One of the ways I began to save extra money was by ditching some of the disposable products we used in our home and replacing them with reusable household items.
In the beginning, this did cost us a few more dollars but quickly turned into big savings each month we weren’t purchasing the disposable versions!
Now, I know the appeal of disposable items. They can be so gosh darn convenient! But by simply switching out one disposable product for a reusable product, not only will it have a positive impact on our planet, it will also have a positive impact on your wallet! Before you know it, you’ll be trying to replace every household product with a reusable one!
The Best Reusable Household Products
Below, I’ve listed the best reusable household items that we’ve been loving in our own home lately!
Wool Dryer Balls
For years now I have been using wool dryer balls in place of dryer sheets and fabric softener. In fact it’s been a while since I bought my wool dryer balls so they’re finally starting to fall apart!
If I ever feel like having a bit of a scent to the laundry, I’ll add a couple drops of essential oil to a couple of the balls.
When purchasing wool dryer balls, make sure they are 100% wool. This will ensure fluffiness, reduce static and reduce drying time.
Reusable Water bottles
Before we leave the house, I make sure all of our reusable water bottles are filled up so we can avoid buying a bottle of water when we’re out and about.
While any reusable water bottle will work, our favorites are the ones that are insulated. They keep water cold for much longer! My husband and I are using these bottles while I like the Thermos ones for our daughters.
Ditch the paper towels once and for all! I have one roll of paper towel on hand and that is to check the oil in our vehicles and for wiping up cooking grease. Other than that I use kitchen towels, cloths, and big bath towels for cleaning up spills, and wiping dirty fingers and faces. Basically reusable towels are used for everything paper towels are typically used for.
I also still use those baby wash cloths all. the. time for cleaning up messes, wrapping freezies and even wiping out their Wipe Clean activity books.
It’s so easy to make the switch to reusable straws! We’ve got two different kinds that we use at home. Stainless steel and super fun silicone ones. I don’t have a preference, but my daughters like the silicone ones the best. Probably because they’re soft and fun colored.
Be sure to get a small straw brush to keep you straws clean!
We were gifted a Keurig coffee maker years ago and it’s still one of our favorite appliances and gets daily use. The one thing I don’t like about it is the k-cup waste. However, we recently switched to a reusable K-Cup and love it! It’s so easy to use and the coffee tastes just as good. Plus now we can get a big bag of ground coffee beans (cost effective) or use the locally roasted beans that we love.
Reusable shopping bags
Now that most grocery stores are charging for plastic grocery bags, I want to avoid that unnecessary expense as much as I can! I have reusable grocery bags stashed in the car and both of my bags in hopes that I won’t have to use a plastic bag.
The reusable shopping bags that I have are similar to these ones and fold up really small and are so easy to stash in my bags. I love that they are washing machine friendly so I can toss them in the wash once in while!
Silicone baking mats
With silicone baking mats, there’s no need to spray your cooking sheets or use parchment paper. That means you could possibly eliminate two grocery items from your list saving you a bundle in the long term.
Silicone baking mats are really easy to clean and hardly take up any space in your cupboards.
Open up the cupboards or even your fridge and you’re bound to find some sort of glass jar! Wash and reuse the glass jars that you find for so many things. I use mine for storing dried beans/lentils/rice, freezing broth, holding makeup brushes and so much more.
Mason jars are fairly inexpensive to buy if you want matching jars. Scour the garage sales too!
Reusable Sandwich Bags
This is a new purchase for us and I’m loving it! I used to wash our plastic sandwich a few times before tossing them, but I’m liking this alternative way better.
These reusable storage bags are freezer friendly, leak-proof, come in various sizes and clean easily.
These are a must-have in our family! Every morning, instead of hitting the drive thru, my husband makes a travel mug full of coffee for his morning at work. Saves a ton of coffee money over the long run! I’ll bring mine along when I’ve got a bunch of errands to do. But even if you do go to a coffee shop or something, many places offer a small discount if you bring your own mug. (Starbucks, for example.)
Using these reusable household items is such a great way to begin moving towards a more eco-conscious way of living plus you’ll be saving a lot of money over the long haul!
I’d love to know what you would add to my list!
Summer is almost here! Can you feel the heat and the excitement?
This season is all about outings, get-togethers, swimming, and vacations! There are more opportunities to spend more time with your family and friends. Catch up, enjoy, and explore new locations!
Of course, any summer activity would not be complete without food!
If you want healthy and home cooked meals, you don’t need to spend a lot of time (Who has extra time in the summer anyway?) The secret is all about meal prepping. You can create different meals for different times of the day without the hassle and without overspending on take out.
