My Vacuum Sealer Obsession

My Vacuum Sealer Obsession

When I was offered the chance to review the Crenova 3-in-1 Automatic Food Sealer Saver, I wasn’t quite sure if it was something that would be worth my time. Sure, it seems like a good deal, but I very much subscribe to the Alton Brown line of thinking — don’t have appliances that have only one function, they’ll only create clutter!

Regardless, I thought I figured I’d give it a try and see what happens…and oh. my. goodness.

Crenova Vacuum Sealer Review

Note: The links below are affiliate links, which means I’ll receive commission should you click through and make a purchase. This in no way impacts my recommendation of said product.

Crenova Vacuum Sealer Food Saver Review

I decided to try out the Crenova 3-in-1 Automatic Food Sealer Saver one day after realizing we had way too much leftover galumpki (cabbage and beef). Galumpki is one of my favorite dinners, but go figure, the kids aren’t a fan. Rather than let it go to waste, though, I decided it was a perfect opportunity to see if this food sealer was actually worth a spot in my kitchen.

The Crenova 3-in-1 Automatic Food Sealer Saver is incredibly light weight and seriously could not be easier to use. If you know me, you know that it’s not actually my kitchen so much as it is my husband’s (there’s a reason he runs a keto recipe blog and I don’t!) It’s a good day if I can microwave hot dogs for my kids, let alone work the other appliances!

While not my kitchen, though, this is my blog and I can’t recommend a product if I can’t actually use it. So I skimmed the directions and decided to charge full speed ahead!

The Crenova 3-in-1 Automatic Food Sealer Saver has a few different variables on it, namely the option to customize based on your food. I decided to go with “wet food” for the galumpki to account for the sauce. In a matter of 30 seconds, I not only figured out how to use the but it was done – the galumpki was sealed up and ready for the freezer!!

This appliance is so quick and easy to use. It’s sure to not only save you time (seriously I used to do the ol’ freezer bag dipped in hot water to get the air out enough to freeze stuff!) but it’ll save you so much money as well! Personally I’m going to draft up a meal plan and then keep my husband company one Sunday while he cooks a bunch of freezer meals that I’ll then vacuum seal. Team work, people!! hehe

If you’re on the fence about investing in this product (or gifting it to a loved one!) I would very much recommend you join Crenova Kitchen Appliances for Beginners – it’s a great Facebook group that can help you master this wonderful product. The admin are so kind and helpful and the community itself is just wonderful! Be sure to check it out today!!

 

 

12 Must Know Thanksgiving Prep Tips

12 Must Know Thanksgiving Prep Tips

On the hunt for some Thanksgiving Day hacks? You’ve come to the right place!

You can save time on Thanksgiving Day preparations (and any holiday) by implementing a few of these quick tips that I myself use every year. After all, the holidays should be about spending time with your family, not your oven.

Thanksgiving Day Time Savers

Cook sweet potatoes quickly

Microwave your sweet potatoes to save time and stove top space. Just poke with a fork a few times, wrap in a wet (not soaked) paper towel, and microwave 5-7 minutes. For a quick and delicious dessert option, you can then slice open, top with marshmallows, and stick in your broiler for 30 seconds.

Make mashed potatoes faster

Use Yukon Gold potatoes and leave the skin on. Then turn the potato vertical and use your apple slicer to cut them beforehand so they cook faster! Just like with apples, you’ll want to make sure you cut an end off so it sits flat on your board.

If your children (or significant other) insist on skinless mashed potatoes, boil them whole and the skin will rub off. Just stick them in an ice bath and let them cool down first! Second-degree burns do not make for a fun Thanksgiving.

mashed potatoes

And with potatoes, comes the gravy!

Okay to be honest – I really hate gravy. Lookin’ at me, you can tell there’s not much I won’t eat, but gravy? Mmm nope! That said, I know most folks love it, so if your family feels gravy is a must, put it in a thermos so it’s off your stove and out of the way but still stays warm.  Then you can pour into a gravy boat just before serving.

Make room in the fridge

Clear out the dressings and condiments and store them in an ice-filled cooler in the garage. This will also help ensure they don’t get lost in the crowded fridge when it’s finally time to eat!

Pre-Cut Veggies VS Cutting Them Yourself

Weigh the cost of prep time versus the cost of buying pre-cut and cleaned ingredients from your grocery store’s salad bar. Sometimes the cost of letting someone else do it is worth it! This can go for a lot of different parts of your meal, not just veggies.

