If you missed our 1 Hour IKEA Latt Table Hack, click here.
Sometimes I think about life before “hacks” – you know, before Pinterest and Buzzfeed, before 823 clever uses for Mason jars or How To Chalkboard Your Entire Life. Stuff like that. “Hacking” things (can I verb that?) has this undeniable allure. Like MUST HAVE PERFECTLY LABELED CRAFT SUPPLIES ASAP. But what happens when a simple hack turns into 10 trips to Michael’s, 3 impulse buys on Zulily and give or take 6 Amazon orders later? I think we lost the “hack” somewhere in there. If it doesn’t save you time AND money, let’s just call it “uncontrollable spending,” k?
Today I want to share my time and money saving hacks for busy families. Real strategies, people. Ways to simplify. De-stress. Eliminate waste and clutter. Actual, tangible things you can do in minutes. YES. Who’s with me?
So to make this even easier, I’ve broken things down into 3 separate categories: Cleaning, Food, and Baby/Pets.
Raise your hand if it feels like your kitchen is open 24 hours a day. In most busy homes, besides the laundry machine, the kitchen probably gets the most use. If you like things clean and organized like I do, this presents a definite problem. Every day, I make breakfast, lunch, and dinner in my kitchen (plus snacks). For a while there, I was cleaning up – like a full clean – after each meal. WHY? I really don’t know. If this also sounds crazy to you, see my first hack below.
Cleaning Hack # 1: Cook 3 Times, Clean Once. Maybe this is a no-brainer for some people, but for us obsessive cleaning folk, this is a revelation. After each meal I was wiping down the counters, the stove, re-organizing things, it was out of control. In order to save time, pick 2-3 Must Clean items. For me, that’s the floor around the highchair (otherwise the dogs will eat the food which will result in them getting sick on the carpet at 3 am), wiping off the cutting board, and rinsing the EZPZ for the next meal.
Cleaning Hack # 2: Purchase DIY cleaning ingredients in bulk. I buy a 2-Pack of White Vinegar (each bottle is 1 gallon) at Sam’s Club for $3.98. Holy Cheap, Batman! Same goes for baking soda, Castile Soap, Hydrogen Peroxide, etc. If you can buy it in a value size, save yourself the time and money, and do it.
Cleaning Hack # 3: Say it with me, Subscribe & Save. I’m fairly certain that a truism of having kids and pets is that you will wash your hands approximately 63,000 times a day. So, yeah, we go through A LOT of hand soap in our house. About a year ago, I added hand soap refills to our Amazon Subscribe & Save order. Every 6 months, a ton of hand soap refills magically appear at my door smelling of glorious lavender and I feel thankful that I have one less thing to remember to do. I also have our refrigerator water filter set to ship every 6 months when it needs to be replaced. Not only does this hack same time and money (you get a discount when you subscribe), it also frees up some mental space, aka sanity, and is more eco-friendly than buying new soap dispensers every time.
If you take a look at your budget, or even your recent credit card statement, it’s a safe bet that most of your money goes toward food. Besides our mortgage, grocery shopping is where we spend the most money. We also don’t eat out very often which makes up for it. Here are my top time and money savers when it comes to our favorite thing – food!
Food Hack # 1: I am certainly not the first person to ever think of this, but man, does this save us time in the kitchen. Cook Once, Eat Twice. If you’re making a meal that lends itself to several different meals later in the week (black beans, shredded chicken, extra pasta, etc.) then why not save yourself the time, and prep double the ingredients at once? For example, if you’re making chicken for dinner, cook up some extra chicken and then store in the fridge for sandwiches or salads for the next few days.
Food Hack # 2: Use the whole bird. Or the whole broccoli stalk. Or whatever your diet consists of. Some people call this Nose to Tail Cooking, meaning nothing goes to waste. If I roast a chicken or make a Slow Cooker Rotisserie Chicken, I always make chicken stock out of the bones to freeze for later. Same goes for veggies. I try to buy broccoli crowns whole, so after cutting off the florets I can roast the stalks or make broccoli slaw for another meal. I also save my vegetable scraps in the freezer to make veggie stock later on. Nothing goes to waste. Money in the bank.
Food Hack # 3: This goes back to when we talked about Baby-Led Weaning here and here. When I cook, I am cooking for everyone. I don’t waste time or grocery money by making a separate meal for Harper. She eats what we eat.
Baby Hack #1: As I mentioned in my Favorite Cloth-Safe Diaper Creams Post, we live in a two story house. While I love a good workout (but do I?), running up and down the stairs every time I need something is just so not happening. Sometimes spending a little extra money is worth it where your time and sanity are concerned. Even if you don’t live in a 2 story house, having 2 of everything can be a huge time saver. I try to dedicate certain things to certain areas of our home in order to keep things organized: kitchen toys, playroom toys, outside toys, car/stroller toys. Upstairs diaper cream/wipes/essentials, same for downstairs.
Pet Hack #1: As I mentioned earlier, we are big on the Subscribe & Save. I recently added our dog food which is actually cheaper online. I know, getting dog food delivered every 2 months might sound weird, but I can’t tell you how many times we’ve gotten to the bottom of the bin only to realize we don’t have enough. One less thing to remember, pups are taken care of, mom and dad are happy. This is the dog food we use. If you have a dog like Charlie who is allergic to life, then I highly recommend this food.
Pet Hack #2: In case you haven’t noticed yet, I am all about saving money. Since Charlie is in fact pretty much allergic to almost everything, his fancy dog treats can get expensive. So I started making my own. Way easier than you would think.
I honestly don’t always measure when I make these treats so they come out a little different each time, but let’s be real, my dogs would eat garbage in the street so if the ratio of peanut butter to pumpkin is a little off, they’ll never know. But here is my recipe if you want to measure.
3-Ingredient Homemade Grain-Free Dog Treats
makes about 28 treats
1 can Pumpkin Puree (not pie filling)
1 cup Natural Peanut Butter
½ cup Rolled Oats (pulsed into flour)
1 cup Rolled Oats
Preheat oven to 325 F.
Mix all ingredients in a large bowl. Add more pulsed oats as needed to thicken. Use a tablespoon measure to scoop onto baking sheet and flatten each cookie (I line mine with a Sil-Pat).
Bake for 20-25 minutes until firm. They will not get crispy like a store-bought treat. The texture will be soft. Set pan on wire rack to cool. Store in fridge or freezer. I usually put half the batch in the fridge and the other half in the freezer for later.
That was a lot of hacks! Obviously you don’t have to try them all, but pick one thing and see how much time and money it saves you. You’d be surprised how good it feels to just take one thing off of your to do list.
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What are your favorite time and money-saving hacks? Do share!