One bite at a time together (projects 14-17)

One of the problems I have when I read any kind of “simplify life” articles or books is that I end up skimming through it and thinking, “Yeah, that’s a really good idea. I should totally do that.”

And then I don’t.

I mean, I know I should… But taking that extra step and being intentional about it is a whole different beast. So I decided to report my progress working through Tsh’s e-book, One Bite at a Time. It’s broken down into really manageable projects, just one per week, and if I had some accountability from other readers, I’d be much more likely to actually implement the tasks.

The first Friday of every month, I’ll be sharing my journey. I certainly don’t have it all together, and I’ll always be honest with you. There are some tasks that work great for me and my family, others I just can’t get into, and some that I already do naturally.

I started this project a few months ago, so I’m already on Projects 14-17. You can jump in right alongside me since they can be done in any order, or you can check out what I’ve written so far here.

Week 14: Eat Whole Foods (on a budget).

I once read that when you’re done grocery shopping, 80 percent of what is in your cart should be from the perimeter of the store. Think about it: that’s where you’ll find all of the fruits, vegetables, and meats. Aisles in grocery stores are typically filled with boxes, cans, and bags. I’ve worked with this general idea when I shop for a few years now, and it’s a really simple way to remind me to cook with real food as I’m shopping.

Photo by MVI

This chapter reminded me that I really needed to make an effort to buy locally. The irony of my life is that I live in one of the richest agricultural areas in the United States. In fact, it’s known as one of the best places in the world to grow strawberries—and yet, I rarely (if ever) find myself at the little roadside strawberry stand less than three blocks from my house. Instead, I buy berries that have been shipped hundreds of miles, from the grocery store.

It’s silly, but sometimes buying locally means a separate trip, it means having cash on hand, and it means actually being intentional and doing something outside of routine. I’m happy to report that the local farmer’s market on Wednesdays is going to have a new “regular” from here on out. I will, however, say that the recommendation to “eat less meat” may never happen in this house. I’m not sure I can ever, in a million years, convince my husband of that change. We’ll see… baby steps.

Week 15: Make Your Kitchen Paperless.

I was actually really looking forward to this task. I’ll never forget the time I was a poor college student, in an apartment on her own for the first time, and I went to the store. I bought: trash bags, paper towels, napkins, and toilet paper. For some reason, I didn’t need to buy food or drinks.

Photo by Mykl Roventine

I about had a heart attack when my total was over $20. TWENTY DOLLARS FOR A BUNCH OF STUFF THAT WAS INTENDED TO GO INTO THE TRASH???!!! I’ve never quite gotten over that experience, and have always groaned whenever it was time to replace the gigantic pack of paper towels from Costco.

I found a 24-pack of thin bar mop towels at Smart N’ Final for $8.99, came home, rearranged a couple of drawers, and happily moved the roll of paper that lived on my counter to the garage. So far, I love it. I like that my countertop is free of the paper, the towels are just as easy to use, and frankly, there’s some paper in the garage if I really need it.

I have a small trashcan under the sink that I use as a hamper. Next up is finding some inexpensive white cloth napkins online and getting rid of the paper napkins that sit in a tray on my kitchen table. I had hoped to find some locally, but it’s looking like I’m going to have to order online.

Week 16: Schedule Regular Date Nights.

I know, I know. This is like the first commandment of happy marriages, right? Regular. Date. Nights. And it’s one of those things that sounds really nice and fun, but it’s so hard to implement. We have three kids 4 and under, and one with special needs. While we do have a babysitter we use from time to time, I’m always a little uneasy while we’re gone.

Photo by Nono Fara

Plus, it gets expensive. We live far from friends, so swapping babysitting nights isn’t really logistically possible, for the most part. Luckily, my husband’s cousin goes to college about 30 miles north of us, so when she has a free Saturday night, we try to snag her to watch the kids while we get some much needed alone time.

Because the kids are young and go to bed early, we’ll wait and have dinner on our own (and I’ll usually make something fancier), and then watch a movie via OnDemand and chat uninterruptedly. It may still be in our living room, and there will be dishes waiting in the morning, but it works for us for now. In the meantime, the times we are able to get away are so sweet.

