Is your timing right?

Timing

An important aspect of successful meal planning is timing. When you draw up your meal plan one of the main components you need to keep in mind is your daily routine and how much time you have to make that particular meal.

A couple of weeks ago I made a new recipe for the first time, Beef Wellington. I planned it for a Wednesday night. This was not a well thought out idea. The reason I chose Wednesday is that I work half day, so I knew I would have the time to make this meal and there would be no rush. The only clever timing choice about the Wednesday was that it did take me 3 hours to make the Wellingtons. http://kasheringyourlife.co.za/my-month-with-gordon/

Beef Wellington
Renamed Beef Waterloo. 10 Delicious servings

My timing was a little off. I needed liver pate, being strictly kosher, I can only get this from one or two sources and they only make this for Friday as a Sabbath treat! I was two days too early.

Timing for your menu makes your life easier.  If you have a lot of extra murals, you don’t want to plan a meal that is going to take an hour if you will only be home at 7pm.

For moms with children doing extra murals (especially in winter) my suggestion is to use a slow cooker.  I love the convenience of chucking everything into one pot in the morning, turning it on low and leaving the house. By 5pm the house smells wonderful and dinner is ready. The other convenience is everyone can help themselves (if they are old enough) according to their times.

Another consideration for timing is finger food. If you are going to be running around during the children’s dinner time, why not plan to make wraps? These can also be made ahead, wrapped and kept in the fridge, for everyone to eat later in the car. Wraps are a healthier alternative to take out and cheaper too.

Give meal planning a try and see how much easier it makes your life.

Washing Scheduled

Do you spend a part of your morning picking up washing from different parts of the house? How close to the laundry basket does the dirty washing get?

Last year I introduced small washing baskets into each bedroom, as well as the ones already in the bathrooms and for the most part the dirty clothes make it in. I must admit the favourite spot for most of the dirty clothes is next to the washing basket.

Different fold up soft baskets for colour sorting

Colour coded

The other small change I implemented is different colour baskets to help me sort all the washing at once. I bought these mesh baskets; they are easily folded away and stored in a cupboard between use. They were cheap and I bought 2 a month until I had the colours I wanted.

I then created a schedule. I only have one child in uniform, so as you can imagine we have a lot of laundry each day. If you have nursery school children or younger, you will also have a fortune of washing to do.

On Schedule

I created a schedule for the washing to be done, this mostly ensures that the most important clothing items are washed first.  This helps especially when it rains for days.

I have 4 children plus my husband and myself, with a smallish washing machine. Unfortunately my beautiful large Speed Queen died after 25 years of dedicated service and because of its age there are no longer spare parts. I have a really good machine now but it is small and we do around 3 loads of washing per day.

Here is my schedule:

Monday – whites/lights, blacks and hand washing

Tuesday – blue/ greens, brown and reds/orange

Wednesday-  Linen ( there are 5 beds, this takes the whole day)

Thursday – Towels and table cloths.

For the most part this schedule works well. Obviously there are colours and patterned clothing that you have to decide where they fit in,

I have an ironing lady who comes 1 full day and 1 ½ day each week, I do my first load of laundry at around 6 am, all three loads are then done by 8 when I need to leave for work.

Put it away

I have spoken to a few ladies who do not have help and one of their main issues is not getting the clean laundry to where it belongs.  This is another system that you need to then put into place. How to get the clean clothes back where they belong? Depending on the age of your children you can possibly get them to put their own stuff into their cupboards.

This would only work well with some of my family members, my husband, my eldest daughter, who is an organiser by nature, and my youngest and my son, who would get it to the cupboard but not sort it. My middle child has server ADHD and depending on what happens between where she collects the washing and her bedroom will dictate where the washing ends up. If it makes it to her bedroom she will also get it into the cupboard but not sorted.

Getting it fixed

Another aspect of laundry is repair. Lost buttons, torn pockets and seams. Create a small repair kit to help with mending or a space to put the clothes into so that they can be taken to be repaired.

Another handy tip I learned is to have a singles basket. This is for the socks that have lost their partners, every few months go through the basket and see if you can find matches.

Dirty Laundry!

