Easy Fresh Saladings

Easy Fresh Saladings

Prepare Your Saladings Ahead

Sam and I are always talking about tips and tricks to make your life easier while being prepared. While Sam’s enjoying a wonderful family vacation with friends, I’ll post my easy, fresh salad preparation which works great for one or two people, especially when you don’t eat it fast enough before it goes bad. But it would work for any family of any size.

yummy tossed salad

This is for a simple tossed salad, but you can prepare most items ahead, making it easier to enjoy a fresh, crisp salad at any time without a lot of preparation. This process will allow you to enjoy fresh salads for 10-14 days.

A few key points:

  • Keep your fridge colder – I keep mine close to the coldest setting. I feel it’s worth it if I’m trying to save on grocery trips.
  • Always be sure to wash your veggies and dry them. I don’t have one of those spinners, so I just use a clean dish towel or paper towels.

Steps for a simple tossed salad:

Iceberg lettuce – take off outer leaves, rinse if needed, and dry. I usually cut the core out and then cut it in half. It makes it easy to grab a few leaves for a sandwich or to cut up for your salad. I wrap them in paper towels and place in a large plastic bag (or your favorite container).

Romaine Lettuce – remove the outer leaves, cut the core off the bottom, separate the leaves, rinse and dry. Line a 9×13 cake pan with a couple of paper towels. Place your leaves in and cover with a paper towel. Place the lid on the cake pan and store in the bottom of your fridge (bottom is colder).

Peppers – wash, remove stem and seeds, and cut in half or quarters (lengthwise). Be sure to dry them off with a paper towel. I use a 32 oz yogurt container. Place a piece of paper towel on the bottom, place a few pieces, add another piece of paper towel, and place the rest of the pepper. The paper towel helps to absorb the moisture.

Peppers can also be chopped up and stored in the same manner as above.

Mushrooms – in this case, I have button mushrooms. I wash them and dry them. Slice them if you like. Pack them in a container in the same fashion as the peppers above.

Green Onions – Wash and trim. Lightly dry them off. Then wrap loosely in a paper towel and place in a plastic bag.

Regular onions can be peeled, cut in halves or quarters, wrap pieces in aluminum foil, and place in a large yogurt container. They will keep if kept cold and will not smell up your fridge.

Tomatoes – the best approach I’ve had is to cut them to your liking and place them in sour cream or yogurt container using paper towel pieces on the bottom and the top. I’ve done this because quite often I can’t eat them fast enough.

Of course, you can search online and find dozens of suggestions to try. The above works well for me.

When I’m ready to create my salad, I just tear up some lettuce, add mushrooms, chop a bit of pepper and onion, feta cheese, top with tomatoes, and add the dressing of choice.

You can certainly add radishes, different mushrooms, meat, nuts and seeds, and any other items of choice. I like to add some of those nut and raisin mixes, croutons, and even fruit.

The point is to make it easy to enjoy a fresh salad and not throw anything away because it went bad!

Let me know any tips or tricks you might have on our Facebook page. Most of all – enjoy your fresh salad!

Warmly, Ellie

Why Sustainability? Why Preparedness?

Why Sustainability? Why Preparedness?

Storms? Disasters? Inflation/Deflation?

OUCH - Sam's finger after losing a bit of skin while trying to pound stakes for the garden.

While Sam is nursing a hand that she managed to scrape a few layers of skin off while trying to help pound a few stakes, I thought I’d share a bit of our philosophy behind “Beyond TP and Milk.”

This past weekend, I saw a news report about average folks becoming preppers. Well, not like we think of as survivalists and preppers, but realizing that they should consider how they might be more prepared after surviving Covid lockdowns, political unrest, and various trials of Mother Nature.

Here’s the news video link from CBSN aired on March 12, 2021:

Another one from CBSN aired on December 30, 2020, was the piece about buying chicks to have eggs for their family in the future:

Both of these videos show the average person beginning to re-think preparedness in relation to their families, ordinary people having experienced some pretty extraordinary circumstances during the past year.

When Sam and I talk about sustainability and being prepared,

… we aren’t necessarily talking about guns, a hidden hideout in the woods, or years of food storage. Most of us are unable, or choose not, to do that. But we have experienced empty grocery shelves and the change of lifestyle resulting from the lockdowns of the past year – job upheavals, financial situations in turmoil, homeschooling our children, delayed product deliveries, and more. Many folks had to run from fires, floods, or deal with snowstorms, and loss of utilities.