Like Niki from Toots Mom is Tired says: “I always bring something store bought to the family Thanksgiving dinners. Someone has to bring the Hawaiian rolls. That person is me. I’ve also been known to pick up pies, cookies, and veggie trays. I like homemade food, but I’m aware of my own limits (skill-wise and time-wise) when it comes to cooking.”

Print out your recipes

Don’t risk destroying your tablet as you swipe through various recipes. Print out what you need and use painter’s tape to secure to cabinet at eye-level. Better yet, tape them up in the order you plan to cook and use post-it notes in between if there’s something that needs to be done prior to starting a recipe (like preheating the oven or boiling water).

Sarah from IHeartFrugal.com knows what I mean – “When I’m cooking, I always make a detailed meal planning list. This saves me from having to run back to the store where I will waste time and spend more by throwing unnecessary items in my cart. I also have some make-ahead recipes I whip up the day before so I can concentrate on cooking the turkey the day of. Cooking can be a lot of work, but if you are prepared you will save time and money!”

pretend recipe card for thanksgiving day time saver

Fix overcooked turkey

Did your bird cook just a little too long? Moisten your turkey meat slices by drizzling a bit of warm chicken broth over them prior to serving.

Have a houseful of guests coming that love to “help”?

Have tasks planned ahead of time for those that just insist on assisting. Child-wrangling, table setting, hors d’oeuvres serving, and wine glass filling are all great options to keep people busy and out of your way. While it might a bit more prep work, having a fun but easy craft ready is also a nice way to keep everyone occupied while you finish up the prep work.

Put your slow cookers to use (borrow if you need to)!

Figure out how much space you’ll need for prep work and then use whatever you have left to lay out those crockpots. There’s countless delicious dishes you can make and it’s so nice to just set it and forget it. Check out this Black Friday hack to see how I score slow cookers every year for FREE!

Skip the Mixer

This one comes from Tony of Fit2Father.com – “Wear latex gloves to mix by hand without getting yourself and your sink covered in food (plus bare hands in food is pretty gross!)” This is especially great for easily creaming together butter and sugar if you’re making cookies.

Soften butter easily

Forget to take your butter out prior to sitting down to dinner? Heat up a drinking glass by running warm water over it or by putting it in the microwave for a few seconds then place it upside-down, over the butter. The butter soften quickly and will now be the right consistency to easily cut and spread.

Don’t forget dessert!

If you plan to bake cookies, bake them ahead of time and keep them moist with apples! Store them in Tupperware along with an apple wedge and the cookies will draw in moisture from the apple, ensuring they taste fresh from the oven once your guests arrive. If you are storing them for more than 24 hours, replace the wedge daily.

Thanksgiving Day shouldn’t be a time of chaos, so hopefully with these quick tips you’re able to enjoy the day and spend time with the ones you love. 

If you want even more time savers, check out my post on Holiday Hacks!

And if you have any of your own time saver hacks, please be sure to comment with ’em below!

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15 Tips to Save Time on Holiday Prep

15 Tips to Save Time on Holiday Prep

Saving time during the holiday season doesn’t always seem to be a priority for some – it’s a lot of “rush rush rush” and “oooh I can’t wait for (this day)!!”

What we need to remember, though, is that saving time during the holiday season is of the utmost importance, as our hours should be spent relaxing with family, not sweating in a kitchen or stressing over entertaining house guests.

Disclosure: The links in this post contain affiliate links and I will receive a small commission at no additional cost to you if you make a purchase after clicking on my link.

Thanksgiving hacks! Save time whenever you entertain house guests by utilizing these creative tips on saving time when celebrating the holidays.

One of the very first posts I wrote for this site was on Thanksgiving Day Time Savers and today I present you with fifteen more tips on how to save yourself time during the holiday season –

Holiday Time Saver #1: Invest in Coffee Carafes


This is one I’ve talked about before in a post on Weird Ways to Save Money as it’s something we actually do on a regular basis, not just the holidays!

Coffee (or hot chocolate, cider, etc) are great for chilly winter gatherings, but the need for heat can be tricky – you either have to leave something plugged in and turned on, or use the microwave to reheat each time someone wants a cup. A good coffee carafe is relatively inexpensive and will save you time by allowing you to make big batches of your favorite warm drink in advance and store it hot for hours.