Your laundry room

Where do you do your laundry? Do you have a laundry room or do you have laundry equipment in the kitchen? Wherever it is, it needs to be organised.

How often does your washing machine get cleaned?  Are your washing detergents organised?

Do you have old expired bleach? Believe it or not, bleach expires and quite quickly too.

Laundry area
If your laundry area is dirty and untidy, how can your laundry be clean?

The laundry areas can get untidy very quickly, as your washing machine and tumble dryer, if you have one are flat surfaces, and flat surfaces attract clutter.

What do you do with stray socks? How about the small change in people’s pockets?

Look at the area around your machines, is everything there specific to washing clothes and linen or do you have a collection of odds and ends.

An idea for those of us who have very little or no designated laundry space, are baskets where you can put similar items into. A basket to hold all your softeners and bleaches and another for a small sewing kit for repairs.

How can you have clean clothes and linen if the area is in chaos?

Does it belong?

The first aspect to laundry is getting the area sorted. Get rid of anything that isn’t to do with laundry. Clean out the space, whether it is a cupboard or a room. Empty old and expired laundry supplies and throw the containers away or recycle them, find new ways to neatly store everything.

Once your clothing is washed, it often needs ironing. Make sure your iron and ironing board are both in good condition.

Rainy days

Are you able to dry laundry on a rainy day without your tumble dryer? If you have the space, maybe consider putting up a retractable washing line on the wall. This may be especially important if you have small babies or you live in an apartment building where the washing lines are often on the roof.

It is also a good idea to have a small basket to collect your stray socks. That way you may periodically be able to find the matching sock.

Collecting the lost and found

I read an article a while ago where a lady had a small jar in her laundry room and any money found in pockets went into the jar. I also think another idea would be a catch all basket, anything found in pockets would go into this, e.g. pens, ticket stubs or parking stubs etc.

Do you have any idea on how to remove stains? What to use for what type of stain. A good idea might be to create a stain removal kit to keep with your laundry detergents.

Do you have a laundry room? How old was your oldest item in the laundry room?

In your fridge and in your freezer

Your fridge and freezer are one of the most used items in your kitchen, except for the sink, stove and ovens. We do not deep clean these often enough.

Basic hygiene

In a program I once watched, a cleaning team went into a home that had a vegetarian and two meat eaters sharing the space. They dyed a piece of meat with ultraviolet dye and then asked everyone to prepare their meals. The contamination of all the food was quite surprising, even with washing utensils after each use. Is your kitchen actually clean?

How often do you clean the back of the fridge/freezer door handles? Cleaning the inside of the fridge should be a regular task in your households cleaning routine.

If you have a self-defrosting freezer you need to schedule a good clean out of that as well. For those of us who have to periodically defrost the freezer, it is the perfect time to deep clean the shelves.

Month end shopping

I planned this task to coincide with when most people will be doing a big shop. Pay day has just been and we are all about to replenish the food in our kitchens. If you are putting this task onto a regular cleaning schedule, the best time to do this is right before the grocery run. You will then have a nice clean fridge and freezer in which to put all your new shopping.

It's on top!
The top of my fridge makes perfect storage space!

Fridge decor

How cluttered is the outside of your fridge? It is time to make room for the new paintings and drawings the children bring home from school. When the children were younger, any birthday invitations we received went onto the fridge door, sometimes sitting there for weeks after the event.

 

Bicarb always

To get a good deep clean and to get rid of any odours that may linger after the food is gone, use a mixture of bicarbonate of soda (baking soda) and water, make this into a paste and spread it with a cloth onto the surfaces and use a toothbrush to get into the crevices of your fridge/freezer.

My Freezer
Cleaning out your freezer will save you money!

Leave it for about 5 minutes and then using warm water wash it off.

For stubborn marks and odours, spray vinegar and then wash with the warm soapy water. Pay special attention to meat spills.

Repacking your fridge

When repacking your fridge, it is important that certain items be placed on specific shelves. Items that need defrosting should be placed on the bottom shelf in a bowl, or on a tray, to prevent the inevitable spillage from cross contaminating the rest of your food.

A rule of thumb is, cooked and ready to eat items top and middle shelves, food needing to be cooked, middle and bottom shelves.