As a result of these experiences, many more of us are trying to learn new ways to be better prepared. No more rushing to the grocery store in the eleventh hour. No more fear of ‘what will I feed my family?’ No more waiting for the customary stores inventory-on-demand, waiting for ships and planes that are behind schedules, delivery delays by the post office, and other things out of our control.


I often ask folks if they are prepared to grab a “go-bag” in case of impending emergency? What would they include if they didn’t know when, or if, they would return to their home? So the basics begin there. Here are a few items to consider:

  • important documents (laminated if possible or in a waterproof folder)
  • medicines for several days to several months plus possible prescription copies
  • basic first-aid items
  • personal sanitary items that may not be easy to find in a disaster
  • extra clothing – ideally offering you a few layers
  • food items and water
  • batteries, radio, flashlight
  • blankets

Of course, there are a host of other items you may consider, but that’s a good start. There are many online sites that will give you lists as well as your county emergency services, etc.

Home Garden

Sam’s focus has been to have you think about your family’s well-being, especially in food sustainability. A garden that gives you healthy, fresh foods and offers a variety that can be canned or frozen. A bounty that can give you a sense of security no matter what the grocery stores have available. But we both know that along with these items for our own families, a bit of abundance gives us items to barter. Remember, when times are tough, having something to ‘trade’ can make a tough situation a bit more comfortable.

As we hope for a loosening of all the ‘safety’ precautions in coming months (or years), it’s easy to think the rough times are behind us. If that is how you’re thinking, STOP! 2019 was an amazing lesson. It can happen again. It can happen anytime. We can throw our arms up and say, “Oh, I didn’t think it could happen to me.” Or… we can learn some lessons and figure out at least a few basics that will allow our families to feel a bit more secure.


I highly recommend including everyone in the planning. Children can be quite creative and I think it adds to their own sense of security. They can have a backpack of items that will be important to them if they had to get out of the house fast, or if the electricity was out and they had to entertain themselves. It also can give children a sense of control by choosing what matters to them. You can even play a game and have them use their backpack of items for a day or a weekend to test their choices.

Preparedness is not fear. It’s the opposite. It’s being ready. So don’t forget the lessons you learned during the past year. Consider how you might make a similar situation safer and more comfortable by being prepared.

Between us, we have over 100-years of experience and Sam’s only 39! If you enjoy our life hacks and simple common sense approaches to sustainability and everyday life, please spread the word. 

Broken Dishwasher #Gratitude

Broken Dishwasher #Gratitude

What Good Can You Find in a Broken Dishwasher?

You’ll be surprised. Sam here with my tale of woe. It’s been over two weeks now. (Our repair guy should be here this weekend. YAY!) In the interim, I’ve learned a few things while not having a working dishwasher. To be honest, I’m not a big fan of washing dishes by hand. I love the dishwasher and it frees up a bit of time that I can be spending with family. For instance, we can load the dishwasher and have an hour of ‘game night’ with the family.

I’ve had a few thoughts while having to handwash the dishes. First, what do I have to be thankful/grateful for about it? I’m seeing a lot of posts about false positivity and you know, what – false positivity is really systemic and it’s an issue in our culture. I hate it because, well, am I going to sit back and be all happy and roses enjoyable when it’s a load of garbage? Nope, I am very close to “I hate washing dishes by hand.”

But what’s the value in all of this:

  • First and foremost, I’m grateful when I have a ‘working’ dishwasher!
  • We’ve discovered some unique family time while doing the chore of handwashing dishes.
    Growing up, I had quite a few chores to do. It gave me an appreciation for what’s involved in keeping a house – a behind-the-scenes appreciation.
  • Doing simple chores gave me (and hopefully, my children) a lot of resilience and strengths and an appreciation for the work that goes into running a home.

So the dishes in my sink that are about to get washed when I’m done shooting this video have really given me a new appreciation. What are you appreciating now that you never thought about? Instead of false positivity – smiling like everything is A-OK – what are you actually taking for granted that you should be really grateful for? Feel free to share your thoughts on our FB page.

Ellie’s Thoughts

I’m one of those crazy people who love doing my dishes by hand. In most instances, I can have dishes done while someone else is still loading their dishwasher. But I tend to enjoy tasks where my hands are busy. I spend a lot of time on a computer. The manual tasks seem to allow my mind to enjoy some free-thinking, or maybe free-association is a better term. Ideas I have rolling around in my mind seem to re-organize. It feels very creative without any effort.

But on a more practical level, I worked two years on Fishers Island, NY for wealthy families as a housekeeper/cook. Even there, most of the time I could do dishes faster than loading the dishwasher. The times I really appreciated a dishwasher was for cocktail parties where we worked to keep up with glasses.

