The Easiest, Most Painless Way to Save Money and Time

“Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.” – John 6:12b

Many of us can significantly reduce our monthly expenses without sacrificing one thing. The key is to eliminate wasting resources. When we stop wasting, we enjoy the same quality of life but we have more – more for ourselves, and more to share.

True Confession Time

I’m not proud of this list, but these are some of the things I’ve wasted:

Food – I’ve cooked too much, purchased too much, and forgotten about food. I’ve stored food improperly so it spoiled before we ate it. I feel so terrible when I waste food.

Time – I’ve wasted time on social media, watching mindless TV, and doing unproductive things like worrying or gossiping.

Money – I’ve wasted money on impulse buys, and purchasing things to impress others. I’ve bought things I didn’t really need.

Resources – I’ve left the lights on in an empty room, and let the water run needlessly. I’ve been careless and forgotten that the automatic sprinklers were running on during a rain storm. I’ve discarded things that someone else could have used.

Practical Strategies for Reducing Waste

According to a recent article in the Washington Post, American families throw out between 14 and 25 percent of the food and beverages they buy, costing the average family between $1,365 and $2,275 each year.

On the positive side, using only what we need can be a wonderful way to stretch our money, honor the earth’s resources, and have more to share with those in need.

For inspiration, you might enjoy reading about a family who’s figured out how to cut waste at  Zero Waste Home.

Waste Less Food

* Cook the right amount for your family. If you regularly throw away uneaten portions, recalculate your favorite recipes. Better to eat every bite and occasionally give a family member an apple if he’s still hungry after a meal, than constantly discard leftovers.

* Take leftovers to work the following day for lunch, and save money on meals out.

* Reinvent your leftovers in another meal (casserole, stir fry, soup) within a day or two.

* Freeze leftover meat, veggies, juices, milk, etc. for soups and stews. Do this within a day or two of cooking to preserve quality.

* Save and freeze the cooking water from vegetables, and use it as a flavor-enhancing base for soups and sauces. Spaghetti sauce freezes well, too.

* Be aware of small waste. Do you routinely throw away a third cup of coffee from the pot every day? Measure out exactly how much you need and experiment until you find the exact amount that eliminates waste.

* Save the carcass from a roast chicken or turkey and use it to make a batch of homemade stock.

* American restaurants are notorious for serving too-large portions. Don’t be shy about asking for a doggie bag at a restaurant. Or consider sharing a meal to eliminate food waste.

* If they’re too far gone, compost fruits and vegetables that are past their prime.

Conserve Resources

* Turn off the water while you’re brushing your teeth.

*Repair drippy faucets and leaky toilets.

*Only run full loads in the dishwasher and washing machine.

*Check out these 100 water saving ideas.

*Try these energy saving ideas from Day 4.

Waste Less Time

As a self-employed writer, making the most of my time is a daily challenge.

Here’s my simple tip, which I read a long time ago and try to practice every weekday. At the beginning of the day, write down your Top Three — the three most important things you would feel really good accomplishing today. Then start with the one task on the list that makes you feel the most resistance.

If you get off track browsing Pinterest for donut recipes or watching funny dog videos (speaking for myself), just re-focus on those three things. Repeat tomorrow.

How About You?

Is yours a zero-waste home, or is this an area you want to work on? Do you have ideas to add to this list? If you’ve adopted any conservation strategies, will you share them with us in the Comments section of this page?

Here’s to wasting less, and sharing more in 2017.


The signature for Eliza Cross

About Eliza Cross

Eliza Cross is a full-time writer and the author of a dozen books about food and home design. She has been blogging about simplicity and sustainable living since 2006.

The Easiest, Most Painless Way to Save Money and Time

  • Colette Winston

    I, too, am guilty of all of the above. With a lot of thought and effort, I have improved greatly in the food area. And now that I have a backyard flock of hens, the smallest of crumbs and peelings become their snacks.
    My biggest area that needs improvement is time management. I’ve been reading the links that you’ve included and will be mindful of ways that I can improve. Thank-you!

  • Margaret

    Thanks, Eliza, for the Top 3 suggestion today. Very helpful.

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