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What simple improvements in your life have you made?

One of mine that we just did was replace all the long heavy curtains with cordless blinds.   So simple and easy.  So much easier to use.  I can open up my whole window and see out.  Not a little slice of the window.   I also don't have to tell little kids to stop hanging on the curtains.   So easy and yet it really had a big impact. 

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A number of years ago I bought high-end felt clogs with cork soles. That meant I didn't have to wear shoes indoors but that my knees were getting good support. I've worn them for four winters, but now one is lost. 😞 

Putting a toothbrush in both the first and third floor bathrooms. I didn't like running up to the third floor after breakfast to brush (nor did my kids). We brushed our teeth more with the first floor toothbrushes. I think it annoyed DH, though, because they disappeared. I should talk with him about it, LOL! 😆

Emily

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I put cleaning supplies in each bathroom. This only works because my kids are big enough to be safe around the products, but it's so much easier to give a quick cleaning when the gear is handy. DH is more likely to clean a bathroom this way, too. 

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21 minutes ago, EmilyGF said:

Putting a toothbrush in both the first and third floor bathrooms. I didn't like running up to the third floor after breakfast to brush (nor did my kids). We brushed our teeth more with the first floor toothbrushes. I think it annoyed DH, though, because they disappeared. I should talk with him about it, LOL! 😆

Emily

Awesome idea -- thank you Emily!

I bought two small tins that look like short trash cans. They sit in my kitchen and look kind of "country" and seal well. One is for the huge bag of dog food from Costco. The other is full of bird seed (wild birds) also from Costco. Each tin gets it's own measuring cup so I don't overfeed anyone. (No more dealing with bags and rubber bands and so forth.)

And. . .

After I'd dropped two glass French presses for coffee, DH bought me this 4-cup stainless steel French press. It holds in the heat so I make four cups of coffee in it and pour from it all morning.

Great thread idea: following!

Wendy

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10 minutes ago, elroisees said:

I put cleaning supplies in each bathroom. This only works because my kids are big enough to be safe around the products, but it's so much easier to give a quick cleaning when the gear is handy. DH is more likely to clean a bathroom this way, too. 

I do this too!

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I went through each room and really thought about what would make my life better and easier.  So for example, in the bathrooms i decided a plunger that was not visible and one in both bathrooms would make my life easier, so i found two and got them.   Same for toilet brushes.   Then i looked at what we kept in the cabinets.   A large supply of tp in each bathroom instead of hall closet, etc, etc...   Anyway,  I did that in every room with the intention of making my life feel less cluttered and hectic and making cleaning much easier.   

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I moved our hot meal to lunch and serve cold foods or leftovers for dinner.  It feels like it cleared up my whole afternoons to run errands, exercise, etc, knowing that dinner is a 5 minute prep instead of a 45 minute prep meal.  I'm always home in the morning and we do school at the kitchen table, so it isn't too hard to add in chopping veggies or stirring a pot.  

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37 minutes ago, Alicia64 said:

 

After I'd dropped two glass French presses for coffee, DH bought me this 4-cup stainless steel French press. It holds in the heat so I make four cups of coffee in it and pour from it all morning.

 

Thank you for this!!! DH and I drink French press coffee and decant it into a large to go coffee thermos to keep it warm since our glass press loses heat quickly. This would save us that step. What a great Christmas pressie!

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44 minutes ago, Alicia64 said:

Awesome idea -- thank you Emily!

I bought two small tins that look like short trash cans. They sit in my kitchen and look kind of "country" and seal well. One is for the huge bag of dog food from Costco. The other is full of bird seed (wild birds) also from Costco. Each tin gets it's own measuring cup so I don't overfeed anyone. (No more dealing with bags and rubber bands and so forth.)

And. . .

After I'd dropped two glass French presses for coffee, DH bought me this 4-cup stainless steel French press. It holds in the heat so I make four cups of coffee in it and pour from it all morning.

Great thread idea: following!

Wendy

I bought this exact one for DH after he broke his glass press the second time. 🤣 

I added a hamper to the main floor no more running upstairs or tossing stuff down the basement stairs. 
 

I store flour and rice in dog food containers that seal. They have handles and pour spouts and hinged lids that are great for leveling off measuring cups. They hold a 10 lb bag of flour. 

