Money Tips for Teenagers

Money Tips for Young Adults

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The world may be your oyster, but money still makes the world go round. So, whilst there’s more to life than finances, getting to grips with saving cash is essential for all young adults. Whether you’re saving for a new car, trying to get the deposit for your first house, or simply want to grow your nest egg, explore our six money saving tips for millennials.

Always Prioritise Debt

Regardless of why you’re trying to save money, it’s important to realise that paying off debt needs to come first. The reason for this is that debt accrues interest whilst it remains unpaid – quite often, you’re left paying off only the fees, and your debt sits unresolved as this interest piles up.

If you’re in a situation like this, consider moving your debt to a 0% balance transfer credit card. This could cut hundreds – or even thousands – of pounds off the cost of existing borrowing, making it easier for you to rid yourself of debt itself. Once you’ve done this, you can then start saving.

Make Saving Routine

It’s easy to say you’re going to put some money into a savings account each month, but how many of us really stick to this financial pledge? Rather than just adding small amounts to your nest egg, commit to saving a set percentage of your income every month.

The amount that you can afford to save will depend on your individual circumstances – including how much you earn, any debts you may have, and your living arrangements. Don’t aim to save so much that you’ll leave yourself short for the month. Instead, figure out your monthly essential spends – such as your rent and bills – and put aside a percentage of the money which remains. Again, don’t put all of this away: budgeting isn’t an exact science, so it’s useful to keep some additional money handy in case you’ve miscalculated things!

Stay On Track

An unchecked bank account after a month of unmonitored spending can lead to a very dangerous financial situation. From phone bills to the odd coffee out, all spends add up quickly. But that paralysing cocktail of anxiety and dread as you peer at your bank balance can be easily avoided. How? Simply by staying on track.

This involves budgeting, which is useful because it helps you to stay on track of your money before you burn through it! Make a note of all incoming and outgoing cash – no matter how small the amount – so that you are aware of how much money you’ve got to work with each and every day of the month.

Plan For The Unexpected

Saving money is financially proactive but, unless you’re saving it simply to grow your nest egg, the likelihood is that you’ll spend the money once you reach your predetermined goal. Whilst doing so is acceptable (after all, if you’ve saved hard for a new TV, you want that new TV!), it’s important to understand that leaving money saved in the bank is both sensible and essential.

The reason for this is that finances, like many things in life, are unpredictable. Whether you get hit with un unexpected bill in the post or are suddenly made redundant, being left in a vulnerable financial situation can be exceptionally worrying. To help safeguard yourself against such scenarios, consider setting up an emergency fund.

This saved money will come in useful should you ever fall on hard financial times! You can still save for other things – just make sure to leave your emergency savings as a backup rather than spending them on your next luxury buy.

Easy Energy Saving Tips

10 Energy saving Ideas

In addition to the tips mentioned below, <a href="/node/904911">check out this infographic</a> for more ways to lower your energy bills this spring. | Infographic by Sarah Gerrity, Energy Department.

Here are just a few simple things you can do to improve the energy efficiency and comfort of your home as warmer temperatures arrive:

1. Service your air conditioner. Easy maintenance such as routinely replacing or cleaning air filters can lower your cooling system’s energy consumption by up to 15 percent. Also, the first day of spring could serve as a reminder to check your air conditioner’s evaporator coil, which should be cleaned annually to ensure the system is performing at optimal levels.

2. Open windows. Opening windows creates a cross-wise breeze, allowing you to naturally cool your home without switching on air conditioners. This is an ideal tactic in spring when temperatures are mild.

3. Use ceiling fans. Cooling your home with ceiling fans will allow you to raise your thermostat four degrees. This can help lower your electricity bills without sacrificing overall comfort.

4. Cook outside. On warmer spring days, keep the heat out of your home by using an outdoor grill instead of indoor ovens.

5. Install window treatments. Energy efficient window treatments or coverings such as blinds, shades and films can slash heat gain when temperatures rise. These devices not only improve the look of your home but also reduce energy costs.

6. Caulk air leaks. Using low-cost caulk to seal cracks and openings in your home keeps warm air out — and cash in your wallet.

7. Bring in sunlight. During daylight hours, switch off artificial lights and use windows and skylights to brighten your home.

8. Set the thermostat. On warm days, setting a programmable thermostat to a higher setting when you are not at home can help reduce your energy costs by approximately 10 percent.

