months you’ll end up with nutrient-rich compost for your garden!

How do you reduce food waste in your home?

DIY Wall Art: Unique and Beautiful Ways to Decorate on a Budget

DIY Wall Art: Decorate on a Budget

Got a big, bare wall staring you in the face? Don’t rush off to the store or even the interior decorator just yet. You can make your own custom wall art that will fit your needs, satisfy your desires and cost next to nothing.

Don’t worry, you don’t have to be talented, crafty, or even coordinated. All you need are a few supplies, some time, and a little bit of creativity. We’re talking bare minimum creativity, and if you’re not confident that you can supply even the tiniest creative spark, borrow someone’s child for the day. One way or another, you’ll be able to make great wall art with a small amount of effort and an even smaller budget.

Project 1: Living Large in the Living Room

You need something to stare at besides the TV, right? Well, that demands a pretty big piece of wall art if it’s going to compete with today’s huge flat screens. Get ready to create your own painted canvas to display in your living room. Your friends and family will be impressed with your artistic talent and ingenuity, but all you have to do is follow these simple steps:

  • Buy a large artistic canvas, 2-3 colors of acrylic paint, painter’s tape, and a drop cloth or tarp if you don’t already have one. The expensive item here is going to be the canvas, but it’s still a lot less expensive than buying prefabricated art.
  • Decide which color you’d like to show underneath the tape – if it isn’t white, then paint your canvas all over and wait for it to dry. If you like white, skip to the next step.
  • Lay the painter’s tape across the canvas in diagonals, making sure that each piece of tape is long enough to extend past the edges of the canvas. You can create shapes between the pieces of tape – triangles are easy and make for a nice modern art appeal.
  • Once your tape is in place, decide which segments you’d like to paint in each color. Two contrasting colors create a stark and interesting effect, while colors from the same family soften this piece of art. Start painting and try not to get both colors in the same section, or you’ll lose the segmented effect.
  • Wait for the paint to dry, then peel off the tape and touch up any irregular spots. Hang your new wall art and enjoy the compliments from your family and friends.

Project 2: Kitchen Wallflowers

It can be difficult to decorate a kitchen, so many people just leave it as a functional room. Don’t fall into this rut – make your kitchen fabulous with simple but beautiful wall art.

  • Find or buy a large empty frame from an antique store.
  • Collect tin cans until you have four or five, then remove the labels by soaking the cans and using nail polish remover to get rid of any residue.
  • Hang the frame in your kitchen, then position the tin cans inside it and nail them to the wall in a neat line, leaving as much space above them as possible.
  • Fill your tin cans with fresh flowers in spring and summer, twigs and colorful leaves in the fall, and holly and berries in the winter.

Project 3: Entryway Showstopper

Make a place to hang your keys and show off your artistic side with this piece of wall art. Your friends and family will be amazed to see something you made with such lovely form and helpful function.

  • Snag an old window shutter from an antique store, thrift store or from your garage. You can also raid friends’ garages or hunt for one if you have a family farm.
  • Either decide that you like your shutter as is or paint it to go with your entryway décor.
  • Nail your shutter horizontally onto the wall, then add some nails on the bottom edge to hang your keys.
  • Insert favorite photos or postcards between the slats.
  • Appreciate your handiwork.

See how easy and affordable it is to create your own unique wall art? With just a few supplies in hand, you’ll be well on your way to solving your blank wall dilemmas.

I’d love to hear your ideas for decorating blank walls on a budget. Let me know in the comments!

 

How to Buy in Bulk to Save Money

We all know buying in bulk is a great way to save money for our families. When you buy larger quantities you pay less for each ounce, serving, or piece. Sadly sometimes our best intentions to save money by purchasing in bulk, costs us more money than we intended. The good news is, all of those great intentions can pay off and you can buy in bulk to save money with a little planning and know-how.

Use the tips below to help you learn how to buy in bulk to save money.

