I’ve been living a minimalist low-waste lifestyle for about eight years now and I’ve been consciously living this lifestyle for about five. When I say consciously, I mean I became intentional by establishing my “why” and living that out to the best of my ability. At the end of the day, I choose to live this lifestyle because doing so saves me money and time, is essential to my mental and emotional well-being, and it makes a positive impact on this beautiful earth we call home.

Today I’d like to share 10 simple steps I’ve taken to reduce waste and how you can too on the cheap! These steps are super simple (wink wink) and will make a huge impact in your wallet, your time, and the environment.  Okay, let’s get started.


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R E U S A B L E   S T R A W S: I made my first purchase of reusable straws from a company I found on Instagram. This was also the first purchase I made EVER from a company on Instagram.  Turned out to be a scam. After messaging them like crazy and leaving several comments on EVERY post they had, I finally received my straws about 4 months later! Only to walk into a TJ Maxx about a week or so later to find a pretty decent selection of reusable straws. Ugh! I instantly became annoyed but also thrilled to find a pretty decent selection of reusable items for such an awesome price. The straws were much cheaper than what I paid and the quality was much better.

I know something so small may seem insignificant but I assure you it’s not.  The use of plastic straws is so bad they are being banned and restricted in certain parts of the world.  California is the first to enact a statewide law restricting the use of plastic straws, Seattle became the first city to ban straws. San Francisco previously passed a law of its own banning the use of plastic straws outright, it’s due to take effect this month. Meanwhile across the pond, UK Prime Minister Theresa May also proposed banning plastic straws. Straws were the seventh most common piece of trash picked up on beaches worldwide by volunteer cleanup crews associated with the marine conservation group Ocean Conservancy. And, Starbucks, which has more than 28,000 locations, announced plans to get rid of straws at all of its stores by 2020, and major hotel chain Marriott made a similar declaration.

So go get yo reusable straws ASAP! You can get them on the cheap at a TJ Maxx near you! Or…Amazon.

R E U S A B L E   B A G S: Duh, right? I know but I still have to include it. Know why? Because even though we know we should be using them doesn’t mean we actually do. So this also serves as a reminder. I know quality reusable bags can be pricy but guess what? TJ Maxx has those on the cheap too! Or, you can check Ross, Marshalls, or Amazon.  I’ve also seen them at the 99 Cents Only Store. Not very stylish BUT does the job.  Also, I suggest walking into your local grocery store and asking the manager or cashier for one. I bet they give you one…or two! It’s free advertisement for the store and it saves them plastic bags and money in the long run if you use reusable ones. Try it. Just ask.

In regards to reusable produce and bulk bags, I was able to find bulk bags at Sprouts for $.99 and produce bags for $2.49. Don’t have a Sprouts near you? Check your local grocery store and if you have no luck there check your local thrift store. You may find mason jars (for bulk) pretty cheap. Pillowcases also work well for produce and bulk. And, if you a crafty with a sewing machine you can cut the pillowcase and make a 2-3 bags.

 

 

Do you already use reusable bags but always forget them? I got you! Check out these tips.

R E U S A B L E   B O T T L E S: Another duh, right? I know, but the key here is to get yourself a reusable bottle you love! Trust me it makes a difference. I have a water bottle that I call Blu and he goes everywhere with me. The mouth of the bottle is perfect (our lips touch pretty often throughout the day so this is important), he’s my favorite color, he’s the perfect size, and he keeps my water cold ALL day. I’m always so proud to show him off! He does his job well.

I also have a reusable coffee mug that is able to hold hot and cold drinks for up to 12 hours, but I’m not particularly fond of it. It was gifted to me by my husband and I was super geeked when he gave it to me. But, when I tried to put it in my car holder and the handle prevented it from fitting properly I was super disappointed. When I’m driving I place my hand on it when I make a turn so it doesn’t fall out.  I’m sharing this with you so when you are purchasing your bottles you put much thought into it. Get one you absolutely love and fits your lifestyle.

