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I am a seriously busy person. I’m actually pretty sure at this point I’m too busy.
Currently I work 2 jobs, write this blog, run our backyard farm, take care of family committments and vet appointments, go to church on Sunday, take care of Hubby who works a full time job with sporadic hours, and we’re trying to live through a house renovation. And sometimes I even find time to make cheese.
It gets complicated to keep up with everything, and most times I feel like I’ve accomplished nothing.
Can I get an amen?
I’m sure there are many of you out there who feel this way. So here is my guide to doing…well, everything and still eat from scratch, have a clean house, and sometimes even find time to make cheese.
Make a Roast Every Week.
I prefer to do this at the beginning of the week, either Sunday or Monday. Sometimes I’ll do a roast beef, sometimes it’ll be a chicken or sometimes it’s pork. Be sure it’s big enough that you can get several meals out of it. This cuts down your overall meat consumption, and gives you more bang for your buck. After the initial first dinner you can use the leftovers for stew/soup, pot pie, sandwiches, stir fries, salads, spaghetti, chili, jambalaya, tacos or really anything else you can think of!
Tip: if you’re making a beef roast, make a large pot of mashed potatoes to go with it, enough that there will be leftovers. The next day shred some left over beef, make a gravy with some of the stock and pour it over the beef. You now have the fixings to make shepherds pie with the leftover beef and mashed potatoes. All you need is some corn or peas. Presto! Super quick week day dinner.
Organize, Organize, Organize!
Take an hour, an evening, a minute while you’re in bed, grab a blank piece of paper, a pencil, and write out a meal plan. It does not have to be fancy. I write Monday and write what’s for dinner, then Tuesday and what’s for dinner. Keep going until you’ve filled all the days of the week. That’s it. Just take one week at a time. It is also easier if you designate a certain meal to a day. For example every Saturday night is homemade pizza night in this house. It makes it easier for me because I never have to think about dinner on Saturday, I just know what we’re going to have.
Keep a calendar up to date on all the events, work days, vet visits, etc. Write everything down! I am not the best at this but I’m learning. I have a pretty good memory, but lately my head is so jam packed with dates that it is best to have the information written down somewhere. A personal schedule, a large wall calendar or a dry erase board will work well for this purpose. I keep a large wall calendar for personal stuff and have a binder for animal needs. Each type of animal has their own section within that binder. It keeps me up to date on when I have a staff meeting and when Phoebe is due to kid. Those are things that might be best to not mix up.
Plan and Prepare.
If you need to pack a lunch for work or for school it’s best to do it the night before. That way in the morning rush you don’t run out of time and just end up buying a lunch instead. Lunches can be simple: hummus with veggies and crackers, hard boiled eggs, soup, any leftovers from dinner the night before (this is normally what I take for lunch) a salad with some shredded chicken or a piece of grilled fish (another favourite of mine), a simple sandwich (Hubby’s favourite, what is it with men and sandwiches?), or whatever else you enjoy. By making your lunch at home you’re saving money and you know exactly what’s in it.
There are also some freezer staples you can have to help on those I’m so tired I can’t cook nights. I like to have spaghetti sauce, chili, and soup on hand at all times. I’ll take a day and whip up a batch (and really all of these things need minor supervision, just throw it in the crock pot or on a slow simmer on the stove and you’re golden), that way I’m prepared to just pull something out of the freezer and reheat it on those nights that I need to collapse. Again having some leftover meat (from that roast we’re gonna cook, remember?) will help too.
Every morning review your meal plan (I keep mine on the fridge), and see if you need to pull anything out of the freezer, prepare anything, or pick up anything from the store.
More on planning and preparing in this post.
Tip: A prep day is a lifesaver! I cook up a bunch of hamburger and freeze it in 1 pound portions, I’ll cook up a batch of soup and freeze it in containers (just don’t freeze a cream/milk soup. You can cook everything ahead of time and when you’re reheating it you can add the cream. This way it doesn’t curdle). Other good things to make ahead of time are: beans, hard boiled eggs (just boil up a dozen for fast snacks, or to add to a lunch), hummus, chop up veggies for snacking or for lunch (carrots, bell peppers, cucumber, celery, etc). I will also do a lot of prep work for fast breakfasts (cook up bacon, sausage, make yogurt parfaits, muffins, etc). In our house we are always in motion. Having staples premade and easy to grab saves us a ton of time.
Get on a Cleaning Schedule.
Once you have your kitchen routine worked out you might suddenly have the scales come off your eyes about your house. Now that’s a scary day. How did I not notice the piles of dog hair in the corner? Oh my gosh look at those cobwebs! Ya’ll it ain’t pretty. So let me tell you from experience that it is easier to just do one thing each day then try to get it all done in one day. I have a tendency to push things off until I have the time to do it. Newsflash April, you never have the time! The dishes, sweeping, and general decluttering is a daily thing. Junk mail can pile up fast on your counter if you don’t put it in the recycling right away. Ahem, not that I would know.
Here is my guide to always having a clean house. It will keep your stress level down, and will allow you to focus on just one task each day instead of suddenly having to choose whether you should spend the next year cleaning or just burn the place down.
Shop less? What? Do not get me wrong, I love shopping. My Ma and I make a day of it. We banter at the farmer’s market, run wild through the aisles at the bulk food store buying expensive chocolates and eating them all before we get home, at the whole foods store she rides on the cart and I push her through the aisles giggling all the way. Shopping can be a blast. So why would I recommend shopping less? Because as much fun as it is, we only do it about once a month. Shopping less means you’ll buy less. Less stuff that doesn’t get used, less stuff to spoil in the fridge, less stuff all together. I’m in the process of revamping my closet and my biggest thing is less stuff. It doesn’t matter how prepared you are you’ll always find something that, ahem, magically ends up in your cart and ultimately in your closest, pantry, or if you’re my sister hidden in the trunk of her car out of sight from her husband. (Don’t worry he doesn’t read this blog. I got your back sista!)
Here’s some ways to shop less:
– buy in bulk
– grow a garden, or plant some edible plants in pots
– get chickens if you’re allowed to
– make a meal plan and a shopping list. This means you’ll only go to the store about once a week (or less once you perfect the meal planning ritual).
– order online. Online shopping has become my love. I order a lot of organic pantry staples (spices, oils, vinegar, herbs, nuts and seeds, etc) online. I also take advantage of Amazon’s subscribe and save for the items that I buy often to get a discount on (like coffee) and things I don’t buy often so that they just automatically come to my door and I don’t have to remember (like q-tips). This is a huge time saver because everything literally comes to my door and I don’t have to plan a day to drive the 45 minutes into town.
Have Some Time for Yourself.
This will probably be the hardest thing, but you need this! It is so easy to burn out, so taking some time for yourself is vital. We unwind each night by watching an episode or 2 of something on Netflix. Lately it’s been Gilmore Girls and waaay too much ice cream. It helps take my mind off things, and allows me to unwind. I also find it a good time to fold laundry, so double win. Going for a walk in the evening is helpful too. We’ll putter down the road with our dogs talking about anything. It helps connect Hubby and I as a couple as well and makes sure, despite our crazy life, that we are on the same page. Other things we enjoy are computer/video games (we’re gamer geeks), or reading a book before bed.
If I can cook from scratch you can too. It’s just about drinking the right coffee (cough or wine cough) and pushing on.