Room by Room Organizational Tips: The Kitchen

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I thought after my last series of posts on organization, it might be nice to give you some Room-by-Room Organizational Tips. Through this month I’ll touch on the most common rooms in our homes and give you tips and idea’s on how-to organize and clean with purpose. I thought we’d start with the kitchen… so here we go!

The kitchen is the gathering place in our home like most others. It’s where little boys get to lick the icing off the mixer beaters… where soap-bubble beards are made and wet towel ‘thwacks’ happen… yes the kitchen is the heart of the home… after all it’s where we nourish those we love.

I’ll give you the details of how I keep my kitchen tidy and organized. Next time I’ll touch on my pantry.

What a happy mom am I when the boys rooms are clean, the fridge is shining with no ‘science experiments’ going on in it, the appliances are shining and the windows are clean… at least for fifteen minutes! After all, with a three-year old that likes to lick the window at the cat sitting on the window shelf and the six-year-old that loves to draw on a steamy window… I’m lucky to get the fifteen minutes!

So here are some helpful Room-by-Room Organizational Tips for the kitchen.

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*I keep all my spices and herbs in half pint, pint and quart size mason jars.

*In the fridge, I always keep the older products up front so they are used first. I do use Tupperware Fridge Smart containers in my fridge. They stack neatly and they really do keep things fresher longer. I use them for my lunch meat, cheeses and even leftovers. They are not just for fruit & veggies.

*I also prefer to use cling wrap over foil to cover things in the fridge~ it’s easier to see what’s in the bowl.

*I keep all my baking supplies: measuring items, spices, herbs, flour, baking pans and sheets on the same side of the kitchen in neighboring cupboards so I don’t have to run all over the kitchen for items.

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*Use plastic totes to keep loose items like cookie cutters and other items that you don’t use every day in and then they stack neatly in the cupboard as well.

*I use baskets in my utensil drawers~ I like the way it looks better than the regular plastic utensil dividers. I am all about cute~ especially if I can use baskets!

*If you do a lot of baking like we do, keep your 25# and 50# bags of sugar, oatmeal and flours in plastic totes with air tight lids. This will keep it fresh and keep the bugs out!

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Here’s  my Kitchen Routine as I have it in my journal. This is to be done on a weekly basis unless otherwise noted.

Weekly:

Wash down: Counter back splash, fronts of cupboards, spot wash walls.

*Wipe down counters and stove after every use

*Wash windows

*Put clean foil on stove burner plates; clean out fridge

*Wash floors- Saturday; spot clean through the week‰ 

*Sweep floor after each meal daily

*Dust all around ceiling lines and through room

*Wash floor carpets

Monthly

*Take down curtains and wash; pull fridge & stove out and clean; wash down ceiling fan

Seasonally
Spring and Fall:

*Wash walls and ceiling

*Empty out cupboards and wash

*Take all knick-knacks off top of cupboards and wash

*Dust top of cupboards and wash

*Touch up any spots with paint.

I hope this gives you some inspiration to get your kitchen organized and cleaned up! Next time we’ll look at how I keep my pantry organized and tidy… until then,
Happy Day,
Jean

Organization Day 7: Menu Planning and Grocery Lists

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Welcome to the next article in my new series on Organization.  In the last article I showed you how to incorporate Zonal Cleaning into your daily schedules and routines.  Today we’ll look at a very important and potentially time-consuming job~ Menu Planning and Grocery Shopping. I say ‘potentially time consuming’ because if you are not organized and structured in this area of managing your home, you can end up spending much more money on things that you don’t need and won’t end up using. By planning your meals and therefore your grocery shopping lists you won’t find yourself buying ingredients on a whim or wasting time thinking about what you should get ‘this time’. It will also save you fuel because you won’t have to run back to the grocery store or market because you forgot something.

If you missed the previous post follow this link to it http://fordragonfliesandme.com/2013/11/20/organization-day-6-zonal-cleaning/

Menus & Grocery lists

I decided to spend one day with the help of my children to design our weekly menus for a year.  That may sound a bit scary but not really… you see I didn’t make 52 separate menus. I designed two groups of menus according to the seasons. Spring & Summer’s menus focus on the fresh produce we’re growing and that’s available. The second is Fall & Winter which features what we’ve canned, frozen and what’s in the root cellar along with what we’re still growing in the fall garden and winter hoop house. I created eight weeks of menus for each group. This allows me to rotate over two months. I keep that weeks menu on the fridge so we don’t have to think about meal prep, especially during our busy gardening and canning season. Having a menu helps in grocery shopping and meal prep every morning.

