Mini-lutions explained ~ by Moni Gilbert

From Colleen ~ Yesterday I introduced my Monthly Habit Changing Challenges. As mentioned in yesterday’s post it was a comment by Moni, where she mentioned her mini resolutions or Mini-lutions as she calls them, which prompted me to do so. I had been considering this idea for a while and Moni’s idea confirmed for me I was on the right path.

On Sunday Moni sent through the following post to share with you all explaining her mini-lutions. So without further adieu here it is.

I have a lousy track record with New Year’s Resolutions, my best intentions to better myself tend to falter around mid January and are usually deemed defunct by February at the latest. Through the years I have googled various plans and techniques to succeed with New Year Resolutions and there is a lot of good advice out there. However, I’ve yet to learn to speak Spanish, run a marathon (or even around the block for that matter) or do a night school course in Mediterranean cooking. Statistically speaking, this puts me in the bottom 92% of New Year Resolution entrants, yes that’s right, only 8% succeed and the common theme amongst the success stories, is that they were short term, achievable and quantified.

So this year I’m going with Mini-lutions. I’m going to pick one or two small areas of my life/household that need some improvement and I’m going to set a time limit of 1-3 months to improve those areas. Once I have completed this challenge, I will pick another area of my life/household that needs some tweaking. Often we baulk away from something that we feel isn’t do-able or just doesn’t seem a high enough priority, but it takes just 21 days to establish a good habit and if I tackle even just 4-6 small areas in a year, over the next few years that has got to add up to a lot of improvement in how I run my home and life.

My theory is linked to two challenges that I participated in here at 365 Less Things, the first was Project 333 which was to run from April to the end of June, but is still is in effect today. The second was “Keep It Tidy November” which initially took some effort but eventually the new habit entrenched and systems fell into place to help maintain the concept through to 2013.

 So, back to New Year’s Eve, while everyone around me resolved to get into shape, drink less, travel more and cut up their credit cards, I devised my first two Mini-lutions. Both are very humble in the scheme of things and spectacularly unglamorous, but both are areas that I knew I had loads of room to improve, were achievable and could make a difference to the bottom line of my household budget.

ONE: I am going to reduce my dryer usage. (I did mention ‘unglamorous’ didn’t I?) I now have two friends who don’t own dryers and though they both agree it isn’t always easy in a country with a fairly high rainfall count, they both manage. I’m not planning to never use my dryer again, but I’m going to save it for the times when all other options are out. I’m going to look at whether it is a time management issue or simply just a long established habit. 

TWO: I am going to reduce the amount of wasted food in my house, especially from the refrigerator. There were improvements in my household over 2012 especially thanks to ideas from 365 Less Things, but I want to see this wastage stopped and this means I need to rethink the quantities I purchase, possibly how I purchase, how I prepare meals, how I deal with the left overs and how I can make sure that food doesn’t get overlooked in the fridge. As someone who describes herself as “Cateringly Challenged” this definately requires some re-education and research but there is some great advice and tools via the internet that I have put into action.

So, fellow 365’ers…..what Mini-lutions do you have?

Today’s Mini Mission

Declutter any baking trays or cake pans that weren’t used over the holiday period. Let’s face it if they weren’t use in December when will they be. I came up short for one spring form pan which I borrowed from a neighbour. This is something I would rarely ever use anyway so I don’t feel the need to own one.

Eco Tip for the Day

Use some sort of reusable splatter guard when heating in the microwave. This can be rinsed off and used over and over rather than wasting paper towel or plastic wrap. I use a large plastic microwave safe container lid when reheating most dishes or a glass casserole dish with a lid when cooking from scratch. 

For a full list of my eco tips so far click here

It matters not how fast I go, I hurry faster when I’m slow

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About Colleen Madsen

Colleen is the founder of 365 Less Things and lives in Newcastle, Australia.


  1. Over the last year or so, I have been forced to hang clothing in an effort to keep items from shrinking. It may be that I am only imagining it but I have had a real challenge keeping one of my children in the same clothes for an entire school year without having to purchase new items because the clothing no longer fits. I have found that since I have started hanging his clothes to dry that I have not had any problems with his clothes not fitting. In the past, the dryer seemed to be shrinking items and within a short time they were not fitting him. I have done this in an effort to save money, not just in electricity but in clothing also.