Ditch the plastic bottles, paper cups, plastic lids, and cardboard sleeves! I found a huge selection of reusable bottles at TJ Maxx on the cheap (see video below)! I’ve seen them at Ross as well. And, of course, there’s always Amazon (this is the one I am currently using). 

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R E U S A B L E  S A N D W I S H  &  S N A C K  B A G S: These are a must in my home. We use these a lot. Packing lunches and snacks for outings with my kids is something I do often. We were going through zip lock bags like crazy. Although I tried to wash and reuse them as much as possible, I found myself buying extra more often than I wanted. I desired to buy reusable bags but every time I would look into it the price deterred me from doing so.  And, then guess what? I found reusable silicone food bags at TJ Maxx for $5! They usually cost $10 or more per bag. I knew this was a deal and I pounced on it! What I like about these are that they are versatile. You can use them as sandwich bags, snack bags, leftover bags, freezer bags, baby food bags, breast milk bags, and more! So check for these at TJ Maxx, Ross, Marshalls, and your local thrift store (you might get lucky because someone has upgrade). I also found some on Amazon for $8.99 for a pack of four if you want to check there. FB15D765-FECE-4749-A6F7-A7776A79433B

R E U S A B L E  H A N D  T O W E L S  &  N A P K I N S: Okay, I have to confess.  I have a bit of an obsession with towels. I use them A LOT. Let me break it down for you. I have three bathrooms and I like to change the hand towel daily (I have kids!). I do this for the hand and dish drying towels I keep in the kitchen as well. I also like to keep a towel out for wiping down counters and the kitchen table. Mmm-hmm, I change this towel daily. Then there is the towel we use for cleaning dishes. Yup, I change that daily too. What’s that, like 49 towels? 

Then there are the bath towels I like to replace every two to three days for my family of four.  That’s a lot of towels, huh? I know. Okay, maybe I don’t have a towel obsession but a little issue with germs.

Just think of all the waste that would be happening if I were using sponges and paper towels instead. Now think of all the money I’m saving by washing and reusing. I know this may seem like it adds more to my washing but it doesn’t. I just wash one large load of towels a week.

I get most of my towels from Ross (except bath towels. My husband prefers organic). I aim to get 100% cotton and make sure the quality is good and thick. I even found towels at the 99 Cents Only Store that held up pretty well.  So, I recommend checking Ross, TJ Maxx, The 99 Cents Only Store, and your local thrift store.

M E N S T R A L  C U P   &   R E U S A B L E  P A D S: I’ve been using a menstrual cup for about three years now and I WILL NEVER GO BACK to using disposable tampons and pads. NEVER. I wish I had started using one sooner. But, it’s okay. I’m here now and I’m loving it. I have saved so much money over the years by choosing to reuse in this area. Now, I have to admit these can be a bit pricy but it’s totally worth it. I personally use The Diva Cup Model 2. I found this at my local natural grocery store so if you have one check there first. I prefer to buy locally when possible. It wasn’t cheap but I did find The Happy Cup that has great reviews, comes with two in a pack and is reasonably priced.  I believe Walmart carries this brand as well if you want to check there.

Of course, do your research and do what works best for you. Like I said, I personally use The Diva cup but there are different models. So, if you go with that brand pick the one that works best for you. The Diva Cup Model 0  The Diva Cup Model 1  The Diva Cup Model 2

R E U S A B L E   R A Z O R S:  This is a recent purchase I’ve made and one I’ve been wanting to make for quite some time now. I hate that I’ve wasted so much money on disposable razors. They’re meant to be used a few times and then thrown into the trash and they’re not easily recyclable. And, if we continue buying them, companies will continue making them. Since most of them are made of plastic, that means continued use of fossil fuels for a product that will probably end up in a landfill. Or, you can invest in a safety razor ($11-$100), and get replacement blades for about $8 for a pack of 100. I use Astra Platinum Double Edge Safty Blades. The blades last for a month or longer if you dry them well between each use. And, the base should last you a lifetime. 

