Simplify Saturday: Meal Planning Made Easier

Simplify Saturday: Meal Planning Made Easier

As a busy mother of two with a full time job and a part-time business on the side, I know a thing or two about how difficult it is to cook. I also know that when you’re not prepared, it’s a lot easier to justify running to the drive through, where you end up spending money and making choices that aren’t the healthiest.

Once during the school year, we went over our monthly bank statement to discover we’d spent $400 that month on eating out. We were shocked…and vowed to do better. We are now doing an experiment in our house- we write on the calendar each time we eat out, and write down each time we cook at home. This is helping us keep track of how much we are spending, but also on how often we are eating at home.

I’d also like to share some other things you can do to ensure that meal times run more smoothly in your home.

1. Keep staple ingredients in your pantry at all times.

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Who else here has started following a recipe, only to find that you were missing one or two ingredients you needed? Isn’t it frustrating? Think about your family’s favorite things to eat at home, and isolate the ingredients that are common in those recipes. Then, make sure you keep a stockpile of those ingredients in your pantry and fridge.

2. Plan ahead as often as possible

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Planning ahead means that you already have a good idea of what you are going to cook for that week. I have tried to plan two weeks of meals at a time, but sometimes life happens and we don’t stick to it entirely. I’ve now started planning for one week at a time, and planning based on what I have in the pantry, fridge and freezer that week. This way, I am taking our weekly activities into account as well. Gymnastics on Tuesdays? Use the crock pot so it isn’t as time consuming and there is little clean up. Church on Wednesday night?How about salads for dinner? You get the idea.

3. Clean as you go

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Do you ever find that there is a giant mess in your kitchen after you cook, and you often do not get to it until hours later? I have had to wake up early before to clean the kitchen from the night before. One way that I handle this are to fill the sink with soapy water and wash/rinse utensils as I’m cooking. I can also soak bowls and pans before popping them into the dishwasher. The second thing I do is to reuse a bowl from meal prepping to put food scraps or trash in. Having a trash bowl saves me trips to the compost bin or trash can. I use a dish that I’ve already used so I’m cutting down on dirty dishes. It doesn’t sound like a huge deal, but it really helps.

4. Pre-prepare as much as possible

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I’ve reached a point in my life where I’ve realized I need to spend a little more money at the grocery store to get pre-chopped vegetables once in awhile. I initially felt silly about this, but then I realized it truly does save me a lot of time and prep work in the kitchen.

What have you done to simplify your cooking at home? Please comment below and share your tips with me 🙂

 

Have a wonderful weekend.

 

 

 

 

Simplify Saturdays: Self-care and taking time for you

Simplify Saturdays: Self-care and taking time for you

Most of us are guilty of working too much, and sacrificing all of our time for everyone else. There is nothing wrong with working hard or giving time to others; in fact, those things are great. But sometimes you do need to take a little time for yourself.

Finding time for you can be difficult amidst all your other demands, but there are a few ways you can sneak in a little “you-time.”

1. Wake up a little earlier

Waking up about 15 or 20 minutes earlier can allow you a little time for yourself. Read a book, go for a walk, or enjoy a cup of coffee on your porch.

2. Evaluate how you spend your time

Is there anything you do each day that wastes your time? I waste a lot of time on my Smartphone each day. By eliminating some of that, I have been able to spend more time on things that make me happy.

3. Delegate those chores

You can’t do everything. I’m the worst for trying to do it all. Delegate some of those chores to your kids. Kids can help with laundry or loading the dishes. Kids can help pick up toys and straighten up the house. Trying to do everything will only stress you out and steal all your time.

5. Learn to say no

Overextending yourself by taking on too much results in stress and no free time. Free up some time by saying no.

When you carve out a bit of time for yourself, think about the things that bring you joy. Whatever makes you feel renewed and happy, do it. Don’t feel guilty about taking time for you. Take time for yourself and be more relaxed.

Have a wonderful weekend.

Simplify Saturdays: Simplify Your Cleaning Routine

Simplify Saturdays: Simplify Your Cleaning Routine

I don’t know about you, but cleaning is a struggle at my house. My house isn’t all that big but it is time consuming to give it the attention it needs. With two children and a full time job, it is even more difficult sometimes to get the house clean.

Before I share the things I have learned, I want to make it clear that I have not completely figured it out yet. These are just a few tips that are helping me work toward finding a balance, even though I have far from found that balance.

1. Develop a routine and stick to it

Developing a routine and sticking to it as much as possible is a great way to have a cleaner house. We have tried to assign small duties to each night, allowing for flex time on the weekends to catch up on any tasks we have missed. We try to perform the same specific duties each day, but perform a different task each night. Here is our weekly checklist:

You will notice that starting the washing machine each morning is on the list. We have a washer with a delayed start and I use it daily. I throw laundry in the washer before going to bed and set it to finish as I’m getting up. This way, I wash and dry a load of laundry before leaving the house, and have one more load to complete when I get home. I still have to fold them and put them away, but the waiting game is over.