26 minutes ago, Monica_in_Switzerland said:

I moved our hot meal to lunch and serve cold foods or leftovers for dinner.  It feels like it cleared up my whole afternoons to run errands, exercise, etc, knowing that dinner is a 5 minute prep instead of a 45 minute prep meal.  I'm always home in the morning and we do school at the kitchen table, so it isn't too hard to add in chopping veggies or stirring a pot.  

I started doing this when Dh started working from home several years ago. It makes evenings so much easier and increases the odds that I’ll go to bed with a clean kitchen. Sometimes we eat supper really late and it’s just better all around if that meal is lighter with easier clean up. 
 

I’ve been labeling all of my leftovers with masking tape and a sharpie. It keeps containers from getting lost in the fridge. Before it looked like my fridge had 4 containers of sour cream when only one actually did. 😬

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I switched from storing leftovers in Gladwear to using the white plastic entree containers from our local Chinese takeout.  They are rectangular like Bento boxes, but shallower.  They have water-tight seals, can go in the freezer, and take up less than half the space of the Gladwear when stacked.  I write the contents in Sharpie on the lid for bottom freezer storage or on the end for refrigerator or upright freezer storage.  The Sharpie usually wipes off easily with a paper towel, particularly after going through the dishwasher.  Food pops out of them easily for reheating, and they are supposed to microwavable (although I don't microwave any plastics and haven't tried).  

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I recently watched a video of how professional chefs organize their kitchen. It inspired me to do some radical rearranging in my kitchen that really made a difference. It keeps people from crossing paths from counter to counter to fridge, opening a drawer to get a fork, etc., when making a plate or drink or something. 

In one area: I made a section for food prep. You can stand in one area and access all the things that follow that are in this section: Chopping block (now lives permanently on the counter in this section instead of a drawer), knife block (beside chopping block), spices (all in a drawer right in front of me laid out flat along with a bench scraper) , all food bowls and storage containers are in the cabinets right above this area, large container for spoons and spatula sit in this area next to the stove, olive oil, salt, and pepper sit next to that, one clear egg bowl for whisking eggs in this cabinet above, and sink right next to this whole area. Also, large lightweight bowls for quickly grabbing to use as trash cans until all chopping and opening packages is done. I can literally stand in one spot and do so many things, never getting in the way of someone on the other side of the kitchen,.

In the other area: This is where Instant Pot lives, blender, and metal fruit basket. In the cabinets above these are all the plates, glasses, mugs, etc. Spoons and forks in the drawer right in front of me. Tea bag drawer beside that. So when supper is ready, you can stand in that one area and spoon stuff out of the Instant Pot or other food that is set out for serving. The plates are all right above you.

When unloading the dishwasher, it is easier now because I can just open that one long stretch of cabinets and quickly put it all in instead of opening and closing, opening and closing a set of cabinets that made a 90 degree angle. That was a pain. Those are the ones that became the food prep area.

The food pantry is a tradeoff because now that is in a smaller area, but it works.

It took me all day to do this to my kitchen. But it has definitely made a huge difference. 

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The project might not count as simple, but I put in a closet organizing system so I could empty my dresser of clothes.  Everything fits now.
My cat can open dresser drawers and likes to toss items out and lay on the rest.  Most of my wardrobe is black.

Now I don’t look nearly as furry when I leave the house.

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1 hour ago, Monica_in_Switzerland said:

I moved our hot meal to lunch and serve cold foods or leftovers for dinner.  It feels like it cleared up my whole afternoons to run errands, exercise, etc, knowing that dinner is a 5 minute prep instead of a 45 minute prep meal.  I'm always home in the morning and we do school at the kitchen table, so it isn't too hard to add in chopping veggies or stirring a pot.  

I did our big meal at lunch at one point too.  I need to get back to that.

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Another thing I thought of....

I plugged in phone charger cords behind the headboard of the bed so they don't show. I bought some little thingies that adhere to the back of the headboard just behind the pillow area. They have a little slot in them that holds the cord. The cord will fall through this slot until it hits the part of the cord where it attaches to the phone. Since this part is wider than the cord it won't fall through the slot. So it keeps that end within easy reach and it never falls to the floor. You just pull it up and plug in your phone and set it on the night stand. I have this set up in each bedroom. It works well.