The blades are stainless steel and are recyclable. You can get a tin can that has only liquid in it (like broth) from a grocery store, take a can opener and make a small slit (big enough for the blade to fit through without falling out, label it “Used Blades”, and put it in the recycler when it’s full. Should take a year or years to fill this up. Or, you can purchase a Razor Disposal Case for about $5.00, and when it’s full toss it in your recycler. 

B A M B O O   T O O T H B R U S H:  This one is simple. Super simple (sorry I had to LOL!) Anywhoo, There are over 7 billion people in the world, most of which brush their teeth (I think. I hope) with a typical plastic toothbrush. What is overlooked, however, is that most of these people go through several toothbrushes a year, equaling an incredible amount of plastic waste in our oceans and landfills. But, bamboo toothbrushes have handles that are completely biodegradable, which means they won’t last forever in a landfill like every other brush! You can literally recycle the bristles, then throw the handle into your compost pile, where it will decompose naturally! You get a pack of 8 Biodegradable Natural Charcoal Bamboo Toothbrushes for $11.39 on Amazon. But, first, check your local natural grocery store if you have one or TJ Maxx. 

C H A L K B O A R D   P A I N T: I love chalkboard walls.  I’ve painted two walls in my kitchen with chalkboard paint. I love it because it cuts down on the amount of paper we use, especially with a home full of artists.  I also homeschool so I use it for teaching as well. I have also painted my kitchen table with chalkboard paint. We play games and keep score without using paper and the kids sit and draw while they wait for dinner.  If you are not able to paint I recommend using Chalkboard Mate Vinal Decals. This is what I used on my kitchen pantry to write bible verses for the week, meal plan, write my grocery list, and let my son be creative.

 

 

 

S T A R T   A   C A P S U L E   W A R D R O B E: Capsule wardrobes are my favorite! They are a collection of clothing that is composed mostly of interchangeable items to maximize the number of outfits that can be created. The aim is to be able to create an outfit suitable for any occasion without owning excessive items of clothing. In the end, you save money, time, and energy. I talk more about this in detail here, here, and here. Your local thrift store is a great place to get started. You could also put together a clothing swap party or boldly ask friends if they have any items they’d like to donate to you in helping you build your capsule wardrobe. 

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Alrighty folks! That’s all I got for you today. Of course, there is more (much more) to low-waste living than what’s listed above, but I believe these are good starting points.  When living a low-waste lifestyle quality IS key. This is to ensure that what you purchase will last for as long as possible. And, yes, this can be pricy when you’re just starting out. BUT, don’t let that stop you from getting starting. Get started the best way YOU can and get in the habit of living this lifestyle. S L O W L Y you will add better quality items in and donate those old items. You know, so you can help another person get started on the cheap!

Have any tips or anything you’d like to share? PLEASE do! Leave a comment below. I love feedback and just conversing with you guys.

Meal planning is my least favorite thing to do or think about. It’s been quite a stressful event over the last few years. When I found out my son is allergic to gluten and my daughter is allergic to cows milk, meal planning suddenly became something I dreaded. Sitting down and trying to plan weekly gluten-free and dairy-free meals that everyone enjoyed stressed me out to the point of tears. I was so lost! But, after a lot of praying, research, reaching out to lots of moms for help, and many failed attempts, I slowly started coming up with meals the whole family enjoys.

Minimalism is a key factor in managing my mental and emotional health. I crave it in just about every area of my life. It provides me a sense of calmness and peace. Sitting down to meal plan every week was making me cringe and feel overwhelmed and anxious. So, I knew right away weekly meal planning was not going to work for me. But, what was? Then one day it hit me, why am I not meal planning with a minimalist approach?? Why am I making this much more complicated than it needs to be? So I went back to the drawing board and created a minimalist meal plan. Doing so has definitely reduced mental fatigue, decision fatigue, and stress. It’s also saved me time and energy on planning, prepping, and preparing meals. And, this is exactly what I wanted…and needed.

If the desire, time, and energy are there I still occasionally throw in a meal that may be calling out to me. But, I always aim to keep it simple no matter what. I love cooking and I especially love eating. And, I look forward to having the time and energy to play around with different foods and meals again one day. But, the fact is right now in this season of my life with homeschooling, working part-time out of the home, and still making time for myself and the things I love, using this minimalist meal plan is what works best for me. So, it’s how I roll!

