Paying bills, daycare fees, rent and/or mortgages, feeding every mouth in the house and (lord knows) trying to live a little and/or save a little is no easy feat. And as a working single mum paying rent for two on one wage can be a solid drain at times…especially when this Mamma needs to get her ass in to a new car and try not dip too far in to my savings for a home while I’m at it….sigh.
I also hate wasting food.
So, I decided to focus on the simple things, like our meals and making sure we waste as little as possible in our home. I set us a weekly budget for food, make sure I shop with intention and buy things that are fresh, healthy and versatile.
Now, I am lucky enough to have my lunches provided at work, so I’m incredibly lucky in that sense…I mostly meal-prep for Maya’s lunches at daycare and occasionally, for myself the following night if she is having a night with her dad and it’s just me at home. But here are my top tips for reducing waste, stretching your budget and eating fresh and healthy in a busy home.
1- Plan that Mother!
Write yourself even a rough meal plan and see where there may be room to cook a few more serves and keep them for lunches. It makes so.much.difference. Especially when it comes to reducing waste.
Trust me on that!
From there, write out your ingredients lists and try to stick to buying only what is needed. So a typical week for me looks like:
Lunch: Peanut Butter Roll, Fresh Fruit, Cheese, Carrot and Sultanas and yogurt.
Dinner: Salmon & Veggie Stirfry with Rice
Lunch: Left Over Salmon and Veggie Stirfry with Rice +Fresh Fruit, Cheese, Carrot and Sultanas and yogurt.
Dinner: Buddha Bowls with any leftover rice, Greens and Tofu and Chicken
Lunch: Use left over Chicken for Chicken and Salad rolls +Fresh Fruit, Cheese, Carrot and Sultanas or Nuts and yogurt.
Dinner: Spinach, mushroom and Pesto Pasta. Cut up extra veggies.
Lunch: Use extra veggies from the night before to make an omelette.
Dinner: Chicken Schnitzel Burgers
Lunch: Chicken Schnitzel Salad or Burger
Dinner: Use leftover veggies/proteins to make a pizza or ramen depending on what is left.
Here I can see where I can save time and reduce wastage where possible. Most of the time, I make 3 or 4 serves of either the ingredients or the meal itself and re-purpose them for lunches! Voila!
It’s all in the planning and it is most definitely worth the little extra effort.
Make/Pack Your Own
I cannot stress this enough! Not only does buying excessive amounts of pre-packaged goods mean you are pumping a motherload of single-use plastic in to the environment, you also pay out the ass for the privilege!
Take yogurt/baby puree pouches…$2 for 200ml when you could pick up the litre tub for $4 and simply pop it in to a container like this one by Smash that are designed for cooling or into reusable pouches like Sinchies. It’s really a no-brainer when you think about it!
Moreover, I love to make May’s snacks so I can see what’s in them and maybe sneak in some healthy shit while I’m at it! Take bananas for example…if they go brown early (I haaaaaate even a little bit brown bananas. Vom) I just pop them in the freezer til I have enough to make a banana bread. Reusing something I would otherwise have just binned. Winner! Snacks for a week!
Or spaghetti bol? Do you have any idea how much veggies you can hide in there if you make your own?!
And for the love of god, try to make coffee at home as much as you can. That $4 tap of your card every day seriously ads up! Buuuut ya know, we do like to treat ourselves here too….
Use Washing Liquids Well
Another huge improvement I have noticed with a mind-focus on shopping & living savvy comes with ACTUALLY USING THE RECOMMENDED AMOUNT OF WASHING LIQUIDS! So simple, but so effective. I used to just pour these into the machine willy-nilly and use about 1/4 of the bottle in one sitting. Now that I am actually popping the correct amount in for my machine, these have lasted a stupid amount longer.
Pick Your Rewards and Stick to It
I work in Marketing. I know what these loyalty systems are intended to do. It’s an exchange. You giving a company insight into your buying habits in order to target the advertising you see more effectively in exchange for a little reward here and there. So I understand if you’re not about that fo-sho! But, I don’t buy too much stupid shit and am acutely aware of the tricks in advertising (because I just them literally on the daily) so I’m not too concerned about being monitored and swindled annnnd I’ll just take their gifts! Holllla! It, to me, is an exchange of low-risk consequence.
So I picked Flybuys and I try to shop at Coles, use the Shell petrol stations, go to Kmart & Target over Big W and get tyres and services done at Kmart Tyre & Auto (just figured that one out being they were the only thing open between Christmas & New Year!)
So basically, I have been swindled a little, but at least I’m being smart and playing the game too right?
Bulk Buy One Household Item Each Week in Shop (up to $30) if it’s on Special
I’m talking laundry washing liquids, Nappies, shampoos and conditioners, wines even! I just pick one thing that’s on a bulk-buy spesh and put it away for later.
I have started withdrawing cash and paying with it, that way any money I save on our budget get’s put in to a jar for holidays. Let’s just say, we are going to Bali in May so it must be a good thang!
Stop Paying for Single-Use Plastic
This to me is just so so simple.
Glad wrap – just put it in a container.
Garbage bags – reuse any single use plastic bags you wind up with from other shopping. Don’t pay for more.
Straws & plastic cutlery etc – Just whhhhhhhhy?
Sandwhich bags – All of our lunch boxes are designed with the whole bento thing in mind and eliminate the need to separate sandwiches from fruit from other things making these totally unnecessary. Invest in a gooood Bento lunch box with a sandwich compartment. We use Smash & Nude Food and I will never use another brand they are so good.
So there you go! Hope you found that helpful! Let me know on the Gram or comment below if you have any cool tips to share!
*None of this blog content is Sponsored or on a Partnership basis. Purely my experience and I hope it inspires you to be savvy as much as it’s helped me!