If you want to create a meal plan this summer for your family, here are 10 quick and easy meal prep ideas that will help.
Create A Plan
Decide on the different kinds of food that you want to prepare ahead of time. Take note of all the recipes you want to prepare and cook for the whole week. Then write down all the ingredients you need on your shopping list.
Cook multiple recipes at the same time. You can roast summer vegetables while baking chicken. This will allow you to get things done faster.
Don’t Over Prep
Don’t prepare meals for five days or more at one time. Some foods, such as fresh summer produce, may not last for more than three days in the fridge and you might end up with a lot of spoiled, wasted food.
Use Your Grill
Summer is often too hot to turn on the oven because it heats up the house. Instead, prepare meats and vegetables to cook outdoors on the grill, after all summer is time to grill! Schedule some barbecue nights and grill fresh summer vegetables. They not only taste great, you can relax on a warm summer evening with your family while grilling outside.
Be sure to cook up plenty of meats so you have leftovers for other nights!
Prepare Raw Food
Vegetables like zucchini and cucumber can not only be paired with different fruits and veggies, it can make you feel cooler, especially during the hot summer months.
Spiral some zucchini and cucumber then blend them with basil pesto for a vegan pasta recipe. You can also schedule some no-cook options like canned corn, beans, and green salads to spice up your weekly schedule.
Utilize Your Slow Cooker
You might think that your slow cooker is only for winter, but this multipurpose appliance is also ideal for summer cooking!
You don’t need to heat up your whole house while waiting for your lunch or dinner to be cooked. Start making large batches of shredded meat or beans then freeze them in smaller portions. You can also cook potatoes, corn, and carrots in your slow cooker.
The Instant Pot is also ideal for summer cooking!
Glass Over Plastic
Plastics can be cheaper but using glass containers are better. Here are just a few of the many reasons why you should choose glass over plastic containers:
- The contents are easier to see.
- You can microwave them.
- The taste of the food will not be altered, even if you leave them in the container for several days.
- Glass doesn’t release any chemicals when exposed to heat, thus making it safer for your family’s health.
Make extra servings of your meals for dinner then eat the leftovers for breakfast or lunch. My husband loves taking leftovers to work!
Reusing leftovers makes it easier to plan your meals because you don’t need to think about the food you’ll eat for lunch every day. It also eliminates wasted food and cleaning out the fridge.
Buy The Best Bread You Can Get Your Hands On
Did you know that all the outdoor activities of summer can cause you to feel more hungry and more often?
Opt to get whole grain breads, especially if you’ll be having sandwiches for any of your meals. Look for a bread that is made with 100 percent whole grain. Bread with lots of texture makes you feel like you are eating an actual meal, which can make you feel fuller, faster, rather than just eating a sandwich.
Cook Once A Day
Prepare all your food in one go then store them in your glass containers so you can just heat them up once your mealtime comes.
Check your schedule then look for a block time when you can cook and prep your meals on a daily basis.
Stop spending a lot of time thinking and prepping your meals for the whole week. With enough preparation, you can feed yourself and your family with healthy and delicious meals without spending much time or money.
What are your summer meal prep tips? Let us know in the comments below!
Here’s a question from Christine:
Here is what I would like to know: a friend of mine is trying to start a pantry or a stockpile so that she is not constantly out of everything and so that she can maybe save a bit of money.
What would you consider your must-haves in your pantry? What staples do you always have on hand?
Do you have a question you would like to ask the readers of Simply Frugal? Send your question along to us here.
Food is expensive. When it comes to making a budget for your family, you’ll notice that one of the highest costs you have is food. While it’s not possible to eliminate food from your grocery bill, you can decrease the costs by growing your own food.
On that note, did you know that many of the scraps from foods you purchase on a regular basis from the grocery store can be regrown in your very own kitchen? Instead of throwing away food scraps, you can start thinking differently about them!
Below, I’ve listed 7 foods from the grocery store that you can regrow in the comfort of your home. If you consider growing your own food right in your garden, you’ll have no problem growing your own produce from scraps.
One of the simplest foods from the grocery store you can grow from scraps, is celery.
Planting celery is very simple: Cut off the base or the bottom part of the vegetable and place it in a bowl with warm water. Place the container in a spot that has direct sunlight most of the day.
After a week, you’ll notice that there are leaves growing at the base of the celery. Once you see these leaves, it is now ready to be transplanted in the soil.
Romaine lettuce is easy to grow from leftover scraps. Instead of throwing the bottom of the full head of lettuce in the trash, place it in a bowl with a bit of water.