So what does a minimalist meal plan look like, right? I have created a themed weekly meal plan that we repeat EVERY week. I do different variations of each meal just to switch things up a bit from week to week. For example, every Tuesday is tacos or burrito bowl night. One week I’ll do turkey tacos, the next chicken tacos, the following chicken bowls, and the fourth a steak bowl. I do this for just about every meal. I come up with at least four different variations so we can go a whole month without repeating the EXACT same meal.

I do all meal planning for dinner only. I try to plan enough for dinner so that we have leftovers for lunch the following day.  If we don’t have any leftovers I default to what I call “My Lunch Go To’s”. I always have these items on hand just in case there are no leftovers.

For breakfast, I have a list of 7 dishes we can pick from. I make sure to always have the items need on hand.

 

BREAKFAST

Omelet.

Oatmeal.

Bagels.

Yogurt and Fruit.

Smoothies.

Huevos Rancheros.

Fruit Bowl with Vegan Nut Sauce.

 

LUNCH

We most likely have leftovers but if we don’t I use, “My Lunch Go-To’s”. It consists of salads, soups, and sandwiches. These are easy to make and the options are endless. Most of the time I opt for a salad and I allow the kids to pick whether they want a salad as well, sandwich, or soup.

I buy one loaf of bread a week and when it’s done it’s done. (Gluten-free bread ain’t cheap!) The options then become meat roll-up, soup or salad.

minimalist meal plan

DINNER THEMES

Monday: Stirfry Night (chicken w/ veggies, vegetarian, beef broccoli, shrimp)

Tuesday: Taco or burrito bowl night ( turkey tacos, chicken tacos, chicken bowls, steak bowls)

Wednesday: Pasta Night. (creamy chicken, creamy shrimp, vegetarian, red meat sauce)

Thursday:  Fish Night. (Baked fish, grilled fish, or a fish stew. I use cod, salmon, or mahi-mahi)

Friday: Pizza Night. I have everyone pick 2-3 topping each week.

Saturday: Burger Night. (Turkey burgers, chicken burgers, veggie burgers, or salmon burgers)

Sunday: One Pot Meal or breakfast for dinner. One pot meals are so simple I just have a list I keep on Pinterest and I just pick one for the week.

To each meal I add a small veggie salad of some sort and fruit on the side.

FYI: I don’t eat meat so I either substitute meat for beans, quinoa, Beyond Meat products, or I eat the meal as is without meat.

SNACK LIST

Popcorn

GF Crackers and cheese

Banana Chips

Boiled Eggs or egg salad with crackers

Fruit and cheese

Granola and milk or yogurt

Veggies and dip

I always have some sort of fruit for the day. I usually just cut some up in the morning and add it to whatever snack the kids choose from the list above. If the fruit isn’t finished before dinner it becomes apart of the fruit salad I serve with dinner.

If you want to make your own minimalist meal plan, pick out simple meals you love that you don’t find exhausting to make. The key here is to keep things simple (Pinterest is my go-to for finding and saving simple meals and recipes.) Also, take into account your daily life schedule and routines. For example, I make pizza on Friday and burgers on Saturday because it’s quick and I know we won’t have leftovers. I’m okay with that on those days because my husband is off from work and I don’t have to worry about him needing food for his lunch. Plus, I find homemade burgers and pizzas just aren’t as good the next day.

So, figure out what works best for you and your family (if you are living the family life) and make it happen. I promise you’ll love it!

With the right dip, sauce or dressing, I believe you can make just about any food taste good. Even if the food itself is not so great, it’s easier to choke down with the right sauce. Whenever my kids complain about a meal my usual response is, “just put some sauce on it.” 9 times out of 10, after doing so, they’ll eat it. The sauce is boss! 