Your fridge door is best used for items with a longer shelf life.

Don’t over fill your fridge as this can cause items to freeze and uses more electricity. Don’t overload the fridge door with heavy items as this can cause breakage.

How to pack your fridge

For more information check out the list I saved on Pinterest for how to pack your fridge https://za.pinterest.com/pin/6051780730348903/ or go to http://www.home-storage-solutions-101.com/refrigerator-storage-chart.html.

Packing your freezer is just as important as packing your fridge properly. You actually want to have this packed full, as the freezer works better with more food inside.

Pack like items together and also size and shape to make stacking easier. Label and date all frozen food.

Happy cleaning! Let us see those before and after photo’s please.

10 reason to grocery shop online

Here are 10 reasons to grocery shop on line. In June 2015 I started this blog and in the first article I spoke about how much I saved with online shopping.  Nearly 2 years later, I can still say it is worth the hassle.

Yes it was a huge learning curve on how to do the online shopping and still get everything I ordered. I have learned the best days to order, what I can’t order and what I must specify as ‘no substitutions’. The first time was really painful!

1.     You can shop anytime

Our country is held hostage by the taxi drivers, staff at the end of the day are in a rush to get off work so they can catch the last taxi of the day. If you are late finishing work you don’t have to rush to make it before the store closes, because there is no closing time.

Shopping times
Online shopping is 24/7

2.     No rude staff

I have to laugh when I see the signs on the tills that remind staff to greet the customer with a smile. I have seen this very rarely. Customer service seems to be a vague concept that they are taught and then promptly forget. The staff is quite content to carry on their conversation about the evening before, what’s happening in their favourite soapy or how the new ‘protocol’ is unfair or the boss is rude. This is whether the client speaks their language or not.

3.     You can wear your pajamas

There is no dress code. Now I have seen people (mostly women) at the shops in their slippers, hair in curlers and once at my local store a lady in her nightie! I am not saying you must get dressed up and made up to go to the shops.  I know some would disagree, you never know who you might meet! At least in your own home you can happily do your shopping in your skivvies if you want, no one will judge you.

pyjama-shopping
Image courtesy of CSN Media.

4.     Your stuff is safe!

Shopping from the comfort of your own home, means your wallet, cellphone and children are safe. There are no pick pockets or child snatchers around! No worries about keeping your handbag close or people distracting you so their sticky fingers can lift your property.  You don’t have to worry about someone jamming your locking signal and then making off with the contents of your car or even your car itself.

5.     Guilt free parking

Since you won’t need your car, you don’t need change for the ‘car guard’ to help you unpack your trolley or help you reverse out the parking that you got into quite easily on your own.  I don’t always have change as I use my card for most things and then I put that in my phone cover and leave my bag at home. I have a savings option on my card, where the total purchase is rounded up and the difference is put into a little savings account.  Sometimes when I do have some change with me it is only 50c or so and I feel guilty that with my huge shopping trolley all I can give is some tiny change. I did try once to give a guy a can of food and he handed it back to me with a disgusted look.

6.     You save money

One thing about online grocery shopping is that impulse buying is reduced to a minimum. You have your list and you search for those items only.  There are no checkout counters, so no sweets or chocolates to tempt you. You aren’t wandering up and down aisles and taking things off the shelf, because they caught your eye.

Another thing I learned to do is to open the profiles of the stores that offer online shopping and compare prices. You can shop at 3 stores at once (maybe soon other grocery stores will offer online shopping). You get to choose your products and make use of any specials that are offered.

7.     It’s environmentally friendly

When you shop online you have the option of saying no to plastic bags! This not only helps the environment, it helps your pocket too. The delivery arrives in plastic containers, which are then unpacked in your home, no having to worry about carrying heavy stuff or plastic bags breaking.

8.     You can shop in stages

One thing that I am sure has happened to you, I know it has happened to me more than once. In fact it happened just last week. You are in the store and shopping is taking longer than planned. Suddenly you realise the time and you have to be at a meeting or fetch the kids from school, an extra mural or a friend. This means you are either going to be late, not going to be able to complete your shopping or have to abandon your trolley all together and come back another day. You land up with your shopping

Shopping online means when you can come back all your groceries are still in your trolley where you parked it. You don’t have to start again; nothing is going to go off, because it sat in the car while you did lift schemes.