You can also make use of leftover coffee this way. By pouring what you don’t use into the carafe, you can keep it warm for the next day without wasting half a pot (like we used to in my house). Since it never cools completely, you don’t get that stale, microwaved coffee taste and you’ll be surprised at how much money you save by not tossing leftover coffee!

Holiday Time Saver #2: Make Your Cookie Dough Ahead of Time

If you love the smell of freshly baked cookies but simply don’t expect to have the time on the day of your party, mix up a big batch of cookie dough and roll it into a tube on wax paper. Cover it up and place it in your fridge, and then on the morning of, slice and bake! Homemade yumminess without the stress!

Holiday Time Saver #3: Label Your Serving Platters

Take the time a few days before the dinner to sort out your serving platters and put a post-it or some other label on each, corresponding to the food that will be on them. This way you know where everything is going to sit when you serve it and you don’t run the risk of scrambling at the last minute to find “one more” serving dish.

Holiday Time Saver #4: Chill Your Impromptu Wines in No Time

Wine chiller..or sonic screwdriver?

When guests bring their favorite wines to the party, often waiting for a delicious white to cool to a palatable temperature can be a long time investment. Rather, get a metal skewer that would fit inside of a wine bottle and keep it in your freezer (or invest in one purposefully meant for chilling wine!). When you pop the cork on the fresh bottle, put the skewer in the bottom and put the cork back. It will help chill the wine much faster than simply popping it in the fridge.

Holiday Time Saver #5: Measure Once, Cook Once

Prior to the big day, get your recipes together and measure out, store, and label dry ingredients, cut vegetables and meat, and prepare dough for rolls, sweets, and crusts. Doing all of this ahead of time will make a HUGE difference in time spent on the actual day of cooking (plus you can pretend you’re on a cooking show, where everything is already magically set for you! Surely I’m not the only one who does this…right?)

Holiday Time Saver #6: Prepare Crockpot Meals (Way) In Advance

Depending on what you’re making, certain crockpot recipes are great to measure, cut, and store in the freezer until the day-of. I make a delicious fall squash soup, for instance, that is a simple matter of dicing, slicing, and freezing, until it’s time to dump it all in the slow cooker to set and forget.

Holiday Time Saver #7: Never Fear Warm Beer

If your guests are more the beer-drinking types, use an old bartender trick to ensure any beer is chilled when served. Spray down your beer glasses with water and then toss them in the freezer. The thin layer of water will quickly freeze, creating frosty receptacles for your bubbly brewed beverages.

Holiday Time Saver #8: De-stuff The Bird

I know it seems like stuffing in the bird is a holiday staple, but it increases the cooking time of the turkey, which increases the risk of food-borne illness and runs the potential of drying out the meat. Opt instead to make the stuffing outside in a separate container; you’ll be glad you did (and so will any vegetarian friends who stop by!)

Holiday Time Saver #9: Use An Ironing Board For Extra Counter Space!


Just like it sounds, an ironing board makes a great temporary island if your house is short on counter space.

Holiday Time Saver #10: Don’t Turn Down Help

If someone asks if you need anything, don’t be afraid to say YESSSS!! Ask them to bring a dish you know will be easy for them to prep, preferably in a disposable container you won’t have to remember to return.

Holiday Time Saver #11: Write Out A Schedule

We’re not talking a simple “to-do” list here; in advance, write up a very specific schedule for prepping, storing, plating, serving, and cleaning-up. It will help keep your wasted time down to a minimum and it can also aid in directing any extra help you’ll have to where they’re needed most.

Holiday Time Saver #12: Invest In An Extra Folding Table

Versatile and useful outside of holiday situations, an extra folding table can help you prepare for unexpected guests, or to set up a buffet for your meal, rather than serving everything in courses. These are also nice to have on hand if you want to hold a successful garage sale in the summer!

Holiday Time Saver #13: Keep The Kids Occupied By Having Them Design Placemats

Little ones always want to help but it’s not always helpful. Give them a fun activity that requires minimal supervision/clean-up, like asking them to design the place mats for each guest. This way you’re keeping them out of the way but still making sure they know they’re an important part of the gathering.