If I had a choice, I would trade a dishwasher for a warming drawer. I’ll continue that thought on another day.

Between us, we have over 100-years of experience and Sam’s only 39! If you enjoy our life hacks and simple common sense approaches to sustainability and everyday life, please spread the word. 

Seed Starting – No More Prep, Just Do

Seed Starting – No More Prep, Just Do

My Simple Step-by-Step Seed Starting

Hi, Sam here. I’m going to actually walk you through this very simple step-by-step process of starting your seeds in this really cheap and effective manner. So like I told you last time, I got these packets from my local grocery store and I had four packs of 24 cells. They were really, really inexpensive. Remember these were super easy. They’re super cheap. And they will last me a couple of years’ time. So we are going to plant our leafy greens, just a couple of varieties to get them started so that when I am ready to put them outside, I will have them ready to rock and roll.

What You’ll Need

  • Potting Soil
    Yes, many people mix their own. ME? I don’t have time for that!
  • Trays – as described in previous video
  • Large tray or something to put under your work area for easy clean-up
  • Spray bottle of water
  • Seeds
  • Craft/popsicle sticks or other markers you’re using
  • Marker


  • Add potting soil to your seed tray
  • Dampen with water (I didn’t have it handy in this video)
  • The Brussel Sprout seeds I’m planting are very tiny, VERY tiny, so I’m putting 3 in each cell
  • Cover lightly
  • Label the sticks with seed name, brand, etc
  • Use the sticks (or any fancy tags you’re using) to label your cells so that you remember what they are
  • Lightly spritz again with water

Key Tip: Check your seeds every day so they don’t dry out, which will stress your seeds and hinder growth.

Next time we talk, we’ll talk about other things I don’t like – called the determinant and indeterminant tomatoes. They have screwed me over many years in a row. So until next time, Sam, Sam Groff, from Beyond TP and Milk. Be sure to like, share, join our e-mail list, and start your seeds!

Seed Trays – Starting on the Cheap

Seed Trays – Starting on the Cheap

I’m Late So There’s No Time To Waste

I’ve been watching a lot of my favorite YouTubers and they’ve been talking about the pros and cons of different types of pots, seed starting, and all those kinds of things. I realized they all have a way bigger budget than I do because they’ve been doing this for a lot longer and they have an income coming in from YouTube and all those kinds of things. I’m a hobby gardener, and still, I’m able to sustain food for my family. So what I wanted to look at is:

Let’s be reasonable about the average person, who might not have a whole lot of scratch lying around, who really wants to get started with seeds this year.

While shopping at Lidl’s today, I found these amazing trays. I thought they were going to be one-piece but in actuality, there are four – 4 full seed trays, full seed starters. The cost? $6.99 – for 4 full seed trays!

Each tray (4 in the pack) has 24 plugs plus the classic seed cover (for a greenhouse effect) and the water tray. So one pack will help you start as many as 96 plants! Let’s get going!

OOPS – no holes

So you can’t look a gift horse in the mouth, right! These trays are pretty inexpensive but no holes are in the separate plugs to allow for drainage. Instead of having to go buy hundreds of cell packs that I’m really never going to use, I decided that these would be better for us to start. And then what we’ll do is as they get larger, I’ll show you the way we transplant these in the Solo cups and then out into our garden. I don’t own grow lights. So I have a different method than what all the roles gardeners do.

Back to the holes:

  • I left the 4 packs of divider trays (for the plugs) together.
  • I had a hammer and a nail – a finishing nail.
  • I literally just went through them all together popped them out.
  • Now I have 24 holes in this lovely seed tray, ready to start filling.

Why do I tell you this? Because the reality is everybody who wants to start a garden worries about things going wrong and spending too much money. I don’t want to waste money. I can reuse these again next year if I don’t crush them, which is the goal. Plus the nice part about these is they come fully self-contained. They may not have a perfect seal, but they’ll be warm enough for the seeds to germinate.

Stay tuned, in another couple of episodes, I will show you what our method is without having grow lights and without having enough space in our house to really set up a true growing system. We do end up taking up a lot of room in our living room where we have the biggest amount of sunlight, but we do things a little differently mainly just because we don’t have space or the desire to get a grow light system in our house right now.

So if you’re ready, these super inexpensive plant trays. Look around your local grocery stores, your local Home Depot or Lowe’s. Try to get something small that you can maintain a manageable amount of your space.
And next time we will be planting our seeds. So until then, let’s do this.