Mrs. Efficiency Thoughts – How To Stop Forgetting Things At Home

Guest article from none other than my wife, Dr. Mandy Kirk. Next article is another huge “Per Dollar” study and answers a question I’ve been asking since I was a kid. Is Toilet Paper cheaper than Paper Towels?

Checklists are used in the factory to make sure things get done correctly 100% of the time. If you need to make sure a valve gets closed before we turn a pump on, Checklists prevent failure.

Before our factory developed a Start Up Checklist, I walked out of our Process Room to see a floor full of polyol to which our maintenance guy said- “Have you ever seen a grown man cry?”

Leaving home, I’d forget my lunch, belt, and work laptop often enough that Mandy told me we needed a solution. Its been 4 years and I havent forgotten anything since.


People ask me if I like the efficiency lifestyle that Michael and I live. I do enjoy the benefits and it’s strangely calming. We’re always trying to alter our lives for the better. It makes me feel that we appreciate life more if we strive to maximize every second. Although we often end up watching Netflix with all of our time saving.

What to remember – List for the Door

I used to spend a lot of time in the morning getting to my car – only to realize I forgot something.

Phone, Wallet, Lunch, Homework…

We brainstormed the things we needed every morning. We wrote it all down, and stuck it on the door.

And… We started using it.

At first I was reluctant, I’m stuck in my ways and tend to dislike change. But it helped Michael. He stopped forgetting things.

Then I stopped forgetting things.

And after a week or two I started to learn it and love it. Having every item written down and visible saves me time. Now I don’t even worry. I read through them, check each off in my head. 10 seconds and works every time.

Give it a try! Best case you will save yourself frustration and time. Worst case you are out a piece of paper.

-Mandy Kirk

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INFINITY Calories Per Dollar – AKA Free Food

Happy Thanksgiving! Fun topic for this week, don’t take it too seriously.

We are looking for sources of Infinity Calories Per Dollar or as most people will call it, free food.

Quick Math:

1 Calorie / 0$ = infinity

(technically this doesn’t equal infinity, but rather approaches infinity however – no calculus until after dinner)

Originally I thought this was going to be silly – telling people to eat sugar at their local coffee store, but I think there is something fascinating about

  1. How much time people will spend for free food
  2. Companies advertise to you in exchange for food
  3. How the easiest sources of free food are the least nutritious

I often see engineer’s cubicles have this printed:


Pick Two

Given those, there are all sorts of ways to classify each ‘deal’.

Free Sources

  • Socially acceptable
    Infinity Calories Per Dollar
    Infinity Calories Per Dollar
    • Work food
      • Donuts/Snacks/Baked goods
      • Events
      • Team Lunches
    • Free Samples
      • Costco/Sams Club
      • Mail in samples
      • Free after Rebate
  • Work
    • Gardening
    • Hunting/Trapping
    • Foraging
    • Begging
    • Volunteer opportunities
  • Illegal/Immoral
    • Theft
    • Unnecessarily going to a food bank
  • Not actually free, but an incentive
    • Buy One Get One Free
    • Coupons
    • Reward programs
    • Birthday Deals
      • Often involve tipping, or bringing others along to pay full price

Non Free Sources Of Infinity Calories Per Dollar (Theoretical)

These assume either Sunk Cost, or Calories are infinite (infinity/30$ is still tending towards infinity)

  • All-You-Can-Eat
  • Free Refills
  • Taking receipt surveys
    • Costs money at point of service
  • Wedding/party food
    • You were going to go to the wedding anyway
  • Restaurant Freebies
    • Sugar Packets
    • Coffee Creamers
    • Ketchup/Condiment Packets
    • Candy/Mints
    • Parmesan packets from Pizza Places
      • Shoutout to Jaci who said you can use this to make a ‘good enough’ grilled cheese
    • Salsa +Chips
    • Bread + Olive Oil
    • Free Refills on Drinks



Right away, there are a few things that caught my attention:

There is a fine line between frugal and theft, I don’t feel bad about taking an extra few sugar packets, but I don’t think its right to take all of the sugar packets.

Deals are misleading

  • Buy one get one free, is not actually free.
  • Coupons/rewards usually require an expensive upfront cost.