How to Buy in Bulk to Save Money

Decide if bulk is worth it for your family.

Smaller families do not need to buy everything in bulk because when food goes bad you are not truly saving anything. Some things like toilet paper and cleaning supplies are great to buy in bulk for everyone. They will never go bad and you can get your money’s worth from a purchase like that. However, in most cases, a small family may find it challenging to go through large quantities of perishable items before they go bad.

Compare bulk price to the regular price.

Sometimes buying in bulk is not as good of a deal as may sound. Take the time to divide the price by ounces, servings, or pieces so that you can see how much you are really paying. When sales hit it can often be better to buy the smaller packages than to purchase the bulk one, not on sale.

Check expiration dates and rotate your stock.

It is really easy for things to be forgotten in the back of the pantry or freezer for a long period of time. Only to be discovered when it is too late. Grab a sharpie and put dates in large print on everything. Move new items to the back when putting your groceries away to avoid using the newest items before the old.

Store items well to make them last longer.

Airtight containers can keep your bulk supplies fresh longer. A vacuum sealer can keep that fresh meat you found a great deal on from being freezer burnt before you can use it, and storing produce like carrots in water will keep them fresh longer giving you time to use them.

Plan your menu to use up fresh items before they go bad.

Nothing can ruin a great deal like not using what you bought before it begins to rot. When purchasing produce in bulk you really want to be sure you have a plan to use it. When we find a really good deal we plan to use it in every meal and snack we can to be sure it gets used.

Compare prices and selections at your local wholesale clubs BEFORE buying a membership.

Often places like Costco will let you in to check out the selection before you buy a membership. Compare the prices of the top ten things your family will be buying in bulk and go with the club membership if that will give you the best deal on these items.

Look for bulk in unexpected places.

Often supermarkets will have bulk basics like flour in 25-pound sacks available. Your local farmer’s market is a great place to find a deal on bulk produce from local farmers looking to clear out stock by the end of the day. You do not have to purchase a wholesale club membership to buy in bulk if you take the time to shop around helping you save a bit more money when buying in bulk.

Do you find buying in bulk is worth it for your family? What things do you most often buy in bulk? From where?

5 Ways to Make Money By Cleaning Out Your Garage

Is your garage stacked to the ceiling with stuff? If so, it might be time to give it a good cleaning. Cleaning out your garage can not only give you more space in your home, but can also net you some cash in your pocket! Want to know more? Take a look below at these 5 ways to make money by cleaning out your garage, I’m sure you’ll find something you can sell!

5 Ways to Make Money By Cleaning Out Your Garage:

5 Ways to Make Money By Cleaning Out Your Garage

1. Sell your old/unused tools.

Are you a tool hoarder? Tools have excellent resale value. Sell your usable power tools Kijiji, Craigslist, Facebook Buy & Sell groups or place an ad in the local paper. Older tools might be valuable to collectors, so do your research on them and see if they might be worth anything. You typically need just one of each tool, so part with any extras to make some quick cash.

2. Scrap that metal.

Is your garage full of metal pieces? If so, you can scrap them for cash. Old appliances, fencing, old copper, brass, or even aluminum are all worth cash at a local metal recycling center. You don’t even need to clean the pieces, just haul them to the center, have them weighed, and collect your cash.

3. Sell your old bikes.

Bikes both old and new can find a new home on Kijiji, Craigslist, ebay, or your local paper/garage sale site. Collectors are always looking for bike parts and will be willing to take the old bikes off your hands, while college students are always looking for used bikes they can snag for a song. If you have any bikes either old or new, broken or functional, sell them for cash.

4. Hold an odds and ends garage sale.

Get rid of the random clutter with a garage or yard sale. Advertise your sale for free in Facebook Buy & Sell groups as well as sites like Kijiji or Craigslist. Price your items to sell, create a neat and organized display, and you are sure to not only pull in some cash but create some extra space in your garage as well. Just haul out those items, give them a good dusting, and stick a tag on them. It’s that easy!

