Planning has never been my strong suit. However, I recently discovered that planning is a necessary skill to have to live naturally on a budget. Without planning, the thought of cooking meals, making many of our own household products, and living more sustainably seemed overwhelming. I felt like there was never enough time in the day to complete everything I needed to do. After a few hectic weeks recently, I realized that to make natural living a reality for my family, I needed to learn how to make natural living a more efficient option. Here are a few key planning tips that will help make natural living easier.
The to-do list is my new best friend.
I never thought I would feel that way about a to-do list. I frequently read advice about using lists, and now I know there’s a reason for that. It’s because lists work!
Every morning, jot down all the things you need and want to accomplish that day. The list should be as detailed as possible for a couple of reasons. One, writing down everything helps to avoid forgetting an important item. And two, every time you get to cross one of those items off the list—no matter how insignificant the item may seem—it’s a big win mentally because you’ve accomplished something. Then rewrite the list in order of priority. This step is important because a prioritized list enables you to focus on the important items, while still allowing you to cross off the less important items if you are able to complete them.
Planning Meals and Snacks
One of the biggest changes I had to make in terms of time management was finding the time to cook at home. Preparing meals at home can be time-consuming, but a bit of planning will cut down the time significantly.
Planning a meal menu is the first step in managing meal times. With some practice, meal planning takes only a few minutes each week. Keep the kitchen and pantry organized to make meal planning even easier because you can see what you have on hand. This also helps in food planning because you can plan meals around items you have instead of having to find new recipes for every meal. In addition, keep an updated shopping list as you run out of an item, which will save you time shopping.
Once the shopping is done, stick to the menu! My family had a hard time with this one for a while, but once we settled into a habit of sticking to the menu it cut down on meal preparing time. We knew exactly what we’d be having for dinner that night and we could prepare parts of dinners in advance, such as pulling out the meat, chopping vegetables, or putting dinner in the crock pot.
In addition to planning meals, be sure to plan out snacks for those times when you’ll be away from home for a while. Having a healthy snack to reach for when you’re hungry and away will help to avoid stopping and picking up fast food or other less healthy options.
Keep Reusable Items Handy
There’s something about having laundry caught up that just makes the house feel organized. However, when there is limited time, laundry and dishes become a lower priority for me. In truth, the world will not end if there’s a load of dishes in the sink or laundry in front of the washer, but keeping up on both items has turned out to have some advantages I’d never thought about before.
I discovered I was much less likely to reach for paper towels if reusable napkins were handy. Paper towels are convenient, but they aren’t anymore convenient than reusable napkins if napkins are within easy reach. If there are no paper towels, then it’s easier to avoid using them. Not purchasing paper towels also saves money. This planning tip also works for reusable baggies, lunch bags, grocery bags, and food storage. Stop purchasing the “easy” disposable items, and ensure that there are always reusable items handy.
Another planning tip is to keep reusable grocery bags all together and in the same spot so you can grab them just before shopping. Keep a bag or two in the car as well for those times when you stop unexpectedly to purchase something. Store all your reusable bags together to save time and help ensure you don’t run out of the house without them!
A little planning can save time and allow you to accomplish more with less stress. Natural living sometimes feels more time-consuming than living conventionally, especially when many of us grew up with the idea that disposable items and fast food were convenient. However, with a little planning, natural living can be just as easy, and it has the added bonus of being a lot healthier.