Meals are often a source of stress in the home. With our busy lives, we often pick up meals on the go or when we do try to cook we are missing that one key ingredient. The start to any good meal planning is of course the shopping.
1. Grocery Shop - Grocery shop only once a week. Pick a day that works best for you. I shop on Thursdays because each week the grocery ads come out in the Wednesday paper. As I set down to plan my menu and write my list, I use the ads. My menu is often influenced by what is on sale. Who doesn't also want to save money?
2. Recipe List - I have an index card with all of my meals/recipes listed on it. It has all the recipes I make listed by cookbook or noted that they are from my recipe box. If I choose that meal, I don't have to spend anytime looking for the recipe. If find it quickly and write down the ingredients on my shopping list.
3. Grocery List -My grocery list is done on a spreadsheet format. I used the store map to make my list by aisle. This way I avoid all backtracing and can get my shopping done for a whole week in around 45 minutes. At the bottom of the list is a menu section with a place to note 7 meals. As I choose a meal from my recipe index card, I write it down. The next step is to locate the recipe and add the necessary ingredients to the shopping list.
4. Meal Planning -As I select my meals for the week, I plan them according to events of the family. For example, if we have baseball practice on Tuesday night, that would be a great night for Chicken salad sandwiches or something else that can be made in advance and ate cold. I can make it early an have it in the refrigerator ready to go. I also plan my 'fresh' meals for early on in the week. I want my produce to be fresh. Because I shop on Thursday, I plan my meals with the least or little amount fresh produce for Tuesday and Wednesday.
5. Post the Menu -When I get home from the store, I post the menu from the bottom of my list on the refrigerator. This helps in two ways. First, before bedtime, I can check the list to see if I need to defrost any frozen meat. Secondly, my husband eats out a lot at lunch. He can check it so that he won't get pizza for lunch if that is my plan for dinner.
6. Don't impulse buy - if you are an impulse buyer, consider using the on-line grocery shopping offered by your local grocer. For a small fee, you can just drive up and pick up your groceries. If you impulse buy, the fee will be less than the items you pick up and don't really need.
1. Laundry Sorter - Invest in a Laundry sorter. They can be found for under $15 dollars at your local discount retailer. My sorter has three sections. One I have labeled for whites, one for darks, and one for pink/red/purple. Two laundry baskets next to the sorter are for khaki/denim, and one for towels.
2. Teach your kids to sort by color - My children bathe and shower in our Master Bath. As they get undressed, they put their dirty clothes directly into the correct bin. The bins are labeled with index cards with color squares and the color name. Even my 4 year old who cannot read can match her dirty clothes to the correct color square. As a basket gets full, I do a load.
3. Get in a routine - Check on your laudry status daily. If there is enough to justify a load, start it when the kids get home from school or when you get home. Switch it to the dryer after dinner. As you watch TV, fold it and sort it by family member. Put it in a designated spot so that your child will pick up the clean laundry and put it away for themselves.
1. Make a list - at the start of the week, write down the errands you need to do that week.
2. Plot it out - think about where the errands are located to decide which errands to do on which day. Plan to do all of the errands in a general area on the same day to save time and gas.
3. Coupons -Keep your coupons (other than grocery) in your car. That way you do not miss out on savings.
4. Returns - If you have items to return keep them in your car with the receipt attached. If you end up near the store, you don't have to make a second trip for the return.
5. Super Centers - consider shopping at super centers. Often you can get your oil changed, your grocery shopping, and even your nails done all in one location.
6. Gift closet - When you see toys or other items at a great price consider buying a few for a gift closet. That way when that birthday party invitation comes, you don't have to run out and buy something. Gift closets are also great for stocking hostess and teacher gifts.
7. Present of the Year - decide on one gift - for example, books - that will be what you will be giving for birthday gifts. When a birthday comes around you have eliminated time walking around trying to decide what to buy. Head to the bookstore and buy some books or a gift card and you're done.
1. top-down theory - always clean your rooms from the top down - literally. Start by dusting the ceiling fan if you have one then dust all surfaces before you vacuum.
2. a clean sink - clean your white sink by filling it with bleach and water and letting it soak. You will be amazed how much cleaner your kitchen will fell if you keep your sink clean.
3. Microwave gunk - does your microwave suffer from dried on splatter? Fill a large microwave safe bowl with water and microwave it for five minutes. The gunk will wipe away easily with a damp sponge. Be carefull when removing the bowl of water from the microwave.
1. Storage - Keep your holdiay decorations in large plastic tubs with sealable lids in your attic or storage area. You can label them and even buy them to color coordinate with the holiday inside - red for valentines, green for Christmas, purple for Easter, etc. Your decorations will be easy to find and be kept in great condition for years of enjoyment.
2. Storage for outdoor decorations - if you can, keep all of your outdoor decorations in the garage or separate from your indoor ones. They often get dirty or wet and need to be replaced more often. Also, you won't have to walk as far to put them out or pick them up.
2. Birthday cards - do birthday's sneak up on you? On your calendar write in all the birthdays and highlight them. The last week of the month plan to go to the dollar store. Take your list and get your cards. Most dollar stores offer nice cards for 2/$1.