By Christine Thomas –
What do people need the most besides money? Time. While we’re not all earning the same amount of money, everyone is given an equal amount of time. It’s the great equalizer, no respecter of persons. Like money, you can either waste it or save it. In caring for a lively family of six, I’ve learned to incorporate a few shortcuts in my daily management duties that actually put more time in my schedule.
Plan weekly menus – Write down meals on a small, dry erase board. I’d read this tip before but never made the effort…no time. However, once a friend declared it worked, I decided to give it a try. I noticed a difference immediately. The simple pre-planning not only saved me time, but also money. No longer was I baffled by what to prepare for meals each day. There were also no mid-week store runs since I only scheduled food using ingredients I had. Sunday afternoon was my grocery store run, and Sunday night I planned the weekly menu.
Keep your meal plan as simple as possible. Draw a grid with the days of the week on the left, and daily meals on top. Include what works for you: dinner only, or all three meals; every day of the week or just weekdays. I assign meals Monday through Friday for both lunch and dinner. Weekends are more of a free-for-all so I don’t even bother. Easy prep entrees are assigned to days when we’re extra busy. During breakfast I pull out ingredients for the evening meal so when I’m ready to cook everything is thawed and at my fingertips.
The whole idea of planning, writing, and assigning your meals to different days of the week takes the guess work out of daily dining. But, as is often the case, a day can get off track. If you don’t fix what’s on your written plan, don’t stress. Your menu board isn’t house law, it’s a guideline. If a meal doesn’t work out one day, bump that night’s entrée to another day. The point is, you have meal options on the board to accommodate your changing schedule. Frankly, it is possible to make mealtime less hectic in your home. Try matching your weekly menu to your weekly schedule and see if you don’t notice an improvement.
Do laundry daily – I learned this timesaver while on bed rest with my third child. The only reason I was supposed to get up during the day was to go to the bathroom which happened to be next to the laundry room. Every time nature called, so did dirty clothes. I’d simply move piles from the washer to the dryer, to the bed for folding, and then to the appropriate bedroom as I made a slow trek past each stopping point. Granted, the process took all day, and getting laundry done was the extent of my productivity, but by the end of the night when the clothes we had worn the previous day were already back in their rightful spots, it dawned on me that this was actually much easier than when I did laundry twice a week.
Five or ten minute chunks throughout the day handling a couple of loads minimized my burden. Now I get laundry started first thing in the morning and scoot the cycle along throughout the day. I don’t go to bed until it’s folded and put away. Of course, I enlist help from others in the family since the sooner children learn how to manage one of their future responsibilities the better.
In the grand scheme of daily life, meals and laundry are the top two time-consuming household chores. But with a little meal pre-planning and a few minutes invested daily on the laundry, you can greatly increase the efficiency level in your home.