Edited by Indigo Blue
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This year, dh bought a bazillion phone chargers with 10' cords and has left them all over the house.  We are all at home, and many of us have do not disturb signs up (Zoom calls), so one can't just go into a bedroom to find a left behind cord.  It seemed wasteful until I realized I was plugging in most late afternoons somewhere in the house. 🙂

Previous things we did:

1. massive decluttering---everything can be picked up in a room within a few minutes

2. capsule wardrobes, including for the kids so all clothes are mix and match in a few key colors

3. visual labeling of shelves and other things throughout the house---half of my household has no visual scanning ability, and no memory of where things go once removed from a shelf; the labels give enough prompts that things are returned properly.  Therefore, the other half of the household doesn't spend their lives frustrated looking for things and not finding them where they belong.

4. buying the actual tools that are needed for something---the proper wrench, a carpet steam cleaner, a mini broom with handle so Youngest can tidy around her dinner chair after meals and snacks, etc.

5. Planning the household around function and storage.  This house doesn't have a proper linen closet, so I put up IKEA bookcases to get by until we can afford to have a carpenter do built-ins.  

6. Planning a standardized menu---not my normal, but here in 2020 we have a strict menu---complete with cooking directions (anyone over 8 can make the meals, so anyone can stand in to cook if someone is delayed by work or school), a printed weekly shopping list I can edit and we can order from, and an extra week or two of ingredients in the house for when there are food gaps at the store. We've gotten down to almost no food waste and the mental tasks around meal planning are done. I can just autopilot do-the-thing.  I need more mental margin this year than ever before.

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2 hours ago, elroisees said:

I put cleaning supplies in each bathroom. This only works because my kids are big enough to be safe around the products, but it's so much easier to give a quick cleaning when the gear is handy. DH is more likely to clean a bathroom this way, too. 

I do this too, and I include stain removers in that.  People seem less likely to do the stain removal duty if they have to go all the way to the laundry room to do it.

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37 minutes ago, Elizabeth86 said:

Kids underwear in the bathroom since my dd kept streaking down the hall for fresh underwear. It doesn't make life easier really, just a good idea I had. lol

My kids' period underwear stays in the bathroom.

Also, their socks stay in a bin in the laundry room (1st floor).  For whatever reason, they don't think to get socks until they are putting on their shoes to go out.  Then they are lazy to run up the stairs.  (I am thinking of moving the socks even closer to the door, because why not?)

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We started filling up all our cars' gas tanks every Sunday. I use less than a tank a week so I only think about it on Sunday. I don't pass a gas station that is easy to stop at on my daily running so when I needed it I really had to think about when and where I would stop. We stopped this during the pandemic because we weren't driving much and we didn't go anyplace on Sundays so it wasn't like we were out an about. I am trying to get dh back into the habit, though.

I also do the cleaning supplies in the bathrooms. I mentioned on a thread a couple weeks ago that I switched to more natural products. Much easier for me to do a quick clean up when I'm not worried about getting bleach stains on my clothes or smelling like bleach before I go out somewhere. I also managed to finally get in the habit of spraying down the shower quickly each day rather than having it get gross and have a big scrub job looming over me.

I have managed to move to grocery shopping every two weeks. I only have two kids at home now and I can make things stretch for two weeks. I do a big shop on the weekend (curbside from Walmart). I tend to make alot of meals from scratch the first week and cook enough for two meals and stick one in the freezer. The freezer meals are not only easy but give us good eats even on the second week when I haven't been to the store for fresh meat, etc. I find that doing the grocery shopping online helps me be more organized and intentional with my purchases. I can have recipes open in another window while I add ingredients to my order. The whole setup (shopping every two weeks with online ordering) is helping make food planning/shopping/preparation/budget easier for me. 

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17 minutes ago, prairiewindmomma said:

 

6. Planning a standardized menu---not my normal, but here in 2020 we have a strict menu---complete with cooking directions (anyone over 8 can make the meals, so anyone can stand in to cook if someone is delayed by work or school), a printed weekly shopping list I can edit and we can order from, and an extra week or two of ingredients in the house for when there are food gaps at the store. We've gotten down to almost no food waste and the mental tasks around meal planning are done. I can just autopilot do-the-thing.  I need more mental margin this year than ever before.

I would love to do something like this! Planning meals and cooking are my biggest stressors. I would love to hear more specifics, if you don’t mind sharing. 

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Ok - this is really minor but has made a difference in my kitchen the last couple weeks.  I have had a collection of old wooden pastry brushes for years.  We don't own any non-stick cookware so I use them ALL the time to oil pans, etc.  To finish tops of things, etc.  I am definitely spending more time in the kitchen during covid times.

