Monday, January 19, 2009

Tips from a Working Kitchen

The kitchen in my house is not just for looks. Next to the kitchen table, where school work is done, there's no place where more work takes place than in my kitchen. Although I've followed a lot of these practices since I was a newlywed (thanks to my Type A personality) they are now my lifelines.

Make your kitchen practical. Spices near your work station (you know, that piece of cabinet space where your mixing, spreading, and cutting takes place), big utensils near the stove, and like items grouped together.

Keep it clutter free. If you have to work half an hour to clear a spot just to make dinner, you're going to end up at McDonald's drive through-again. Even just keeping one area clutter free & wiped down will make you feel better.

Make a menu. Yes, it's a must to make menu plans for each week. Wandering aimlessly through the grocery store aisles wastes time, mental energy and money. You'll just end up back there tomorrow to pick up that one item you need to make dinner. Of course, you'll spend $20 when you only meant to pick up a can of cream style corn. I leave the kids with Daddy and Audrey, my list, my mp3 player and I go to the store. It's almost enjoyable!

Plan your eating around your week. I make out a menu that takes into account the week's activities. I plan my more exciting meals for Shane's days off. Wednesday nights just get a "back up meal" in case Awana & Life Group fall through (we all eat at our respective Wednesday night places). Easy meals are planned for days we'll be out of pocket all day.
Now, shop for your menu. The goal is to not go back to the store during the week. Shane almost always makes one little trip for me midweek, but my goal is to eliminate that. Organize your shopping list for your path around the store. It's frustrating to back track the aisles.

I'll admit that making a menu is my least favorite task of the week. I've found a few solutions to that. One is which is a site that offers a weekly menu plan & shopping list for a minimal fee. I've also just made a list of my own dinner ideas, spending the afternoon flipping through cook books. My newest plan is to use to build several weeks' worth of menus & shopping lists, leaving space in each week for our own family recipes.

Look for ways to grow in your kitchen. Maybe you've never done a menu plan, or cooking from scratch appeals to you. Why not try it? We've not had boxed cereal at all this month, which challenges me to cook a nice variety of healthy breakfasts. Using my new dutch oven and griddle are part of my growing right now as well. I'd like to learn to can someday.
Cookbooks are a lifesaver for me. I'll post soon about the treasures I've found. Until then, make your kitchen fun again! It feels so rewarding to put together a wholesome meal for our families. If you decide to stretch yourself a bit, leave a comment to tell us what you've done or feel free to leave other tips from your kitchen.


Supermom2JakeAndEmmy said...

This is a good one that's free.

Donna Young used to have one on her site that was (is)my favorite - I actually have it downloaded on my computer so I can print it out. It's not on her site anymore, though :-(

Meal planning is SOO important - especially with the economy right now.

BTW - just FYI for you and other readers - you can buy ground turkey for almost 1/2 the price of ground beef.

Vix said...

Meal planning is great! Saving Dinner .com is one of my favorites! I have one of her books. Its like free year around menu planning!