Holiday Time Saver #14: Sharpen Your Cutlery Ahead Of Time

Whether you have them professionally sharpened or simply do it yourself, make sure all of your knives are ready to go for the day of the dinner. Not only do sharpened knives better ensure less frustration as you try to slice and dice, but dull knives can result in you slicing and dicing a finger. Let’s avoid injuries this year, mkay, Uncle John?

Holiday Time Saver #15: Prepare For Optimal Storage     

Carving the turkey up at the table is a tradition for some, but if you slice it up ahead of time, your hungry guests likely won’t complain, and this will save you time when you go to put it away after the meal (and you can always utilize tip #7 from my original Turkey Day Time Savers article). In addition, having planned storage containers out and ready to go when you’re done eating is a good way to ensure everything has a place and that putting food away takes minimal time.

The key here is to remember that the holidays should be a time to savor a wonderful meal with the people you care about most, not an event to leave you stressed over entertaining guests; the more time you save in preparation/clean-up, the more time you get to actually enjoy with them!

Will you be entertaining this holiday season? Comment below with YOUR best tip!

Punny Halloween Costume Ideas to Save You Money!

Punny Halloween Costume Ideas to Save You Money!

Halloween is one of the best times of the year. The smells, the cooler air, and all of the decorations just put you into a fantastic mood. Being parents, however, sometimes you spend so much time on your kids’ costumes that you don’t have enough time to put something together for yourself. And maybe you’re thinking, “But, Amber, I’m an adult! I don’t need a costume!!”

Uh, yes. Yes you do. 😉

If you’ve read my frugal halloween party post, you may already know this but we take Halloween VERY seriously in our household – family costumes and all:

Beetlejuice family Halloween costume

Fear not though because we have a list of ten cheap, clever, and best of all punny costumes. Some can be assembled with very little notice, and some take a bit more effort, but they’re all sure to have your friends laughing (and probably groaning).

Punny Halloween Costume Ideas

Static Cling (Wo)man

What you’ll need: Sweatpants and a sweatshirt, ideally the same color, a needle and thread, and a handful of mismatched socks, wash cloths, and underwear.

Execution: It’s pretty simple – a couple of stitches will fasten the various articles of laundry all over your clothes. Suddenly you’ve become a superhero but without all of the responsibility of a useful super power!

Pig in a blanket

What you’ll need: Pig hat, blanket, method of tying the blanket

Execution: Put the pig hat on (we used this one from the Amazon), and either tie the blanket ends together like a cap, or you can use a safety pin. The extra bonus here is that you get a cool pig hat, for all those occasions where you might need a pig hat!

pig in a blanket

Leafblower

What you’ll need: A sturdy leaf, a hat, and a piece of tape. Also the ability to exhale from the lips.

Execution: Put the hat on, tape the leaf to the hat. When someone asks what you are, just blow air out of your mouth at the leaf. If they get it, they’ll probably smile. If they don’t, then it’s their loss!

Sugar Daddy (or Mama)

What you’ll need: A car seat, Baby Bjorn, some other kind of swaddler, or just a infant blanket and a bag of sugar

Execution: Swaddle the bag of sugar, or carry it in the car seat/Baby Bjorn. The best part of this costume is making cupcakes out of your baby afterwards.

cupcakes

Freudian Slip

What you’ll need: A light-colored slip and a marker

Execution: Simply write some basic, easily identifiable Freud-related psychology terms all over the slip, i.e. id, ego, superego, oedipal complex, fixation, etc. This is a cool way to look drunk and smart at the same time, just like Freud!

Green with Envy

What you’ll need: One partner will need a green shirt, green pants/skirt, green accessories and the other partner really only needs some kind of label with the word “Envy” written on it.

Execution: Well, one partner dresses all in green and the other is “Envy”. It’s a cute costume for couples, and if you’re a lonely person, you can dress all in green and bring a stuffed animal or something and label it “Envy”. Bonus to this approach is that you already have a stuffed animal to cry into later when you’re still all alone!

When Life hands you lemons

What you’ll need: Quite a few lemons, and a shirt you can write “Life” across. Conversely you can spring for an actual Game of Life t-shirt, but this is about frugality.

Execution: Write “Life” across the t-shirt, wear it, and hand out lemons to everyone at the party. In a perfect universe, you can hook up with a person wearing the Sugar Mama/Daddy costume and make some awesome lemonade.

lemons

Jack-in-the-Box

What you’ll need: A box, with some string or yarn to hold it up, and a “hello my name is Jack” sticker on it. You can also simply write “Jack” on the box, or wear a name tag with “Jack” on it.

