Archive for February, 2012

Think Thrifty

We’ve all heard the advice “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.” Turns out this advice is not just good for our environment, but it can help save us some money, too.

Let’s focus on the second “R”: Reuse.

One of the best ways I’ve found to save money and “be green” is to shop for secondhand items whenever possible. What’s great about buying secondhand is that it reuses items, which saves resources compared to buying new products, which uses additional resources. This is great for the environment and, with the exception of antiques, can save consumers a lot of money, too.

There are SO many great stores out there such as St. Vincent De Paul, Goodwill and on a local level, Fox Valley Thrift Shoppe, among others, that sell secondhand items.

Additionally, there are awesome sites out there such as Craigslist, which is essentially a sold-by-owner type of online thrift store.

Most thrift stores sell a variety of products from clothes and shoes to furniture, kitchen utensils and books, making it easy to get what you need all in one place.

Here are a few photos of some of my more recent purchases from thrift stores:

A set of nearly new clothes for my god-daughter, which I recently purchased from Goodwill for under $5.

A chair I bought at Goodwill for about $15.

And a pair of shorts for myself for about $6.

Another benefit of shopping at thrift stores is many of them exist to do philanthropic work with the money they make. For example, Goodwill served more than 2.4 million people through its employment and training programs in 2010.

Goodwill also supports sustainable initiatives including training its staff to adopt green practices.

Still don’t believe shopping for secondhand items is worth it? Check out this blog post on Helium for more reasons and tips for going thrift shopping!


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Not only is living “green” good for the environment, but it can be really good for your pocketbook, too! As @do something said, “Being green saves you money. Being green saves you green.” That’s what this blog is all about.

For now, let’s start with food.

I am not strictly a vegetarian, but I do choose to eat some meatless meals. In addition to the health benefits and savings in cost, there are some huge environmental benefits to eating less meat. According to a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel blog, eating vegetarian creates 1.5 fewer metric tons of carbon dioxide per year than diets that contain meat. This has the same environmental impact as switching from driving a Chevrolet Suburban to a Toyota Camry!

The article also suggests that eating only 2 oz. of meat per day may actually be better for the environment than eating more than 2 oz. of meat per day and is also better than going vegetarian completely.

If you have a hard time thinking of ways to reduce the amount of meat in your diet here are some cheap, but tasty, meatless recipes to try!

Baked Potato Soup

1 garlic clove
1/2 t. pepper
2 large baked potatoes
1 c. half and half
1 small onion, chopped
3 T. flour
1 t. basil
3 c. chicken broth
1/4 t. hot pepper sauce
shredded cheddar cheese

Saute onion and garlic and half of potatoes in a saucepan with olive oil. Stir in flour, pepper and basil. Gradually add broth, bring to a boil stir for 2 minutes. Add rest of potatoes, cream and sauce. Heat through. Do not boil. Garnish with shredded cheese.

Berry Mandarin Salad


1/4 c. sugar
2 T. honey
1/2 t. paprika
1/2 t. onion
1/3 c. vegetable oil
2 T. vinegar
1 1/4 t. lemon juice
1/2 t. dry mustard
1/4 t. celery seed or poppy seed
dash salt


1 bag or tub of spinach
sliced strawberries
chopped onions
toasted almonds
1 can mandarin oranges

Combine dressing ingredients. Refrigerate until ready to serve salad. Combine salad ingredients. Toss with dressing just before serving.

Bean and Cheese Quesadillas

1 T. olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 can black beans, drained and lightly mashed
1/2 c. salsa
1/2 t. chili powder
1 pkg. wheat flour tortillas
8 oz. pepper jack cheese, shredded
1/2 c. cilantro leaves

Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add onion. Cook 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in beans, salsa and chili powder. Cook 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Spray hot griddle or clean, heated skillet with cooking spray. Place one tortilla on griddle or skillet and cook 1 minute. Spread 1/3 c. bean mixture and 1/3 c. cheese over tortilla. Sprinkle some cilantro over top. Place another tortilla on top and cook 1 minute. Press gently with a spatula and turn. Cook 1 minute. Remove from griddle or skillet. Spray griddle or skillet with cooking spray. Repeat rest of steps to make a total of three quesadillas.

Very Veggie Frittata

5 eggs
1 c. shredded cheddar cheese
1/4 c. sour cream
2 sliced green onions
1 c. mushrooms, chopped
1/2 c. red peppers, chopped
1/2 c. green peppers, chopped
1/2 c. yellow peppers, chopped
1/4 c. onion, chopped
1 T. butter

Beat eggs, 3/4 c. cheese, sour cream, onions, salt and pepper together. In a 9-in. skillet, cook mushrooms, peppers and onion in butter until tender. Pour egg mixture over vegetables. Cover and cook 4-6 minutes or until nearly set. Uncover, sprinkle with 1/4 c. cheese. Broil 2-3 minutes or until eggs are set. Makes 4 servings.

Margherita Pizzas

2 store-bought wheat pizza crusts
2 t. olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 c. shredded mozzarella cheese
3 plum tomatoes, thinly sliced
1/4 t. garlic powder
1 t. italian seasoning
basil to taste

Place one pizza crust on ungreased pizza pan. Brush with oil. Top with half the toppings. Bake at 425 for 10-12 minutes. Repeat with other pizza crust. Makes two pizzas.

Note: each pizza can be made for under $5 using a prepared pizza crust.

For more meatless recipes for under $5, check out the 5 Dollar Dinners Blog or share your own here!

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