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A Minimalist’s Guide to Not Wasting What Matters Most

an interior design with clease and simple decore

In order to truly cherish the things that are important to us, we must first get rid of those things that no longer serve a purpose. Inefficient and wasteful practices obstruct progress and prevent us from finding a better path forward. However, we can gain resources by reducing waste and eliminating old habits to make way for new opportunities.

Often, our burdensome habits are actions or thoughts that have become habitual through repetition, without us even realizing it. When we finally become aware of them, we may not know how to address them or we may feel unmotivated to do so. If we have a responsibility to others, we must be disciplined and mindful of how our actions affect everyone, as squandering resources could put others at risk.

Nevertheless, we have the power to turn our wasteful habits into productive opportunities. Sometimes, we spend more time and energy avoiding difficult conversations than we would spend by having them.

Rather than wasting our time on unproductive behaviors, we should focus on rebuilding our lives by removing harmful or wasteful excess and enjoying the simple things in life that brings us joy, fulfillment, and control over our outcomes. Here are some things we should not waste and some ideas on how we can improve.


minimalistic approach not wasting food

Reboot Your Leftovers

Don’t let your leftover food go bad and end up in the trash. Get creative by making something with what you have in your refrigerator. Here are some quick and easy recipe ideas to help you get started, but feel free to improvise with any leftovers you have.

Recipe Idea #1

Make hot pockets by using leftover marinara sauce from a takeout meal, some spare flour tortillas, shredded cheese, and frozen meatballs (great to have on hand when you haven’t had time to defrost anything – easy to thaw in the microwave).

  1. Spread the marinara sauce onto a tortilla with a spoon (use back of the spoon to spread it).
  2. Add sliced meatballs, shredded cheese, and roll up like you would a burrito.
  3. Place on a cookie sheet seam side down (this seals it shut) and cook at 375 degrees for about 15 minutes (or golden brown), slice in half diagonally and serve.

Not only is it a huge hit, but it also costs next to nothing to make and prevents the leftovers from being tossed in the trash.

Recipe Idea #2

If you have a few pieces of chicken left over, remake them as a casserole. Pull all the meat off the leftover chicken pieces, place it in a dish, and use leftover gravy if you have some (if not, it’s not expensive to make more). Mix it up together, add veggies of your choice, and top with biscuits from a can (these are great to have on hand). Cook at 375 degrees until biscuits on top are golden brown and gravy is perking up through openings.

Stock Your Pantry

Plan your menu around what you have on hand instead of planning your grocery shopping around a menu. Keep the basics in easy reach, such as dry pasta, canned tomato sauce, gravy packs, rice, beans, and so on. Dice up leftover meats and veggies to freeze in plastic bags so you can pull them out to add to dishes as needed. You can even freeze leftovers such as potatoes and sauces in ice trays. Almost everything can be frozen to be used later.

Save Your Scraps

Use up everything you can. Broccoli stalks can be diced and added to soups. Cauliflower stalks can be chopped into a rice-like texture. Brush oil on those leftover potato skins and cook until they are crisp chips. Use a recipe site like this one to search for recipes based on the ingredients you have on hand.


  • Light bulb storage: Save old egg cartons or takeout containers to store light bulbs.
  • Container reuse: Reuse old yogurt containers as molds for pudding or other desserts.
  • Packing materials: Save packing materials, such as bubble wrap or packing peanuts, to use for future shipments or moving.
  • Plant pots: Give old canisters a new life by using them as pots for your plants.
  • Wire organization: Repurpose wires from bread bags or trash bags to organize your cords and cables. Use bread tags to label them.
  • Produce bags: Use produce mesh bags as scrubbers or take them with you to the farmers market to reuse for future purchases.
  • Rubber bands: Stockpile rubber bands from produce for future use.
  • Workout weights: Fill old plastic jugs with sand to create workout weights.
  • Gift wrapping: Use paper bags to wrap gifts and add your own personal touch with decorations.
  • Grease storage: Use old metal cans to freeze leftover grease for later use.


When shopping online, remove your saved payment information from websites. Although it’s a hassle to enter your credit or debit card details every time you make a purchase, doing so can help you avoid impulse buys. Instead, add items to your wishlist and revisit it the next day before making a decision.

Repurpose an old coffee can by turning it into a change jar with a slot cut into the top. Place it in a discreet location and use it to teach your children about saving money.

Prioritize experiences like fancy dinners that bring joy to your life, but don’t overspend on them. To offset the cost, cut back on other meals before and after the event.

Avoid buying or renting more space than you need. Extra square footage requires more time, money, and energy to maintain, clean, furnish, and organize. Borrow items you only need temporarily or swap services with others instead of adding more clutter to your home.

Eliminate any unnecessary expenses, such as maintenance plans or phone insurance, to free up money for savings or things you truly need.

minimalistic workspace

Declutter and simplify your life to minimize stress. Even a high-earning professional cannot escape financial burdens if they overspend. Therefore, focus on making the most of your money by saving, spending, and investing wisely, and don’t forget that your time is valuable too.

Mental Energy

Thinking your way into inaction can be counterproductive, as it wastes valuable time, energy, and productivity. To avoid this, it is best to focus on what is in your control at present. Determine the single most achievable goal that you can attain today and work towards it.

If you tend to worry excessively, channel that nervous energy into something productive. Take out a piece of paper and start brainstorming ways to realize your dreams. Set specific objectives and list down actionable steps that can help you accomplish them. This will not only help you avoid wasting time worrying but also give you a sense of accomplishment and progress.

Negative energy can be detrimental to your overall productivity and well-being. It is essential to distance yourself from it, as it can deplete your mental resources. Realize that you only have a limited amount of mental energy each day, and you should not waste it on insignificant things. Instead, focus on the people in your life who matter to you and save your energy for them. This way, you can make a positive impact on their lives and feel more fulfilled.


There are many successful individuals who may still feel lost and uncertain about the value of their work. To combat this, try the following exercise:

Write down your ideal life on a single page, including your goals for your home, family and friends, work, hobbies, mind, body, and spiritual well-being. Once you have your list, rank your priorities in order of importance. Instead of trying to fit your priorities into your life, build your life around them. While money is important, remember that it’s merely a tool and a means to an end. Don’t let it control your life, because life is precious and should not be wasted.

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