Execution: Remove the top and bottom of the box and use a hole punch or scissors to put two holes in the front and two in the back. Run the string through both sides to create a sort of makeshift pair of suspenders. Wear the box like a sandwich board and get used to responding to “Hey Jack” the rest of the night, cause that’s your new name.

Formal Apology

What you’ll need: A suit or some other very formal attire, and a name tag.

Execution: Dress to impress, then slap the name tag on with the words “I’m Sorry” written on it. Best part is you can go out and pretend to be important after whatever Halloween function you’re at, and not miss a beat! Do remember to take the name tag first, though!

Punny Hallowen Costume Ideas

Dr. Pepper

What you’ll need: A pair of scrubs and a stethoscope, and like all good things, a name tag.

Execution: This one is easy; wear the scrubs, put “Pepper, M.D.” on the name tag, and wear the stethoscope around your neck. This is a much better costume than a Mr. Pibb costume because this at least shows you’ve had enough discipline to get your degree.

It’s probably likely that you have the materials necessary for at least one of these at home right now and it doesn’t get much easier than that. Fun fact: you get bonus Halloween Points if you embarrass your family/friends with these costumes!

Can you guess my punny Halloween costume from last year (hint: my daughter was a flower):

baby flower mommy bee costume

15 Seemingly Weird Ways to Save Time & Money!

15 Seemingly Weird Ways to Save Time & Money!

When it comes to saving time and money, everyone has their own little rituals and tricks that work for them. Whether you clip coupons to save money or pre-pack your gym bag and keep it by the door to save time, you’ve surely got a couple of these rituals yourself. Surely everyone shares some of these habits – they’re pretty commonplace.

What about the more fringe time or money savers, though? I’m not talking about re-using paper towels or renting your dog out as a clown (talk about frugal horror stories!), but what about never buying kids’ clothing from department stores? Ever considered raising worms to recycle your produce and make some top-quality fertilizer? Does it get weirder? Read on to find out some of our best-kept secrets for saving time and money and please note that the links below may be affiliate links, which means I could earn commission should you click through to make a purchase.

Unique and Interesting Ways to Save Your Family Money

Interesting ways to save money

Create an easy meal plan

Creating a meal plan is of course one the best ways to save time and money, but you can take it one step further by stacking the meals together so that one rolls into another. Monday evening roast a whole chicken with potatoes and onions, maybe some carrots and then use the leftovers. How, you might ask? Simple! Prep the leftover meat for enchiladas or fajitas the next day, and then take the leftovers and make bone broth. With a little pasta and some veggies, that’s 3 meals from one chicken.

Meal plan stacking is taking one great meal that has leftovers and making another great meal from them. Did you have shrimp tacos for dinner Tuesday? Make gumbo on Wednesday. Big pot roast with tons of leftovers? Toss it into the crock pot with some adobe seasoning and peppers, and have carnitas the next night. It will save you money and time AND be delicious!

Vinegar Uses

Vinegar has literally dozens of household uses, and at about $2/gallon, it is one of the best investments you can keep under your sink.

vinegar bottle aldi

Of course you can use vinegar in cooking but if you take an empty spray bottle and fill it with 1 part vinegar to 2 parts water and add some citrus peel or tea tree oil, you’ll have a cheap, incredibly effective cleaner and disinfectant. Most of what you’d buy in the store is about 5% acetic acid (white vinegar), which will kill most germs, but if you really want to be sure, you can look for something a bit more powerful. Health food and green living stores will often sell stronger vinegar.

Cleaning fruit with vinegar is also a great way to remove the waxy grossness from apples and a lot of the pesticide residue from both apples and strawberries. Considering both the aforementioned fruits routinely make it on the dirty dozen list for most contaminated foods, giving them a quick wash in a 3 parts water to 1 part vinegar solution can really decrease the pesticides your family ingests. Vinegar will also help your strawberries stay fresh longer!

Invest in a Water Cooler

We bought a water cooler when we had our son because we wanted an easy source of distilled water. Flash forward four years and we’re still using it daily.

We did the math and the water cooler was cheaper over the expected two years of needing bottles than filters for a faucet-mounted system. The trick is after using the jugs (we bought them at Lowes), instead of swapping them out for new filled ones ( at $6.99/apiece!) we disinfect them with vinegar and refill them at about .25c/gallon at a local grocery store.