5. Donate for a tax write off.

Remember, you can get a tax deduction for any donations you make to not for profit agencies. If you have functional items such as toys, hoses, lawn tools, appliances, bikes, wagons, etc. then why not donate them? You will get a receipt for your donation and you will be able to write the amount off on next year’s taxes. That’s like cash in the pocket!

Don’t deal with that cluttered garage any longer. Instead, give these tips for finding money in your own garage a try and you will not only make space, but make some money as well.

Have you found any treasures hidden in your garage lately? Let me know in the comments.

7 Surefire Ways to Get Your Budget Back on Track

Have you indulged in some poor spending habits lately? If so, then it’s time to get your budget back on track. I find once I’m on the spending train, it’s hard to get off! However, I do manage to disembark eventually with a few tips I’ve used over the years. Take a look below at these 7 surefire ways to get your budget back on track and find your way to financial freedom.

7 Surefire Ways to Get Your Budget Back on Track

1. Go on a spending freeze.

First and foremost, if you’re stuck in the vicious spend cycle, you have to just stop. Begin by vowing not to spend any money for 10-14 days. In this time, use what you have on hand and refuse to buy anything new. See how much money this spending freeze can save you. You might be surprised!  You might also be surprised to find that you can be content without spending money on “stuff” because you’ve discovered new ways to occupy yourself.

Related: read this post I wrote for YummyMummyClub.ca or feel free to read the posts I wrote for this year’s No Spend Challenge.

2. Track your spending.

Following your freeze, track your spending for 10-14 days. If you spend so much as a dime, write it down. At the end of your tracking period, see where your money is going. This visual data will help you see where serious cuts need to be made.

3. Start cutting!

Use the data from your spending tracking to see where cuts need to be made. Get serious about seeing these cuts through. Find ways around these purchases and then stick to it. Some examples may be eliminating eating out, turning cable off, buying less clothing for your kids or giving up monthly magazine purchases.

4. Bring friends on board.

If you need to get your budget back on track, be honest with your friends. Let them know about your goals so they aren’t trying to convince you to spend money when you shouldn’t. This way, you will also have a support system in place.

5. Celebrate small victories.

When you complete your spending freeze or tracking, or make bug cuts, celebrate! Plan a family fun day or go on a cheap date.  Or, if you can, put aside $5 into a vacation fund each time you save $50. Knowing there is a reward each time you accomplish something, can be enough to keep you pressing onward.

6. Track your progress.

Each time you make a successful cut or save a dollar or two through your hard work, write it down. Track your savings so you can see how much your hard work is paying off. At the end of the week, check out your total savings and give yourself a well deserved pat on the back.

7. Don’t quit.

Even when you see the savings add up and the budget gets back on track, don’t stop! It will be important that you keep these tips in mind and perform regular check ups on your budget to stay on track.

See how simple it can be to get your budget back on track? With these tips and a bit of hard work you’ll soon be seeing a difference in your budget.

Do you have any tips that help you get your spending under control? Please share in the comments!

Need a little extra help with budgeting? In this year’s Ultimate Homemaking Bundle, there’s an ecourse called Real Life Money Plan. This ecourse will teach you how to develop a budget and how to stick to it. You’ll also learn how to establish financial goals so you can start making your money work for you. While the bundle includes over $2000 worth of resources for only $29, Real Life Money Plan alone is valued at $49 when purchased separately. Now that’s great incentive to get your finances under control!  Check out The Ultimate Homemaking Bundle here.

Canadian Scanning Code of Practice (SCOP)

Have you heard of the Canadian Scanning Code of Practice? It could be very valuable to you!

Most Canadian retailers take part in this practice. In Quebec it’s the law and in other provinces, it’s voluntary. Basically, if you purchase an item believing it to be a certain price but the item actually scans at a higher price then advertised, you receive the item free up to a $10 value! If the item is priced more than $10, then the retailer will give you a discount of $10 off the corrected price.

