Thursday, February 25, 2010

Making a Home

I have a friend who makes New Year's Resolutions each year and is fanatical about completing them. Last year's resolution was to do 25 crafty things that she could post on her design blog, Design Fix. What happened was that she completed the 25 projects but ended up giving her family sloppy seconds sometimes, which was not a side-effect she was proud of. This year's resolution, although I think it may be more difficult than last year's in some respects because it involves forming new habits, is really a neat one and one that will benefit her AND her family.

She is taking the parts of Proverbs 31 and breaking them down into goals for her own household. For example, January's goal was taken from verse 14 : She is like the ships of the merchant; she brings food from afar. In her own words, "this month will be devoted to using food wisely to provide for our family... exploring the world of coupon clipping, organizing the pantry, meal planning, etc." And February's goal, from verse 27 (She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.), " is all about cleaning, organization, and looking well to the ways of my household."

Well, I told her I had a few ideas if she was interested and I didn't want to fill up her comments section. I think there might be other people that could benefit as well, so I'll write down some things that have helped me in the past few years.

First for the food parts:

Always plan your menus ahead of time.
  • I use a free calendar that our church gives out in December and plan menus for a whole month in advance
  • when you plan what to cook, you can buy what you need and have it on hand
  • I don't always stick to the schedule (some days I don't feel like what I had written down) but I cross it off when I've made it so I don't repeat it soon
  • plan for leftovers - once a week have "smorgasbord" night and clean out the fridge
  • plan to make double batches and freeze one for another night
  • by using the calendar, I can flip back to other months and be reminded of menus I might want to use again (I make notes on the day if it was a new recipe - lets me know if I should use it again or throw away the recipe)

  • Menus4Moms - has free menus and other more complicated ones that you can subscribe to - I just use it to find new, easy recipes - the menus are very beef-heavy and generally have too much dairy for us
  • Saving Dinner - another website for menu planning and cooking help

Always keep a grocery list.
  • my list is separate from my menu, but Rachel has a neat one that she already uses
  • check your local grocery store flier to see what kinds of things you regularly use are on sale that you can stock up on
  • go through your coupons to pull out the ones you can use with what you have on your list, especially if they are also on sale
The Grocery Game - helps you understand how to use coupons and your store's regular cycle of sales - I subscribed for about a year but I understand how it works enough now that I don't need to - also, many of the things it regularly listed were things we don't use or eat so it wasn't worth it for me

Keep a list of what is in your freezer (or pantry)
  • I got this idea from Better Homes & Gardens, but I can't find a link on their website - the gist of it was to organize the shelves of your freezer to group common items together for easy location - it would work well for a pantry, too
  • make an inventory of your freezer/pantry and then keep a list on a dry erase board so you can update it when you add/subtract items
  • I am blessed with a big freezer, but it is in our garage & I often forget what is in it - I keep this list on the side of the fridge, which is right by the back door to the garage
  • Peel & Stick Dry Erase Squares - exactly what it sounds like - 4 squares in a pack bought from Dorm Buys which is worth browsing for other organizational ideas
  • Organize your pantry by zones - an article from Better Homes & Gardens which I might use if I had a pantry
  • Erasable Food Labels - made by Label Once - they are nice because the label stays on the container - you use a Sharpie but the special eraser takes it off before you wash it so you can use it again
Use your crock-pot
  • plan to use it on a day when you know you will be really busy and not likely to want to cook supper
  • get the ingredients ready the night before and keep it in the fridge until morning
  • cook a whole chicken (79 cents a pound on sale!) with some lemon pepper seasoning (or Italian seasoning or rosemary or another herb you feel like trying) - take the skin off first so you can also remove most of the fat or it will just cook in the fat all day - yuck!
Well, I think that is enough for now. I'll write another post about Rachel's February goal - cleaning and organizing. My favorite! Really. Especially the organizing part.


Get Your Martha On said...

These are great ideas, Katie!

I still subscribe to the Grocery Game. I buy the stuff we don't use (Tuna Helper, canned soups and veggies, etc.) and give them to our food pantry. It's amazing the free toothbrushes and toothpaste a person can get at Walgreens. Anyhow, I'm amazed at what I'm able to give away without spending much at all!

Julie said...

FanTAStic ideas. Thanks Katie. The freezer/pantry list would be especially helpful to me as I end up stocking up on stuff that ends up getting forgotten in the freezer.

Mrs. Fix said...

Sorry it has taken me so so so so long to get over to this post. I blame being 38.5 weeks pregnant!

This is a great post with great ideas. I'm posting a link to it on my blog! I love the dry erase board idea!

Thanks for posting it!

Thru a Tori-lens said...

Hey, Katie- I also apologize for slacking on my blog-reading... I also share the pregnant brain excuse. :) Anyway- lots of good ideas!