The cooler we bought also has a tap for hot water, which makes it great when I’m in need of my daily matcha tea fix or just a nice cup of chamomile before bed!

Make Notes on Your Food

This one sounds ridiculous, but consider the number of times you look at something in the fridge and simply can’t remember when you cooked/opened/bought it. We realized we were throwing out stuff that might still be good, so we bought a Sharpie specifically for the kitchen. We glued a magnet to it so it sticks to the fridge and whenever we have leftovers or open a container, we date it. This makes sure we know when things are still good and when we should actually toss them.

Because my husband follows a keto diet, we also tend to have at least three containers of heavy cream in our fridge at any given time. It can be incredibly frustrating to have to open two containers only to realize its the third one that’s already open. It’s a simple thing, but marking the cap with an “O” really helps save time each and every day!

Vermiculture – Yes, We’re Talking Worm Farming!

If you’re unfamiliar with vermiculture, you’re likely not alone. It’s a fancy word for “worm farming” and it’s a really interesting way to reduce your food waste. It’s surprisingly simple to raise worms, and though they’re not cute and cuddly, they DO provide some fantastic benefits for growing your own garden.

Essentially the worms break down organic waste like apple cores, vegetable scraps, etc. into nutrient-rich castings which you can use as a fertilizer. They also produce a sort of waste fluid called “worm tea” that is a wonderful addition to plants, making them healthier and more vibrant.

blonde boy smiling brown hair girl smiling worm farm

We set up our worm farm using a couple totes, but you can also buy relatively inexpensive ones online if you don’t have the desire to DIY. 

If you DO want to DIY, you’ll want to check out this post on how to start your own worm farm.

Vermiculture is great because it helps you reduce your food waste while also making your garden significantly healthier, and if you don’t already garden, it’s a nice extra bit of encouragement.

Toilet Paper Tube Projects

Got some kids stuck in the house all day with nothing to do? Toss some art supplies at them and give them toilet paper tubes!

Ok, maybe that alone won’t help, but toilet paper tubes are very versatile pieces of cardboard. Some ideas include:

Poke two holes in the top (opposite each other) and run a string or piece of yarn through them. Smear peanut butter around the outside of the tube and then roll them in birdseed, and voila! You have a quick, simple bird feeder that will absolutely attract some feathered friends to your yard.

Decorate the outside of one by gluing on a strip of leftover fabric and use it to hold your excess extension cords, or when you store them!

Fold the undersides in at one end and fill them with soil, and use them as seed starters in the late winter to get a jump start on that garden!

Stuff them with dryer lint to use as campfire starters!

Use your imagination for a variety of artistic endeavors – their shape lends itself well to making candle holders, for instance. With some interesting decorations you can have a spooky candle holder for Halloween, a cheery one for Christmas, or a turkey for Thanksgiving. Of course use battery operated candles!

Encourage your children to use their imaginations and you’ll be surprised at what they’ll come up with. My kids love to create monsters with lots of googly eyes, of course!

Garage Sales

As long as we’ve had kids, we have been very intentional about buying presents and clothing ahead of time. Every time we’re at a garage sale, if we see something that will fit them, we typically pick it up if the price is right. I’m honestly not sure if our kids have ever had brand-new shoes, and that’s 100% fine with us.

If you have kids, trust me – you will WANT to sell all the clothes you get, and you’ll feel WAY less bad about selling them for .50c apiece if you bought them for .50c apiece.

garage sale

The “Present Tote”

Another way we make use of garage sales though is by taking a look at what toys and games our kids might eventually like. When they’re really little this is especially easy, but basically just buy up any cool toys or games you see that are super cheap, and store them in a “future presents tote“. For instance, we found about $50 of Play-doh toys and accessories for $5 a garage sale, and it happens that our kids love the stuff. Boom, big Christmas gift, bought and paid-for.

While you shouldn’t just buy anything all the time “because it’s on sale”, if you get a really good bargain on something you know your children will love, it will save you money in the long run. 

Multitasking Hurts

The single biggest time saver (and mind saver) you can invest your energy in is to avoid multitasking. Multitasking simply doesn’t work! There may be a few exceptions to the rule, but we’re essentially single-core processing units; undivided attention to a single task proves much better results than trying to do multiple things at once. Not only will you have better results, you’ll also get it done faster and more accurately, and then you can move onto the next task with undivided attention!