Unless you are walking to a location, gasoline costs money.

There is time cost to doing any of these. How often do you drive by the place you have a coupon on the way home from work?


Final Takeaways

Upon doing this I decided – its SOOO much easier, tastier, and healthier to just cook food.

We eat for ~3$/day and personally, I’d put more time into looking for a higher paying job before signing up for Red Robin Birthday Coupons.

My exception is Work Food and Sunk Cost when they are healthy. I’ve outgrown work’s weekly donuts, but I’m a sucker for protein filled sandwiches. Regarding the chips and salsa, I can’t tell if I love salsa or I love getting Infinity Calories Per Dollar.

Don’t take this topic too seriously, its a fun little exception when math extremes intersects with life. Hope you enjoyed some quirky math this week. Next time, Caffeine per Dollar, I hope I dont kill anyone….

Do you have any places you get free food? Comment below and I’ll do the data science.


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Special : Podcast Interview – How to Data Science Your Life

Note: I have a huge study coming up in the realm of – “paper plates per dollar”. Its been a struggle trying to find an environmentally responsible, cost efficient, and time saving solution – BUT I’m almost there.


I got a special surprise this week:earphones-477446_640

We have an interview loaded with Efficiency tips, including a little bit of theory, and a lot to learn. It turned out fantastic and anyone will learn something they can apply to save money or gain time right away. Dennis from Grounded Reason did a great job leading the topic.

I start talking at about 8 minutes into the podcast, but Dennis has a really interesting note about how to play Monopoly that anyone who plays boardgames should listen to.

Click Here To Download Podcast- How To Data Science Your Life

Grounded Reason finds solutions to cutting your cable bill, reducing or eliminating your monthly bill. Midway through the interview I do a calculation that even sunrises me:

Average American watches 2 hours a day

Each hour has 20 minutes of commercials
40 minutes a day of commercials
40 minutes of commercials x 365 days x 50 years= 730,000 minutes or 12,000 hours.
If you could get that in 8 hour vacation days, that would be 1,500 days off work.

That is one of the biggest uses of time I’ve ever seen – with solutions

  • Netflix
  • Youtube
  • Equipment
  • Antenna,
  • Various Entertainment – This is what Grounded Reason does best

Check out the Grounded Reason website and see how they can save you money on the cable bill – at $90/month that comes out to $54,000 in a lifetime. Not even mentioning getting rid of 12 thousand hours of commercials.

And definitely listen to this podcast when you have a chance. Be double efficient and do it on an unavoidable car ride.


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How To Easily Cook Lentils + Eat 73 Grams Of Protein Per Dollar

Lentils have more than 110 grams of protein per dollar, and 100% of your daily fiber in 140 calories.

Everyone has their own super food, I hear things like grapefruit, quinoa, and whatever the latest hipster craze.

Lentils are a Super Efficient Food, here are 4 reasons:

  1. 70+ Grams Of Protein Per Dollar
  2. Cooked in 15 minutes
  3. They don’t need to be stirred when cooked, 0 effort!
  4. They go with every flavor

When I diet, I eat lentils daily. They are filling, have protein, and are great for portioning out.

They are more than 2x more cost effective than Chicken, and almost 20x more cost effective than Subway for protein.

Cooking Lentils

First, buy a bag of lentils. A 1 pound bag is good enough to get started. Its like a dollar and can be found near the dry beans or Rice.

1/2 Pound of lentils (About 1 Cup) in 4 cups of water

Begin to boil a pot of water.

Efficient Tips To Boil Water Fast:

  • Turn on your water faucet and run it hot(Less Energy Delta to Boil) EDIT: CMILLER from the comments points out if using lead pipes you risk lead poisoning using hot water.
  • Fill up the pot of water, Lentils don’t expand, but error on the side of too much water.
  • Put the pot of water on High heat.(More Heat)
  • Add a lid to the pot(Contains Energy In System)

That will get boiling FAST.

Once boiling, cook for 15 to 20 minutes. No stirring needed.



I usually don’t wait for the water to boil, I throw it in, set the timer for 18 minutes, and come back to cooked lentils.