Week 17: Create an Essential Papers File

A couple years ago, I found a brand new fire safe lock box at a yard sale for $10. When I got home, I haphazardly threw a few important papers in there and stashed it in the closet. The obvious—like our marriage certificate, the deed to our house, passports, birth certificates, and our social security cards. I loved this task, because Tsh’s list was so much more comprehensive, and really gave me a good overview of what to really put in there.

Photo by Mikko Luntiala

The best part of this whole thing is that not only is it all safe in case of a fire (because let’s face it: you can re-order all of it, but it would be like adding insult to injury if you had just been the victim of a house fire), but I know that if my husband randomly comes home asking for something specific, I don’t have to panic trying to rack my brain of which drawer or file it’s in. It’s all in one cozy little box. Now if only I can remember where I put the key… (kidding).

Are you working through One Bite at a Time? I’d love to hear your progress—you can play along at any time and jump in at any point in the journey!

Does this accountability project sound like something you’d like to do? Buy One Bite at a Time here for $5 and jump right in!

Have you tried these three projects yet? Any tips for eating whole foods, going paperless, scheduling date nights, or filing essential papers?

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Jeannett Gibson is a mom to four and wife to one who loves color and believes in story. She loves to tell you hers and wants to hear yours, too...because there is really no sense in wasting our suffering or not sharing in each other's joy. She blogs, fund raises, and sometimes even gets her crafty pants on at Life Rearranged.

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  1. Speaking of paperless… I decided I wanted to be more intentional about using cloth napkins this year. I’ve tried 2 different types from Target, and both have come out of the dryer a big mess! I’m not as likely to stick with my resolution if I have to iron… yuck!
    Any recs for cloth napkins that really DON’T need ironing?

    • Oh my goodness, this problem is the same thing that’s holding me up on going paperless! (Something I’m grappling with to the point that I made my exasperation over it part of my bio as a contributor here…)

      I would love for someone to chime in with advice about a type of napkin that will lay decently flat fresh from the dryer.

      • I got some at crate and Barrel that don’t seem to need to be ironed. Although I might have a lower tolerance. We use napkin rings so that we don’t have to wash them every night, so they are rolled and put away when they are clean- that means that I don’t need to worry about them lying flat. However, when I have put them out they seem unwrinkled.

    • Walmart of all places had great cloth napkins that come out of my dryer pretty straight and easy to fold. I purchased 4 pkgs of them and just wash them with my towels.

      • Thanks, Leigh and Sonja! I actually had to go to Walmart this morning, and decided to pick up a $5 pack of 7 waffle-weave bar towels. They have different-colored stripes at the bottom, which I figured would help us keep them straight; assign a color to each kid. I’ve been thinking about how my waffle-weave dish towels NEVER get wrinkly, compared with my other, normal dish towels. I’m not fanatical about wrinkles (I consider things dried on the line “ironed”), but the cloth napkins we were trying to use were just loosely stitched around the edges, not hemmed, and would not lay even remotely flat!

        I think something higher quality, like the Crate and Barrel napkins, would probably do the trick, or these waffle-weave ones… which aren’t too pretty, but will probably be stained like crazy by my kids before long!

        • I just fold mine wrinkled from the dryer. Never once heard a comment from dinner guests or family. They are just impressed that we have and use our cloth napkins at all! (As most of our friends use paper).

          Ironing? I don’t even know how.

          Now we just need to use our cloth napkins more often…..

          • I’ve bought some flannel everyday napkins on Etsy from someone that lives near me…they are small (perfect for my messy kids) and she even uses fun, kid-friendly patterns. Her name is Mary Liftin and you can search for her on Etsy. We’ve loved them, but they aren’t cheap and they aren’t “formal” (but I know she makes these, too). Good luck! I, too, have a very high tolerance for wrinkles so I would never take the time to actually iron my napkins.

    • Tracy in NJ says:

      You know those great packages of wash cloths they have at places like home goods or Kohls? They make GREAT napkins! Been using these for years. No ironing, pretty colors, inexpensive and they feel really good. I try to avoid bleach as much as possible so I find deeper colors tend not to stain if you eat a lot of red sauce and such. They have more oomph than cloth napkins and I find I can usually get several meals out of them. I just roll them up and keep a basket of them in the kitchen & everyone just takes a new one when needed. I also use these in the bathroom instead of hand towels -single use prevents the spread of germs and saves paper. I keep a wire mesh trash can right next to the sink for a hamper and wash with dish towels.

