Guest post Paula Tobey
Dear Clutter Free Warriors,
Is there not anything worse than when you are frantically searching for the plastic container lid to give to your company as a parting ‘thank you’ from the feast you just enjoyed, as they are ready to leave – only to be missing the correct fitting lid? Am I the only one that can’t seem to find the right lids when I need them the most? I mean really, why do we keep Tupperware, Ziploc or even Cool-Whip Containers when we cannot even find their correlating lids? Or better yet, you have tons of lids and no containers- because if push came to shove, you could put the food in a container and then put plastic wrap on top (and of course secure it with a rubber band because the wrap really does not stick even though it claims to). How come I can’t ever have enough containers? Well, I decided one day to go on a hunt to figure out this mystery and here is what I found.
We need containers! Containers are awesome and they are useful on so many levels. We put all kinds of things in them and don’t even realize we are doing it! When I went looking I found two in my master bathroom. One had a sponge in it and was used to hold the sponge (and its contents) while cleaning, and the other was holding hair bands, elastics and headbands. I then went into my kid’s bath thinking I’d find similar things, I found another two containers. One had homemade bath soap (which smelled pretty nice!) and the other had teeny tiny plastic pieces much resembling Barbie doll shoes or Polly Pocket type toys in it. I then went to my fridge, and oh boy….. I found my problem. Way too many left overs- experiments actually, and so I needed to clean the fridge out! So there you have it. We loooovvveee our plastic! Here are some basic things you can do to be sure you keep the ‘good stuff’ and recycle the rest.
This Week’s Maintenance Challenge:
- Go through your cabinet that contains your plastic ware. Gut it. Sort out the stuff that is good, bad or ugly. Recycle any of it that is cracked, stained, missing the lid (permanently) or you are not sure where the lid is now.
- Take the big pieces for lots of food, storing big items or used for a purpose like freezing or marinating and nest them on the bottom.
- Take your medium sized ones that you use frequently for leftovers and nest them in the middle.
- Take the smallest ones and nest them on the top.
- Put all of the lids (that match the container) near it so it can be found easier.
- Recycle any that have no mates or are just ugly.
- Vow to repeat this process in another three months.
It really can be quite simple to do this process when it is on your radar. Make a point to stay on top of it before it is out of control. (Now I know you are thinking this would be great if it weren’t your toddler’s favorite place to play. Which IS understandable, but while you are at it, teach that precocious little primate that important concept of clean up time by sharpening his or her mathematical and spatial reasoning by showing them how to sort, nest and store away those ‘fun toys’. It’s never too early for that!
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Paula Tobey is founder of PheMOMenal Life Ministries a community for women to go get encouraged and equipped to be the best mom’s they can be to their children by living a healthy balanced life and by becoming all that God created them to be. For more information go check out her website here www.PheMOMenalLife.com
Today’s Project is to spend a little more time in the kitchen. Here are some things that you might want to get ahead on:
- Creating your meal plan for the rest of the month
- Planning out your Christmas Dinner and your shopping list
- Shopping for your non-perishables
- Making the list of what you need to buy at the last minute so it’s fresh
- Pulling out your serving platters, roasting pans, cake stands, etc. or anything else that you need
- Pulling together your baking list
Let me know in the comments what you are doing for this Project and I’ll be giving away another copy of THE WHAT’S FOR DINNER SOLUTION. Tell me by Friday what you did to get ahead kitchen-wise, and you could be a winner!
This week I am going to help you make dinner, save time, save money, get organized and make dinner time meaningful and full of purpose once again. We are going to focus on how all of us, regardless of how busy you are can make great tasting, healthy meals for your family. Like all projects we start at the beginning. For the What’s For Dinner Solution we start by finding out what you have to work with and getting it all organized.
See what you have
Do you know what is in your pantry? Have you checked the back of the freezer lately? And what about that one drawer in the fridge you never open? Do you even know what spices wait for you in the cabinet?
Not all of us are culinary experts who easily plan menus. Make appropriate shopping lists and can whip up a gourmet meal for our family every night. Life is busy and hectic. We juggle managing a house, a career, husband’s career kids, games, play dates, doctor appointments, baseball practice and the list goes on and on. Not to mention we are not programmed to wake up and decide what we are going to prepare for dinner. If we do the thought is fleeting and before we know it 5 pm has arrived, the natives are restless and there is no plan.
So what do you do know?
First off you need to know what you have on hand.
Take the time to clean out and organize your recipes, pantry, cabinets, fridge and freezer.
