Five Days and Five Time- and Sanity-Saving Ideas, Day 1
It’s the New Year. Many of us are thinking about, or are already making progress on, better organizing our lives. And some of us have already given up (been there). In an effort to keep us motivated (myself included), I am going to post one practical, time-saving idea a day over the next five days. These five ideas may save you time, and, in some cases, money, as well as sanity. You will have to put in some time at the outset, but these suggestions will likely leave you less frazzled in the long run. Many are tried- and-true approaches that have made a big difference in the life of my family (others I am still working on).
Some of the ideas may not work for you and your family or may not be a priority; that’s fine. Pick the one idea (two if you are feeling particularly ambitious) that you think would make the biggest difference in your and your family's life and adapt it as needed. Then, once you have incorporated it smoothly into your weekly routine, you can try out some of the other ideas. Please note, the following is provided for informational purposes only; the information is accurate and true to the best of my knowledge, but there may be omissions, errors or mistakes, and no guarantees are made.
Day 1: Meal Planning
Meal planning (and tomorrow's Day 2 idea) has made the biggest difference in the life of our family over the past year or two. I cannot emphasize enough how helpful it has been. Here are some meal planning suggestions that proved especially helpful for us:
Choose a day to plan meals for the week and stick to it. When meal planning, create a weekly dinner menu, as well as a brief list of ideas for lunches and snacks for the kids (and adults, if you are so inclined) and post this on the fridge. Use this to build your grocery store list and to keep you organized throughout the week.
I suggest starting very simply at first. Pick the types of meals your family enjoys and designate them each a day of the week. A weekly dinner menu might look something like this:
- Sunday: “Big pot meal.” (On the weekend, when we have extra time, we usually make some sort of “big pot meal” like a large pot of soup or an Asian-inspired noodle dish that can be eaten the next day for leftovers.)
- Monday: Leftovers.
- Tuesday: Tacos.
- Wednesday: Soup and grilled cheese. (I go for organic, boxed soup to make this a super easy dinner night. I usually reserve this option for the busiest night of the week, when we are late coming home from kids’ activities, or my spouse or I end up having to work late and one of us is on solo parenting duty.)
- Thursday: Veggie or regular burgers/sliders with a side salad or veggie. (Steamed and salted edamame in the shell is an easy and healthy option.)
- Friday: Pizza and salad. (At the end of the week, I like to keep things simple and low maintenance. We usually just make a salad and throw a couple of frozen pizzas in the oven -- Amy’s brand has some tasty, relatively healthy and organic options.)
- Saturday: Stir-fry.
The idea behind this sample weekly dinner menu is that you can vary the types of ingredients week-to-week, but you always know what type of meal to make on a given day, which makes planning easier. For example, you can vary the type of tacos you make on “Taco Tuesday,” or the type of slider and vegetable you have on “burger night.” I know that some people like far more variation in their diets or like to completely stay away from processed food (or maybe you need to make modifications for dairy- or gluten-free diets). Mix it up, as desired, on your weekly menu, but I suggest taking a simplified approach the first month or so.
Each week, when you are planning your weekly menu, you can switch the meals around based on your scheduling needs. For example, if Thursdays are your busiest day in the coming week, make Thursday “soup and grilled cheese night” or whatever particularly easy meal you have decided on for that week. When figuring out which days of the week will be crazy and which days will be less so, plan to do some of the prep for future meals on the less crazy days. Prepping even 1-2 ingredients the night before can make a big difference.
And while you are at it, make the kids’ (and your, if applicable) lunches and snacks at night. I know you are probably exhausted at the end of the day (I know I am), but the extra 10-15 minutes to make and pack lunches will make your morning so much smoother.
You can do it and good luck!
*Remember, if you ever want help with planning or implementing family organizational strategies, Enriched Family is here to support you. I offer a free, 20-minute initial phone consultation to all new clients to discuss matching your needs and priorities with my services. In addition, I am offering a 15% discount to all new clients through March 2018. Click the "Let's Get Started!" button at the upper-right corner of this page to contact me.
Here's to getting more organized in 2018!