      • Tracy in NJ says:

        Oh yeah and remember that oddball shower gift of napkin rings? I actually use mine and keep repeaters right on the table

      • that’s what we use, too! only, I don’t even bother to roll them 🙂 I have a square basket that they can lay flat in. A funny story about using washcloths as napkins: the first time my (now) son in law ate at our house, he asked for a napkin and was passed one. He looked at it for a second and said dryly, “At my house, we call these rags.”

    • Thank you for the helpful comments!

  2. Paper products add up so quickly. Our kitchen went (pretty much) paperless a few years ago when my husband was in seminary so we could save every penny possible. We have a ton of washcloths so we decided to use those instead of buying cloth napkins. I do have a stash of paper napkins I’ll use when we have big groups of people over.

  3. I’m skipping around in the book. My husband and I have gone through the Essential Papers File. Now to buy the safe box and we’ll be set. I’m also drinking more water. 😉

  4. We must have been commenting at the same time, Laura. As I said above, we use washcloths which don’t need ironing. They also don’t look as nice so you may not want to use them for entertaining but perhaps you could have them for everyday use so you only have to iron every once in a while. I’m also curious about what brands people have found work for them.

  5. re cloth napkin recs: When my husband and I got married almost 8 years ago, we received a dozen blue-design cloth napkins from Crate and Barrel. They have held up great: minimal fading (especially considering the time and multi-person use; we now have almost-4 kids and regular guests), no ripping/hems messed up, etc. While they don’t look “ironed,” in that pristine no-creases-at-all way, they lie completely flat and generally shake out pretty smoothly. I’ve never had any problems, except when “that” load has gotten left in the dryer for a day…or 2…and everything in it is crumpled beyond belief. 🙂 Using cloth napkins had been a dream of mine for the day when I had my own home, so I guess I was green before I knew it. 🙂

  6. Yes! I’m playing along and I wrote about it on Wednesday. I’ve been using cloth napkins for a while, but I need to invest in some bar towels and cute holder for them, then ditch the paper towels for good.

  7. I’d be interested in hearing about the price of the things you buy at your farmer’s market. I’m working through One Bite also and I’m really trying to eat whole foods (on a budget). So far this has meant trying to buy organic produce and dairy and buy antibiotic free meat. I buy most of that at Whole Foods, definitely more expensive than our regular grocery but I can shop the store brand and sales and not do to bad. I went to our local farmer’s market to try and do one better than organic and all-natural, to buy local. The ground beef was $1.50 more than at WF that week and the milk was .50 more per gallon, which may not seem like a lot except my family of 5 goes through at least 3 gallons per week. I walked around for a while and realized pretty much everything was more expensive. And a lot of what they had was high priced homemade jellies and hummus and baked goods. Delicious I’m sure and well worth it if you have the extra $$$ in your budget. But I’m working very hard on LOWERING our grocery budget. Is my market in New Orleans different than others? How do you shop at your market on a budget? How do the prices compare?

    • It might be the time of year- up north the winter farmers markets and summer farmers markets are very different in price and type/amount of produce. One thing that I would suggest when it comes to produce and baked goods (anything perishable) is go at the end of the market. Create a relationship with the farmer and see if he/she will give you a reduced price for what’s left. At our market everything that’s left at the end goes to a food charity, so the farmers are happy to make another $20 and I can take whatever I want! It works out well. Another suggestion would be to find a CSA (community sustained agriculture) near you. I actually work for mine one afternoon a week during the growing season and in return I get free food (enough to feed our family of 5 every week) but if I had to pay for it it comes out to $25 a week for local organic produce, and the farmer has the added security of knowing the produce is already payed for.

    • I though I had left a comment, but I don’t see it here. I just wanted to suggest that you go to the farmers market at the end. I will often ask if they will give me a discount on what’s left, since much of it is going to go to waste or gets donated. Also look into CSA’s. I get a free share because I work for them, but if I paid for it it would be about $25.0 a week for enough veggies for a family of 4 for the week (often more than enough!) Plus the farmer has the added security of knowing his crop is pre-paid.

  8. We’ve been working on the date night thing. We actually had a date, away from the house sans baby, just a couple of weeks ago. It was awesome! When we’re not able to get away from the house, we still plan something special (rent a movie, bring in take out) for when the baby is asleep. It helps make the evening a bit more special and different from the usual.