9.     You can take as long as you want

This goes a long with the last point. You can shop in stages. It can be days or weeks. You can add to your trolley anytime you want.  If you log on and add to your trolley as soon as something is finished in your cupboard, you will not leave anything off of your shopping list.

10.                        No children

Shopping with babies and small children can be difficult. Having to push your trolley and control an over tired toddler can cause any mom to have a meltdown. Shopping online means you avoid, cranky, tired children, your own children and other people’s children too. It also means that if it is nap time, you can stop shopping, put your child down for a nap and go back to shopping. There is no nagging for this toy or that sweet. This applies to children of all ages.

Shopping with children
Image from http://whattheflicka.com/tag/shopping-101-guide/

For breast feeding mom’s it means you can feed in comfort while still doing the shopping. No one complaining about you feeding in public, no having to go feed your baby in the public bathrooms either or going to sit in your hot car for privacy and then having people look in your window.

Some smaller stores allow you to phone in your order and they deliver, this is usually the butcher and specialty stores and has the same benefits of online shopping.

Do you online shop and if not, I would love to hear why not?

Kitchen Cupboards and Drawers

This week we are working on sorting out the kitchen cupboards and drawers.

My cupboards refuse to stay sorted! I just have too much stuff!

What’s in the drawer?

Starting with the drawers, empty them out and get rid of anything broken! Last week we looked at the function of our kitchens, anything in those drawers that do not fit the function, needs to go.

kitchen drawer
I do a lot of cooking and I love gadgets, my drawers are full even after sorting!

What the end result should be is, drawers you can open and close easily and where you are able to find what you are looking for!

Challenging cupboards

For your cupboards, the aim is to be able to get to things without having to stack and unstack anything first. I’m still working on that after having done this declutter assignment for the last 3 years.

You need to be a little tougher on yourself here and get rid of the chipped plates no matter how sentimental and useful they are. These are dangerous, especially if you have young children or do the dishes by hand. Someone can easily cut themselves.

Stop mugging about!

I think you can never have too many coffee mugs but if you haven’t the space to keep them then it is time to clear out.

It is not a good idea to pull out everything from all the cupboards at once as this may just become overwhelming. One cupboard at a time works best.

Then sort by what you use daily, weekly and rarely. The rarely gets put back at the back and the daily, where you will be able to reach it easily.

In the zone!

If you have the space to do it, you should try and create ‘zones’ in your kitchen. Placing your chopping boards where you would prep your veg, your pots and pans where you would cook and your cups and saucers near your kettle or boiling water source.

This may help you with efficiently getting meals out and not having to scrounge around for things you need.

As you unpack your cupboards, before putting items back, work out if you really need that item and how many of it do you need. Water/juice bottles are an example of items that just seem to multiply.

Storage capacity

Food storage containers are also another item that you need to monitor. If you often have left overs or you cook in bulk then you may need quite a few, however, if your house is anything like mine then there usually aren’t any left overs at all, you don’t need too many containers.

Kitchen cupboards
Over full kitchen cupboards

If you want to buy fancy organising gadgets to help you keep your kitchen cupboards neat and tidy, please wait until ALL your cupboards and drawers are sorted, so that you can make good decisions on what to buy and not end up with stuff you don’t need or won’t fit.

Remember to ask yourself these questions before putting something back in your cupboard.

  1. When did I use this last?
  2. Does it still work?
  3. Do I have all the pieces?
  4. Does it fit in with my kitchen functions?

Every day I will cover a different area of the kitchen cupboard in the Facebook group, small tasks to prevent overwhelm.

I will be posting pictures of my sorting in the Facebook group (the ones in this post are my before) and would love you to do the same. If you haven’t joined the group yet, now is a good time to do so. Want to read more? Here is the link to last years post on this What’s in the drawer?

March in your Kitchen

Kitchen week

It seems strange to have a whole week dedicated to decluttering and sorting out of your kitchen counters. If you are anything like me you will understand why this is.
I love cooking and I think I own almost every conceivable kitchen gadget, with a few more on my wish list.