9. Seal ducts. Air loss through ducts can lead to high electricity costs, accounting for nearly 30 percent of a cooling system’s energy consumption. Sealing and insulating ducts can go a long way toward lowering your electricity bills.

10. Switch on bathroom fans. Bathroom fans suck out heat and humidity from your home, improving comfort.

 

Make The Most of Your Money

Make The Most of Your Money

1. Mind the traps. We all tend to think we’re good at spotting a deal – but actually we will spend more money for a cheap car in an auction just because the luxury car sold before it went for a lot of money.

2. If you pay by card rather than cash you tend to spend more money and buy unhealthier foods. Try paying by cash more frequently for your smaller purchases, particularly at lunchtimes. Even better – make yourself a packed lunch.

3. Your personality plays a big role in how good you are at saving money. Sometimes people mistakenly think our attitude towards money comes from our upbringing and our parents, but have you ever noticed that siblings can have very different attitudes towards spending? Stable extroverts are more open, comfortable and carefree about their money. Whilst people who score high on conscientiousness are better savers.

4. The rule of threes: shops and online stores often lay things out in groups of threes. Imagine you’re looking to buy a cheap computer…there will be three items of a similar spec laid out in front of you. The three items will range in price from cheapest to most expensive. By showing you the one that’s more expensive, at least two out of three consumers will always buy the computer that is the middle price, rather than purchasing the cheapest item. This is the ‘compromise effect’ that most people fall for. We are most sensitive to disadvantages when shopping and often avoid the cheapest one in case the product is no good.

5. Not all money is worth the same. You will get more pleasure from winning £25 in a lottery one week followed by £50 the next, rather than £75 all in one go. Be mindful of your money and try and enjoy any winnings, no matter how much.

6. Beware the prices that end in a nine. £2.99, £3.49 or £59. People tend to think that these prices are better value, simply because the number nine is so often used to signal a discount. Amazingly, this will have the effect on people’s minds that if they see something priced at £39 next to something valued at £35, they’ll actually buy the one costing £39 because they think it’s a discount!

7. It’s not in a name. Some studies have shown that people will buy according to their name. So for example, if your name is Frank, you might be quite likely to go for something valued at £55 because of the letter ‘F’. Crazy, but true. Fortunately, only people with certain letters in their names need to worry about this one.

8. We care about fairness. A study was done about snow shovels and whether it was ok to double the price of a snow shovel when there has been a heavy snowfall and the shovel is in demand? People were fundamentally against this because it’s not fair.

9. ‘Reference points’ are important to a buyer. This is when a consumer will be looking at the previous price prior to a discount to see what their savings could be, or they compare the price they’ve seen to what other stores are pricing the same item at. Sellers have a lot of trouble trying to control what a customer’s reference points are – if they can control which reference points you see (think shopping online or the mark-down prices in stores) they can control what price you’re willing to pay.

10. Keep your eyes peeled for tricks. The shops change their tactics fairly regularly, because consumers tend to realise after a year or so what is going on. What supermarkets tried 10 years ago isn’t what they’re doing today.

12 Money Saving Tips

12 tips for how to save your pennies


The first months of a year can be tough: our pockets are empty and it feels like a long way to the next payday… Don’t panic – clawing back cash doesn’t have to mean big changes. After all, we all know the old adage: look after the pennies and the pounds look after themselves.
Here are thirteen simple tips for how to reign in the expenditure and build your bank balance back up. It’s time to have fun being frugal.

1. Check your statements

It’s not a thrilling way to while away the hours but going through your bank statements will give you a realistic sense of what you’re spending your hard-earned pennies on – and it might throw up a few surprises. It’s easy to make online purchases after a few too many glasses of wine; we can set up direct debits and forget all about them; and ad hoc golf magazine purchases can really add up. See if there’s an obvious area where you can cut back – and be on top of all your outgoings.
2. Cut back on coffees

A takeaway flat white on the way into work might not seem like an extravagance at the time, but if you’re buying a handful every week it can add up to hundreds of pounds annually. Invest in a thermos cup and take your own brew on the way to work. Or if your own concoction won’t cut it, many coffee shops including chains offer a discount if you bring your own cup.
3. Switch energy suppliers

One of the easiest switch-to-save measures is to change energy suppliers. Shop around for the best deal going and you could save hundreds of pounds. The same applies to internet and mobile phone providers. It’s also worth a haggle: ring your current provider to find out whether they can give you a better deal. If you have found some good alternative contracts out there, use them as leverage. Don’t be lazy, do the leg work!
4. Keep warm for less

To keep your heating bill down, put an extra jumper on before turning up the thermostat. Put a chunky duvet on your bed, rugs or carpets on the floors, insulated curtains in the windows and a furry blanket on the sofa. Toasty! It’s also worth going around the house and plugging any drafts under doors, or cracks in the windows, to keep the warm air in and the cold air out.
5. Sell your clutter

Who needs 24 egg cups? If you have stuff you don’t need anymore, get busy on auction websites. There are websites where you can list items for free – it’s a great way to make a little bit of cash whilst clearing your house of clutter.