  9. I have been using the same cloth napkins every day for 19 years. My mom made us about 8 sets of 8 napkins each for my bridal shower. They are a very simple design. Cut to size, and then a simple zig-zag stitch around the edge to keep it from fraying and act as a “hem”. I think you need 2 yards of fabric for the set of 8. They are made from basic cotton fabric from the fabric store. I always wash them in hot, and they come out wrinkle free. I have some newer “fancier” napkins I sometimes use for company, but usually I just use these, because I have come to appreciate the casualness of them. I don’t even keep them in matching sets; I just set the table randomly. All my “niceer” sets require cold water wash and ironing, so I prefer not to use them, except for Christmas and Thanksgiving. Too much hassle!
    P.S. Mom, if you’re reading this (she’s not), I could use a few more sets next year for our 20th. Some of these are getting a little threadbare :).

  10. I just watched the documentary “Ingredients” with Alice Waters about our food system (on Netflix streaming) It was really eye opening. Two of the eye opening facts for me: 1) We spend less on food and more on doctors than any other industrialized nation (as percentage of our income) 2) 1 in 3 children born in 2000 are projected to get type 2 diabetes. 1 in 3!!!

    So, eating well has really become a priority for us. And while I can’t splurge on caviar, I’m not as worried about the fact that the food we buy costs a little more. When in season I spend about the same at a farmers market, but in the winter local organic food definite costs more. But if feeding my family well is a priority then my time and yes, my money will be spent there. We’ve been sold this idea that food should be fast and cheap, and look where it’s lead us! More on doctors fees and diabetes in our kids. Of course I still have to watch my spending, and I use lots of tricks, but I’ve increased my grocery budget and decreased the budget in other areas so that we can eat the way I want our family to eat. Thanks for an awesome post. I bought the book and I’m looking forward to spending time helping it focus our life.

    • One day I saw a drive thru pharmacy and within view was a fast food drive thru. I said to my husband, “because of THAT window (fast food), we need THAT window” (drugs). Just sad.

  11. Robin Wade says:

    Even I have this problem. I also read a lot of articles and then start thinking I should totally do that. But even I never get down to anything even near to that. I’m glad you started.
    I think I should also start doing something of this sort soon. What are your next plans?

    Thanks for sharing.


  12. This is great! A little accountability goes a long way. We did our family mission statement last year (week 6) and I started working on menu planning (week 5) in the fall. It’s has become a habit and has made a huge difference in our family meals.

    I’ve been working on creating a morning routine (week 3) and also working on weekly date nights (week 16). We’re blessed to have family nearby, so we swap regularly. It has been really fun. We mostly go to free events (concerts, presentations, etc), but occasionally, we splurge and eat out.

  13. FWIW–our school has a “no trash lunch” initiative (ie–recycle or reuse as much as possible), and I was bummed to not write notes on the napkins anymore. BUT–I found a pack of cheap white napkins at Target and I am tye-dying them with my kids. If I have something special I *must* write a note about–I write a note! But at least the napkins that go with them daily will hold a fun memory we made together.

  14. Hi! We have been slowly going paperless in our home for 4 years. We started with paper towels and use washcloths from Target. I began making our own napkins 2 years ago and so we don’t have paper napkins anymore! This year we replaced kleenex with handmade handkerchiefs. It’s been fun and it saves money! I look forward to following (and joining in) some of your journey. 🙂

  15. Sometimes a date night is just putting the kids to bed early and enjoying each others company.

  16. I grew up using lots of rags, kitchen towels, and cloth napkins, with paper napkins reserved for parties or picnics. I never realized until I went to college how ubiquitous paper napkins were for a lot of people! However, now that I’m on my own and the one responsible for laundry, I like cloth napkins in dark colors to try and hide food stains. 😉

  17. It’s nice to hear we’re not alone in struggling to get a date night! All the grandparents are 1000+ miles away, and we live in a small town where almost all our friends with kids have inlaws or parents nearby. On top of all that the one couple we’ve been swapping babysitting with is about to move : ( It definitely takes it’s toll, but like you, we’ve learned date nights after bedtime in our livingroom can be pretty awesome too! It’s just hard when you hear over and over how “essential” a night out is to healthy marriage and feel like it just doesn’t work out in your own life.