The code applies to all UPC, bar coded, and/or Price Look Up (PLU) merchandise sold in stores, with the exception of goods not easily accessible to the public (example: prescription drugs and behind the counter cosmetics), and individually price-ticketed items.

To be eligible for the Item Free Scanner Policy, the item must match the product description on the corresponding shelf tag.

Does that make sense?

Quite often the cashier won’t give you the product free without you mentioning the Scanning Code of Practice. So if you notice a wrong price, speak up!

At participating retailers you should see a sign on the entrance doors and at the till that reads:

Scanning Code of Practice: If the scanned price of a non-price item is higher than the shelf price or any other displayed price, the customer is entitled to receive the first item free, up to a $10 maximum. If a Code of Practice problem cannot be resolved at the store level, please call 1-866-499-4599 to register your complaint.

If you would like more information, visit this site: Retail Council of Canada

Here is a list of participating retailers:

  • Shoppers Drug Mart
  • The Groupe Jean Coutu (NB and Ont only)
  • Lawton Drug Stores
  • London Drugs
  • Lovell Drugs
  • Pharma-save (BC and Sask)
  • Canada Safeway Limited
  • The Great Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company of Canada Limited
  • Loblaw Companies Limited
  • Sobeys Inc.
  • Metro Inc.
  • Thrifty Foods
  • Costco Wholesale Canada Ltd.
  • Co-op Atlantic
  • Federated Co-operatives Limited
  • Costco Wholesale Canada Ltd.
  • The Home Depot Canada
  • Canadian Tire Corporation Ltd.
  • Toys r Us
  • Shoppers Drug Mart
  • Wal*Mart Canada Corp.
  • Giant Tiger Stores Ltd.
  • The North West Company
  • Best Buy/Future Shop
  • Home Hardware franchisees
  • Thrifty Foods
  • Overwaitea Food Group
  • The Harry Watson Group
  • Longos Brothers Fruit Markets

5 Reasons to Stock Up on Dollar Store Flip Flops

Now that spring is here, your local dollar store will no doubt be well stocked with flip flops in every color and style. Snagging flip flops at your local dollar store isn’t just budget savvy, these flip flops can come in handy all throughout the summer for all sorts of reasons. Want to know more? Look at 5 reasons to stock up on dollar store flip flops so you can make the most of these little gems! You will be amazed at how valuable they can be.

5 Reasons to Stock Up on Dollar Store Flip Flops

1. Keep emergency pairs in the car.

Have you ever had a pair of flip flops break on you? When that happens you can find yourself in a pickle. Buy an extra pair of flip flops for everyone in your family and keep the pairs in the car. That way should you encounter any breaks, you have a back up. For just a buck, it is well worth buying extras and tossing them into the trunk for emergencies.

2. They make cute garden markers.

Buy a few pairs of children’s flip flops and use them as whimsical garden markers. Add some hot glue to the back of them and press them to a wooden stake. You can then write the name of the plant directly on the flip flop with a magic marker. How cute is that?

3. They make for fun pool time.

The fun thing about flip flops is they FLOAT! You can use them for all sorts of pool games. On the underside of your flip flops you can draw words or shapes and use them to play matching games. You can also craft mini boats with them, allowing kids to decorate the flip flop as they wish before setting it sail. These ideas make for some frugal summer fun.

4. Flip flops are perfect for protecting floors and walls.

The rubber that flip flops are made from is durable. Grab a few pairs of dollar store flip flops and cut the foam into squares. You can then use the foam pieces as door stoppers to protect your walls or even place them under table and chair legs to protect the floors. Add some of these foam chunks to planters and flowers pots and they can help act as fillers and even help absorb water.