How to save money when abroad

Eddie Mair talks to Simon Gompertz, Personal Finance Correspondent.
6. Car share

Sharing long-distance travel on a commute to work or a journey can cut costs, with the driver getting a contribution to petrol and the passengers saving on pricey rail fares. Do you know anyone living near you who would be keen for the company? If not, websites like Liftshare.com or GoCarShare.com can help, and some companies actually offer workplace car share schemes. And remember, parking can cost an arm and a leg – particularly near a busy event or in the centre of town. Websites like parkonmydrive.com give you access to the residential driveways nearby that are sitting empty. Cheaper than a multi-storey and less corners!

It’s worth your while checking your bank statements: we can set up direct debits and forget all about them.

7. Swap ’til you drop

Why buy something if you can get it for free? Users of Swapz.co.uk can register for free and exchange a wide variety of goods and services, from futons to flying lessons. Swishing.com shows you how to organise a clothes swap party with friends.
8. Join a library

You can swap books, but you can also join a local library where you can access hundreds for free. And it isn’t just reading material that’s up for grabs. Most will offer CD and DVD rental too, as well as reading groups, film nights and great rhyme and story sessions for children.
9. Home cinema

Rather than heading to the flicks, bring the silver screen into your own home by finding a suitably large white wall and rigging up a projector. There’s an upfront cost but you’ll soon make that back. (The cost of cinema pick ‘n’ mix alone could get you a small horse.) The Oscar winning films are often available on subscription services – you might just have to wait a year or two to catch up.
10. Make do and mend

Do you know how to darn a sock? If not, it’s time to learn. Upcycling old clothes – rather than splashing out on new items – is a great way to save. Seek out some free online tutorials and learn how to mend, make alterations and even create clothes from scratch. Gok Wan eat your heart out.
11. Bulk up on veggies

A good way to save on your food shop is to cut back on meat and bulk up on the vegetables. It’s worth remembering that loose fruit and veg can be cheaper than those wrapped in plastic and pre-bagged. Think cabbages and cauliflowers! Frozen veg can be cheaper still and popping peas back in the freezer means less wastage.
12. Plan your meals

Planning out meals for the week means you know exactly what you need to buy, and will keep wastage to a minimum. Fewer trips to the supermarket also means fewer opportunities to impulse buy! Cook up some hearty casseroles, stews or soups and take leftovers for lunch to avoid exorbitant sushi purchases.

Big Energy Saving Week

Big Energy Saving Week

Here is an article published by the Energy Saving Trust, we also offer assistance in this area and you can see us out and about in Ealing, feel free to come and have a chat. Next event will be at morrisons Ealing on the 2nd of February.

Guide on available financial support
© Energy Saving Trust
There is a variety of financial support available that can help make you more energy efficient,
and save money on your energy bills.
Warm Home Discount
If you claim the Guarantee credit element of Pension Credit or are on a low income you may
be eligible to receive £140 off your electricity bill between September and March. For those
claiming Pension Credit, if you have not yet had confirmation of the discount you should
contact the Warm Home Discount team on 0345 603 9439. If you are on a low income you
should contact your energy supplier to find out if they are part of the scheme and if you may
qualify. You should call them as soon as possible, as this winter’s schemes will start to close
soon.
Citizens Advice
If you are struggling to afford your energy bills, visit the Citizens Advice website for debt
advice or call the helpline: 03454 04 05 06.
Financial Support for Energy Saving Measures
• If you live in England
Financial support is available through the Energy Company Obligation (ECO). This is an obligation on certain energy suppliers to assist customers in improving the insulation of their home and, in some cases, the heating. If someone in the property claims a means-tested they
should contact the Energy Saving Advice Service on 0300 123 1234 to find out what may be
available.
There are also a large number of local authority schemes which can give financial support
towards energy saving measures in certain circumstances. You can contact your local council or
the Energy Saving Advice Service on 0300 123 1234 to find out more.