  18. What a great idea! I’m working my way through the book too, though in a different order. I’m heading over to your blog now. I love my new morning and evening routines and have plunged into the debt-free planning phase. Just got my Electric Orange debit card in the mail and have stopped using our credit cards. I credit Tsh with completely changing our lives on this front. (Thank you Tsh!) Ok, over to your blog I go.

  19. I’m in the process of making cloth napkins for everyday use now. I’m cutting up a table cloth that someone in the family had relagated to the yardsale pile and hemming the edges and letting them unravel to the hems. They are quick, easy and cute. When my daughter gets to school age (she is two) I plan to make some special white ones that we can decorate together for her to take in her lunches.

  20. We do a decent job of “shopping the perimeter” but most of my groceries don’t come from the local stores. We buy from organic coops or from an organic market in the nearest city. Living in central Alberta, you cannot focus strictly on local eating. What I am going to be working on is simply giving up some of the pesticide-laden favorites that I am unable to purchase organically: red peppers, strawberries, grapes, cucumber. Ouch. I will work on replacing these fruit/veg with alternatives that are a little safer when organic isn’t available.

    We are paperless in our kitchen. We have a roll of recycled paper for the occasional needs (throw up, a big egg spill). We do go through plenty of kleenex in our home and I have not switched to hankies because I am concerned that my washing machine will not do a good job of cleaning goopy hankies.

    The past couple years or so my husband and I have been making more effort with dates. Once we had a child who was old enough we’d start by going for walks – a half hour at a time – carrying a cell so kids could call if necessary. But now we’ve progressed to venturing a bit farther and ideally will go away overnight twice a year. We have no family nearby so the hardest part is finding a friend willing/available to care for our kids.

    Many years ago, I think based on a certain show of Oprah, I created an essential papers file. We keep it in the boot cupboard of our back entrance, ready to grab in case we need to flee our home. Of course, that wouldn’t help if we had to escape out the front door. A safety deposit box would solve this problem, I suppose, but I’ve never gone that route.

  21. Tsh – can I link to your book somehow? A few friends want to know about it and rather than have them buy it from Amazon, they might as well get it from your site (you get a kick back then, right?) Thank you for this ebook. It has turned our lives around!

  22. We went paperless in our kitchen a number of years ago. I found these at Ikea:

    We use them as napkins. They’re big. They don’t require additional ironing and they’ve held up really well. Best part is that they hold up to my 4-year-old!

  23. When my dishtowels get yucky, I cut them in half for rags. We have stacks of cloth napkins. They are all in the same color tones that go with my table runners, so it all roughly matches. Napkin rings hide wrinkles and keep the dog from eating them! The only disposable paper in my kitchen are coffee filters. I suppose I could change that pretty easily.

  24. Regarding the essential Papers file…this Is critical. My inlaws were just in a massive car accident. Having essential papers in a central spot is so helpful, along with powers of attorney, bank passwords and pins. If you haven’t done it, DO IT this weekend.

  25. I have used cloth napkins for about 25 years now and yes still have the original ones I purchase way back then! I purchased them at a small retail shop in Maine “Reny’s” and never paid more than .59 each! (Please note not many of them match which makes it fun) I was a single Mom and that was all that I could afford and I knew I wanted cloth. I also made some from fabric for birthdays. If I were to replace them now I would take the plunge and purchase from a higher end retailer like Crate & Barrel or Williams Sonoma and trust that they would last as well as the ones I purchases so many years ago. On that note I believe that it is like many things we put an investment in, it pays off in the end.

    • I forgot to mention think about what you want these napkins to do is absorbency important or is beauty more what your looking for different materials will give you different results. My husband likes to use Williams Sonoma kitchen towels because it keeps is front covered! LOL Best wishes on your search for napkins.

  26. RE: The fireproof safe box – I hate to be a downer, yet need to share two stories of fires and important documents with your readers. Both incidents happened to family and close friends.
    (1) A relative had a very expensive, super-heavy “fireproof” wall safe in her house. When her house was consumed by fire, the safe became an oven. It remained standing, but everything inside was melted or charred to the point of crumbling.
    (2) A friend used a fireproof safe box he bought from what he considered a reliable source. When his house was hit by fire, the box melted. The firemen said that sometimes the fires get so hot that even the “fireproof” things can’t withstand the temperatures.
    I am not suggesting that you throw your arms up in despair and say “why bother?” But I do suggest that, along with some sort of fire-resistant safe box, you also store certified copies of all these documents in a safety deposit box or in the home of someone you trust.