Keep this bowl in a place with direct sunlight. Mist the leaves with water consistently. After two to three days, you will see that there are shoots of new leaves appearing. Once you see them, your lettuce is now ready to be transplanted or simply harvested for salads.
Growing bean sprouts is easy. Just soak a handful of dry beans in water then leave it overnight.
Drain the water and place the beans in a container. Cover it with a towel, leave it overnight, then rinse it again the next day.
Keep doing this until you see the sprouts growing, then you can transfer them to your garden.
Another easy vegetable to grow, whether it is indoors or outdoors, are onions.
Cut the root of the onions off and plant it in a garden plot or container. Cover the root with potting soil but leave at least half an inch of the onion exposed. In a few weeks, you will start to see leaves growing.
For Green Onions, use the top part of the onion and leave the bottom 2-3 inches with the roots attached. Place them in a container with water covering the roots. In no time you’ll see the tops of the green onions growing new green. You can keep them this way and just continue using the tops and allowing them to grow in the water. Just change the water periodically and rinse the roots.
Garlic is an easy way to start growing scraps with fast results.
For garlic, choose a whole bulb or individual cloves that have started to send out green sprouts. Place the bulb or clove in a small amount of water and change the water daily.
Did you know that you can grow a potato out of potato peelings?
Check the peelings to see if there are eyes on them. Cut the peelings into two to three-inch pieces but make sure that there are at least three eyes on each peel.
Dry these peelings, then plant them in your soil, about three to four inches deep. In a few weeks, you will see a potato plant starting to grow.
Don’t throw away the seeds from the tomatoes! Rinse them and allow them to dry.
Once dried, you can start planting the seeds in a rich potting soil. Once the seedlings are a few inches high, you can transplant them outdoors where there is plenty of sunlight.
Turn your food scraps into golden nuggets. Instead of throwing them away, use them as another source of food. You are not only saving money, you are also assured that your family gets better and healthier food.
One thing that will bring a family together are home cooked meals at the kitchen table. There is nothing better than gathering around yummy food, while conversing about life, with your family members. Unfortunately, feeding your family does not come cheap. Here are some great tips to help you feed your family on $50 this week, whether you are tight on cash, or just simply looking to be a little more frugal.
How to Feed Your Family on $50 This Week
Take inventory of what is already in your fridge, freezer, and pantry. I make a list using the inventory sheet from the Grocery Conqueror Kit, so that I have it as I sit down to make my shopping list and menu plan. No need to buy tomato sauce if you already have some in the pantry!
Use Store Rewards
I like to collect PC Optimum points because the points turn into cash that I can put towards my grocery bill. I just recently redeemed $30 so that was a nice chunk of change of of that grocery bill! There are many other store reward programs out there that may be worth trying out if it means savings for you!
Use Grocery Rebate Sites
I like Checkout 51 and Caddle because I can just upload my receipt and go. I have 7 days from the time I shop to upload, and I can combine rebates from all 4 sites from 1 receipt to maximize savings!
Shop the Right Places
Being able to feed your family for less, means that you need to be willing to shop at different stores. If you are used to shopping at higher end grocery stores that generally charge more than say, Walmart or No Frills, consider stepping outside of your box, and head into a less costly store. Set aside your reasons and any ill feelings that you may have about those stores. You certainly will not regret it after leaving the store with a little extra change in your pocket!
Meal Plan Around Flyer Sales
Meal planning is a great way to make sure you know exactly what your family will be eating every day. Knowing which meals you will be enjoying also means that you know all of the ingredients needed, and this will allow you to better stick to your budget of $50. Just make sure that as you plan your meals, that you are scoping out the flyer sales and planning your meals around what is on sale and what you already have at home.
Use Cheap Fillers
When you have a tight food budget to stick to, you will find that rice and beans will become some of your favorite ingredients. Rice and beans generally do not have much flavor, so they can be added to almost any meal, even if it is just as a side that you season with salt and pepper. However, the other great thing about rice and beans is that they are cheap fillers in things like tacos, soup and chili! This means that you will feel fuller after eating them. Dry beans will be your best value, so don’t be afraid to use them!
Make a list of cheap meals
I’m in the thought camp that most meals can be frugal meals if you purchase the ingredients on sale. for example, meat. Don’t buy chicken breasts if the chicken thighs are on sale. Also, take a look at the 20 meal rotation I have been doing as our meal plan lately. I’d consider most meals on the list cheap and frugal!
