I just bought a sweater that ended up in the dryer and shrunk. Swell. Maybe I’ll try this method: How to “Unshrink” Your Clothes.
Here are some tips that are saving me a lot of time in the kitchen already. I know they’re working because suddenly there are entire evenings where all I have to do is heat something up or throw an already-assembled dish in the pan. It’s pretty great.
How To Save Time In The Kitchen
Make Meal Plans. Don’t just plan what to eat for dinner in the week, get organized. Think through all the ingredients you’ll need, check what’s on hand and what’s not, and make a detailed list. Ideally you’ll need to do only one shopping trip for the week.
Multitask. If I’m in the kitchen making dinner, I’m probably doing three or four other things too. For example, last night I was making salmon and veggies for dinner, but I was also cutting up apples to dry in the dehydrator, roasting a butternut squash for soup, freezing excess blueberries, and cleaning up. I get a lot accomplished whenever I’m in the kitchen.
Mise en Place. This French term “putting in place” means to take everything out before you start cooking so that it’s all right in front of you. You save time when you’re not going to the refrigerator 800 times to make one meal.
Do Prep All At Once. If you know you’re going to be doing something twice in the week, it’s more efficient to do it all together at once. For example, if I’m chopping vegetables for one meal, I’ll look through my meal plan and chop any other vegetables I need for the week. If I’m cooking bacon for a quiche, I’ll cook an extra piece or two to throw in a bistro salad the next day at lunch.
Cook Extra Food To Freeze. Recently, I made stuffed shells for dinner. I intentionally made a double batch and froze the extra into dinner-sized containers. One night this week, I’ll pull those shells out and heat them up, and it will be so easy.
Make Freezer Meals. You can take the above a step farther and make a ton of meals up front and freeze them for easy access. Check out this post 100 Freezer Meals in 5 Hours for inspiration.
Make Leftovers You’ll Actually Eat. Make meals you won’t mind having twice in a week and then have leftover night. Last leftover night, my husband had veggie quiche and I had spaghetti with meat sauce and Savvy Jr. had a little bit of both.
Double Duty Your Oven. If I’m cooking something in the oven, chances are I’m also cooking something else too. Use the oven as much as you can during the time that it’s on. You’ll save time and money on your energy bill.
Preserve Things Right Away. If you know you’re not going to use all of something, take a minute to preserve it on the spot. Say you’re using part of a can of corn and know you’re not going to eat the rest right away, stick it in a container, label it, and put it in the freezer. You’ll save time and eliminate the chance of the food going bad.
Have A Baking Day. If you like to bake, do it all at once. I recently made banana blueberry muffins, two loaves of bread, and lemon curd in one afternoon. All it took was staggering my time. While the bread dough was rising, I mixed the muffin batter. While the muffins were cooking, I made the lemon curd. I came out with a ton of food for my family in not all that much time.
What are your tips for saving time in the kitchen?
According to my recent Time Audit, I spend 9 hours a week cleaning my house. I’m still not sure how I managed to spend so much time on my house, but I think it went something like this:
* On the weekends, I would do a half-day deep clean that would take 5 hours and piss me off exceedingly.
* Throughout the week, I would ignore the house, then do a bunch of cleaning all at once. So I would ignore the house on Sunday-Tuesday, then have to clean for three hours on Wednesday.
* The unaccounted for time must then be little things: putting the dishes away, wiping down the counter before making dinner, dealing with the laundry, and so forth. (I did to some cleaning every day, but only the bare minimum.)
Basically, my house would get dirty, I’d spend a lot of time cleaning it, let it get dirty again, and spend even more time cleaning it. It was inefficient and dumb.
So I came up with a system that seems to work a lot better and saves me time. It goes like this:
Every day, clean for 20 minutes
On the weekend, clean for 1-2 hours.
Total time spent: 3-3.5 hours
Time saved: 5.5 hours.
Why does this work? It’s because with the 20 minutes cleaning, the house isn’t allowed to get that dirty.
I’m finding that 20 minutes seems to hit the sweet spot where I do that one or two extra things that keeps the house up. So before, I would put away the dishes and sweep the floor, which would take 12 minutes, and then stop. Now I do that and still have another 8 minutes to fill, so I’ll put away the laundry or clean out the sink or put away my son’s toys. In essence, it forces me to attend to that extra bit of mess that used to accumulate and take me so much time to clean at the end of the week.
I’m pretty amazed at the difference this is making. My house is a lot cleaner and I’m cleaning it less. (It helps that I’m more organized now, too.) Keeping up the house through the week seems to be a more efficient way to clean.
How do you save time when you clean?
What’s the most precious resource in your life? For me, it’s time. It’s the one thing you can’t get back. So I decided to see if I could free up a few more hours a week by doing a Time Audit.
For two weeks, I carried a notebook with me and wrote down everything I did and how much time it took me to do it. Then I broke all my activities into categories, tallied how much time each one took, and compared them to total time spent. From there, I broke the categories into percentages, so I could tell how much time I spent working, sleeping, eating, watching TV, and so forth.
Why do this? To:
* Find out what I was really spending my time on.
* Find extra hours in the week.
* Learn how to use my time more efficiently.
Writing down everything you do is an annoying chore, but it was worth it because now I have an accurate idea of how I was using my time, and where I was wasting it. I learned a lot about myself in the process.
Here’s a few things I learned:
I work a lot. Turns out I spend the majority of my time working, which is fine with me. I love to work.