A couple weeks ago I ordered a set of 4 dishwasher safe silicon brushes.  They clean up so much better/easier, I am happier to use them more, etc.  I made myself happy for less than $10.  😂

I love ordering groceries now and may just continue forever.  I have walked outdoors about 95% of days since March and not having to run errands like that really helps maintain the time and energy to keep that going.  

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20 minutes ago, Noreen Claire said:

Would you have a link or name for the video? I would love to streamline my kitchen!

I’m so sorry but I don’t have a link. I did this awhile back and basically used bits and pieces from a few different videos/articles that would work in my specific kitchen. I googled “how to organize your kitchen like a chef” and lots of articles and videos came up. So much of it won’t apply....for example I’m not going to be hanging all my cleaning supplies and utensils from pot racks under my cabinets. (But that might look nice in someone else’s kitchen). I just got some good ideas and used what would work. Hope this helps!

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Someone asked me about meal planning. This is going to sound super elaborate, but the organization can be done in one dedicated long afternoon, and added to over time. It could also be done is less high tech/low cost ways.

1. Buy Paprika app. (I have it for phone and laptop, and they synch, but one could get by with just one. This goes on sale every Black Friday, fwiw.)

2. Add recipes to Paprika. Paprika can grab recipes from websites and Pinterest or once can upload by manual input. 
 

3. Generate grocery list from app. Make sure everything adds up appropriately. Sometimes onions get messed up in total quantity.

4. Optional step 4, but I have found this to be handy: type over complete list in large spaced font so Dh can read without bifocals on, even though he needs them.....or add to grocery website as a saved list.

5. Print off a copy of each recipe. Slide into page protectors. Add to dedicated binder. Put menu list in front of binder on cover. When kids or husband ask what to make or how to make it, refer them to binder or email/text from Paprika app.

6. When kids or husband feign ignorance over how to follow directions demonstrate recipe steps and have them do it under guidance. Don’t do it entirely and have them watch.

7. switch up the menu seasonally and leave a meal slot open weekly for variety. We need some variety to keep this going. Also, be realistic about how much energy you really have to cook nightly. Most of my recipes are instant pot based because it is easiest to prep and walk away from while it cooks.

8. Optional: Prep some components when they come home from the store. I prep a lot of meat and then freeze the last half of the week’s in quart or gallon sized freezer bags. (I marinate chicken in canned adobo sauce, another batch with balsamic vinegar + spices, etc.) I also trim and zip some veg through the food processor so some components are ready and label the tops of those glasslocks with post it notes. It’s an extra 30 min worth of work that saves me 90 min later in the week (prep and cleanup time).

 

 

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2 hours ago, teachermom2834 said:

We started filling up all our cars' gas tanks every Sunday. I use less than a tank a week so I only think about it on Sunday.

That’s brilliant! 

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3 hours ago, SKL said:

My kids' period underwear stays in the bathroom.

Also, their socks stay in a bin in the laundry room (1st floor).  For whatever reason, they don't think to get socks until they are putting on their shoes to go out.  Then they are lazy to run up the stairs.  (I am thinking of moving the socks even closer to the door, because why not?)

Yes, I keep the girls socks in my laundry closet too. The boys do fine in their room, but the girls usually end up using their socks for baby dolls or Barbie sleeping bags or whatever and then we can't find socks.

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Also, I made a list of the things in our house we always use such as toilet paper, laundry detergent, cat food and so on. Before I shop I walk around and hi-light what needs restocking. I do this instead of relying on my memory. It's so much faster this way and I seldom run out of essentials.

Edited by Elizabeth86
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Very, very simple meal plans. No more cookbooks, special ingredients, or hours in the kitchen prepping/cooking. Same meals/themes each week, stuff anyone can make down to my 8yos/d, no extra thought as far as grocery shopping, dinner can be planned and on the table in about 20 minutes flat.

No dirty laundry in bedrooms. Bought stackable recycling bins for laundry room: lights, darks, jeans, whites, towels, rags (we hand wash floors). Best decision ever especially given that 8 loads/day is the norm around here. And way, way less stench in bedrooms. Speaking of stench...

Shoes kept in the entryway in bins/boxes. No shoes in bedrooms. Bins/boxes have dryer sheets for freshness. Kids come in, shoes go off and in bins, and all is well. No more digging under beds or in closets for missing shoes.