  27. I just recently picked up about 20 cute white napkins at a thrift store for around $1. It doesn’t hurt to check, you never know what you’ll find.

    I have also made beautiful napkins from cheap ($2.99 a yard?) drapery lining I got at Hobby Lobby. It’s a fairly heavy cotton/poly that washes well. Their 40% off coupons help too.

  28. We have tried to eat healthfully, but I think I can fine tune it some more. We are not as regular with the date nights as we would both like to be, but I have talked with my older children about the importance of us having one and they were very excited to help us. One meal in particular they told me to let them take care of it and not only did they make the meal but they set the dining room up with nice music and flowers! They ate their dinner earlier and then all went upstairs to their bedrooms so we could have time alone. I think the youngest one was 7 or 8 at the time. Not only did we have our date, but they were happy that we had one and they were learning how important it was. 🙂
    I like to recycle my bath towels. When they start getting all faded or the binding is starting to fray, I cut them in 4 pieces and use them for mopping up spills. I use paper towels mostly for sopping up any grease in my fry pan before I wash it. It saves my drains from clogs. Yesterday I was happy to have them to sop up some kerosene from a lamp that got knocked over…
    If you like to sew, you could buy some cheaper fabric and make your own napkins. You could even swap them out with the seasons. The only draw back is more laundry and possibly the need for ironing, depending on the fabric. My thoughts! 🙂

  29. I’m still in the first few sections, but all the “bites” are such worthy endeavors.
    My struggle is being consistent with implementing the last challenge, instead of just focusing on the new one.
    I’m looking forward to the real food on a budget. As I learn how to use my new pressure cooker, I’m finding myself cooking more whole chickens and having a lot more broth to use for bean and rice dishes. That should hopefully help our budget!

  30. We went to an (almost) paperless kitchen when my son was in cloth diapers – it just didn’t make sense to wash diapers yet throw away napkins etc. I picked up a bunch of cloth napkins at Goodwill and other thrift stores. I don’t mind bleaching them and if they get really ruined I don’t mind tossing them because they only cost about $1 each. Hope that helps someone!

  31. For our “everyday” napkins, we use dark brown washcloths I found at target. They came in a pack of 8 (I bought 3 packs) and are holding up nicely. I actually like them better than traditional napkins because they are softer and more absorbant. After our meals I wet one of them to wipe down my 1 year old.

  32. On the quick level, the most useful tip I have for eating whole foods while staying within a budget is to meal plan. I find about five recipes a week and make a list of all the things I need to buy so that I don’t buy anything on a whim. We go to the farmers market first, and whatever we can’t buy there, we go to the grocery.

    However most benefits of eating whole foods aren’t seen within the quick results of a grocery bill or wallet. You may not even see them within a year or two. But because you buy and eat nutritious foods in its most basic forms, you’re helping your body stay as strong as possible so that perhaps in thirty years you’ve avoided heart disease, diabetes, cancer, etc. For me, that’s the main reason we shop at farmers markets (there are other excellent reasons too that would divert from this topic).

  33. Thanks for this post! It’s reminded me that I started working through the book last year, only to get distracted over the New Year break. Well it’s now February so I think any excuse of “it’s the holidays” is wearing well and truly flat!

    I am trying to buy local as well. It’s hard because we are in a small town and the re is very little choice other than the supermarket, and who knows where their stuff comes from? – we have a local fruit & vegetable supplier but they are very much hit & miss in terms of what they have and the quality. The other market type places are 20-30 minutes drive away, so in my mind that starts to negate the whole point of staying local when you have to add in travel costs/vehicle emissions and so on.

    I agree, the key is planning and doing one big shopping trip so you don’t need to keep going back. Meal planning is something I’m particularly bad at, so need to keep it simple. Then maybe I can avoid the supermarket altogether. That’s my ultimate goal!

  34. Apparently one more thing they forget to teach kids in high school today. The basics of economics, and how so little can stretch so far. The reason we as a society went so far to the disposable end is because of easy and convinient. These days, kids don’t know there was a way to make it work in reverse.