2. Delegate!

You don’t have to do everything, and you can’t. Assign chores to the other members of your household. My oldest daughter is eager to earn a small allowance for her own money, and she doesn’t mind helping me around the house. Pay your children to help you, convince your significant other to help you, but stop trying to be solely responsible for all the cleaning.

3. Set aside time for extra attention

I try to have a deep cleaning day one Saturday a month where I tackle cleaning tasks that don’t necessarily need to be done weekly, but still need a little extra love. These are areas like baseboards or dusting the door and window moldings. You could even break these deep cleaning tasks up and do one each Saturday. It’s all about your schedule and making things work for you.

4. Be reasonable

Sometimes, you won’t have time to clean because you’ve had a busy day. Or maybe you did clean, but something happened and your room is no longer clean. These are the moments when you must have grace with yourself. Your house can’t be perfectly clean all the time but neither can anyone else’s house.

I hope you have enjoyed these tips for simplifying cleaning. As I said before, I am still working to simplify cleaning at my own home, so if you have any tips for me, I’d welcome them 🙂 Have a wonderful day!

Organize your fridge: a stress-free approach to simplifying your kitchen

Organize your fridge: a stress-free approach to simplifying your kitchen

Our fridge was pretty well organized, but like most organized spaces in our home, it was starting to get a little out of hand. This happens to the best of us, but I have good news. With these tips, you can get your fridge organized quickly and easily.

1. Group like items together

I grouped these dairy items together in an acrylic container because not only are similar, but because their containers are also similar.

Our bottom drawer is used to store sandwich items, such as cheeses and lunch meats.

Kid snacks are all stashed together.

As are salad items

And dairy/ condiments.

2. Put items in clear containers so you can see them.

How many times have you forgotten about perishable food items and only rediscovered them when they were expired? Clear containers help you see what’s in your fridge. I am the world’s worst for forgetting about fruit and veggies in the crisper drawer, so having these things on eye level helps as well.

3. An unused crisper drawer is a space-saving place to stash canned drinks.

They still roll around a bit, but not as much than if they were loose in the fridge. Plus, you have more room in the fridge for other things.

4. Stash things you use the most in the front, and things you use the least in the back.

No one likes knocking over everything when they’re trying to reach something else.

5. Use place mats or Fridge Coasters to catch spills or stickiness

See those handy dandy flowered mats in my fridge? They’re cheap shelf liner. It grips the fridge and doesn’t slide around, and it wipes clean with a wet cloth. Plus, it’s cute. Win, win, win.

6. Take a moment each time you grocery shop to clean out any expired items.

When you are restocking your fridge with fresh groceries, this is the perfect time to do a quick check for any expired or spoiled items. I also like to take this time to wipe down the inside of the fridge with a wet, soapy cloth.

These tips help us keep our fridge clean, functional and organized, which makes cooking a lot easier. Plus, you spend less money on grocery day, because you aren’t spending on items you already have.

How do you keep your fridge organized and clean?

Have a wonderful weekend.

Simplify Saturday: Finding Peace on a Daily Basis

We live in a fast paced, stressed out world and sometimes it’s hard to find a moment’s peace. Who else sometimes finds that they are spread thin, with too much to do and you feel like you have no time to breathe?

There are a few things I’ve been trying to do to relax and destress. They work well and they don’t cost a thing!

1. Pray daily

Prayer makes your day much less stressful. Anytime you’re struggling or stressed out, just talk to God about it. I find that praying about my stressors is a major source of relief. You have a confidant who is always available to listen 🙂 Prayer for me is often instant peace.

2. Stop and notice the beauty around you

Take a moment to stop and notice the beauty in the world around you. I took this picture while traveling to my grandma’s house. Sometimes, we have to struggle to see the beauty around us, but if you’re willing to pause and look, you can usually find it.

3. Spend time in the company of those who bring you the most joy

If you want to find peace and contentment in your life, spend some time in the company of your family or friends. Actual time- no phones, no TV; just conversation and good fun.

4. Forget about what people think and just do something that makes you happy

Is it silly to get in a giant kiddie pool with your children? Sure! But I don’t care. I did it, and my kids loved it…and seeing them happy makes me happy.

5. Do something nice for others

What brings you more joy than doing something nice for someone else?

6. Get a hobby that you enjoy and spend a little time doing it each day.

My garden gives me a lot of joy. I love to water it and spend time working in it. And I love to eat the food it produces. Working in this little garden gives me a lot of peace.

What brings you joy and peace?