by Texas Homesteader ~
We all wanna be gentle on the earth, right? I mean c’mon, none of us open our sleepy eyes, stretch & yawn and stumble to the kitchen to sip our coffee while quietly contemplating how to single-handedly destroy the earth! But sometimes the big picture is just so… BIG. “What could I possibly do to make a difference?” you might wonder. Or you may have no idea just where to start.
Well let me tell you, it’s easy to start right where you are! Remember it’s the many little things you do every day that come together to make something big. And here’s a very pleasant surprise – it often saves you a little cold, hard cash too! Take my week for instance, here are 5 easy things I’ve done this week to save some money and the environment too!
Cook from scratch
Yeah, yeah, yeah we’ve all heard it. Cook from scratch and you’ll save money and eat healthier. blah-blah-blah. Yeah, but who’s got time for that??
Well our lives here are busy as can be here on the homestead let me tell ya. Especially this time of year with calves, bees, chickens, gardening, community obligations and more! Still I’m able to serve a delicious homemade meal most days. But heck, there’s no need to start over each and every night cooking a homemade meal from scratch.
Here’s my secret: Cook-Once, Eat-Twice. You know, as in if you’re cooking a meatloaf, fill that dang oven UP. I squeeze in 4 meatloaves when I’m craving meatloaf. That way after tonight’s dinner is enjoyed I can divide the other meatloaves up into serving sizes, label & freeze. All those entrees are opportunities for homemade meals as close as my freezer – add a couple of sides and BOOM!
Or how about Planned Leftovers? That’s when you cook a pork roast for instance with plans to turn leftover cooked meat into completely different meals on future nights. Roast is enjoyed the first night, then Carnitas Tacos another night and maybe Pulled-Pork Enchiladas yet another night. The meat’s already cooked – just add seasonings and maybe a can of diced tomatoes or something and a brand new entree is DONE!
Using these two methods have extremely simplified my ability to serve home-cooked meals almost every night. Yes, money is saved and waste is reduced too.
Bonus points here because, as I do each week, I made a half-gallon of Homemade Yogurt too. Plus I make them in single-serve reusable glass canning jars so there’s no trash!
Free Bark Mulch For The Garden
I like to use flattened paper feed sacks in the walkways of my garden to keep down the weeds. Work smarter, not harder #amiright??!! But heavy printed paper is not attractive and I like my garden to be a lovely tranquil place. So I top those heavy flattened feed sacks with bark mulch for pretty yet maintenance-free walking paths between my planting rows.
Now that’s a lot of mulch needed. Several hundred dollars even – every stinkin’ year! I’ve written before about how I Score Bark Mulch for Free, this year is no exception. Since we were headed into a nearby city anyway to run errands, we tossed 6 huge lidded tubs (which are empty cattle-supplement tubs repurposed to this use for FREE!) into the truck and scooped up huge amounts of shredded bark mulch for nothing, nada, gratis FREE. Oh yeah, free is certainly in my budget!
Once we got home I laid another thick layer of paper feed sacks over the old pathways and topped it with this new mulch. No expensive plastic bags of mulch were needed, saving money & the environment at the same time!
Combine On-The-Road Errands
As I mentioned we were headed several miles away to another city to run errands. We grouped those errands all together to be done on one day instead of driving back & forth over several days. Not only is less time on the road an environmental score, but our errands kept some cold, hard cash in our pockets where it belongs!
The first stop was the Tax Office. We’d noticed our taxes were increasing every year but we expect that – things go up. But this year we figured enough is enough & scheduled an appointment with an appraiser to find out what was going on. Come to find out we were able to reduce our annual taxes by over $120. Score!
The next stop was our Insurance company – Texas Farm Bureau is our insurance company (we LOVE them, by the way!!) I know it’s a good idea every couple of years to sit down with your agent and make sure you’re still adequately insured without paying too much. As it turns out, we reduced our annual premiums over $140 by tweaking a few things we weren’t really using while strengthening a few things we felt we needed better protection on. It never hurts to ask!
Even laundry day was inexpensive & green as well this week. I’ve made my own Homemade Laundry Detergent for years using only 3 ingredients. I can whip it up in minutes and be ready to go. I only use 1-2 Tablespoons per load so a little goes a loooooong way.
