Friday, May 15, 2009

2 Ideas for organizing kitchen drawers

Most all of us have at least one drawer in the kitchen that is packed with kitchen utensils. These get easily cluttered and messy. Many of the utensils aren't used very frequently.

Idea #1 is from Peter Walsh, expert organizer. He said to put all your kitchen utensils (spatulas, wire whips, etc.) in a box. Everytime you need one you get it out an then put it back in the drawer. After a month, if there are still some in the cardboard box you know you don't need them.

Idea #2: Leave only the utensils that you use almost daily in your drawer. Find a small box or basket and put the less frequently used tools on a separate shelf in a cupboard. I cleaned out my drawer yesterday. My box utensils include a meat tenderizer, pastry blender, lemon juicer, corn on the cob holders, turkey baster bulb, crab crackers, and some other odds and ends. I do use these items but not frequently. Now my drawer looks great and it will be easier to find things that I do use each day.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Uses for baby food containers

Kaitlyn is my 6 month old baby girl. She started eating solid foods a few weeks ago. I've made a small list of uses for used plastic baby food containers with snap on lids. They are the perfect size for storing many things.

Office supplies: tacks, paper clips, rubberbands
Crafts/Sewing supplies: safety pins, pins, buttons, beads
Garage: screws, nails
Miscellaneous: toothpicks, hair bands/clips, game pieces (i.e. dice), corn on the cob holders, snacks for the diaper bag

You get the idea. If you have a baby save a few containers for odds and ends and recycle the rest.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Grocery Store Tricks

There is a whole science to how a grocery store is laid out in order to create more sales. For example, the milk and eggs are usually at the back of the store so you have to walk through the entire store to get these items. You likely will pick up some other groceries as you walk by all the displays.

One thing I have noticed is that a couple of stores (locally Albertsons and Smiths) have 10 for $15 or 10 items for $10 sales. The weekly ads have a block of items which each cost $1 if you buy 10 of the said items. Sometimes these are steals and great deals, but many times they aren't worth the time and money rushing to the store and stocking up.

I went through last weeks Albertson's ad as an example. Kraft Macaroni and Cheese was ONLY 60 cents if you spent $10 on participating items. I don't know about you but that doesn't seem like a great price. Green Giant veggies were 75 cents. I usually just buy the store brand for about 50 cents per can. Jet puffed marshmallows were on sale for $1.20 each (again, I usually purchase the store brand for less than $1). Sometimes you will find these sales are actually a markup from the regular price. They changes the price tag for the "sale".

Sometimes the cereal in these ads are good deals, but you have to be careful. For example the Cheerios were only $1.50 but it was a 8.9oz box which is so small. That is about 17 cents per ounce which is an okay price. The problem with these sales is you often don't need to buy 5 boxes of Cheerios to get the sale price plus two bags of marshmallows and a couple of cans of vegetables. You end up spending more than you would.

There were a couple of good deals in this advertisement. Fruit Roll-Ups, Betty Crocker Premium Brownies and Lemon Bars, and South Beach Diet Bars were all $1.50. These are pretty good prices only if you use the advertised items. For example, once there was a sale on Quaker cereal bars. I stocked up on a bunch of them but then we didn't really like how they tasted and we ended up giving them away. Buy items that you know you like. If you aren't sure about a product you haven't tried, buy only one.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Keeping mail organized

Mail tend to pile up over the course of a week. The weekly ads, credit card offers, catalogues and other junk mail gets mixed in with bills and mail you actually like to receive.

Having a mail organizing system set up keeps the mail from taking over your counter or desktop. You won't lose bills and forget to pay them.

I have a simple system for organizing my mail. You can get an inexpensive caddy that will hopefully help you keep organized. If you don't have time to go through your mail each day then you first need an inbox. This is the mail that needs to be sorted. When you do have time, sort your mail into separate piles: junk mail, junk mail to be shredded, bills, catalogues/magazines to save, and misc. (other mail you want to file or keep). The junk mail can be immediately thrown away (preferrably in the recycle bin). I like to keep my shredder near my mail station. That way I can immediately shred credit card offers and other mail with personal information. Bills and other mail can be placed in the caddy into separate compartments. I keep one compartment for mail that needs to be filed away in my filing cabinet. I have a rule, when the compartment is full I go and file the paperwork. That way it never becomes overwhelming.
If you have a caddy with enough compartments you can also keep office supplies like scissors, paper clips, and scotch tape handy. I like to keep a calculator nearby as well.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

I Don't Like Leftovers

Our family does not do well with leftovers. If I tell my husband it is leftover night and there is casserole, pasta, or meatloaf as your choices he almost always goes to the freezer and gets out his favorite Lynn Wilson bean and cheese burritos! That kind of defeats the purpose of leftover night. I've found if I don't eat the leftovers for lunch the next day they just sit in the refrigerator for a week until I end up throwing them away. One solution I have found to this problem is to freeze half of our dinner immediately after dinner. If I just throw it in the refrigerator with the intent to freeze it the next day, it just doesn't get done. However, if when I am cleaning up the kitchen after dinner I take the time to get out a freezer bag then it gets done.

Many meals will freeze well in freezer storage bags. Examples include spaghetti sauce, other pasta sauces, or most soups. Some meals are best split into two portions before baking like casseroles, enchiladas, lasagna, or others. If you don't want to use disposable aluminum pans for freezing these meals, first, line your baking dish with aluminum foil. Then, add your casserole or meal. Third, cover the pan with aluminum foil. Fourth, freeze the meal. Lastly, when the meal is completely frozen you can remove the pan and the meal will easily stack up in your freezer. The nice part about frozen casseroles or lasagna is that you can place it in a baking pan and put it frozen into the oven. It does take considerably longer to bake but no defrosting is necessary.

What are some meals you have had success freezing? What doesn't work well for freezing? Let me know so I can try it too!