I read a lot. I was surprised to find I spend a portion of every day reading books. I didn’t realize it was such an ingrained habit, and I think it’s a good one to have.
I spend a lot of time socializing, being active, and playing with my son. All good things.
I sleep too much. What? An adult woman who gets *too much* sleep? Yep. I was frequently getting over 9 hours of sleep per night. I believe in getting enough rest, but that’s just ridiculous. So I started getting up an hour earlier, which means an extra 7 more hours a week.
I spend too much time cleaning. I was shocked to find that I spend 9 hours a week just cleaning. That’s insane! My house isn’t even that clean. I’m trying a new system out to save time—if it works I’ll save an extra six hours a week.
UPDATE: Related post How To Save Time Cleaning The House.
I spend too much time cooking. In my effort to stop eating out so much, I’ve been making meal plans and cooking at home. The uptick of that is that I spent way too much time in the kitchen and at the table—up to 15 hours a week. Can you ever win? I like to cook, but over an hour of total time on a weekday spent devoted to dinner (including eating) seems excessive. SO I’ve been experimenting with a new system for that too, and it seems to be saving me an extra five hours or so in the kitchen. I’ll share about this in a separate post too.
UPDATE: Related post
How To Save Time In The Kitchen
I watch too much TV. This one shocked me. On a weekday, we watch maybe one or two shows and that’s it–but if you add that up along with a movie or two, and it ends up being 12 hours a week, a major time suck. I figure seven hours a week is enough TV for me, which will free up about five extra hours a week. I’ll look into how to fix that one too.
So: If I address these problem areas, I’ll free up 23 hours a week.
That’s right, if I change some of my habits, I’ll gain almost an entire day of free time per week, thanks to the time audit.
I’d better get started.
Valentine’s Day is on Saturday. Here’s some easy decorations to make the house look more romantic.
Anything that cuts down on cleaning time is worth considering in my book. So I like this idea of making DIY Fridge Mats out of $2 place mats.
Instead of having to clean your entire fridge every time, you can just take out the mats and clean them, thus cutting down on the time spent cleaning the fridge and keeping things tidier overall.
I like this idea. Hmmm…
I’m making a lot of progress with my New Year’s Resolution to organize the house. In fact, I’m almost done. I just have to do the following:
1. Jewelry Box
2. Bookshelves (ugh)
4. The Blanket Chest
3. Garden Tools
I think I’ll tackle the jewelry this week and then the rest will follow. It’s nice to have an organized house. Here are some posts to help you out if you’re doing the same:
Use A Pillow Case To Organize Your Sheets (This works great.)
I love these pen organizers from the Dollar Tree–as I have demonstrated here and here. I also use them to hold my pens in my desk drawer. The problem was that every time I opened the drawer, the organizers slid around and messed up my pens. It was annoying.
Professional organizers use museum putty to solve this problem. They stick a little bit of putty underneath the organizer so it doesn’t move around. I didn’t have any museum putty, but I did have this:
This is adhesive velcro. It has a tacky back on each side that can stick to most surfaces. I put it on the back of my organizers and stuck them to the bottom of the drawer. Hurrah! No more sliding.
The whole project took five minutes. Here’s how to do it:
1. Measure the organizer
2. Cut two pieces of velcro to the size of the organizer.
3. Stick one piece of velcro to the back of the organizer.
4. Stick the other piece to the velcro, like so:
5. Peel the backing off the velcro.
6. Carefully press the organizer back into the drawer where you want it to stay in place.
That’s it. No more sliding organizers in the drawer.
I don’t like having toothbrushes and toothpaste on top of the sink in the bathroom. For ages, I looked for a basket that would fit on the inside of the door of the bathroom vanity, but they were always too wide or too big.
Then one day, I hit upon a solution: I took two adhesive hooks from the Dollar Tree ($.11 each) and hung a narrow pencil holder from the same store ($.33) on them. My new toothbrush holder fit perfectly on the door. I was thrilled.
But when I put our toothbrushes and toothpaste in the basket, the adhesive on the hooks didn’t hold and the whole thing fell off the door. So I looked in the household toolbox and came up with spare adhesive strips from another set of hooks we bought awhile back. Perfect. I put the strips on the back of the hooks and pressed them on the cabinet door. The basket hasn’t come off since.
So my Under-The-Sink Toothbrush Holder cost a little over half a buck. And I can remove the basket and wash it whenever I want.
If you’re into organizing your house, a few organizing products can make a huge difference. Here are a few Awesome And Creative Organizing Products that have worked for me.
Cupboard Shelf. I love these things. I use them for mugs, office paper, spices, and baking dishes. Why are they so exciting? They let you utilize vertical space in a cupboard, thus doubling what you can store there. You can get them at most major box stores. They cost around $7.
Dollar Tree Self-Adhesive Hooks. These hooks can’t handle a lot of weight, but come on: you get nine hooks for $1. That’s $.11 each. I use them to hold my dust pan, toothbrushes, and baby bibs.
Dollar Tree Pencil Holders. You can get three of these narrow plastic bins for $1. I use them to hold organize my junk drawer (above), pens, and extra kitchen supplies.
Lid Holder. If you get the right kind, you can use these to hold cutting boards, cookie sheets, or plates, as well as pot lids.
Under The Sink Organizer. I don’t have one of these, but I would if I hadn’t spent my organizing budget on all of the above. It lets you organize around that pesky sink pipe. Great idea.
What organizing products have worked for you?