    I would like to see my grocery bill reduced. I find that food is consumed at enormous rates in my house due mostly to having two growing boys. I rarely have anything go to waste, but I would like to be better about setting a fixed budget for grocery items. I find that some people have success by putting together a menu for the month or week, whatever works for people, and throwing in a day to use up leftovers or making sure they are consumed in lunches, etc. Good luck to you and although, I do not have any specific mini-lutions, I will be working to improve things especially in my grocery department.

    • Making a menu is one of the most important things you can do to reduce your food bill. Then write a detailed list and stick to it.

    • Hi Jen – I know what you mean about growing boys and how much they eat! And outgrowing clothes – one of my daughters grew through 4 sizes of clothes in one year. I don’t have much of a problem with shrinkage with my dryer but I bought F&P and it has sensors for dryness so it turns off when the clothes are dry.

      At the moment we are in Summer so it was a good time to start this, if I’m not sure about the weather, I can hang it on racks in the garage and it will still dry. Winter will be challenging as the temperatures drop, even with using racks indoors.

      Food. A friend who is a chef recommends menu planning and got me to write the ingredients of each meal on a card, plus listing ‘bonus ingredients’ ie give it that little extra something but if weren’t available the meal would still be complete. Then I can work out the meals I want for the week, check what I already have in stock and from there add to my shopping list. I might think I have enough, say cheese, for that particular meal but when I see the lineup of ingredients for the week I can see that I don’t have enough for 4 meals that require it, so add it to my list or reduce my quantities. This was to help me cut down the number of return visits to the supermarket which inevitably resulted in other stuff making its way into my basket – I had huge food bills.

      I know this sounds a really overly-simple method of menu planning but remember that I am Cateringly Challenged, my IQ drops by half as soon as I walk into the kitchen. 🙂

      Oh, and getting back to the ‘bonus’ ingredients – I was to give some extra thought to which meals I would get these items for ie not every meal needs to be fabulous, but to see if there was another meal on the week’s menu that the same item could be used for.

      • Now that’s a great idea Moni for menu planning. It sounds pretty simple and easy too.

        • Deb J – its very handy having a friend who is a chef, unfortunately most of her knowledge is out of my depth.

      • I never realized how much boys could eat but I think if I work harder on meal planning it will help tremendously. I will have to continue to use my clothesline, at least for some things, since it will be some time before I will get a different dryer. Thanks for the advice.

  2. hey Moni, I am impressed, those are two reasonable good ideas.
    I dont own a dryer, I always hang my clothes (inside, as I dont have a balcony either), and I never had any troubles. especially in winter, when the heating is on, the clothes are dry in no time.
    I am using a dryer only if I need certain clothes to shrink (done that last year due to weight loss).
    I will join you on the second one though. because I have had a similar problem. I dont waste THAT much food, but I occasionally have to bin rotten veggies. So I will try to use them before – maybe by preparing and then freezing stuff.

    Jen: reducing the grocery bill is easy if you follow one big principle: write a list at home (take your time for that) and then stick to the list in the shops. no special offers, no extra things, no stocking up on bargains, etc. only buy what you need, and you will spend less money on it. If you didnt do that before, you will notice a big difference. I did for sure.

    • Hi Lena – well done on the weight loss! I have five adult size people in the household so I have quite a laundry service to provide, but it is summer here and so far it hasn’t been too challenging. The biggest bonus is that I have plenty of clear space on the garage floor to set up racks if the weather looks dubious, when I think back to how the whole garage floor used to be covered in boxes and stuff, oh I’m so glad that is gone.

      Lena – was it you that gave me a recipe for pizza bases? It had yoghurt in it I think, if so could you tell me again? I have misplaced it.

    • I make lists but I need to work better at sticking to it. I get easily distracted in the grocery store :).