January Blues, here are some tips to help out

Quick saving tips for January

 

Saving money is like flossing. We all know we should be doing it, but it’s just as easy not to. And, like flossing, it has serious benefits, both long and short term. Think of good breath as your short-term savings fund, and the long-term benefits of life-long dental care as a future house and healthy pension plan.

Here are some quick tips on how to cut spending this January:

• Cash limit – Work out your weekly spending needs and take the cash out, leaving those credit and debit card s at home when you go shopping.

• Plan meals in advance – Make a weekly meal planner and stick to it. Only buy ingredients that you will use and if possible buy either a cheaper brand or make use of those deals.

• Use a basket not a trolley – having to carry your shopping will prevent you buying those unnecessary items, believe me I’ve tried.

• Use the car less – Fuel costs can be a big expense, sp why not plan to walk more this January. It will help to burn those Christmas calories too.

• Start a savings jar – i find popping some spare coins from my pocket into a jar every day really helps to motivate me. You get a great feeling watching the jar fill up. It is always exciting and amazing to see just how much you have saved every month too. (Tip, to stop you dipping into the jar make a tape lid with a hole in it for the money to go into but much harder to take out.

Christmas Money Saving

Xmas savings

1 Set a limit on spending. You have to be rich to make a really grand anti-materialist gesture à la Nigella (Lawson). One year, she told her children that they could only keep one present: the rest were going to a local children’s hospital. An alternative is to declare a budget. I’ve warned my five children that there’s a £50 ceiling for their main present, though Santa may shove some bits and pieces into their stocking. So far they have taken the disappointment well: the budget is sufficient to get a Sainsbury’s cashmere cardigan (£35) or a Zara Basics belted jacket (£49.99). For discounted toys try www.thetoyshop.com, whose star buys section has an electric guitar reduced from £69.99 to £19.99, Baby Born dolls at £17.50, and Playmobil Pirate ships (£19.99). Under-a-tenner ideas include the following: www.cartoonme.com turns photos of your nearest and dearest into hand-drawn cartoons for £3; a Glana four-photo frame from Ikea is £9.99; cushions from TK Maxx cost £9.99; a four-pack of tulip wine glasses at M&S are currently reduced by 30 per cent, to £9.50.

2 Make your own presents. Christmas mornings this year will resound with cries of “Oh, how lovely”, as people swap apple chutney. My sister has already been hard at work with her copy of Pam Corbin’s Preserves (Bloomsbury, £12.99), making raspberry vinegar, pickled shallots and quince-paste membrillo. I’ll go for preserved lemons: easy, cheap and a nice colour on the shelf; I’ve already stocked up on cheap Kilner jars; www.waresofknutsford.co.uk and www.jbconline.co.uk sell them.

3 Let’s keep bookshops in business. If you want to buy someone a book, the answer is not always Amazon. Find the best price for it on www.find-book.co.uk. WH Smith is selling Jamie’s Ministry of Food for £10, while the Guinness Book of World Records is £9 at Asda.

4 Choose useful presents, but don’t go too far. Oxfam shops are stocking some relatively fun ideas that can’t be deemed useless luxuries, including a Hippo Water Saver for £1.99. Placed in your cistern, it will save roughly a third of the water flushed down the loo; if the recipient looks unconvinced when they unwrap it, tell them it’s an item much-loved by Cate Blanchett. The charity also sells notebooks with recycled bright plastic covers bearing a description of what they used to be – cup, box or bag – at just £2.49 a pop. They also have an ingenious wind-up torch (£19.99) which will never need new batteries – an ideal gift for credit-crunched dads.

5 When it comes to lunch, plan ahead. I wish I had. I’ve missed the boat for raising my own turkey in a plastic coop in the back garden: June or July is the time to install a pullet to give it time to fatten up. Having to kill, draw, hang and pluck the bird would be a downside, but if the financial belt has to be tightened still further, it may appeal next year.

6 Serving Christmas pudding to my children has always been a waste of money; this year I’m copying the chocolate version from Nigella’s Christmas (Chatto & Windus, £25) – essentially it’s a normal cake recipe, except that it’s made in a bowl, steamed for an hour and a half, and served draped with chocolate sauce. That will stop the children hiding the heavy fruit version under their spoons once they’ve got the sixpences (5p bits) out. It is also comparatively cheap to make.