5. They make inexpensive gifts.

Don’t get caught without a gift this summer. A pair of flip flops with a ribbon tied on makes the perfect gift for a hostess or summer birthday. They are also great to give as party gifts if you are hosting any backyard parties or cookouts. Guests will love getting a pair of flip flops to relax and unwind in.

Who knew flip flops could be so valuable? For just a dollar or so each, they are well worth stocking up on during the warm weather season. Consider these 5 reasons to stock up on dollar store flip flops and put this inexpensive find to work for you.

7 Ways to Inspire Your Family to Use Less Water

Are your monthly water bills sky high? Do you feel like your family isn’t vigilant when it comes to preserving this resource? It’s so easy for people, myself included, to get into wasteful habits. However it can also be easy to pull out of these habits. If your family is using more water than it needs each month, it’s time for an intervention. Look below at 7 ways to encourage your family to use less water, so you can be sure to not only save a few bucks but help save the planet’s resources as well. Here are 7 tips to get you started.

7 Ways to Inspire Your Family to Use Less Water

1. Keep a timer in the bathroom.

A timer in the bathroom can help cut down on lengthy showers which no doubt send tons of money and water down the drain. A simple minute timer near the shower is a great way to set the allotted time and hear a reminder when it’s time to get out.

2. Encourage turning off the tap while brushing teeth.

One of the easiest ways to waste water is to let it run while you brush your teeth. A family can send gallons down the drain this way. Make it a family rule that the tap should be turned off when teeth are being brushed. This way, water isn’t needlessly going down the drain.

3. Model water conservation when you cook and clean.

When you cook and clean, model water conservation to your kids. Fill the sink with a bit of water to wash produce instead of letting the water run freely. Don’t fill up pots with any more water than you need. Then be sure to save this  water so you could water house plants or your flower pots outside. When cleaning, don’t let water needlessly run unless it’s time to rinse the sink or your cleaning supplies. When you model this behavior, kids are more likely to try it.

4. Take short showers instead of baths.

Try to convince family members to take showers instead of baths. You will waste less water this way and even your water heater will get a break. If kids really love baths, see if you can convince them to take more showers and stick to one bath per week.

5. Get sufficient wear out of clothing before tossing it in the wash.

Don’t let kids toss clothing in the wash after it has been worn only once. (Unless it’s truly dirty!) Teach them to evaluate clothing and make sure it is in need of a wash. Jeans can be worn several times before they need to be cleaned, as can most sweaters. Don’t be so quick to toss clothing in the wash and instead get a few uses out of it.

6. Don’t run dishwashers/washing machines unless they are full.

Running a half full dishwasher or washing machine is quite wasteful. Instead, be sure no one runs it unless it is 100% full. Show family members what that looks like so they know how to make the best use of the space both appliances offer.

7. Avoid filling sinks, tubs, and cups all the way full.

When taking a bath, doing dishes, or even getting yourself a drink of water, avoid filling items all the way full. See if you can use less water and still get the job done. When drinking water, of course you can always pour more once the original amount is gone. This just prevents you from pouring more than you can drink in one sitting.

Are you ready to start using less water, start saving money, and start being kinder to our planet? Then try these 7 ways to inspire your family to use less water and see how easy it can be!

I’d love to hear what works for your family when it comes to saving water! Let us know in the comments below!

30 Fun and Frugal Easter Basket Filler Ideas

It’s time to start thinking about Easter baskets and all the goodies you can fill them up with. Nothing is quite as exciting as watching children open their Easter baskets, but, what if you are on a limited budget this year? The good news is you can still fill those Easter baskets to the brim without going overboard on your budget. Look at 30 fun and frugal Easter basket filler ideas so you can fill those Easter baskets without breaking the bank! You will find lots of ideas perfect for making your Easter baskets sweet and special.

30 Fun and Frugal Easter Basket Filler Ideas
You will find that most of these items can be found at your local dollar store. In fact, some of these items actually cost less than a dollar. Choose a few items of interest and see how easy it can be to build a basket for $10 or less.