      • Jen – if I take my husband or my younger daughter with me grocery shopping its guaranteed to be on the high side if I take both of them I’m doomed. I try to eat and have a hot drink before I go to the supermarket so I’m not so interested in hunger-food. My friend uses the calculator on her cellphone to add up prices as she put stuff into her trolley – I tried it once and it did keep the cost down but I kept forgetting to note the price as I took it off the shelf and had to keep backtracking.

  3. Instead of a list of things I want to do this year, I am just breaking up the things I want to do and working on them one at a time. When I succeed with one I will move on to the next. My goal is to improve not be perfect, so it isn’t an all or nothing New Year’s resolution. I have a shelf for leftovers in my fridge. It helps to reduce food waste because I know where everything is so it doesn’t get lost in the back of the fridge. Maybe you can do a leftover meal on the weekend and eat up what is left before the new week begins.

    • Spendwisemom – that’s a good idea to have an area set aside for left overs. I have read a lot of different ideas and its good to hear what actually works in principal rather than just in theory. When I was growing up, mum always did a fry up of everything left over mixed in with left over mashed potato – I loved it, but alas my kids look very unconvinced when I put it in front of them.

      I have been working on quantities at the moment, which meals work well as re-heats the following day, which meals ideally have to be eaten in one sitting, which meals could be doubled and one frozen for next week etc.

      Yes the back of the fridge is the problem area, plus the vegetable drawer. As it is summer here and salads are served every day, I have been putting the capsicum, cucumber, tomato, lettuce etc that has been cut into a container so that I use those first rather than having to hunt thru the fridge. So far that is working well for me.

  4. Great ideas Moni – good for you and good for the planet! The shopping list does help in reducing waste and I meant to add my tip after Colleen posted the idea of paperless lists – I use a free app on my phone. You can save all the items you put in and check and uncheck the boxes when needed.

    • Hi Megan – I have to admit that I often use online grocery shopping, as it reduced my weekly shopping trip by about $100 from impulse buying. Everyone in the house has to add whatever it is they personally require (and of course, I can remove items from the e-trolley if I want) and it costs me $8 to have it delivered. However at the moment the kids are on Summer break from school so I have a bit more time on my hands, so I am back to going shopping in person again but I have noticed that the food bill is creeping up a bit again but that is possibly because the kids are home plus when their friends come over its like locust have been thru the pantry and fridge.

      What is the name of the app?

      • Moni my app is called OI Shopping (I have no idea what the “OI” stands for!) and is the one my daughter uses and recommended. However there are a few other free shopping list apps – you might prefer one of the others if you don’t like the OI.

  5. How I wish we could hang our clothes out. We are not allowed to do that here in our neighborhood and I have found out that many others have Home Owners rules for their neighborhoods that prohibit outside laundry lines. Sort of stupid in my mind but they seem to think the sight of clothes on the line is unseemly. Bah! To hang them in the house we would have to buy a lot of things to hang them on. I’m trying to come up with a way to do it on our enclosed patio.

    We don’t really have waste in the grocery area. For years we have used a list and followed it. We also have a list of possible meals and create our shopping list from it. The one place where we have waste, in my mind, is in the spices because as I said we have some we haven’t used in years, shouldn’t have bought in the first place and Mom won’t get rid of.

    • Hi Deb J,
      it may be hard to believe, but usually one rack like this ( is enough for one load (approx. 5 kg when dry) of clothes (the rack is supposed to be just an example of the size/type. At least over here one can get a nicer one for less money at a supermarket but I am not familiar with what you have available in “the land of the dryers”). Sheets and duvet covers are a different story and we are happy that we can hang them outside on lines if it’s not rainy or in a designated space in the attic if it is not too cold up there. We put them over our doors inside the heated apartment in winter (unsightly but it works …). I’d probably use a dryer on them in winter if I had one. But with the rest of the clothes it really is no problem to dry them inside on only one of those racks.

      • Well, what do you know. I never thought one of those would dry that much. Hum! I need to rethink all of this. Shoot, I could put one of those in my bedroom and it wouldn’t even be in the way.

