The kitchen is the place that I spend most of my time. There is the cooking, the baking, the cleaning, and of course, the feeding. I am going to start with cleaning the kitchen, because, let's face it - who wants to cook in a dirty kitchen? You will need a to make a list of what needs to be cleaned when. Start with the daily, then the weekly, and then move onto the monthly.
Pick up clutter
Wipe counter tops
Sweep floor/Wet Swiffer floor as well
Wipe down cabinets/Clean Appliances
Clean stove/burners (this might actually be more monthly)
Wipe out/clean out fridge
The Fly Lady is also a good place to start to organize your cleaning schedule.
How to Speed Clean your Kitchen by Real Simple online is another great resource.
Odds and Ends about Cleaning your Kitchen:
Cleaning the microwave made easy - Take a glass container, fill it with 2-3 cups of water or vinegar and microwave for 5 minutes. Take the water/vinegar out and wipe down the microwave. The steam helps to loosen any particles that have hardened and it is very easy to clean after that. I put the glass plate in my dishwasher to wash.
II. Menu Planning
I do not profess to be an expert here. I will just share what I do and I will also share a few links from others that do it differently, for you to choose from. You can see all of my past menus here.
First of all, menu planning is a must if you want to save money and not pull your hair out everyday. What I do is to keep a list of staples and pantry items that I use all the time. I try to not run out of these items. I asked my husband to name some meals that he likes that he could eat almost every week. I then made themes - 5 of them. Basically it is a master list of meals.
Monday Stir Fry/Main Dish Salad/Freezer Meal*
Tuesday Meat/Poultry**, mashed potatoes, corn and salad
Wednesday Fish/Lentils/Meatless (Chickpea/black bean burgers)
Thursday Italian Night*** (usually a meatless night)
Friday Homemade Pizza/Calzones (Alfredo or regular)
*I always have 6 freezer meals on hand to choose from, from our OAMC Cooking Club.
**This will be a choice of meat from the freezer or chicken that I got on sale or meatloaf made ahead and frozen.
***This can be Lasagna, Fettuccine Alfredo, Manicotti or Garlic Butter Pasta
I do try to make things ahead and freeze them as much as possible.
III. Grocery Shopping
If you do not want to or cannot use coupons, Money Saving Mom has some good tips for grocery shopping without using coupons. Basically, what I have been trying to do is make as many things from scratch as possible. When I am about to run out of something (such as Hershey's chocolate syrup), I do some research and see if I could make it from scratch with the things that I have on hand. If we like it then I won't buy it from the store again. Basically, I am trying to find a way to rarely enter a grocery store (wish me luck).
On that note, if you do shop at Aldi please go to Mom Advice and see her Aldi Menu Planner.
There are many ways to menu plan. I have tried a lot of them. I find that the way I am doing it now works well for me. Some people plan their menus around what sales are going at the grocery stores. Some people plan their menus a month in advance. Some people do the Once A Month Cooking plan (which I do some of). There really isn't a wrong way to do menu planning (unless you just don't do it). You need to find out what works best for you and your family.
And a great menu planning resource is to check out OrgJunkie.com's Menu Plan Monday. You will get all sorts of ideas and great recipes.
I find that I enjoy the time I spend in my kitchen. I really enjoy it when it is clean and I have a plan. Now, it isn't always clean and there are times when the best plans don't work. The point is that you will be spending most of your time in the kitchen so make the best of that time!
For more kitchen tips and all sorts of wonderful recipes, visit Tammy's recipes. She has wonderful kitchen tips.