Make Use of In-Store Pick-Up

This one is two-fold — first of all, using in-store pick-up will help you avoid impulse purchases while also better ensuring you don’t forget something on your list because you’re too busy minding the kids to remember you need dish soap. It’s also a huge time saver, but did you know it can also save you money? Whenever you do in-store pick-up, check with Ebates first and you may very well earn a percentage back on your purchases (meaning FREE money!!)

Ebates Coupons and Cash Back

Using Gift Cards through Ebates

Speaking of Ebates, this is a great way to stack up your savings.

If you know ahead of time that you’ll be shopping at a certain retailer, be on the lookout for discounted gift cards through sites like Raise.com. Even if you don’t do a lot of online shopping, be sure to check out Raise.com – if you know you spend money on a regular basis somewhere (like a certain gas station!), why not buy gift cards for yourself and save even more?

For example, I recently purchased a $50 Sears Gift Card for $41.90. Then I made a purchase through Ebates for $53, using mainly that gift card and earning myself a nice $4.24 back. So instead of spending the full $53, I’m actually only looking at a total deficit of $37.66 – a savings of nearly 30% and that’s just on one purchase!

Sign up via my referral link for Ebates and you’ll earn an extra $10 back on your first purchase! Worried about a catch? There is NONE! Check out my Ebates review to learn more.

Use Bubble Wrap on Windows

Seems silly, yeah? Heh or maybe you’re like me and think it just seems fun! When I first heard about this trick, I was skeptical. I’m a fan of using shrinkwrap packs to insulate my home against the winter cold, but when you have bubblewrap for free thanks to holiday packages, I figured I’d give it a shot…and it worked! Click to learn more about how to use bubblewrap on your windows as insulation.

Winterize Your Home: The Bubblewrap Method

Winterize Your Home: The Bubblewrap Method

No Inside-Out Clothing!

This one might seem a little neurotic but I consistently demand that no one throw inside out clothing into the wash. While it might only take two seconds to flip the clothing right-side out, those seconds certainly add up when you have to do it as you’re folding an entire load. Make laundry easier by asking your family to right their clothing before it goes into the wash.

Six Smart Tricks to Tackling Laundry, Make Doing Laundry Easier and Faster, Do Laundry Quicker, Spend less time doing laundry!

Click to read more laundry hacks!

Sell-By Dates

It’s not secret that we love Aldi, and one of the things we love is that they drastically mark down their meat when it’s close to the “sell-by” date. Without getting into food waste politics and such, I will say that food doesn’t magically become inedible when it’s passed it’s “sell-by” date.

When you see great prices on food at your grocer, pick it up and freeze it, or work it into your current meal plan. Obviously use common sense when it comes to food, but don’t consider food automatically spoiled just because it’s 12 hours past the sell-by date.


Invest in Amazon Prime

One of the best ways to save time and money is to shop online. I do believe in shopping local whenever possible (particularly at our Farmer’s Markets) but I’m a work-at-home mom with two very young children – I’m lucky if I remember to brush my hair every day, let alone have the stamina to leave the house. Amazon’s reach is wide, and it makes getting what we need fast and affordable. Prime does that to the next level – offering free 2-day shipping on almost anything you buy from Amazon is a huge deal. The price is $99/year if you elect to enroll annually, or $12.99/month, and while that might seem steep, it does offer a great amount of discounts, including the free 2-day shipping which will pay for itself. You can check it out for yourself with this free 30-day trial!

 

What are some weird ways YOU save time and/or money?

Comment below and let me know!

Why I’m Not a Multitasking Momma

Why I’m Not a Multitasking Momma

Is it possible to stop multitasking and get more done? Well, as a work-at-home mom with two preschoolers, this may come as a shock to you but —

I don’t believe in multitasking!

Insanity, right? But as a mom and as an efficiency strategist, I want to share with you why I think we need to stop seeing “ability to multitask” as a strength, because frankly…

Multitasking is impossible.

When you think of multitasking as more than just “chewing gum and walking at the same time”, you’ll quickly realize it’s not actually multitasking at all, but task-switching. And when you’re asking your brain to CONSTANTLY switch gears, it’s no wonder you’re exhausted all the time and feel like you’re getting nothing accomplished.