7 Waste nothing.  Another of the ideas from her Christmas Book (Dorling Kindersley, £16.99) is to pot up cuttings of your best plants. (B&Q sells 23cm terracotta pots for £1.) She decorates labels with glued-on seeds and leaves. Delia’s good at scrimping, too. In Frugal Food (Hodder & Stoughton, £17.99), she recommends using dry cider in place of wine to make coq au vin and boeuf bourguignon – everyone needs a break from turkey – and claims they have turned out “beautifully”. Alternatively, I freeze the dregs in wine bottles for cooking with another time.

8 Go on a booze cruise. Twice a year I head to Calais to stock up as duty on wine in France is 0.02p per bottle, as opposed to £1.46 in the UK. Majestic were the first to offer free Seafrance car ferry trips to customers – alternatively, they give cash back. See www.majesticinfrance.co.uk for details. Oddbins and Sainsbury’s offer similar deals. I went with a girlfriend; between us we spent just over £800 and got £96 back, which paid for the crossing and lunch at Le Channel near the port (four courses €21.50; 0033 32 13 44 230). Majestic’s best cheap blended plonk is Cuvée Richard (white and red) at £1.69. Five years ago, they mostly stocked beer and Liebfraumilch; the range now is much the same as in UK stores.

9 While in Calais, go to a hypermarket. There’s a choice: Auchan and Carrefour, as well as Sainsbury’s. Even with the dire euro exchange rate, there are some good buys: check online at www.auchancalais.com and www.carrefour-calais.com. I load up with cheeses, pâtés, olive oil, apricot jam, tomato concentrate, mustard, vinegar, coffee, madeleines, powdered hazelnuts (good for meringues), lardons, jambon cru fumé, circles of ready-rolled pastry (why can’t you buy them here?), oysters, fresh yeast and tins of Bonduelle peas. Recent best-buys were a giant (32cm) Le Creuset-style cast iron casserole for €55.45, a salmon-sized (60cm) fish kettle for €29.95, and six one-litre preserving jars for €10.92. NB: diesel is still cheaper in France but unleaded isn’t – and I wished I’d bought petrol before going to the supermarket because the Auchan pump gave me a €5-off voucher.

10 Talking of money-off vouchers, dedicated discount hunters can chase up the best deals by going to www.myvouchercodes.co.uk. Yesterday, they were showing 15 per cent off first orders over £25 from Littlewoods and 20 per cent off clothes from Asos.

11 The best gifts can be free. Famously thrifty pensioner Gay Cossins once asked each of her children for “just one hour of your time”. Each of them agreed to do a job for her , such as clearing out her food cupboard and helping her sort her wardrobe. A pledge to clean someone’s car would be similar gift. Get tickets for a favourite BBC show from www.bbc.co.uk/tickets (sadly, under-18s can’t go to Top Gear); ask for free samples when buying something from a cosmetics counter (they make great stocking fillers); or give away some of your treasures. I was thrilled when my sister gave me a dress she no longer wears.

12 Give presents that will provide hours of pleasure… How about “three-for-two” paperbacks this year? A more extravagant option that should ensure warm feelings all year is a subscription to a favourite magazine; cheap deals are available from www.discountpublications.co.uk (eg, National Geographic for a year for £29) or www.qualitymagazines.co.uk (eg, Harpers Bazaar for £24.99). A bottle of perfume lasts for ages, and you can get it cheap from www.fragrancedirect.co.uk or halfpriceperfumes.co.uk . Find discount make-up at www.feelunique.com.

13… or gifts that support a good cause. Chit Chat is a double CD of interviews conducted for a talking newspaper for the blind, with old favourites (living and dead) including Peter Ustinov, Yehudi Menuhin and Spike Milligan. All proceeds go to Fight for Sight Eye Research (£10 inc p&p from Wienerworld, 020 8206 1177, www.wienerworld.com ).

14 Don’t forget the jokes. The most memorable presents are often the cheap, silly ones like Smiffy’s extendable fork for pinching food from others’ plates (£4.50 from many joke shops, including www.the-joke-shop.com). Hawkin’s Bazaar (www.hawkin.com, 0844 5734000) has Gelli Baff (£4.99) which turns bath water into coloured goo (and then back into bath water). Another cheap bath joy is a glowing LED “glow in the duck” (£4.79) from crazyaboutgadgets.com; they also sell reindeer mugs with noses that light-up when you put a hot drink in them (£5.59).

