Saturday, January 31, 2009

Organizing your life with Binders..again.

I’ve been pretty uninspired, hence the lack of posts. January has been really busy around here, and as is usual at the beginning of the year I like most people I'm always looking for a little more order in my life.

Routine and schedules can make me feel like a bird in a cage sometimes but when life is chaotic and when time is in short supply it's good to have a starting point. I would not take the time to write these posts if these things didn't make a huge difference in my life--they are huge! People ask me all the time how I find the time to do so many things (not necessarily well but I can definitely juggle)...this is how I find time. I organize my life in a way that keeps me from wasting time on routine stuff so I can spend time doing the things I love.

I’ve already covered Paperwork Management in this post. Hopefully that has helped someone..It wasn't a perfect system and It may have been a bit confusing so I have simplified it even more and I’ve come up with an idea to update it and to do an Organize your life series. I was completely inspired by Simple Mom who is a genius at organization. Here’s what I’ll cover:

Organizing Meals

Organizing your Time/life

Organizing your Email

Organizing your Money

Organizing your Craft Supplies

What else...any suggestions?

Sound good. K. let’s get started.

Organizing Meals

*these are merely suggestions, if what you do works for you and this seems like too much--by all means skip it, or at least share your great ideas with us in the comments. These ideas require a little prep time. My theory is a few minutes of thoughtful planning and organizing saves hours of decision making, finding things, making extra runs to the store and generally losing one's mind. This has also saved us a ton of money.

At the beginning of the month Plan a Monthly Menu—I actually plan my menu from the 5th to the 5th but you get the idea…plan a month or so of meals.

  • If you use Google calendar create a new calendar and make it a different color than your main calendar fill in and print.

  • To simplify menu planning Create themes that work for your family. For example. Mondays we have Mexican, Tuesdays we have pasta, Wednesdays we make something easy (because our oldest has piano lessons and we get home later) Thursdays we have asian or stir-fry, Friday we have homemade pizza (using this recipe)and dessert. Saturdays we have something new and Sundays we have something good…Now obviously Monday Tuesday and Thursdays are interchangeable, having a theme is not essential it just makes it easier to fill in the entire month.

  • Plan a menu for 2 weeks and repeat if a month seems like too much work

  • Do the bulk of your shopping once a month using the menu as your guide. We go to the store weekly for fresh items and fruit, but most of the ingredients can be purchased ahead of time. Now that I make mostly everything from scratch my shopping is really basic—we are saving so much and our meals are so much tastier.

Still with me. That was the menu planning.

Now for Time Saving Tips—

Snacks like pretzels, animal crackers, and whatever else I’m buying for the kids out of boxes and bags and it all goes into snack size zip lock bags and in a big shallow basket in our pantry (see above's not too shallow). When I’m making school lunches or running out of the house in a mad rush it’s ready to go in the bag. I also do this with baby carrots, grapes, etc..the key here is to do this on shopping day and stock the pantry and fridge right away. This also helps me know when I’m running out of things. I just look in the basket. Or in the fridge drawer I designate for snacks.

· Put all sandwich making supplies (cheeses, meats, and whatever else you want) in a large container with a lid.

· Use delicious. This is a tool that I ignored for a long time, but a quick subscription later I am LOVING it. When I find a recipe online I want to make, I tag it and use the key words totry. I also add words like recipe, dinner and more specific stuff like pasta. Delicious makes it super easy to find and print when I’m creating the monthly menu.

· For those of you with little ones, create a drawer dedicated to sippy cups, bibs, little plates, etc. I also have two sippy cups ready in the morning with water. My son knew very early on where his cup sat on the fridge and grabbed it himself when he needed it.

· I make homemade snacks in bulk about once a week-whole wheat muffins(which are really really good) (recipe here), cookies and breads and sometimes a batch of salsa to have on hand. It takes about an hour of prep time and we always have good homemade snacks around.

I don’t have any ideas for breakfasts and lunches.I think I'll make homemade Belgian waffles ahead of time and toast them to warm them up in the mornings--putting frozen pancakes in the toaster works well too. For lunches I think I’ll make a table in word and put in some lunch ideas—so as to rotate. There's not much variety in my son's lunches (for his main meal) any ideas? I'll share my chart as soon as I have it.



Melanie Williams said...

Great idea with using Google Calendar. I love that idea! It makes perfect sense since you can have multiple calendars on one. I have one for me, one for YW at church, and now one for recipes.

I also love binders and I'm looking forward to the rest of your posts.

The only other category I'd like to see is recipes. It's so hard to find a good, time efficient system that takes in account my recipes, recipes in my cookbooks, recipes I've pulled from magazines, and online ideas.

Also.. I'm still a little confused on delicious. Any more detail would be great.

Haydee said...

Melanie--thanks for the feedback although I can't take credit for the google calendar bit--that's from simple mom...genius right?! I struggle with organizing my recipes too. These days I mostly print them or write them on small index cards and put them in an 8x8 scrapbook album, mostly because I like the size the problem is the page protectors are expensive. I may go back to a simple index card format.
Delicious is a great tool--basically it organizes your bookmarks but you add tags to them so they're easy to find. Then you download the little buttons that go with it and when you're on a page you want to save instead of going up to bookmarks you click on the little delicious tag an it pops us a window where like I said you tag the page with key words such as recipe, dessert, dinner as many tags as you want. To find the pages you simply click on a square next to the tag and it opens a box (vertically) where you can do a search by typing in whatever tag...Hope that makes sense.