30 Fun and Frugal Easter Basket Filler Ideas:

1. Chapstick or lip gloss.
Chapstick is perfect for both boys and girls. Little ones will love their own lip gloss.

2. Sunglasses or sun visors
Now that spring is here, visors or sunglasses will no doubt get some use.

3. Candy, gum, sweets
You can’t have an Easter basket without some candy and edible treats, right?

4. Fruit snacks, nuts, dried fruit
For a healthier option, try fruit snacks, nuts, or even dried fruit for a snack.

5. Playing cards or trading cards
Kids love trading cards and playing cards, both of which can be found at your local dollar store.

6. Toothbrush, kid’s toothpaste
Kids love getting new toothbrushes. Pair them with kid friendly toothpaste.

7. Bubble bath or kid’s shower gel
This will no doubt encourage some bath time fun.

8. Hair ribbons, hair ties, headbands, hair accessories, hair gel
Girls will love having a fresh selection of hair accessories. Choose from a wide variety at your local dollar store.

9. Kid’s gardening supplies like seeds, small pots and gloves
With spring’s arrival this will allow kids to get out and get active in the yard and garden.

10. Colorful socks
Find some fun spring or Easter themed socks to toss into the Easter baskets.

11. Miniature figurines
Dollar stores have all sorts of little character figurines which many kids love collecting.

12. Kid themed drinking cups
Find kid themed plates, cups, and dishes. Kids enjoy having their own dishes to snack on!

13. Snack sized snack foods like pretzels, chips
These are perfect for after school snacks and kids will love having their own supply.

14. Nail polish, nail files, nail art
This idea is perfect for the little fashionista.

15. Kid themed placemat
Dress up your dinner table with some kid’s themed placemats, also found at most dollar stores.

16. Easter Bunny ears
Grab some bunny ear headbands at your local dollar store for the perfect Easter treat.

17. Kid themed shower sponges/washcloths
Make bath time fun with kid themed sponges and washcloths also found at your local dollar store.

18. Puzzles
Puzzles are perfect for keeping kids busy on a rainy spring day.

19. Children’s books
Find some fun children’s books perfect for cuddling up with each night.

20. Coloring books and activity books
Keep kids busy with an assortment of coloring and activity books and crayons.

21. Crayons, markers, colored pencils
Let the little artist out of your child with an assortment of crayons and other coloring supplies.

22. Stickers, sticker pads, sticker books
Kids never get tired of stickers. Give them a fun spring selection to get creative with.

23. Journals, notebooks, scratch pads
These are perfect for kids to sketch their thoughts and doodles on.

24. Keychains
Kids love attaching these to backpacks!

25. Playdough, cookie cutters, dough roller
Encourage fine motor skills with an assortment of dough and accessories.

26. Craft kits, mini painting kits, craft paint, paint brushes
For the budding artist, craft supplies are always fun.

27. Jewelry making supplies like twine, beads
Let kids get creative with their own jewelry making supplies.

28. Sidewalk chalk
Sidewalk chalk is perfect for staying busy on a spring day!

29. Beach toys, beach buckets, sand castle tools
Summer is just around the corner and kids will no doubt love having beach toys on hand.

30. Silly string
Is anything more fun (and silly) than silly string?

As you can see, these Easter Basket options are fun and affordable. Head to your local dollar store and see these treats and more, perfect for filling up your Easter baskets this year!

I’d love to know, what do you put in your kids’ Easter baskets each year? Let me know in the comments below.

Little Things that Add Up to Big Energy Savings (Plus, a Slow Cooker Taco Chicken Recipe)

We’ve been in our new home for about 2 weeks now. I’ve had the chance to put our most used stuff away in their proper place and we’ve been enjoying getting into the swing of things! This includes being conscious of how we’re using our electricity in our bigger home.