Gadgets
These are just some of my kitchen gadgets!

As with last year I have planned the kitchen sorting goal around the Jewish holiday of Passover. Our kitchens need to be scrupulously cleaned and with 5 weeks to go, now is the time to start.

What is it for?

The first step in keeping your kitchen clear of clutter is deciding what you use your kitchen for besides cooking.
Is it a homework area? Is it a home office? Having a definite idea of what is going on in your kitchen will be a huge help to your ability to keep organized.
If you are going to be using the space for homework or a home office, get yourself a nice box or basket to place the work into after you are done for the day, before you begin cooking.

Where to start?

One of the reasons we are starting on the kitchen counters, is that walking into a messy cluttered kitchen can ruin your mood for cooking. A nice clear space is far more calming that having to face a mess of disorganization.
I am not saying that your kitchen counters must be cleared of everything. I don’t do minimalist and I am not expecting anyone else to.
Once you have defined your kitchen’s uses, it is time to clear, pack, sell or give away anything that does not fit this function.
If you have a space designated as a home office, then any paperwork should be packed up and moved to the home office.

Where does it go?

One of the hardest tasks of clearing your kitchen counters is finding a place for those things that actually do fit your kitchens functions. The best way is to work out what you use daily and leave those out where you can reach them easily. Go through what you use weekly and finally what you use rarely.

I am Queen

Gadgets are another thing, I am the kitchen gadget queen. I have said it before, I love kitchen gadgets almost more than cookbooks! If it is broken it must go! A lot of appliances can be recycled. I no longer have the excuse of it being a schlepp to take it out of the house. The recycle people collect at my house. How to do recycling without leaving your house.

Gadgets

Space savers
Use space savers in your kitchen to create extra storage space

Make it a habit to tidy as you, when working in the kitchen.
Making use of nifty space savers will help you keep your kitchen tidy and still be able to have what you need at home.
Knife blocks or magnetic knife holder for the wall
Extra shelving
Hooks for hanging pots
Something I still have trouble with, is training household members to actually put their dirty dishes in the dishwasher. Most of them can manage to get the dishes to the sink, the dishwasher is just underneath!

It’s sorted

Happy Kitchen, Happy Home! I would love to see before and after pictures on the Facebook group or if you have come up with a great space saving solution, why not share it? For those who would like a little professional assistance with your sorting Catherine of Sensibly Organised Spaces is running a special now, she will talk you through everything Book now $147

Are you Proud of your Pantry?

What’s in the pantry?

Your pantry cupboard is an important part of your kitchen. If this is in a mess and dis-organised, it is not only difficult to decide what to make for dinner, but it also wastes money.

I got this cluttered grocery cupboard picture off frugalfindsduringnaptime.com

How many times have you gone to the store bought something only discover on your return that you already have 2 or 3 of the same product in the cupboard already! I own my kitchen, do you?

Hoarding Cans

Being kosher means that we can’t always get a lot of food stuffs, so I developed a habit of buying unusual kosher products, which then sat in my cupboard for years. Last year I got rid of 2 cans of waterblommetjies. They had expired 3 years before.

Expired food

The expiry dates on canned good is not really an expiry date but more of a date of when the producers will no longer guarantee the quality of the product inside. As long as the can is not bulging your food is safe to eat.

I did think, however, that having sat in my cupboard at least five years and still not been used in a recipe, it was unlikely that I would ever make a waterblommetjie bredie (stew). There were also other products that needed to be tossed.

Keeping your pantry cupboard tidy and organised is a must if you want to stop wasting time and money. If you ask a family member to look into a disorganised pantry cupboard and pick something to make, 9 times out of 10 the answer will be, ‘there’s nothing to eat’!

Keep like with like

Keeping items of a similar kind together will definitely make your time spent in the kitchen easier, cut down on your grocery bill and allow you to use up products before they expire!