 

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Just now, BakersDozen said:

Very, very simple meal plans. No more cookbooks, special ingredients, or hours in the kitchen prepping/cooking. Same meals/themes each week, stuff anyone can make down to my 8yos/d, no extra thought as far as grocery shopping, dinner can be planned and on the table in about 20 minutes flat.

No dirty laundry in bedrooms. Bought stackable recycling bins for lights, darks, jeans, whites, towels, rags (we hand wash floors). Best decision ever especially given that 8 loads/day is the norm around here. And way, way less stench in bedrooms. Speaking of stench...

Shoes kept in the entryway in bins/boxes. No shoes in bedrooms. Bins/boxes have dryer sheets for freshness. Kids come in, shoes go off and in bins, and all is well. No more digging under beds or in closets for missing shoes.



 

Same here with the groceries. No more cook books or special ingredients here either. Saves a lot of time and money.  I'm sticking to this until all my kids are big.

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6 hours ago, Alicia64 said:

After I'd dropped two glass French presses for coffee, DH bought me this 4-cup stainless steel French press. It holds in the heat so I make four cups of coffee in it and pour from it all morning.

We have one of these and I recently switched to it from a Chemex. Love it! We bought the stainless one for camping, originally.

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Being consistent about what I put in each pocket so that I don't scratch my phone with my keys. I also keep my handgel and tissues in separate pockets so I'm not touching the latter before I've used the former.

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4 hours ago, teachermom2834 said:

We started filling up all our cars' gas tanks every Sunday. I use less than a tank a week so I only think about it on Sunday. I don't pass a gas station that is easy to stop at on my daily running so when I needed it I really had to think about when and where I would stop. We stopped this during the pandemic because we weren't driving much and we didn't go anyplace on Sundays so it wasn't like we were out an about. I am trying to get dh back into the habit, though.

 

 

1 hour ago, Quill said:

That’s brilliant! 

Well what was really briliant is I had trained dh to do it for me. I need to retrain 🙂

 

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It was a simple thing, but not a cheap one. Before I left my relative's house, I bought a Facebook Portal+. I charged it on my charge card, and have no hope of paying it off this year without a stim check. It was irresponsible. It was wrong. I don't care.

Last night, I was on a video chat with a college friend that I left behind and may never see in person again, and we never got to say goodbye in person, because I needed to leave so quickly and I had to reduce my exposure before I left a Covid hotspot to fly across the country to a place with very low infection rates. We both were crying that the video chats make the extreme isolation we are facing more bearable. I can't do this level of isolation as a single person living alone, without my Portal+.

Yes, it needs to be that big and it needs to pan and follow me as i move around. No my phone is NOT enough. I need their faces life-size. I need to be able to lean into the camera, and get up and make my tea. And hold up papers to show people, like I am a freaking 5 year old showing off for their granny. And I have danced and twirled around to show my outfit. I have also jumped up and screamed and killed a cockroach that crawled on my foot. Thankfully for my co-chatters the scorpions tend only appear in a room other than the Portal+, because they make me cry. I hate those muckers!

Some days, I am brave and others I am not. Last night, I needed my mucking Portal+ with the mucking +. Muck the balance on my card.

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46 minutes ago, teachermom2834 said:

 

Well what was really briliant is I had trained dh to do it for me. I need to retrain 🙂

 

Genius territory! 

Dh and I have a standing joke, sort of, because he’s a “riding on fumes” person on the whole, and I’m the “Oh, no! There’s only a quarter tank left!” person. If we’re going anywhere in the car and the tank is closer to empty than to full, he will always say, “Oh, we can make it,” because he knows that’s not how I roll. 

I do have the very same thing where there isn’t a gas station that happens to be along the way, so if I get home without filling, I can’t fill except to intentionally drive to a station. Making it something I do as a regular schedule really meshes with my general home management ways. 

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28 minutes ago, Quill said:

Genius territory! 

Dh and I have a standing joke, sort of, because he’s a “riding on fumes” person on the whole, and I’m the “Oh, no! There’s only a quarter tank left!” person. If we’re going anywhere in the car and the tank is closer to empty than to full, he will always say, “Oh, we can make it,” because he knows that’s not how I roll. 

I do have the very same thing where there isn’t a gas station that happens to be along the way, so if I get home without filling, I can’t fill except to intentionally drive to a station. Making it something I do as a regular schedule really meshes with my general home management ways. 