Thanks to BC Hydro’s fantastic electricity tracking tools, we’re able to pick the best ways to save electricity. One thing I’ve noticed is that on laundry day (Monday), our energy usage does a big jump. Because of this, I’ve started using cold water with most of the washes.

We also have a programmable thermostat in our new home so I’ve programmed the temperature to be cooler at night while we’re sleeping. I’ve also been turning the heat down if we are going to be out all day.

All that to say, BC Hydro has a list of 21 little things that add up to big energy savings that I’ve been putting to use. Here are my favourites:

Turn off unnecessary lights

Two 100-watt incandescent bulbs switched off for an average of two hours per day could save you $12 over a year. Save $12

Use natural light

A single south-facing window can illuminate 20 to 100 times its area. Turning off one 60-watt bulb for four hours a day is a $9 saving over a year. Save $9

Take shorter showers

Hot water is expensive. If two people in your home cut their shower time by a minute each, you could save $30 over a year. Save $30

Turn water off when shaving, washing hands, brushing teeth

Reduce your hot water usage by 5% to save about $21. Save $21

Fix that leaky faucet

Fixing a hot water leak in your faucet can save up to $33 per year in energy costs. Learn how to fix that leak. Save $33

Unplug unused electronics

Standby power can account for 10% of an average household’s annual electricity use. Unplug unused electronics and small appliances to save $50 a year. Save $50

Manage your thermostat

If you have electric heat, lower your thermostat by two degrees to save 5% on your heating bill. Lowering it five degrees could save 10%. If you have a programmable thermostat, program it to lower the heat at night or when you’re at work all day. Save $72

Be strategic with window coverings

Promote airflow through your home and block the afternoon sun. You could save you up to $10 (2 fans) or $45 (1 window unit AC) during the summer. Save $45

Run full loads

Cut one load of wash per week, even if you’re already using cold water only, and you could save $30 a year on your laundry costs. Save $30

Wash laundry in cold

By switching from hot to cold water for an average of three loads per week, you could save up to $27 per year on your energy bill. Save $27

Hang dry your laundry

If you do eight loads of laundry a week and use your clothesline for 50% of those clothes, you could save $47 a year. I hang a lot of my husband’s clothes so they don’t shrink! Save $47

Be efficient with refrigeration

Keep your fridge and freezer at their ideal temperature. For your fridge this is between 2°C and 3°C and your freezer should be at -18°C. Save $25

Skip the heat-dry setting for the dishwasher

That heat-dry setting is expensive. De-select it and, based on one load of dishes a day, save up to $37 for the year. Save $37

Use the microwave, slow cooker or toaster oven

A microwave takes 15 minutes to do the same job as 1 hour in an oven. Use a microwave, slow cooker or Instant Pot instead of your oven 4 times a week and save $20/year. Save $20

Because I’m big on fuss-free meals, I’m putting my slow cooker to good use saving us electricity. I also told you I had a recipe for Slow Cooker Taco Chicken! It’s so easy and you can put it together in no time!

Slow Cooker Taco Chicken
 
Ingredients
  • 2 Chicken Breasts
  • ½ cup chicken broth
  • 1 Tbsp Taco seasoning (Adjust to your personal preference)
  • Salt + Pepper, if desired
Instructions
  1. Place chicken at the bottom of the slow cooker.
  2. Pour Chicken broth on top of the chicken.
  3. Sprinkle Taco seasoning over everything.
  4. Cook on high for 3- 4 hours.
  5. Shred with a fork when cooked through.
Notes
You can also replace the chicken broth with crushed tomatoes.

I’ve got one final thing to tell you about. It’s exciting because it’s a contest and you could be the winner! Enter to win a smart energy prize at powersmart.ca! There are three prizes to be won:

  1. Grand Prize of a Maytag ENERGY STAR® Washer & Dryer pair.
  2. iRobot Roomba
  3. Nest package.

Now it’s your turn. I’d love to know your tips for saving electricity? What do you find makes the biggest difference in your bill?

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