Cooking is not my favorite thing to do, but I have five growing boys that need to eat.  My daughter Taylor’s the one who loves being in the kitchen. It’s funny though… baking is her favorite thing to do, that is my least favorite; she likes to cook and I don’t mind, especially with garden fresh goodies; she doesn’t mind canning and I absolutely love it; and we’re both OK with yeast baking stuff~ although I will say, I like that a bit more than her.  But neither one of us can make a pie crust to save our lives~ honestly, we just have never been able to master that!

Taylor would be happy to sit in a rocking chair with a pile of cookbooks and cooking mag’s where I would be there with my gardening ones! We balance each other out I guess…

Anyway, lets look into organizing your life with Menu Planning and Grocery Lists.

Menu Planning

I love anything that will simplify my life in the everyday stuff that needs to be done like preparing meals for my family. Remember my P.M.S.? I’d much rather take a few hours sitting down with my favorite cookbooks to compile a couple of months worth of menus eliminating the question “What’s for supper tonight?”  Taylor and I do run out of ideas and our meals can quickly fall into a rut of the same stuff over and over again! The ‘what’s for supper’ question can quickly become spaghetti all too often without menus! I’m sure many of us can relate to that! So I thought it would be nice to share a few tips in menu planning.

*First take 1-3 of your favorite cookbooks and 2 blank monthly calendars and a PENCIL! Don’t take more than this, you’ll get side tracked!

*Be sure you take into consideration what days off children might have from school, scheduled extra curricular activities, each family members day’s off from work. Don’t plan a favorite meal for someone when they won’t even be home for it!

*I only include breakfast and supper on the menus because most of the children are at school and/or work.

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*Before you go into the cookbooks, fill in a few of the day’s with some meals that you know each family member enjoys. Think about the groceries each meal will take beforehand. Fill in one breakfast, lunch and supper for each family member with their favorite thing over the two weeks of menus- don’t duplicate any meal and don’t include any deserts… YET.

*Now that you have several of the days and meals filled in decide if your family wants to have a ‘night out’ meal… jot that in the appropriate box.

*Next, decide how often you want to have desert with meals… fill in accordingly.

*Now go to the cookbooks. I encourage you to try a new recipe once a week. This will be fun and will help you and your family find new favorites. It’ll also help you from getting in a rut of the same old thing.

Some extra tips when planning your menu:
*Do you have a garden? Do you shop primarily at the Farmers Market during the season? Do you have any of your own live stock that you raise? Do you have your own chickens for eggs? These should all play a factor in your menu planning.

*Take into consideration what season you’re in. Spring will hold more salads if you have a garden; summer will be the mother load of produce and will eliminate much grocery shopping for fresh produce, so incorporate meals that save you from buying ‘stuff’; fall will give you more root crops and squashes as well as it being butcher time- plan according to what you have available and growing.

*Have your family members help create the menu. This can be a fun family activity and sharing time of who liked and didn’t like what!

*You now have two whole months planned out and it was so much fun and so easy. If you feel adventurous try doing another month and plan it out seasonally.

*Be sure to jot down what the cookbook and the page number for the recipe on the calendar. I recommend using abbreviations for cookbooks. For example I would put LS for my cookbook, Lovingly Seasoned Eats & Treats. If you don’t think you’ll remember them, jot down a legend on the back of the calendar.

Include this job in your control journal in one of your desk day jobs.

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Grocery Lists

Grocery lists are really not complicated and won’t take up too much time when you have your menus to work off of. Here are some tips!

*I recommend keeping a magnetic note pad or grocery list right on the front or side of your fridge! Each time you run out of something jot it down or tick it off the pre-made list.

Google ‘grocery list’ and you’ll find oodles of styles to download. Keep a master in your control journal and make a copy for each week, unless you have a pre-printed note pad. Here are a few sites to try:

http://www.workingmom.com/grocerylist.htm
http://www.practicalspreadsheets.com/Grocery-List-Template.html
www.home-organization-online.com/free-printable-grocery-list.html
www.freeprintablegrocerylist.com

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*You’ll need to go over your menu for the next week and shop accordingly.

*As I mentioned you can save a lot of money when you grow your own or at least eat seasonally. But if that’s not an option for you shop the farmers market which is the next best thing. There are many winter farmers market as well that you can shop and support and still eat seasonally with root crops, storage crops and fresh greens.

*Stick to the list when you go to the grocery store. I’m sure most of you shop at several stores for different items.  Have a list for each store and coupons/ ad’s to go with each.

*I always make sure I have my grocery list, coupons and shopper bags ready to go.

*If you have empties to return, be sure they’re ready to go and in the trunk.

*Don’t go shopping when you’re hungry… you WILL buy things you normally don’t because ‘they look good’ at the time!

Here is a sample of my monthly menu.  Sorry if you can’t make out my ‘printing’ 😉 and abbreviations.
I hope this gives you some great ideas on how to incorporate menu planning and grocery lists into organizing your life!
Happy Day,
Jean

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