Thursday, January 31, 2013

A Brilliant Idea

The title of this post may be deceiving...but not purposely so!

For the past week, my husband and I have been participating in a fitness challenge. We wear a pedometer (it's called a Pebble) all day long, and the goal is to have 7,000 steps each day. (I know, WOW, right?)

Since we both have desk jobs, this really is no easy thing. While he is able to walk on his lunch break, my lunch is spent running errands, catching up on all my projects and side get the idea.

So, we decided the best thing to do was to walk our entire housing complex every night after dinner. The weather has been perfect, and it gives us a nice bit of time to spend together, too.

The only problem I've been running into is the after dinner kitchen cleanup.

Before, after dinner I would spend about 30 minutes in the kitchen: restoring the table, putting away leftovers, rinsing dishes, loading the dishwasher, wiping down stove, counters and sink...and whatever else may need to be done in there.

Now...well, there's just no time for that! I'm actually pretty good at cleaning up after myself WHILE I'm cooking, if I make myself, so I've kicked that discipline into high gear. But that still leaves all the dishes that the food is served out of. And the leftovers. And the table.

I put my brilliant idea into action last night and it worked beautifully. Here it is. Are you ready?

My husband retores the table. (Okay, that wasn't THE brilliant idea, but he decided to start doing that, so it's very helpful! And I get points for raving over him in my blog, so it's a win-win!)

Actual brilliant idea: move the food to the leftover dishes (i.e. Tupperware) as soon as it's done, and then serve the food right out of the plasticware! Leftovers cleanup then only consists of putting the lid on the dish and placing it in the fridge!

And then, I took it a step further. After the food is relocated, take the dish the food was prepared in and immediately rinse and place in the dishwasher. Quicker, because the food is still warm and doesn't stick, so it doesn't take forever to get all the residue off. Or, if it was a particularily heavy meal, there's plenty of time to soak the dishes in the sink.

That means, when we get back from our walk, I don't have a kitchen that's a mess and dishes with food stuck all over them. The most I might have to do is scrub a pot or a pan, rinse and place in the dishwasher. BRILLIANT!

I'm sure people have been doing things like this since the beginning of time, but it really was the first time I thought of it!

Do YOU have any timesavers that are brilliant? I wanna hear them!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

On Recipe Organization

Happy New Year, everyone! (You know, since I haven't posted in over a month, and it's now almost February!)

This particular post has been in the wings for a while, but, for those of you who don't know me well, you should know that I work full-time in the world of insurance (click here), I run a photography and promotional business on the side (click here), I am a consultant for a company that makes organizational products (click here), and I'm married and attempt to keep my husband happy and my house clean (no clicking necessary). You can see why it's been a while since I've posted, but, due to LOTS of organization and just plan "getting stuff done" over the holidays, I'm finally back into a routine...I think. Having the flu didn't help much, either, but it's all good now!

So, I LOVE to cook. Some women don't like to come home after working a full day and have to cook, but it's literally one of my favorite times of day! It's my "me" time, it's my relaxation time, it's my time to create and experiment with flavors, textures and styles!

As you can imagine, I'm always finding new recipes. I see them on blogs, I get them in my email, I get them from friends, I pin them on get the idea. And almost none of them come in the exact same form.

This created a large build-up of papers (of all shapes and sizes), napkins, recipe cards, etc. Whatever form the recipe came in was shoved into a folder, which meant that every time I said, "Hmmm...where did I put that recipe for Paula Deen's meatloaf I found the other day?" I had to pull out the folder and dig through until I found the desired item. VERY ANNOYING. Not to mention that our kitty figured all the papers spread everywhere was a direct invitiation to come along and pounce away. An even bigger mess.

As the holidays drew near, our family began to set up menus for all of the events, and there are always requests for specific dishes I make. The only problem was finding the recipe for all the requested dishes. And I was over it this past holiday season. Something had to give.

So, I searched and searched for the perfect solution. To no avail. After a few weeks of frustration, my husband commented, "Geeze, why don't you just make your own! You make everything else, don't you? That way you can customize the whole thing and it will be exactly how you want it to be!"

Smart man I married, smart man.

Here's what I did - it's all pretty simple.

1. I picked up a black 2-inch ring notebook, a set of black and white 8.5 X 11 scrapbook papers and a set of sheet protectors from Walmart.

2. I went through all of my recipes and separated them all into categories that made sense to ME and the way I cook.

3. I created sections for each chosen category using the sheet protectors, scrapbook papers and my big label maker.

4. I put ALL of my recipes on the SAME SIZE sheet of paper in black and white.


What I love about it:
  • It's all black and white. I'm a very black and white person, literally and figuratively, so this worked great for me, and it saves on printer ink, too - but you can do it in any color combination! 
  •  It's customized so I know exactly where everything is.
  • It's easy to add a new recipe
This made the holiday season much less stressful, I have to say, and it's still working perfectly. Did I mention it makes meal planning and grocery shopping SO MUCH EASIER? It does!

Here's a few pics of mine:

Whatcha think? Fairly simple, right?

If choosing categories and organizing everything from scratch makes you nervous, never fear! Check out these templates:

Clean Mama
Maria the Bee
Prudent Baby

Those should help =)

How about you? How do YOU organize YOUR recipes?