I was out running errands in DH's car today and was so annoyed that car was in auto nag mode every 5 minutes because "fuel was low" and when I checked it still was estimating it had 40 miles of fuel left.  Pfft, I can around town for at least another 20-25 miles before I have to think about filling up, I don't need the reminders but have no idea if there is a way to turn them off.  I told DH I filled up just to make the car shut up.  He laughed because he would have filled up long before it ever had a chance to start nagging. 

 

As far as simple improvements, I bought storage containers for food that pack nicely together.  So for spices, it was square jars that sit together with no wasted space in a drawer with labels on top so I can easily find it.  For baking items, I bought the tupperware containers that are the exact depth of the cupboard.  No more pushing/shoving various random sized container, rolled bags, little bottles etc around trying to find the right product.  Everything is completely visible as soon as I open the cupboard drawer. It is amazing how much simplier it is to work in the kithcen when everything stacks neatly and is labeled uniformly.

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I fill up the gas tank every time it gets close to 1/2 tank.   That way I never have to worry if there is an emergency and I need to go.  I have enough gas to get up to 3+ hours away without worry.

When we put away left overs, most of the time they are out into meals in those reusable lunch meat containers.  That makes it easy for me to grab for my lunch the next day and D's can grab one too.   So I out a small serving of meat, veggie, starch or whatever we ate in each container.  Before I would put all the meat in one, veggies in another, etc but then when someone was hungry they had to open up 3 containers to make the meal.

I also lay out my clothes for work the night before.  For some reason trying to decide what to wear in the morning takes a lot of time.

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4 hours ago, prairiewindmomma said:

Someone asked me about meal planning. This is going to sound super elaborate, but the organization can be done in one dedicated long afternoon, and added to over time. It could also be done is less high tech/low cost ways.

1. Buy Paprika app. (I have it for phone and laptop, and they synch, but one could get by with just one. This goes on sale every Black Friday, fwiw.)

2. Add recipes to Paprika. Paprika can grab recipes from websites and Pinterest or once can upload by manual input. 
 

3. Generate grocery list from app. Make sure everything adds up appropriately. Sometimes onions get messed up in total quantity.

4. Optional step 4, but I have found this to be handy: type over complete list in large spaced font so Dh can read without bifocals on, even though he needs them.....or add to grocery website as a saved list.

5. Print off a copy of each recipe. Slide into page protectors. Add to dedicated binder. Put menu list in front of binder on cover. When kids or husband ask what to make or how to make it, refer them to binder or email/text from Paprika app.

6. When kids or husband feign ignorance over how to follow directions demonstrate recipe steps and have them do it under guidance. Don’t do it entirely and have them watch.

7. switch up the menu seasonally and leave a meal slot open weekly for variety. We need some variety to keep this going. Also, be realistic about how much energy you really have to cook nightly. Most of my recipes are instant pot based because it is easiest to prep and walk away from while it cooks.

8. Optional: Prep some components when they come home from the store. I prep a lot of meat and then freeze the last half of the week’s in quart or gallon sized freezer bags. (I marinate chicken in canned adobo sauce, another batch with balsamic vinegar + spices, etc.) I also trim and zip some veg through the food processor so some components are ready and label the tops of those glasslocks with post it notes. It’s an extra 30 min worth of work that saves me 90 min later in the week (prep and cleanup time).

 

 

Thank you! It was me who asked and I actually do have the paprika app! Now to figure out how to use it more effectively...

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I put a strong magnetic pencil holder with wet erase markers and a small magnetic white board in the fridge. If someone looks for something in the fridge or kitchen pantry and doesn't find it, they can immediately write it on the whiteboard. No more fruitless brainstorming sessions just before a shopping trip.

Buying clothes in a rainbow of colors, while still in the same color tones to maximize the mixing and matching potential of each piece of clothing. It really helps in a temperate zone when layering is required.  When I lost weight and rebuilt a wardrobe I bought a color swatch pallet in a "season" of my absolute favorite colors to wear.

Getting a waterproof Kindle. We downsized when we moved and Kindles are great for bookish people.

Buying resuables (listed below.)  Since I no longer live in a city with water issues, buying things that can be washed and reused means never being out of them again. At worst it means only being without it until I run it through the laundry. I do have a small amount of disposables on hand for emergencies, such as when we have no electricity due to a storm.
Kitchen: hemp coffee filters, kitchen trash bags, tea bags, kitchen towels
Dining room: napkins
Bathroom: bidet, color coded washcloths for drying after bidet use
Personal:  enough handkerchiefs for home use, air filters, face masks, period panties

Cut out /print out/ type out  tried and true recipes and put them all in plastic page protectors and place them one binder.  Having all the recipes in one place makes meal planning so much easier. It's also an easy reference when the kids need to learn to make dinner.