There are certainly times in which you can do two tasks at one time – checking e-mail while jogging on the treadmill, for example – but even that only goes so far. If you had an important e-mail to write out, you’d almost certainly wait until you were done exercising. It’s the same reason you turn down your radio when you’re driving and think you may be lost; your brain can only stretch so far when attempting to do more than one thing at a time.

Multitasking is not efficient.

It’s also important to note that multitasking is also incredibly inefficient; the more you try to “multitask”, the more apt you are to make mistakes.

How many times have you accidentally used baking powder instead of baking soda because you were trying to make muffins while checking your child’s homework and also writing out a grocery list? Or how many times have you misplaced your keys because as you come into the house you’ve suddenly got three people wanting ten different things? It’s not just the stress that makes you feel frazzled, but it’s your inability to break the multitasking habit.

Speaking of stress, though…

Multitasking is stressful!

Multitasking stresses you out, not just from the mistakes you made, but also going back to one of my original points: you’re exhausting yourself and your brain.

When you try to multitask, you use up what’s called your “working memory”, your auditory and visual-spatial memory. Because of this, you’re basically bottlenecking your thought processes, but rather than filtering them through one at a time, you’re trying to jam them through all at once – hence the stress.

Along those same lines, just as you’re more apt to make mistakes, you’re more apt to inadvertently ignore other things going around you when you try to multitask.

For example, I originally fleshed out this idea of banning multitasking while on a walk with my son. Do you remember the viral video a few years ago about counting basketballs and in the middle of it, a gorilla walked by and almost all of us missed it? It’s because our brains were so focused on the basketballs that we missed the “beauty” of the gorilla.

So likewise, when you’re looking down at your phone while waiting for a bus, you may miss the love of your life walk by. Or maybe you’re watching TV while reading this post, and you’re losing out not only on some productivity tips, but you’re wasting your time by even trying to process what it is I’ve written.

Should we stop multitasking altogether?

Despite everything I’ve said, I don’t mean that you should stop multitasking all together, because let’s face it – there are times when multitasking is a MUST (whether we like or not!)

Take this morning, for example:

Kids woke up when I did at 7am and I offered them 30 minutes of “tablet time” in exchange for the freedom to knock out a few e-mails to my clients.

They agreed to it…until 7:10am when I heard “MOMMMMM! I’m STARRRRRVING!” (This comes from my oh-so-dramatic 4 year old son.)

“Okay, bud,” I responded, “Do you want some cereal?”

“Hmmmmmm….how about french toast?” he said with his signature charming smile.

“No,” the 3 year old piped in, “Pancakes!”

Oy…

So now instead of writing that email, I had to settle a debate between the children regarding which kind of breakfast bread they wished to consume.

(Spoiler: We settled on french toast with the promise of pancakes tomorrow.)

brown hair toddler reading a book

My daughter doesn’t take my multitasking advice; she prefers a bit of light reading with her breakfast…

And of course as I started to make french toast, I realized I should also feed the dog and the cat. Oh and finish up some dishes. Oh and see if dinner requires any early prep work today. Oh and….

My e-mails!!

So rather than trying to juggle it all at once, I took a breath, grabbed my headphones, and used voice-to-text to map them out while the smell of butter and cinnamon filled the early morning air.

And as I was talking out my e-mails over the sound of egg-battered bread hitting the skillet, I found myself smiling. Because even though life is often a bit chaotic, it’s exactly what I’ve always wanted.

I’m my own boss (if we don’t count those two little ones who call me “mom”) and I get to spend my days not only living out my own dreams, but helping others do the same. All at my own pace, by my own choosing.

So do we multitask…or no?

If you’re like I was a few months ago, maybe the thought of not multitasking has never even crossed your mind. Or maybe you read this post and thought “DON’T multitask? HA! Yeah right…” But why not give it a shot?

I challenge you to try going just ONE day — it’s only 24 hours! — without multitasking. Meaning no podcast playing while you drive to work. No Facebook scrolling in the bathroom (gross). No folding laundry while watching TV. Only single-tasking allowed!

I guarantee you’ll be surprised at how difficult it is. Our brains have been trained to want to multitask, no matter how harmful it may be to do so. It’s like when you try to quit sugar – you don’t realize just how addicted you are to it until you try to stop.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a toddler eager to serve me some play-doh cupcakes. 😉

blonde toddler holding playdoh

Oh but before I go – what do you think…

Will you try to quit multitasking for a day? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!