        • Deb J,
          if you think about going down that road, maybe try to find something similar to that:
          (sorry I can’t provide a better/English example …)
          the tubes in the middle part (they are about as thick as a finger) beat the coated wires other drying racks have because they provide some space in between the piece of laundry that you fold over it and thus it dries quicker and better. Also you prevent the sharp crease that a wire or a clothesline would leave in the garment, if you fold over it. The second advantage of a model like this is that the side parts don’t fold over but pull out. So if you don’t need them they can stay pushed in. The ones you fold out always need to be folded out in order to use the middle part whether you use the side parts or not. If not in use the whole thing folds up flat. I store mine on two hooks on the wall.

          • I have exactly the same and I love it… I store mine standing on a wall, next to broom, vacuum cleaner and suitcases.
            I also dry my bedcovers on it. I have a bigger sized bedcover, so I fold it in the middle and hang it over two or three bars. all other clothes are next to it, and the bedsheet is then spread over the whole drying rack, hiding the other clothes (nice, if you have people over and your underwear is hanging in your livingroom)… I never liked hanging the bedsheets over doors, although I know a lot of people who do that too.
            I would love to place this outside and let my things dry outside, but unfortunatly, big city life didnt offer me a cozy and safe spot to do that. the next place will have a balcony – at least.

          • Oh, I like this one a lot. I will have to check and see where I can find it here in the US. We have some local places that might have it. Great idea. Thanks so much.

          • Hi Deb J! I have one of those too. It is great to dry clothes inside. Hope you find it. It is bigger than it seems in the picture.

      • I know that my grandmother (and others too) hung her sheets and towels outside also in winter, they froze (I suppose most of the moisture went away that way) and obtained very nice, fresh scent. I, myself, have never tried that because I live in an apartment and it is not an option.

    • I use this one – – it’s light and easy to carry around and to fold up.

      To deal with double quilt covers I fold them in quarters and put over 2 lines – works fine! With fitted sheets, I just drape them across the wings at the end. I am amazed at how much I can get on – sometimes 3 loads of my 7Kg washer. I do use pegs to hold things on. I also hand shirts etc on plastic hangers at the ends.

      Our balcony regulations are that washing should not be visible and these waist height ones seems to be acceptable. In winter, it lives inside and clothes dry overnight.

      • Calico Ginger – I have 3 x similar racks, except mine don’t have the extra fold out extensions. I can fit a days worth of washing on mine easily and there are 5 of us, and we’re all adult size. My hubby and son are 6 foot so their t-shirts are big. Winter is a bit different as clothes are thicker and heavier ergo longer to dry, plus factor in the air will be colder, but I will deal with that in Winter and enjoy the heat of summer for now.

        I looked at one of those Mrs Peggs Lines a while back, but I’m thinking I might ask Adrian if there is something we could do to shelter the outside line first. Or I just remembered a friend who had a clothes line (not the rotary kind but the fold out from the fence kind) installed inside her garage. I might have to eliminate a couple of storage cupboards to do so, but will continue with the current plan till Autumn.

      • Indoors I’m too lazy for pegs 😉
        3 loads on one rack is really impressive! I always only get one load on it. But I like that it forces me to be on top of the laundry. We need to wash two loads per week , sometimes three, and the worst case scenario is that a load takes 2 days to dry (jeans, thick cotton sweaters, thick terry towels). That doesn’t leave too much room (quite literally) for laundry procrastination …

      • thanks you all ever so much for your examples. I’m going to have to get us one. My mother might not be too excited by it but i sure will be. I hate the way clothes seem to shrink in the dryer and to prevent that I dry things on delicate–whit having to have it do three 20 minute cycles.

        • Hi Deb J, If you have a Container Store nearby it might be worth looking at their drying racks, they have a good selection and one might work for you. Our HOA has the same rule about laundry outside, crazy really with all the fences I can’t imagine that anyone’s clothes would be on display and anyway everything would dry so quickly in the heat we have here. I have a couple of small folding racks which fit in my laundry room and fold against the wall when empty, they are really useful for lots of things that I don’t put in the dryer.

          • We have a Container Store, an Ikea and Bed, Bath & Beyond. I”m sure one of them will have something that will work. If I can figure out a solution on the patio for summer then I can go with the racks for winter which isn’t long here. Since we also have little humidity things will dry fast.

