Kitchen Organizing – Keeping it the Heart of the Home

The alarm goes off at 6:30 am.  You have an hour to get the kids up, dressed, breakfast made, lunches packed, and backpacks ready.  That is just for the kids.  You have to either be dressed for work, or the gym, or whatever your day entails.  There are breakfast dishes, the laundry, the dog needs a walk and to be fed, and your kids are fighting over who’s turn it is to take the trash out.  The yelling escalates as you feel the tension increasing.  The kids want to watch TV and are fighting over which cartoon they are going to watch.  Your youngest is crying because she wanted to wear her favorite t-shirt (again) and it is not clean.  Your oldest child remembers that he didn’t do his homework assignment for math and he panics. If he doesn’t turn it in, he will miss recess.  Panic and mayhem seem to be the start of your day.

Does this sound familiar?

Maybe even part of this scenario hits home.  The Mad Morning Rush seems to be the norm in most households.  You vow to make your mornings less stressful, but the next morning is a repeat of the last.  No-one enjoys starting the day off with stress, panic, yelling and crying.  In the next few weeks, I will be posting on ways that will save you time, money and energy to end those crazy mornings (and evenings for that matter).

Organizing your home will help you enjoy a fresh start every day!

This week we are going to focus on the kitchen.  Kitchens used to be the heart of the home.  These days it seems as if families don’t eat together very often.  Between dashing between sports practices, meetings, tutoring, and other after school activities, kids afternoons keep parents on the go.  The car is more often where people eat together than the kitchen table.  Making breakfast, lunch and dinner at home becomes a chore when done in a hurry.  Preparation is key to making meals easier, faster and healthier.  Good products are helpful in keeping food last longer and will save time in the busy day so you can make healthy choices.

Here are some tips for making the kitchen the heart of the home again:

Breakfast

  • Set out the night before what your family will eat (that isn’t perishable).  Have the kids set the table with the items that you will need, such as bowls for cereal or fruit, glasses for juice, plates for toast, etc.  Set out the utensils that they will need, too.  This can be done as soon as you clear the table from dinner.  This will take no more than five minutes, but will save you in the morning rush.
  • Have the children help clean up the breakfast dishes immediately.  Dishes loaded in the dishwasher, trash in the trash can and table wiped off.  Again, this will not take long, but this will make sure the table is ready for the next meal.

Lunches

  • To save time and money, making lunches and snacks (for after-school practices) the night before is key.  For food that doesn’t keep well for too long, lay out anything you will need to finish preparations for them in the morning, such as slicing apples or making sandwiches.  This will ensure your kids (and you) can have healthy food throughout the day.  This will keep their energy up for their busy days.
  • Have your children help in the preparation.  Have them pick their food choices.  Set limits, such as “pick either Wheat Thins or Gold Fish” or “do you want grapes or apples?”.  These will help make the decisions go quickly and will help guide them in making good choices.  Have the kids put the food into containers, such as Tupperware or Ziplock baggies and into their lunch boxes.  You will be surprised that they will not put in as much food as you would.  This will save you money as they won’t be throwing away uneaten food.
  • When your child comes home from school, have them unpack their lunch boxes so they will be ready for the next day.  Getting into this habit will allow a smooth flow for the next day.

Dinner

  • Before grocery shopping, look at the calendar to see what days will be better to actually cook and which will be better for leftovers or quick fix meals.  Plan enough food to be kept for the week.  Check to make sure you have all the ingredients necessary to actually plan the meal, so you don’t have to run back out to the store or that you wind up ordering take out instead.  Also, when you do cook, double the meal, so you can freeze half for nights that you don’t have time to cook.  This will ensure your family is getting a healthy meal even when you don’t have time to cook it.
  • Get the family involved.  Give out chores to the kids to make sure you are not doing all the work yourself.  You will not be able to sit and enjoy the meal if you are the one getting up to get things that should have been set out before the meal began.  Have one child set the table, one child ask for drink orders, and one child set out any condiments that you will need for the meal.  Do this with clean up, too.  Have one child clear the table, one child load the dishwasher and one child put the condiments away.  Having the family get involved in the meal preparation and clean up will teach them valuable skills for when they live on their own.

Products That Help:

Refrigerator

Keep fruits and veggies longer with Tupperware’s Fridge-Smart line.  Clean the produce first, then place it in the containers.  The containers have vent holes to keep the food fresh.  There is a list on the side of the containers that tell you how many vent holes to open for the type of produce you are storing.  These products keep produce lasting longer and tasting better.  Another benefit is you can stack the containers on the shelves in the fridge to save space!

Organized Refrigerator

Having your fruits and veggies last longer will save you money.  Having them washed and ready to eat will save time and also allow you to make good choices when you are in a hurry.  Seeing into the containers will ensure when you are making your list for the store, you won’t purchase duplicates or to see if you are almost out.

Pantry

Keep your snacks visible and fresh longer and your pantry organized with clear containers like Snapware.  These come in different sizes and are easy to open and close.  Also, you are able to see when you are running low on a particular snack, so you can quickly scan the pantry before your grocery run and get it on the list.  You won’t buy duplicates as you guess whether or not that box of crackers is half full.  Your children will be able to quickly grab what they want to add to their lunch.  Even items like raisins, nut, and candy can be kept in these containers.  Products like these will save you money as the food lasts longer.

Organized Pantry

Chips and crackers don’t break and crumble because they are protected in the container. Fruit Snacks and Fruit Roll Ups are great in these containers too.  Not for the freshness (who knows how long these could last!), but to see how much you have left, and to keep boxes from getting lost in the pantry.

When you come home from the store, unpack items and place in baskets so they are quick to grab.  Items like 100 Calorie packs of food, individual apple sauce, energy bars, and snack size chips and crackers are perfect for baskets.  Being able to grab and go will help the kids get items for their lunches, or if they need a snack they can get it themselves!

Finding ways to help make your meal preparation easy and quick will ensure you send your kids off to school well fed.  By preparing for the next day each night will help make sure you don’t have crazy mornings and let you send your kids off to school with a kiss and a smile!  Stay tuned for next weeks post on Laundry Tips to help you have a fresh start for Back to School!

Kitchen Organizing – Keeping it the Heart of the Home

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