As I reflect on today, I realize that there are tons of things that I incorporate into my day that are frugal that are completely second nature to me now. I don't even think about them, and they've become such a habit that they're an automatic part of our budgeting process now. Perhaps one or two will be something you can incorporate into your routine to save a buck, some of our planet, or both.
1. Homemade breakfast (and all meals). Today we had toast from homemade bread and grapefruit that we purchased in a bulk case from our local Rotary club. The bread is from the french bread recipe from The Prudent Homemaker. (Her site is one of my new favs, btw.) We both had hot tea with breakfast, which we purchased with coupons during Harris Teeter's Super Doubles (good through tomorrow). All told, I think we probably spent fifty cents total on the meal for the three of us. Later in the day, we both had other meetings after church, so we took our lunch instead of going out to eat. This was made easier since I had pre-packaged our soup for the meal into portable soup mugs, and we took some bread to go along with the soup. (The soup was turkey soup, which I'll share the "recipe" for later in the week.)
2. Take advantage of potlucks and free food when possible. Our church always offers a great little breakfast and coffee bar on Sunday mornings. So, generally, we eat a light early breakfast on Sundays and then take advantage of this offering to fill the gap. Since I'm still nursing, I'm always hungry, and there's usually a good selection of healthy fruit and breads available, as well as coffee and cocoa. We take our own travel mugs so we have some after the service too, although our church does use reusable coffee mugs instead of disposable (thankfully, though I'm still pushing for a composting bin on site!). The coffee bar volunteers also know that we're always open to leftovers, so the past few weeks we've gone home with some leftover fruit, which has been a wonderful and welcome addition to our weekly breakfasts (and often includes fruit I wouldn't ordinarily purchase, such as more expensive grapes or strawberries). We also applied this principle to our church's Thanksgiving potluck, where the church provides the turkey. The cooks knew we did a lot of from scratch cooking, so they offered to send us home with four turkey carcasses. Unfortunately, I only had freezer space for two, but we brought home two and have been using them for turkey stock, soup, and casseroles since.
3. Carpool and combine errands whenever possible. Yesterday, this wasn't quite possible for us, since we both had meetings in different areas of town at the same time, but almost always we ride as a family to church and combine that trip with some errands (grocery store, etc.). Since we've been having to do a little more work to the Jetta as it ages, we're doing all we can to get in the habit of being a one car family. It helps that I carpool to work, and now that Benny's home with our little one, the idea of being a single car family is a little more realistic. If we did make the switch, it would save us on car insurance. We continue to weigh the options here and try to decide what's right for our family, our planet, and our budget.
4. Compost your organic waste. This has become such a habit for us, and it truly saves tons of stuff going into the landfill each year. It also saves us some cash by creating nice fertilizer and potting soil for our gardening needs. I'd estimate that it probably saves us $40 each year on supplies, and would save more if we had to pay for garbage pick up (we take our own to the dumpster, recycling center, or landfill).
5. Hang clothes to dry. We use cloth diapers, which means we do a good bit of laundry (at least one load a day). Despite the volume of laundry, we still always manage to hang our clothes to dry, except the occasional load of sheets or towels in the winter months. We make good use of our drying racks, the clothes line in warmer weather, and rod/trim above the laundry closet. We have gotten into the habit of doing the diapers at night so that they can dry under the ceiling fan in the living room while we sleep. This way, we can stuff/fold them first thing in the morning so they're ready to go. The same strategy would work for other clothing items hung on a drying rack.
There are tons of other things we do throughout the day that are frugal, but this is just a sampling. I hope it inspires you to take a look at something you already do in a new way. I'd love to hear from you! Here's to living green and saving green at home!