Ways to Save: Be Prepared

No, this is not a post about Girl Scout cookies - those are neither green nor thrifty. But it is instead about the Girl Scout (and Boy Scout, though I have no experience with that one) Motto - be prepared. While it can be important to know how to start a fire, pitch a tent, and identify poisonous plants, we're talking about being prepared as an essential part of saving money and minimizing waste.

The husband, kid, and I went to run errands yesterday. We went after morning nap (the kid's, not mine, though I probably could have used it), which meant that we were going to be gone during snack and/or lunch time. This meant that we would be hungry at some point. Many people would have used that as an excuse to just run through the drive-thru somewhere and get something quick. That certainly would have been the easy thing, but there were a few drawbacks:
  1. Fast-food costs money that we don't really need to be spending. Especially when it is food without a lot of nutritional value.
  2. Sitting in the drive-thru wastes gas as you are sitting there idling for 5 minutes. 
  3. Fast food comes with a lot of packaging that just gets thrown away. We are working to reduce waste, remember?
So what did we do? We ate snacks that I packed in our insulated lunch bag and drank water from our reusable water bottles (and sippy cup). I didn't pack anything elaborate, just prunes (don't laugh...), popcorn, cheese sticks, and oranges (and maybe something else...who knows). All it took to keep from grabbing fast-food was a little bit of forethought that we would probably get a little hungry at some point and need something to eat. Then it took me all of about 5 minutes while the kid was napping to throw a few things together and when we were ready to walk out the door we just grabbed our stuff and left.

I always try to be prepared with at least something to snack on to keep us from grabbing something quick, over-priced, and unhealthy. Here are some other ways that being prepared is helpful:
  1. Menu planning. When you already know what you are going to cook/eat, it saves you from staring at your cupboards with an empty look on your face because your mind is drawing a blank. Menu planning eliminates food waste because it allows you to make a plan to use up your stockpiled food and your leftovers. 
  2. Grocery List. If you have a plan when you go to the store (menu planning also helps with this!) you will save yourself so much money because you will get just what you need. Your list can be completely detailed if that is you or it can just be a general outline that will allow you to take advantage of deals you come across.
  3. Freezer Cooking or Weekly Food Prep. When you already have food prepared it is much less tempting to grab something from the store or go to a restaurant when you are in a hurry or just don't feel like cooking. This already prepared food could mean something that you have frozen or something that you have prepped at the beginning of the week.
  4. Laundry. If you are prepared and wash your clothes before midnight the night before you need them, you save yourself a lot of rushing around and even have time to hang your clothes out to dry. Hanging your clothes takes some time and planning (and getting used to!) but it saves so much electricity ($$) and reduces wear and tear on your clothes (saves $$).
I've just listed a few off the top of my head but there are so many other ways that being prepared can save us money and resources. Can you think of any?

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