15 Share the cost of Christmas by gathering as many members of the family together as you can. Each person can provide one element – the turkey, booze, puddings, etc. You could also set up a Secret Santa scheme. Each person buys a gift for one other person, chosen by ballot, spending to an agreed limit. Alternatively, make opening cheap treats more fun by putting them, wrapped, into a festively-decorated dustbin filled with shredded newspaper and turning present-giving into a Lucky Dip.

16 Wrapping is another money guzzler but there are alternatives to expensive sheets and ridiculously short rolls. Use up left-over bits of wallpaper – not only is it decorative, it doesn’t rip when children inspect what’s under the tree. Alternatively, you can get a 300m roll of brown paper from www.rajapack.co.uk for £19.59. I go to my local wholesale flower market for big florists’ packs of tissue paper but you can get 240 sheets for £6.99 from floristsuppliesuk.com. From the same source you can get 250 yards of thin curling ribbon for £0.75, and various kinds of fancy cellophane (from £10.56 for 120m). Add a touch of gold: a can of spray paint (£4.99 from www.londongraphics.co.uk) will jazz up everything from twigs and pine cones to walnuts and apples.

17 Cheap lights work out expensive: once one bulb goes the whole lot is useless. This year I’ve invested £69.99 in 10m (100 bulbs) of heavy-duty LED lights that won’t give up on me and are cheap to run (0845 370 0333, www.xmasdirect.co.uk). Make your home twinkle with 8-hour nightlights (£6.16 for 100 from www.klaremont.com).

 

 

How To Reduce Take Away Food Bills

Lowering Take Away Food Bills

Take Away Devils! Part 1

Eating out, takeaway restaurant meals, dining out, take-away, delivery… whatever you want to call it, not preparing your own food is the #1, top, chief, primary, far and away most commonly cited roadblock to frugality. Without fail, this is the most frequent question I get from readers. Without deviation, this is cited as the largest area for budgetary improvement. And without alteration, this is the toughest thing for people to modify in their quest for saving money. And I feel this pain keenly–it was the most challenging thing for people to give up as well! What is it about food prepared by other people????!!!!
I’m going to repeat out an old adage here that food is a necessity, but expensive food is not. And while endless reems devoted reams of the internet on how to shop for groceries efficiently and frugally, eliminating takeaway and dining out is BY FAR the most significant impact you can have on your food-related budget. We all know that eating out is a raw deal, but we do it anyway because it’s easy and it’s tasty. I don’t deny that.
But I do challenge you to consider if all the money that gets eaten up every month by take-out is truly worth it to you in the end. It’s not facilitating your longterm goals (financial or health-wise) and it’s not a productive use of your hard-earned pounds. if you’re not sure how much you spend on such culinary conveniences each month, then it’s time to start tracking your expenses, whichever way you find easiest (apps,paper,excel,etc).

Before we get to the suggestions, I must highlight that the #1 reason cited for eating out is a failure to plan ahead.How Readers Avoid Eating Out/Getting Take-Out

Cook a large batch and freeze it!

Sonia says it’s about planning ahead and having a low barrier to entry, “Make sure you have enough ready-to-cook-in-a-short0time food at hand, whether at work or home. [My husband] takes fruit and yoghurt [to work] and occasionally a treat of some kind such as a small chocolate. He takes trail mix/nuts, sandwiches, a whole bag of food and virtually never hits up the vending machine or the local takeaways… and probably eats more healthily and far, far more cheaply as a result. It’s a mind set and a habit. The key thing is it must be easy and quick at the time you want it, there must be a very low barrier to entry or you’re sunk!”

Pat shared, “I’m a really good cook, and very picky about what I eat. I’ll only eat out of it’s something better than I could make myself, or as a specific social evening, friends visiting from out of town for example. My mom and I were reminiscing the other day about how in first grade I tried the school lunch on day one, packed my lunch on day two, and never looked back!!

Roy says, “With a baby in the mix, I’ve had to scale back my cooking time and focus on getting food ready fast! So, no homemade pizza dough for awhile. Frozen veggies have been surprisingly helpful, and not just for blending into baby food. I never thought saving a few minutes of washing and chopping would matter, but for now it does! We also always keep some combo of canned black beans, wheat tortillas, salsa and cheese around. Everything but the salsa goes in the freezer and that could too, so it’s always there for us. Add some veggies and it’s insta-dinner, flavorful and pretty healthy as we go light on the cheese.”