    • Deb J – I thought our Home Owners rules were strict, but not being allowed a clothes line is crazy. What were the developers thinking?

      • Moni, I am not sure but I can tell you it stinks. We have this wonderful enclosed patio (enclosed with lattice) and I am hoping I can figure out a way to fix it so we can have a line that doesn’t show.

        • Deb J – it sounds the perfect location. I’m still shaking my head over the developers coming up with that rule – heaven to betsy if someone should see the unmentionables! Do your home owner rules have an expiry date? Our area’s have just expired but I doubt if most people in the neighbourhood realise that.

          I have to admit, I’m missing fluffy towells but line drying is a byproduct of summer, and I do love that sunshine scent that line dried laundry gets.

    • I lived in one such neighborhood in Wisconsin and I was the cause of the “law” because I insisted on hanging my baby’s diapers in the sun to bleach them. The line was behind the house which abutted a woods but “someone” obviously spent time snooping around and happened to see them. They eventually made it ok to hang laundry as long as the lines (!) were taken down once all the laundry was off. So I put the rattiest pair of my husband’s underwear on this line and they “flew” until the day I moved.

      • I love it Christine, good for you. You should have got yourself a flag pole and hoisted the underwear up that to make even a bigger statement. It isn’t a clothesline so what could they do about it. We are such rebels aren’t we.

  6. One of my first minilutions (though I think it was not even a very conscious decision to do this in the beginning) is to always have a to do list and to always have a grocery list that I write on the minute I think of something (and cross it off once it’s done or purchased). It’s not that I have not written and used to do lists before but not consequently every day. I want to learn more about what I do quickly and without fussing and what it is exactly that I postpone and postpone. I decided to work with simple pieces of paper in a medium format which fits about 15 to 20 tasks in my handwriting and that I am allowed to throw away one list when I have crossed off 10 tasks and may transfer the rest to the new list which gets added to as the day(s) go by.
    I don’t shy away from writing down the smallest things that need to be done and it already dawns on me that I tend to postpone exactly those small things a lot (and the really big things, too – the medium tasks I am quite diligent at). Let’s see, how much I can change my ways by getting more conscious of what I am doing/not doing …

    • Ideealisten – I too love ‘to do’ lists, I get so much accomplished when I use one. I like your idea of using them as an observation of what you get accomplished effeciently and what you drag your heels on. I used to have this habit of under-estimating how long jobs would take and end up stressed, then I went to the opposite over time to where I over estimate how long something is going to take or even put myself off starting a task because I have inflated it in my own mind. This too could be a good one to look at for me.

      • Moni,
        I try to prevent myself from getting overwhelmed by separating the to do list from the project list. The project list is kind of my wish list of (bigger) things I’d like to fix/sort out/approach. I can pull that list out if I feel courageous, full of energy and ambition or if I need to create the next goal. The to do list gets the everyday stuff and the urgent stuff (a project might land there if it has a deadline that’s approaching). The to do list really is a must do list. I am more and more trying to be kind and forgiving to myself (not something I’ve always aspired) and try to see it that way: If the things that must get done get done that’s really good enough. Everything else is a bonus. I’d LOVE to have lots of bonuses in 2013 – but the greatest goal is to get maintenance straight and smooth and to be content with that and not beat myself up about setting too few of my extensive wishful plans into action.

  7. Excellent ideas Moni! I am with you on both those mini-lotions. Something about 50% of all food produced is thrown away makes me shudder.
    Bringing less into the household is a daily challenge. We have water, purified and on tap in our homes, yet we buy juices, cordial and WATER in plastic bottles!!
    I have yet to embrace meal planning, with five adults in the house, tastes and appetite are varied. I would gladly relinquish the kitchen duties to a more enthusiastic participant like Bridget!

    • Wendy F – I have the same problem, with 5 adult size people in the house, all my recipe planning – there are only 3 meals that all 5 of us like. Kids are far too fussy these days! And the variance of tastes too.

      I was gobsmacked at how much food is wasted at each step from grower to supplier to supermarket to household, enough is wasted to feed the 3rd world. A friend has told me that the next step is growing my own vege, but I don’t have a good track record with plants, so maybe I’ll wander down to the Farmers Market instead.