Note: If the lid is on, and the water is on high heat – You may cause the water to boil over, turn down the heat and crack the lid once boiling

Get a strainer and dump the water and:

“You have obtained 1 Lentils!”


Flavoring Lentils Fast

I have 5 ways to enjoy the heck out of your first lentils experience. The first is the easiest:

French Fry Style

  1. Get Lentils
  2. Add a fast food amount of olive oil
  3. Add a fast food amount of salt

Make your first experience with lentils a good one. If you like it, next time don’t add as much oil and salt. However, they are so healthy and cost efficient, one splurge day using extra oil and extra salt is worth it.



Peppered Lentils



Similar to French Fry style, but adding fresh pepper. Grounded up pepper doesnt seem to do the trick.

  1. Lentils
  2. Olive Oil (or Sour Cream)
  3. Fresh Ground Black Pepper
  4. Salt
  5. (optional) Rice


Garlicky Lentils And Rice



I usually don’t like using premade stuff, but seasoning shakers are pretty close to the same price as regular spices and give decent flavor to anything. I’ll recommend them for a quick and easy way to flavor something. Make note, they have salt already, so there isnt a need to add your own. Add everything to taste.

  1. Lentils
  2. Olive Oil
  3. McCormick Grill Mate Montreal Chicken (Garlic, Salt, Onion, Black Pepper, Parsley, Red Pepper, Orange Peal, Paprika, Green Bell Pepper)
  4. (optional) Rice


Herb And Lentils




Sour cream adds a different dimension to these flavors, highly recommended when mixing spices and rice.

  1. Lentils
  2. Sour Cream
  3. McCormick Grill Mate Roasted Garlic & Herb (Salt, Onion, Black pepper, Coriander, Parsley, Garlic, Paprika)
  4. (optional) Rice


Fast Mujaddara



I often cheat when I make this, using Onion Powder and a little sugar, with salt. My advice is to taste as you go. When you brown onions they get sweet.

  1. Lentils
  2. Sour Cream
  3. Onion Powder(even better with an onion browned in olive oil for 10-20 minutes on medium low)onions2
  4. Salt
  5. (optional) Rice

What to do next?

Next time – mess around with the cook time. Like it softer? Cook longer. Like firmer? Cook less. We make lentil soup that cooks for an hour.

Try adding some lentils to a soup. I particularly like adding it to vegetable soup or chicken noodle soup. We make our own Lentil Soup. Its similar to Alton Browns Lentil Soup with a few time saving and cost saving methods.

My challenge to you:

This week when you go to the grocery store, buy a small bag of lentils. Give one of these a try. They are a top Protein Per Dollar. If you don’t like it, you are out a dollar. If you like it, you are going to be saving money for the rest of your life.

This was another way we used our Protein Per Dollar list to save money and get more time. Subscribe to our newsletter and learn easy ways to apply engineering principles to your life:

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EDIT: Prices do change, 1lb Lentils are: 1.78

Giving them 73g of protein per dollar.

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Error Proof Your Shower Temperature To Save 300 Hours

This is SO easy and you will notice the benefits right away. Think about other places around your home that can benefit from Error Proofing.

Error Proofing

In the assembly line, we will use many different methods to prevent mistakes. There are a bunch of methods:

A Tiny Pin Causes Interference, The Part Will Not Install If Built Incorrectly
A Tiny Pin Causes Interference, The Part Will Not Install If Built Incorrectly

  • Using a shape with an unbuildable interference to prevent an incorrect assembly
  • Using colors to denote the correct part or configuration
  • Using a marking to show the final location of a component

Its not that people are unable to do a job, its that we ALL make mistakes. If you do an action enough, you will eventually make a mistake.

Error proofing isnt about ability, its about quality and time saving.

Your Shower Temperature

Surprisingly Hard To Take A Photo With The Shower Running 😀

Do you start your shower, wait for it to heat up, test it, adjust a little bit, wait, test, then hop in?

Most of the time. But has it taken 3 or sometimes 4 times to get it right? Do you jump in anyway and deal with the discomfort until things are right?

Error Proof

We are going to make a small mark near the Temperature Control Valve, I use a shower crayon, but tape will work fine.