Cook Once, eat twice. I rarely make a single meal's worth of things that reheat well. I sometimes put them in single serve containers for the freezer for up to a few months later, or I keep enough fridge space available to keep at least one meal's worth back in the fridge for use later in the week.

I strategically plan to first clean out the fridge (at least any spoiled items and scrubbing it as needed) next straighten up the pantry, and last meal plan. That way I have a more accurate idea about what's on hand and needs using up when I start meal planning.

When meal planning in chapters of life when I'm not trying new things, I combine both the weekly meal plan and the grocery list that goes with it and save it to reuse in rotation for the future. I go old school and put it in a plastic page protector and get a wet erase marker to mark off items.  I always make the grocery list with all the ingredients even if I know or think I have them on hand.  After the list is done I "shop" my pantry and fridge to double check and mark off what I already have to avoid unnecessary purchases and to use up ingredients. I organize the list by section: meats, produce, dried goods, frozen, refrigerated, canned items, international, bakery, etc.

I have some "use it up"  meals that work with leftover proteins and veg.  Rice bowls work well for this. When we have fajitas we often have leftover cooked chicken, onions, and bell peppers, but not enough to top enough rice bowls for all of us.  I cut up those leftovers and add some frozen/canned corn, a small tube of chorizo, and a can of drained pinto beans to put over the rice. You can make fried rice with leftover rice, veg, ground/diced protein, spices or sauce. Soups work for using up too.

I strategically schedule weekly chores  or every other week, depending on how fast things get dirty, to have a company ready house by Friday at dinner time. That way I don't have to do anything other than daily chores on the weekends whether or not I have company.  That means things like cleaning bathrooms will be on Thursday and dusting+vacuuming+mopping will be on Friday or vice versa. Assigned laundry days for each family member can be done earlier in the week.

Having a chore chart where names rotate monthly, regular chore time (immediately after school) and deadlines (no more "but I was gooooing tooo" nonsense) that don't change except for truly unusual circumstances make it easier. I don't have to think about it every day or week.  It's just part of the routine and doesn't require me to tell the kid(s) when to do things. I don't pay kids to do their own share of the chores, but I do pay them to what would be about $10 an hour to do my share of the chores. Keep a printed list with tasks for multi-step chores like cleaning bathrooms, kitchens, vehicles, etc. and put it in plastic page protector and hand them a dry erase marker.  Now there's no confusion about what I'm checking for when they claim to be done with their chores. Those can go in a binder too.

Regular meal times works so much better for us. (Husband works from home.)  We eat at noon and 6 unless otherwise announced due to unusual circumstances. Get yourself to the table then whether you're at a friend's house, outside doing a project, in the house, whatever.  It helps me to not have to figure out when meals will be on a daily basis and notifying everyone. Even our standing Sunday lunch and games with my daughters and sons-in-law is at noon unless otherwise stated.  We rotate houses, but we can plan on the same time frame.

Buy multi-purpose cleansers and keep a bottle of them in the kitchen and bathrooms along with cleaning cloths.

Edited by Homeschool Mom in AZ
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Decoy Towels in the kitchen.

Dh always grabs whatever towel comes to hand, usually a decorative one hanging out, or the one that is supposed to be *only* for drying wine glasses, or the hand towel that is out on the rack for the hand towel, and uses it as a rag to wipe up whatever, and then throws it over his shoulder to keep it right there with him.

Problems with this:
--Glasses towel gets dirty. 

--I can't find the hand towel, which I reach for On The Hand Towel Rack automatically.  This makes me unreasonably angry.

--Decorative towel gets dirty

--Perfectly usable stack of rags is ignored in the drawer.

--Perfectly usable hung rag towel is ignored in the under sink place where I hide it because it's so ugly

Solution:  The Glorious Decoy Towel.  This is a 'somewhat presentable' hand towel that I don't care about because it is already a bit faded that I put out on the kitchen counter.  Why it works:  It's out, so DH can grab it without having to (horrors) open a door or drawer.  And it's faded so I don't care if he streaks it.  And it's not for glass drying, so it doesn't matter if it gets dirty.  The hand towel stays where it belongs, so I don't have to hunt for it and take it physically off of DH's shoulder.  