Following is a list of all the dips, sauces, and dressings that I love and use often. All of these are gluten-free and most are dairy-free. My son is allergic to gluten so all recipes MUST be gluten-free. My daughter is allergic to cows milk so I always substitute with almond or coconut milk. However, I will occasionally use sheep or goat milk in recipes that call for cheese.  Hope you enjoy!

White Sauce (GF & VEGAN)

71ebd698-b7cb-4223-b895-d097d12220b3.jpegWhisk together:
1/4 cup plain unsweetened coconut yogurt
1/4 cup vegenaise mayo
1 tsp. lemon juice
1/4 tsp. salt and pepper each
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
I double this for my family of four. I use it on burrito bowls and roasted veggies. It works well as a chip dip also.
Refrigerate any leftovers.

Creamy Basil Sauce (GF & VEGAN)
In a food processor or blender, combine:
1/2 cup plain unsweetened coconut yogurt
1/4 cup fresh basil
1 tbsp. chives
1 garlic clove
1 tbsp. 100% maple syrup
1/2 lemon juiced
Salt and pepper to taste
Process till smooth
This works well on pasta.
I double for my family of four.
Refrigerate any leftovers.

Fruit Salad Nut Sauce (GF & VEGAN)

 

E5EB3A8F-84C4-4280-B3D2-C54DDF224DFAIn a blinder, combine:
1 cup cashews
1/8 cup sesame seeds
1/4 cup 100% maple syrup
1/2 cup water
Juice of 1 lemon
salt to taste
We make this sauce weekly in my home. My kids and I love it! I particularly love it on pears. The kids love it on apples, pears, oranges and more. Refrigerate any leftover.

Homemade Bitchin’ Sauce (GF & VEGAN)
158A19D2-E584-469B-9B33-0A0BC8296424In a blinder, combine:

1/2 cup almonds
1 cup water
1/2 cup grapeseed oil
3 tbsp. nutritional yeast
2 tsp. braggs liquid aminos
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 garlic cloves
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/4 tsp. coriander
1/4 tsp. paprika

More coming! Stay tuned!

 

Why are you so in love with simplicity? What’s the deal?” Questions asked by an acquaintance of mine. I’m a thinker and very analytical so naturally, I thought deeply about these questions. I didn’t give much of an answer at the time but after sitting with it for a bit this is my answer and thoughts to such questions:

Simplicity has played an essential role, in addition to God and therapy, in my healing in regards to chronic stress, overwhelm and anxiety. I am thankful for the life that has developed from choosing to live simply. I have gained freedom and relief in many aspects of my life. As well as more rest. It has given me the space I need to focus on things that truly matter to me. Things such as self-care, intentional time with God, family, friends, and time to do things I’m passionate about. It has taught me to let go, be intentional, and hold on to what really matters.

What Really Matters

Living simply has not been about de-cluttering and getting rid of most of my possessions. It’s been about creating space for my mental, physical and spiritual well-being. It’s been about looking within. Simplifying, cleansing and healing internally. Naturally, when looking within and doing internal work things on the outside tends to change as well. This has affected my home, my things, and the way I spend my money and time. It has caused me to ask myself some pretty hard questions. Lots and lots of them. One being, “what really matters to you in this life?” The answer has consistently been my health and relationships. My health and my relationships concerning God, my family, my friends, and people within my community are what really matter. The next question has been, “what can I do to cultivate these things that really matter to me?” The answer to that question has consistency been…live intentionally. Living intentionally has spilled over to living simply and it has helped me stay true to myself and my beliefs.

What Doesn’t Matter

What other people think! Living a life aimed at pleasing and/or impressing others. Trying to keep up with the Jones’s. Hoarding things that no longer serve me, my family or others close to me. Living in such a manner creates stress, anxiety, overwhelm and an access of things not needed.

Simply put, I love simplicity because of the great love she has shown me. She has aided in my healing, helped me love God, myself and others more deeply, appreciate what I have, and make better use of my resources and time. She’s my BFF and ain’t nothing or nobody coming between us!

Thanks for taking the time to read my blog!

If you have any questions, comments or suggestions please feel free to get in touch with me.

With Love,

Shalieah, AKA Super Simple Shalieah