The Shady Porch: Saving Money; Cutting quest! #1


Saving Money; Cutting quest! #1

Since the new year began I've been thinking about having a recurring post sharing some of the changes I want to adopt in our home. I guess you could call them resolutions, and maybe this idea is to force some accountability on myself. Whatever the motive, I think it will help me stay on target, and, perhaps, someone else will be encouraged to stay on course with their 2012 wish list, too.

Money Saver #1 - Weekly Meal Planning
One of my targets for the year involves budgeting, and one of the areas that has always hindered our success has been weekly meal planning. We don't eat out often, but, when we do, it's usually because I failed to plan our dinners for that week. There is nothing wrong with eating out, but I've found that, if it's a rush decision, we tend to make less healthy choices for the sake of time and, in these situations, we are not thinking of the effect on our budget, either.   

Dinner Menu for week of 1-23 
Chicken Lo Mein with Peanut Sauce
Did you know?  I can make 4 large servings of this 
Lo Mein for the same price our favorite local
Chinese restaurant charges for a single entree.
Dessert will be leftover birthday cake! Yes, yesterday was a +1 day on my age-meter.  
Here's another tidbit...if you are not into the meal planning but want to save money by taking advantage of your grocer's sales, there is a website that will do most of the work for you! Check out Food On The Table.

Operation Organization
I've always believed the adage of "there's a place for everything and everything has it's place." However, this is not in full practice at our house and, as a result, I have pockets of clutter. As with every new year, I wanted a fresh, I've decided to tackle these clutter pockets sooner rather than later. 

New burlap covered oatmeal containers taking care of the mess!

Clutter Dilemma # 1 - The space above my built-in oven has evolved into a dumping ground for grilling utensils, large kitchen utensils as well as odd pots and pans. I've had this space organized at times but obviously had not tackled the real problem because it always goes back to being a clutter pile. This 'before' shot is embarrassing but is necessary to illustrate my progress in the quest to de-clutter!    

My Solution -Make a home for all of the large cooking utensils that do not fit in my kitchen drawers and find a new home for the seasonal grilling utensils. I also added more S hooks to the rods so I can hang more of my kitchen wares.

3 of stages construction  - full sized container,
 container cut in half and finally sliding the top 
into bottom half for stability

How I made my utensil canisters for Zero $$:
  1. I took empty oatmeal boxes and cut them to the height I wanted to accommodate the utensils. Then cut a slit in the top portion of the oat container and slid it inside the bottom half to reinforce the new container. NOTE - Our local grocer brand oat boxes actually work better than Quaker brand because the rolled top has a little give but the plastic ring on top on Quaker containers creates a bulge when you slide it into the bottom. 
  2. You might want to put a quick coat of paint on the oat container so the container colors don't show through your material. 
  3. I chose to cover my new canister in burlap since I already had it on hand and my goal was to spend no money on this project. I simply hot glued the burlap to the canister in sections smoothing as I went.
If I decide to use these containers on the kitchen counter in the future, I would probably embellish them with ribbon and add a fleur de lis or rooster using a Sharpie marker. 

Since I hope to make this a regular weekly post, I would love to hear your input. I hope you've found something useful, inspiring or humorous...this makes me think of a Clint Eastwood line from "Heartbreak Ridge" - "You can rob me, starve me, beat me or kill me. Just don't bore me. (I'll really try to not do that!)  8D

Less Mess = Less Stress