I tried several solutions before achieving success with this one.  One that I was sure would work was kind of a scarf of toweling with nice big towel ends.  This should have been perfect but did not achieve adoption.  

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The soles of my feet were often sore from all the miles I started walking during the pandemic, so I bought some Oofos Sport Recovery Slide Sandals in navy blue to wear around the house and give my feet a break. I LOVE them! They're super cushiony but also have arch support, and I can wear them either with or without socks. Totally relieved the pain in the soles of my feet and the navy blue color is cute. At an earlier age I might have just tried to push through the pain but I'm trying to take care of myself better now, and these slides are the bomb. Perfect Covid athleisure footwear.

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Kindle for reasons mentioned above.  
Cleaning supplies in every bathroom:  ditto

Buying 12 pairs of identical athletic socks every five years.  All of them match each other—easy sorting after laundry.  When I run low on socks because the dryer ate too many, I get rid of the remainders and buy 12 new pairs.  On sale of course.  My motto is that running out of socks or  underwear should never be the reason I have to do laundry.     

I made a travel kit of cords and toiletries and keep them up to date and in the suitcase I prefer to use.  Packing is just about clothes and I can pack in 15 minutes to go to my frequent destinations.  I refill all the things that I have run low on when I get back from a trip--when I can still remember what needs replacing.
 

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Under my sink I've had several disasters. Leaky cleaning products, pipes that have dripped, mice that got under there. So now instead of just having things randomly placed under there, I have everything packed into 2 containers. The dishwasher detergent pods, dishwashing liquid, and windex that get used daily are in my mop bucket under there. OTher things, scrub brushes, stainless steel cleaner, sos pads, etc are in a plastic dishpan. I did this because if I need to clean under the sink for any reason, I just have to lift out those 2 containers and I'm good. 

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Optimized totes for car trips.  This is so much better than exploding duffles.

I have a tote that is rectangular and open on top that is the exact size of a folded pair of blue jeans.  It carries pants, shorts, and wrinkle proof (jeans or quick dry hiking) skirts, each folded in half.  When I arrive, everything goes straight into a drawer.

I have a tall, narrow tote for layers of underwear—socks, bras, panties.  Nothing falls out, nothing embarrassing shows, all in one place.

I have a medicine bug out bag.  This has medical supplies of every kind and it would be the first thing after my purse that I grabbed to bug out for a wildfire.  Thermometer, pulse oximeter, zinc, herbal tea, those Chinese anti Covid capsules, Allegra, Sudafed, aspirin, thyroid meds, asthma meds, all ride in this.  It zips closed so it’s always contained.  

I have a big wide zipper tote the size of an old fashioned carry on bag that I carry shoes and toiletries in.

I used to improvise these every time I went anywhere, but I drive around the state so much that have a defined system with things that always are used for the same things is awesome.  They are lighter weight than suitcases, and more usable.  Unless I get on a plane, this is my system, and I love it.

 

 

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2 hours ago, Patty Joanna said:

Buying 12 pairs of identical athletic socks every five years.  All of them match each other—easy sorting after laundry.  

I do the identical socks thing, too - that way, losing one won't matter because they all pair.
And for each family member, we had a different type of socks, so could see at one glance who they belonged to

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I keep a TSA-sized clear zippered container that I bought off Amazon filled with travel-size personal items always ready to walk out the door at a moments notice. It could be used for an emergency flight, sudden hospitalization of myself or to use for myself if someone else is suddenly hospitalized, needing to pack quickly for an overnite stay at someone’s house, or for a vacation. All that’s left to pack is clothes, eyeglasses, and hair items. If I only have time to grab the zippered container, I at least have a toothbrush and such and can get the rest later if needed.

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I organized all our meds into plastic containers with labels. Really helps to find what you need quickly. Something like this... 

Cold/Flu/Cough

Allergy

Eyes/Ears/Nose/Stomach  (This is for eye drops, ear cleansing, Tums etc...)

Pain

Sunscreen/Insect/Topicals

Bandages/Hand Sanitizer

 

 

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I keep an Essentials Bag in my car console. It holds things my daughter and I might need occasionally.  Travel mouth wash, floss, nail file, pads, travel deodorant, body spray, chapstick, hand lotion, hair clip/tie, tissues. I can't tell you how many times we were so glad to have these things right there.

Edited by 1GirlTwinBoys
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