My very neat pantry
My Pantry cupboard is still the most organised place in my house

It doesn’t need to be OCD tidy to be organised. If you have all your baking ingredients, your pasta’s and cans on their own shelves, condiments together on another shelf and spices together on a different shelf, you are what I consider organised. Items don’t need to be alphabetised or facing the same way, unless that’s what you want of course, but being arranged like with like will be enough.

Join us

Follow in the group as we get through the week with short daily tasks to organise the pantry cupboard https://www.facebook.com/groups/gettingsorted/.

Are your cookery books taking over?

Some women have a weakness for shoes. I have a weakness for cookery books, so in answer to the question, most definitely YES they are taking over.

Recipe books
Only recipe books I use are on this shelf and in my kitchen for easy access

Winging it

In all honesty, I maybe use half of them over and over, when I use a recipe that is. Even when I look up the recipe in the book, I have to substitute and change things for various reasons.

I still love the inspiration found in my books and I can see how my cooking has evolved over the years.

2016 Clear out

Last year, I cleared out over 20 books, this year I will have to clear out more. Just because I have a lot of cookery books hasn’t stopped me getting more.

Some books I have been given and are over 50 years old, it is interesting to also see how the trends in cooking have changed.

Then there are the recipes that I have taken off the internet and more recently my new favourite cook book, Gordon Ramsay’s Ultimate Cookery Course which I was given as gift.

Gordon Ramsay
My new favourite cookery book

Sorting it all out

Last year I tried sorting out the recipes that I had taken from various magazines and the newspaper but I really am not that good at keeping it up, I think it lasted a whole month. A new solution to this may be a concertina file, where I can just slide the recipe in under its correct category.

Concertina Files
This concertina file can be used for more than just your bills,

My mother has a book in which she has written her favourite recipes to pass down, this way family traditions will also not be lost.

This week we are looking at sorting out the cook book and recipe situation in our homes.

What has been a solution in terms of space in my kitchen, is that the books I use more frequently are kept in the kitchen, the rest have been moved to the bookshelf in the lounge. I can still get to them, they are just no longer taking up valuable kitchen space.

Do you need them or do you want them?

Look at your collection and have heart to heart with yourself, be honest, how many do you really use?

Meal planning and a sorted life

How does meal planning fit in with get sorted?

New habits

We’re getting sorted is all about clearing out the junk however, one of the most important ways to prevent the clutter from returning is to develop new habits.

This week we look at meal planning, this topic is one of my favourites. I have an entire blog about it. I offer online support on the topic. http://kasheringyourlife.co.za/booking-form/

My monthly meal plan

Try this little exercise, write down everything you think you need to buy for your next 7 meals. Now go and look in your kitchen, the fridge, the freezer and the cupboards. What was on your list that you already have? Did you have more than one? Are there things that you had forgotten you even have?

This is part of my grocery cupboard all tidied up

Meal planning is about more than just knowing what is in your cupboard, it is about saving money, saving time and saving your sanity.

Take control

Planning your meals in advance is about taking control of another aspect of our homes and lives.

You don’t need a recipe book to meal plan, it is not set in stone.

What to cook?

Next week we will be sorting through our recipe books. Meal planning will give you a better way to know what cook books you want to keep close at hand, which ones you want out of the way and which you will be getting rid of?

Recipe books
Only recipe books I use are on this shelf and in my kitchen for easy access

An important part of meal planning is knowing what the family enjoys eating. If you don’t think meal planning is for you, why not try something simple? Take a piece of paper and write down everything you know your family loves to eat. You now have the start of your voyage into meal planning.

Organised meals

The most organised space in my house is my kitchen. Meal planning also renewed my love of cooking.

Gone are the days of coming home tired, opening a cupboard or fridge looking inside and closing it, then putting pasta on the stove, because it is easy and I am too tired to think or I forgot to take something out the freezer.

Now, even though I still often come home tired, meat is ready to cook because I took it out in the morning to defrost. I didn’t have to think about supper, my thinking was done when I had energy and put the meal on the menu.

There are still days where I look at the meal plan and think, ‘I don’t feel like this today’ and we land up with pasta of some type.

I am more likely to cook what has been defrosted than not as I don’t want to waste it and let it go off, so the family is eating much healthier Take out more than once a month is not in my budget.

Do you meal plan or do you wing it?