    Funny how I wrote today about teachers who can spread financial lessons into everything from history to health to economics. I almost wonder if we would have made it as far as we did without the economic education we had.

  35. I already make whole foods a high priority, and our kitchen is (mostly) paperless. We have an abundance of dish towels that we use for cleaning up messes. We use them for napkins too, but I’ve been wanting to get something nice for napkins, and have been wondering what fabric to use to make some. Someone mentioned flannel above, so I’ll try that.

    Regular date nights is something we need to work harder on. Well, we do it every once in awhile and it’s always great. We have a fairly clingy toddler and I’m a very attachment-style parent, and I’ve recently had to start working part time to get our bills payed, and my husband and I both really need alot of alone time, so dates tend to come after all those other things. . .

  36. I’m working my way through the book/bites too and blogging about it. Happy to see I’m not the only one. We go back on forth on the paper vs cloth around the house. Try to use as much cloth as we can handle but when we’re buried in laundry we have the disposable to help us catch up. I’ve been skipping around here and there. So far I really like the oil method for washing my face. I’m avoiding the tasks I really need to tackle – the whole ‘eat my frog’, set and use a budget, exercise… baby steps… right? I’ve made some good progress in 5 weeks.

  37. We have gone paperless for a year or two now… I got some cloth napkins at Crate and Barrel when they were on clearance, and they are very durable and don’t wrinkle. We love flannel (just cut into squares and left to fray; no hems needed!) for handkerchiefs, and we use microfiber cloths/washcloths to clean up spills. I keep leftover kleenex boxes for when we have company, or when we are sick (sinus infections esp. as the nasty gunk is really hard to get out of cloth!). I love it and love how much money it saves! We also keep a roll of paper towels under the sink for patting raw chicken/fish dry, bacon grease, and the occasional bug/spider disposal.

    I guess dates are easy now with no kids… we are blessed right now in that regard!

    On whole foods… I have a lot of health issues so we are pretty much forced into eating well. Lots of food around the perimeter, local when we can afford it, and almost completely organic. What has saved us a ton of money is me deciding to consider it a “part time job” to cook/bake from scratch. The savings is substantial (seriously, the hourly salary works out to about $25 an hour from avoiding processed food and making our own!) and there is an added bonus for me of being in complete control of what ingredients I put into our food. My goal is to get a great set of recipes over the next year or two so that when we have kids I’ll at least have a collection to pull from. No idea where the time will come from to cook/bake at that point, but we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it! 🙂

  38. I love this post. I don’t have One Bite, but after reading this I think I need to get it. I’ve been overwhelmed because there’s just so much that needs attention and order in my life. Being able to have this as a guide to tackling it one bite at a time sounds wonderful.

  39. starting my journey…one bite at a time.

  40. I’ve been considering this ebook for a few weeks now and this post just encouraged me to finally buy it. The essential papers file just caused a twinge of guilt, so it’s time to get started….

  41. Thanks for sharing your date night solution.

  42. I bought One Bite the week it was released, but I’ve never gotten around to reading even the first page. Such it the way it goes with so much self improvement, isn’t it? It doesn’t work unless you work it. Your post is really inspiring, and I’m going to go back to your site and read the earlier versions. Thanks for sharing!

  43. I do so many of things already, but it’s nice to be reminded that I am finding ways to live more intentionally. I had to buy this book so I can start checking stuff off and maybe be inspired to try some new things to simplify. Thanks for sharing your journey!

  44. I started my own One Bite at a Time project. I am so looking forward to the other weeks!!

  45. I’m doing this too! So fun! Each Friday I’m taking readers through one of the 52 bite, covering each (in order that’s appropriate for the season) in 2012. So fun! It’s been great so far, really blessed by this book. Thanks!

  46. Well you have managed things quite nicely, I wish I could do it like ya…

  47. Mark Volan says:

    Well managing is something which I face a lot of problem…. I wish I could do as you do.

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  49. Ola! Simplemom,
    Interesting Post This is a school project we’ve been asked to do. If a person eat one meal a day, and the meal could be as unhealthy as they desired, and with every bite they took they chewed the food but spat it out, would they consume calories or gain weight?
    Does it matter what time of the day they did this? Or the amount of times/meals they ‘chewed but spat’?
    All the Best

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