Save Time & Money: Budget and Meal Planning in a Mixbook™
Get inspired by Sophia and Mike Miracolo’s (@liveslowrunfar) climate-smart lifestyle, and learn how budget and meal planning can help you save time and money - and planetary resources!
It was their longing for a lifestyle that would allow them to really live that drove Swedish-American couple Sophia and Mike (@liveslowrunfar) to pack their bags and leave the hustle and bustle of New York city to settle down in the picturesque archipelago in Stockholm, Sweden.
It was only a temporary move to start with, but we soon found that we loved it so much here, that our little red summer house became our permanent home, says Sophia.
As the couple were planning their move from the Big Apple, they set up a very clear savings goal, that included them taking a year-long sabbatical once in Sweden. To reach their savings goal, they had to change their whole lifestyle - to their surprise, this was easier than theyd thought.
Read about how Sophia and Mike changed their whole lifestyle to lead a more intentional and sustainable life.
Because wed already gotten used to thinking more frugally during the year leading up to the move, living well on less once in Sweden wasnt too hard. Admittedly, living in a place where theres limited opportunities for consumption does help when trying to live on the cheap! But we do also put value on things that are free and readily accessible to us right here in the countryside.
In order to create a day-to-day life that they really love, Sophia and Mike have had to look over their expenses and priorities. Theyve made a great deal of intentional changes and choices around how they want to live, which have lead them, among other things, to start growing their own vegetables and cook fresh food from scratch - the positive side effect of this being less food waste. According to Sophia and Mike, keeping costs down and thinking climate-smart go hand in hand.
We grow everything from spinach and various types of cabbages, to peppers, cucumbers and pumpkins. Weve gotten used to eating seasonally and not having certain veggies during parts of the year. Having a relationship to the food we eat is important to us. And you dont really need a lot of space to get a great harvest - our first year, we harvested upwards 150 kilos of mixed veggies on just 11 square meters!
One of the biggest lifestyle changes Sophia and Mike have made is that they no longer work full-time. They reasoned that instead of chasing promotions and high salaries, they could choose to work fewer hours instead.
We discovered that we were able to live a rich and fulfilling life even without our full-time jobs.Today we only need about 1,400 USD (12,000 SEK) per month to make ends meet, and that frees us up to do all kinds of other things we love instead of working. Were able to do this because because we work from home, grow our own food, and dont really have expensive tastes. We hardly consume anything else apart from food, which means we can keep our costs down fairly easily, as well as having a low impact on our planet. We also like to take good care of the things we own, so we dont have to buy new stuff that often.
Sophia works mainly as a translator, and Mike, a civil engineer by training, titles himself as photographer nowadays. While they both run their own separate businesses in their different fields, they also offer coaching services for runners, and create content for their own media channels as well as for others - this can be things like guides, blog articles and green recipes. Its very mixed and varied, but all the things theyre passionate about and are great at doing fit in this set-up. As an added bonus, they take turns working from home and spending time with their young son, Theo.
Planning and structuring our days, creating meal plans and staying on top of our budget are important parts of how we want to live. We want to inspire others to do the same, because stress can lead to so many negative consequences, and, in many cases, also harm our environment.
In their customised Mixbook, Sophia and Mike have picked the predesigned pages Budget Planner and Meal Planner. Pen and paper, lists, calendars and structure are all things they both love, and the Mixbook makes it possible to have all of it in the same place.
Living frugally and sustainably is not the least bit boring, Sophia assures us, quite the opposite! We enjoy life in a completely different way now than we did in New York, and realising that a wonderful day-to-day life doesnt depend on money has been crucial in this.
We allocate a specific amount for food each month, and keep track of all our fixed costs. Towards the end of the month, we review all our expenses to see if theres anything we need to change. A huge step toward a healthy financial life is getting on top of your spending and then making the necessary changes in behaviour that lead to unnecessary consumption.
Sophia & Mikes Top Budgeting Tips
Review all your monthly expenses and identify unnecessary purchases/expenses.
Set up clear savings goals. It can be anything from buying an apartment, to being able to retire earlier, or having the opportunity to take a sabbatical. View money as time!
Have a set food budget and keep the allocated money in a separate bank account. That way itll be easier to stick to your planned budget!
Further reading: Gain Control Over Your Money with Our Budget Planner.
To set a realistic food budget, youre also going to need to plan your meals and grocery shops.
There are so many advantages to meal planning! You reduce food waste, as youll only be buying what you really need - you can even plan a day to finish off any leftovers. Grocery shopping becomes much easier when sticking to a meal plan, too, and the trips to the shop fewer. This, in turn, can lead to less emissions and fewer impulse purchases. We wholeheartedly believe that the simplest way to reduce food waste really starts with some solid planning, says Sophia.
Use the predesigned Meal Planner pages to get off to a flying start! Write down all your favourite meals in the list on the right, then place them out in the weeks on the left, and youll be creating meal plans for several weeks in one go, suggests Sophia.
Sophia & Mikes Top Meal Planning Tips
Start with a meal concept - think pasta, casserole, salad etc, depending on the season. Dont forget to think and plan seasonally when it comes to the rest of the ingredients, too!
Make sure you have a regular day for a fridge clear-out or any leftovers. Youll throw out less food and reduce food waste at the same time.
Always make a double batch! Youll have to come up with fewer meals this way, youll save time cooking, and its cheaper, too.
Plan according to how much time youll have available for cooking during the week, how much youll be exercising, as well as any other day-to-day circumstances you need to take into account.
Learn more about meal planning here.
With the help of Sophia and Mikes useful tips, we really hope you feel inspired to make some changes towards a more sustainable lifestyle - both as a mindset, as well as in practice. And remember, a great, tangible first step is starting to plan your meals and keeping on top of your budget.
Dont forget quality of life isnt directly related to high living expenses, but is more about making wise choices that benefit your own health as well as our planets. Our ultimate goal is to live a life we love and is good for us, while leaving as small a climate footprint as possible.
Psss! You can connect with Sophia and Mike on Instagram and get to know them more on their wonderful blog.. Dont forget to say hi from us!