And for those items such as cloth napkins or guest towels when I want a little extra scent, I even have my own Laundry Scent Booster. It leaves a soft, gentle scent, not the overpowering smell of the commercial stuff. And it costs only pennies and one minute to make!
And of course after the washing machine is done I hang our clean clothes out on the line to dry under that gorgeous blue Texas sky. (breathes deeply…) There’s no better aroma in the world to me than the smell of sunshine on crisp, clean sheets!
Plus our clothes aren’t beat to shreds by a dryer (where do you think dryer lint comes from?) and I’m not paying for the dryer to go droning on for hours at a time each laundry day, spinning our electric meter like a top. Good for the wallet – good for the environment!
Solar Energy To The Rescue!
Y’all know we’re beekeepers. But when you enjoy raw, unfiltered honey, sooner or later it’s gonna crystallize. That crystallization is perfectly normal and changes only the texture of your honey. But to melt those crystals back down to the smooth deliciousness you crave, simply slowly heat the jar of honey gently (DON’T try this with plastic!).
All our honey is stored in glass canning jars. So when it starts to crystallize I simply place the jar out in that Texas sun and it heats enough to melt the crystals.
Oh, and sun tea? Yeah! All it takes is a repurposed jar filled with filtered water & a family-sized tea bag. I place it on the picnic bench and the sun brews it for me for free. A much more healthy drink choice than colas with no trash and using no purchased energy to brew. Yea, SUN!
So there ya go, 5 easy, quick things we did this week that saved money AND the environment. Now’s your turn to crow – what did you do this week to save money and the environment at the same time.
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I take my lunch every day. I could buy a little carten of milk at the school where I’m working, but instead I pour some from home in a glass canning/ jelly jar and pack it in my lunch box. I also send snacks to school for Kaleigh in small plastic containers, instead of individual bags of whatever. Our dinners usually last at least 2 nights. If I have some left over after the second night I freeze the rest for later.
Lunch time away from home can be such high-waste, Nancy – good for you for keeping it low waste (and inexpensive too!) ~TxH~
I stopped bothering to take my pitcher of water and tea outside to brew. We now call it “counter” tea because that’s where it sits until it has steeped enough to suit my taste.
Other things I do, rinse and reuse plastic bags for produce, rinse and reuse the plastic container from the olive bar at the market for my weekly “treat” of Kalamata olives, save pet food bags to put garbage in until they go to the dump – no garbage service or re cycling service (it’s available but why pay when we go right by the site where we can get rid of it all at no cost, compost everything of course, gather fallen branches from the Douglas Fir trees on the property to put around the blueberries, then when the needles have fallen take them out to a far corner of the pasture to a pile that we refer to as one of our wild life sanctuaries (lizards etc) or into a spot that I lovingly refer to as the “revetment” that acts similarly to the one in the pasture and I longingly dream that someday there will be enough of them decomposed that it will fill in the space over that bank. We often keep a plastic tote in the trunk when we go to town, several coffee shops are happy to dump their spent coffee grounds into our tote, they they come home and also go around the blueberries. Last year we picked well over 100 lbs of berries from 4 plants that Pa and brother dug and moved out here when the blueberry farm near our first home sold and the property became a site for a business park of some sort. The bushes are older than I am and that’s saying something!
I love reading about things that others do!!!
Repurposiong at its finest, Candace. And I love your tale of blueberries. I’ve tried and failed to plant and grow blueberries several times in our little botanical hole of death that is our yard. I love all things blueberry! But at least I have grapes, pears & apples for fruit as well as the wild plums and persimmons. ~TxH~
Good post! I just recalled that I have a lovely big glass jar and a perfect sunny spot to make sun tea. I will put it all together in them morning however, since right now I’m getting over being ill the past few days (honestly, I look and feel like death chewing on an oreo). I have very little energy, and even the thought of walking out to put a jar of sun tea to brew is exhausting. Stopping whining now!
Sweet girl, I’m so sorry you’re not feeling well – hope you’re feeling more chipper by now. I have to admit, I snickered over your description of ‘death chewing on an oreo’. LOL!! Feel better soon! ~TxH~