Let’s start with the recipes.
Get them organized. If you have recipes cards or a folder with papers shoved inside buy some notebook dividers. Label them appropriately: Appetizers, salad, side dishes, main course: meats, pasta, desserts, breads, breakfast etc…
As you are organizing your recipes sort through them; will you make that again? Did the family like that dish? Does it fit within my diet plan (diabetes, allergy, healthy, no sugar etc.) There is no sense in keeping recipes that will not be used. It is just more clutter.
Now for the Pantry
Clean out expired products.
Sort by food likeness: baking products, canned goods, cereal, crackers and so on.
Same steps from the pantry apply, like foods together. Condiments on one shelf, milk, creamers and juice on another. Use the produce drawers for the produce and deli drawer for your meats and cheeses.
If you do not already start today and write the date on all foods you place in your freezer.
Make a list of what you have on your freezer so you can plan your meals accordingly. Stop buying food you already have.
All of the above will help you see what you have, how much you have and make your menu & list making easier. Not to mention you and the family will be able to quickly grab a great snack when needed.
Now it is your turn. Tell me in the comments below what you do to stay organized so you know what is on hand to eat. Any organizing tip you want tos hare with the other readers are great too.
What are your favorite organizing kitchen tips?
The number one favorite of my all time favorite kitchen tips? Clear off your counters. Here are my tips to enlarging your kitchen by cleaning off you counters.
- Reclaim some counter space. The most valuable real estate in your entire house is the space on your counter. There should be nothing on the counter that doesn’t either: 1. Work for you on a regular basis (i.e. My coffee maker sees more action than the funnel cake stand at a county fair, so it deserves a place on the counter. My food processor I only use once a week or so. It has not earned the right to be on the counter.) Or 2. Make you happy to look at.
On a regular basis I have to fight with my “stuff” to keep it off the counter. I promise you, clutter and appliance migrate there in the middle of the night. I am constantly waging a battle to keep my counters cleared.
Here is a list of things that have not earned the right to be there (but keep trying to sneak their way on):
- Slow Cooker
- Can Opener
- Kid’s school projects
- Dishes that just don’t want to get put away
Things that have earned the right to be on my counter:
- Coffee Maker
- Canisters (they are not just decorative, they hold everyday essentials like coffee filters, packets of sweetener, and dog treats.)
- Toaster Oven (so we don’t need to fire up the big over very often,)
- A container of frequently-used utensils
- A butcher block of knives
Your use of counter space is going to be different than mine, but you get the idea – be thoughtful about what you give your permission to live on your counter.
Another great counter space saver is to see what you can have mounted under your cabinets or on your walls. For the longest time, I had a vertical paper towel rack that sat on the counter. It was a constant frustration to me that it took up so much space. Then one day it occurred to me that just because our house wasn’t built with an under-counter towel rack, didn’t mean I couldn’t do the job myself, (or bribe my cute husband to do it with a plateful of chocolate chip cookies.) I also have a microwave and CD player/radio mounted under my cabinets to save space.
And on my walls? I have a very cute set of stainless steel measuring spoons and a coffee scoop. I use them every day, they look great on the walls, and everyone in my house knows where to put them away.
I am constantly looking for those eleusive kitchen tips to make my kitchen life run smoother. Now it’s your turn: Tell me your favorite kitchen tips – whether it be for shopping, unpacking your groceries, cooking, cleaning, meal planning, meal planning calendars, anything! One of my lucky commenters will win the (yet to be released!)Creative Slow-Cooker Meals by Cheryl Moeller. You know I’m a HUGE fan of the Slow Cooker – so I know you will just LOVE this creative book!
Here are the kitchen tips you’ll get from Cheryl’s Book
Creative Slow-Cooker Meals: Use Two Slow Cookers for Tasty and Easy Dinners comes a new kind of cookbook and a new attitude toward planning meals. With an eye toward the whole menu, not just part of it, columnist Cheryl Moeller teaches cooks to use two crockpots to easily create healthy, homemade dinners.
Don’t worry about your dinner being reduced to a mushy stew. Each of the more than 200 recipes has been taste-tested at Cheryl’s table. Join the Moeller family as you dig into:
• Harvest-time Halibut Chowder
• Salmon and Gingered Carrots
• Mediterranean Rice Pilaf
• Indian Chicken Curry
• Apricot-Pistachio Bread
• Shrimp Creole
• Rhubarb Crisp
… and many more!
Check it out here!