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?