  1. Start your shower, find the perfect temperature.
  2. Stand in the normal position that you choose the temperature.
  3. Mark the Temperature Control Valve position with Tape or Shower Crayon.

Note: Make sure when marking you are standing in your normal position. If you are looking at it from the inside of the shower, you will see it from a different angle.

The Math

Works For Our 70 Year Old Shower - It Will Work For You
Works For Our 70 Year Old Shower – It Will Work For You

It takes our shower:

30 seconds to heat up,
10 seconds to feel and adjust the Temperature Control Valve,

20 seconds for the water to catch up,
60 seconds x 365 days x 50 years = 1,095,000 seconds,
304 Hours

That’s 912 episodes of Scrubs you could be watching on Netflix(1,100 episodes if you watch at 1.2x speed)

Your Turn

Do this today, notice the effects tomorrow. It shouldn’t take more than 2 minutes, meaning you recoup your time in a day. You will benefit your whole life.

Think of other places you can error proof. We have a white laundry basket for white clothes and a blue laundry basket for colors. No pre laundry sorting. Error Proofing, applied to life.

We do this, everywhere, with everything, in our home. Get our newsletter for easy to use tips and make your life more Efficient saving you money, giving you more time:

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Watch A 3 Hour Movie In 2 Hours + You Get More Time


This trick I learned is a dire necessity for myself (who has self-diagnosed ADD).

Mandy has the patience of a Monk and watches more TV in the same amount of time. Together we can finish an entire Game of Thrones in one 40 minute sitting. That extra 20 minutes? Homework, Exercise, Family Time, or… More Game of Thrones 🙂

More jokes, more laughs, more drama, more suspense – same time.


Like an assembly line, if we increase the speed of the line, we will see more completed.

Same jokes, same plot, and at 10% faster – you wont notice a difference.

The Math:

Speed up your media player by using a playback of 1.1x speed or higher.

60 minute TV show

Speed up 1.1x

60 minutes/1.1 = ~54 Minutes.

6 Minutes saved, every time you watch.

1.3x speed is my standard, but I’ve watched really long movies at 1.5x speed. Didn’t have to stop to hit the bathroom. Watched the whole way through -no intermission. Wouldn’t that be nice?

I suggest using 1.1x speed for a while, taste how great 6 minutes a day – at no loss to you is. Wouldn’t it be great to sleep in another 6 minutes? Or have extra time to get ready in the morning?

How To Save Time:



Youtube is great for this, given the variety of content. Documentaries, cartoons, people jumping from high places.


1. Click Settings

2. Click SpeedYoutube2.1

3. Select A Speed

4. Save Time



VLC media player:

VLC is my go to for watching movies I have on my computer. DVDs or Files, VLC makes saving time easy.

1. Right click

2. Playback

3. Speed

4. Faster(fine)



Netflix takes an extra step, but the time savings will be well worth it.


1.) Chrome: Download a plugin that can control the speed. I used Video Speed Controller:



2.) Open up chrome://plugins/




3.) Disable Adobe Flash Player (This will enable HTML5 Video)

4.) Start Netflix, Pick a show and hit play.



5.)Use the box in the top left or Simply Tap D and save time – right awaynetflix 6

Thanks Haley for this request, you will be saving other people literally thousands of hours of time.

If you have a media format you would like to be Efficient, Comment below, email, or tweet

Efficiency Challenge: Try it – Get More Time Immediately:

Even if it takes you 20 minutes to figure it out how to get your playback faster – you will recoup 24 minutes that within watching four, 1 hour TV shows.

It wont take you 20 minutes 🙂

Protip: Closed Caption is amazing, and will allow you to conquer great speeds.



Want More Efficiency? I do the math – You save time and money.

Subscribe and get FREE now:


  • Your First Efficient Recipe – See how we eat for 1,000 dollars a year. 2 minutes to make. (700 Calorie Per Dollar, 44g Protein Per Dollar).
  • Fun Per Dollar App– Using an equation I developed, you can find your best and worst Personalized Fun Per Dollar.
  • Sections From Efficiency Is Everything In Life – Process Flow Diagram for a 6 Minute Morning Routine and Reducing Complexity To Get Extra Time. Engineering concepts, taken, and applied to the home easily.