Stick to the same things for Breakfast and Lunch
In our house, I have a rotation going of oatmeal, pancakes, French toast, scrambled eggs and cereal all served with fruit for breakfasts. Sounds time consuming, but it’s really not because once in a while we have breakfast for dinner (pancakes/French toast) and I freeze the leftovers. We can then pop them into the toaster for a super quick, filling breakfast! Same sort of idea for lunches. Sandwiches, grilled cheese, soup, leftovers… Dinner is where most of the variety comes from!
Eat Those Leftovers!
Who wants leftovers? Most people generally are not fond of reheated meals the following day. However, eating leftovers is a great way to help you stick to your weekly food budget. If your family cannot handle the same meal twice in one week consider turning your leftovers into a new meal by turning it into a soup or stew, or adding new flavors or vegetables to it. Taco Tuesday can become taco salad (or taco soup) Wednesday. I especially love to freeze leftovers like spaghetti sauce. Makes for a super easy meal on a rushed night.
Feeding your family on $50 this week really comes down to being creative as much as it does frugal. People do what they have to do to survive and you, my friend, can totally make this work for your family. What tips do you have to add?
Planning a menu each week can be such an annoyance. Some weeks, it would take me hours to come up with enough meals for the week because I’d always try to add variety with new meals. I would scour cookbooks and Pinterest for new recipes and get distracted trying to decide if something sounded good or not. Or whether or not the rest of the family would eat it… So, one thing that has helped us to cut our grocery budget was to create a short, go-to recipe list! I mean, we eat the same basic things for breakfast each day, why not apply the principle to dinner too?
Narrowing our meal ideas to only 20 options has made meal planning a breeze and has saved us so much money. It also reduces food waste, because I know I am making food that we all enjoy. These meals are a mix of quick & easy meals, recipes that are great for leftovers, and some a wee bit more complicated because they’re just so tasty.
So, if you want to finally stop wasting money on groceries, I’d encourage you to grab some inspiration from our go-to recipe list. Here’s what we’re eating, aside from leftover nights and super simple meals (like tomato soup & grilled cheese):
- Tacos – I find that one package of ground beef is enough for two meals for our family. I’ll often make it stretch further with a can of baked beans.
- French Toast – We often like breakfast meals for dinner. I especially love to make a big batch of French toast because I can freeze the leftovers for quick breakfasts.
- Instant Pot Beef Stew – This is so good! Since the recipe doesn’t call for potatoes, I like to serve it over mashed potatoes.
- Spaghetti – Lately I’ve been browning ground beef, adding it to the slow cooker with a jar of pasta sauce, a bit of water and a sprinkle of beef bouillon powder.
- Hamburger Soup – This freezes well and is enjoyed every time I make it.
- Slow Cooker BBQ Sauce Pork Chops – Place pork chops over sliced onions in a slow cooker, then pour your favourite BBQ sauce over top. Cook on low for about 4 – 6 hours. Serve with rice or potatoes and steamed veggies.
- Sausage and Potato Bake – Cut up potato, carrots, sweet potato, peppers, and farmer’s sausage and place in a big 9×13 baking dish. Drizzle olive oil and a dose of oregano, salt & pepper. Bake at 400 degrees for about 35 minutes.
- Roasted chicken – It no secret that a roasted whole chicken can stretch for many meals. I’ll often buy rotisserie chicken for a super fast dinner with veggies and potatoes.
- Balsamic beef roast – This is another meal that stretches far or is great for feeding a crowd.
- Quiche– a satisfying meal
- Instant Pot Honey Sesame chicken – Delicious served with rice and veggies!
- Creamy chicken soup – This is another delicious soup that freezes well!
- Chicken pesto stuffed shells – My husband’s favourite meal that actually isn’t that hard to make! Great freezer meal too.
- Ramen Vegetable stirfry – I buy the healthy ramen noodles from Costco. A great way to use up vegetables that are needing to be used up.
- Meatballs– These are so versatile and the recipe make a ton so you’ll have plenty for the freezer.
- Chicken in basil sauce – One of our “fancy” dinners that we enjoy.
- Fettuccine Alfredo – An indulgence we don’t mind occasionally since we need to fatten up the kids. 😉
- White Chicken Chili – A good twist on classic chili that again, freezes well.
- Chicken & Asparagus Pasta Bake – So easy to put together. Also works well with green beans.
- Slow Cooker Barbacoa – Leftovers are so good over salad, in tacos, burritos, quesadillas and more!
There you have it! The 20 family dinner recipes that have managed to cut our grocery bill!
Does your family have a go-to recipe list? What are your favourite meals?