      • start small, a gardeners mini-lution. a little kitchen garden with herbs and spices (like parsley, chives, oregano, basil, thyme, rosemary, chili, and maybe even tomatoes) is not a lot of work and if you have the right spot, there is no end to the spices it can give you. I was really successful this year with it, and it grew right outside my kitchen window…
        I have a friend who rented a little garden (colony garden?!?) and whe will try out all veggies she can think of. I am very curious what she will harvest. I envy her for the beautiful spot she got, but I dont like that much work either.

        • Lena – oooohhhhh a gardeners mini-lution. Well that’s a good way to consider it. One of my work mates built his daughter a planter box for her to grow a few little items and he put wheels on it so they can move it around when he wants to mow the lawn or if there potential for a frost or ???
          He said he planted a particular lettuce that you can pick a few leaves for dinner each day ie you don’t have to pick the whole lettuce.

          Hmmmmm……I think I will be doing some more research on a garden mini-lution.

    • Hi Moni, as you know I really enjoyed this post and I like the missions you have set for yourself. Both economical for you and environmentally friendly as well. I hope you had fun today replying to all the comments it certainly generated a few. Well done.

  8. Happy New Year everyone!

    Moni, I like your mini-lutions. My resolutions for the New Year are more related to my professional life,there are quite a few things to tackle this year – and if all turns out well it will make me much happier than a tidy home. I’m one of the persons who starts doing the dishes when really I should be making a call, so I really try to focus my energy on “carreer” this year. 😉

    Still, I try to stick to my good habits, as we hardly waste any food at all, which I think is great, and try to be environmentally friendly overall. And I try to keep on track with the household in general, I’m especially lazy with the in-depth-cleaning lately and it starts to show – dust bunnies are creeping out from under the sofa and gaining more and more territorry. But unlike my carreer plans I might be able to delegate that to my boyfriend. 😉

  9. I am so adding myself to number 2: Not only because of buying too much and unnecessary but also to learn how to use the left overs. Just because it looks a bit “old” doesn’t mean is bad. And the less leftovers there are, the more fresh food we will consume.

  10. Just wanted to comment on 2 things. First, I really like the idea of keeping the leftovers on one shelf so you can see what is there and try to use them first. I am going to try that because I often find those science experiments way in the back of my fridge when I am cleaning it out and have been wondering where “that” bowl went to.
    Also, about lists. I make a list every night before I go to bed. Sometimes I leave it in the kitchen so I can see it first thing in the morning. Often it only includes the morning activities but if I have a lot of them or someplace to be at a specific time, it reminds me of the ordinary things I need to do before I leave – ex: make lunch, take pills, wash pan, take out recycling. Nothing earthshattering but just things that MUST be done. Or sometimes, if I have a lot to think about and can’t go to sleep, I will write down whatever is on my mind – again, simple things, take books to library, must leave by 8:45 to make appt., staff meeting 9:30, put away laundry, call the doctore – just things that clutter my brain when I am trying to sleep. I then put the list in my pocket the next morning and it is a good reminder to check it before I leave the house. I have found it is much easier to go to sleep when the buzzing in my head is written down.

    • Maggie, you’re so right. A buzzing, overloaded head is bad, actually at any time of the day. And wrecking your brain on a motivational high to give the apartment a few minutes of action time is a waste of those precious minutes when you feel the urge to get something done NOW. Definitely high five to the list making!

  11. When I wrote my to-do list for 2013 it resulted in 12 items that each has about 12 sub-items, so I made another list for each month and another one for each day to tackle my resolutions slowly but steadily. But one of the first is to put my timer for 15 minutes every morning before going to work and using this time for cleaning/organizing/picking things up. This way I get something done every day and feel less lazy if I have no mood to clean my home in the evening. 🙂

    • Wow, Anda! This is the greatest thing I ever heard. I hope you stick with it!

    • Good mission Anda. I tend to do the opposite by cleaning up before bed so I don’t have to deal with it in the morning. Some days like you the evenings are too hard so the morning just has to do.