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The 5 Cooking Cheat Codes That Physiologically Taste Good

The In-laws are coming over? Entertaining to impress? Never cooked before but want something that tastes awesome?

You are not going to believe how easy this is….

Make Food Taste Good by Cheating

Make the best tasting food ever without learning how to cook.

Our body biologically craves certain flavors. Psychology has also found tricks that make food taste better without adding calories. Here are the ‘cheat codes’ to making food taste good. This is a scientific approach to the taste of food.

I. Premise

  • The human body is always trying to survive, as a result it wants quick energy and long term energy.
  • Our bodies have receptors to taste some minerals and vitamins. This tells the body ‘eat this, it has essentials that are required for life.’
  • Our brain has found that vibrant colors and complex dishes are more appealing.
  • Combining these, form the basis for what most food companies and professional chefs use on almost every dish.

II. Goal

To combine all of these ‘cheats’ into a single dish to win taste buds and minds over.

III. Analysis

The following have physiological and psychological triggers to a human body:

Vitamin C- An essential nutrient for multiple aspects of the human body.
Sodium- An essential nutrient that helps regulate many blood functions.
Simple Carbohydrates- Quick energy that can be metabolized easily.
Fats- Long term energy, also used in many essential body functions.
Amino Acids- Same as previous items, the body is always looking for help.
Vibrant Visuals- Variety of color means better variety of nutrients
Aromatics- When your nose can smell it, your body is telling you to eat.
(Optional) Capsaicin- Spiciness in foods cause endorphins to go off. You become happy from eating this because your body still is telling you to keep eating regardless of the pain.

IV. Implementation

To utilize all of those we add the following (note: add slowly and taste as you go) to a dish when we want to impress:
Vitamin C- Acids – Ex: Lime Juice, Lemon Juice, Vinegar
Sodium- Salt, taste as you go, we still aren’t going to be adding a McDonald’s amount of salt.
Simple Carbohydrates- Sugar and/or Flour, go easy, we only need a bit. Brown sugar or syrups can be used for a deeper flavor.
Fats- Oils/Butters/Fats/ Creams/Gravies, not for taste, adds a ‘feeling’ of smoothness in your mouth. (Can be flavored for extra taste!)
Amino Acids – MSG, monosodium glutamate. It’s not unhealthy, it’s not dangerous, and the media has misinformed people on this subject. Some people are allergic to MSG, similar to how people are allergic to Peanut Butter or Strawberries. MSG is safe. It can be bought online, it comes in tiny grains, typically a pinch can be added to dishes. Alternatives to MSG: Worcestershire sauce, Fish sauce, oyster sauce.
Colors- Vegetables and fruits contain a vast array of colors, steam or gently fry them. We don’t want them brown. We want them bright!
Aromatics- Garlic, onion, or mirepox (carrots/onion/celery) are common.
Caspian- Hot sauce, cayenne pepper, black pepper, remember this is optional.
Psychology trick- Name your food, “Grandma’s Chili” tastes better than “Chili”.
Layer up- In a recipe, add these to each component in a dish in addition. Ex: Chicken – salt, Veg oil, lime juice. Rice – Salt, Vinegar, sugar, MSG, butter. Veggies: salt, olive oil, hot sauce.

V. Application

  • Include a high calorie per dollar food in every meal and a high protein per dollar food in every meal.
  • Include oils, fats, vegetables, and fruits for ESSENTIAL nutrition.
  • Combine this with a variety of herbs, spices, to make most recipes.
  • Examples of Meals: Fajitas, Fried Rice, Chicken Rice and Gravy, Stir Fry, Tacos, Casseroles, Enchiladas, Chicken Tortilla Soup, Alfredo, Sloppy Joe, Lentil Soup, Burritos.

V. Adjust— WAIT! You Can’t Adjust

Taste as you go. Add a little bit of each one and taste. Consider having a bowl of cooked food to test the outcome of adding each. Next time, pick a dish you already like, and modify these slightly. You can’t take out salt once you added it.

Bon Appetit! Enjoy your new diet, new flavors, and new eating and life habits! 😀



See How I Apply This To Recipes, Check Out Efficiency Is Everything – In Cooking Or Subscribe To Get Efficient Recipes Free

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