Happy Cleaning!

 

Spring is finally here, and it’s time for spring cleaning! It’s quite a gradual process at our house, as my cleaning time is limited to our son’s naptime lately. But we’re making progress, and it is worth it – not only do I enjoy having a cleaner home, I can also serve my family and guests by getting the house in tip-top shape.

Spring cleaning is a lot of work, but it doesn’t have to be hard. There are so many tips out there for making it easier on the busy mom. I’ve made a list of tips that I’ve found helpful in my spring cleaning. I hope you find them helpful too! 🙂

  1. Start with the project that has been bothering you.

You know the one I’m talking about. Maybe it’s the stains in the bathroom or the dust in the living room. For me, it was the windows in my breezeway. They were still grimy from last summer, and the screens were dusty too. Starting with a project that has been bothering you will be energizing as you see your progress. It’s great motivation to keep going!

  1. Move through the house systematically.

Having a system will help as you deep-clean. I’ve been cleaning each room in my house clockwise, room by room, east to west. Again – it’s motivating to see where you’ve been and where you still need to go.

  1. Have the radio on as you clean.

Spring cleaning is work, but it doesn’t have to be boring. Having something to listen to will help pass the time. My favorite lately has been Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth’s radio program Revive Our Hearts, but it doesn’t have to be the radio – try an audio book, a favorite CD, or a movie soundtrack. It’s amazing how fast the time goes when your hands and your mind are busy!

  1. Declutter.

Things tend to accumulate over time, and it’s often so gradual we don’t notice the clutter. Look at your home through the eyes of a guest, toss the unnecessary, store away the seasonal. Be ruthless! Your house will have a fresh, spacious, new feel when you’re done!

  1. Get creative with your tools.

There are all kinds of fancy tools for cleaning today, and you can buy them if you want. Just know that you don’t have to! An old toothbrush works great for cleaning corners and crannies and a lint roller will help with the lamp shades. My favorite “new” tools are my vacuum attachments. That horsehair brush is designed for dusting – use it! It works on window screens, ceiling fans, vents, you name it!

  1. Be smart with window washing.

I’ve heard a couple great hacks for this chore lately! For example, washing windows on a cloudy day will leave you with fewer streaks than a sunny day might. Washing one side of the glass horizontally and the other side vertically will help you know which side of the glass that one stubborn streak is on. Wash and polish your windows with old rags instead of paper towels – it will save you a fortune in paper towel rolls!

  1. Don’t forget!

I remember walking into a restaurant and noticing the thick layer of dust on their ceiling fans. There’s a big problem with that! But then I came home and noticed my fans for the first time. Gross! Don’t forget the little things like that – ceiling fans, vents, light bulbs, books… They collect dust just like everything else!

  1. Spring clean the yard.

Catch up on the yard work while you’re at it. Clear away the dead leaves from winter and pull the weeds that have sprung up early. The lawn will look tidier when you’re done, and your plants will thank you for the room to grow!

  1. Maintain the clean.

Once your house is deep-cleaned, make some light cleaning part of your schedule. Make time to walk around the house and pick up clutter every day. Rinse and polish the sink after dishes are done. Spin around the living room with a dust rag once a week. The massive cleaning projects will be few and far between if you make the little routines a priority.

  1. Spring cleaning is work – and that’s okay!

Cleaning the house does take time and energy, and your work might not get noticed. That’s okay! Maintaining a home isn’t about me looking good. It’s about loving your family and caring for the things that you own. And if you are a Christian, it’s about honoring God with the home that He has given you.

It’s amazing how tired you can feel at the end of the day. Just remember it’s worth the effort!

What about you? Have any fun tips for me? I would love to hear about them!

~ Erin

Meal Plan (Demo)

Menu Plan Demo

I’ve written before about my Nine Tips for Saving $ with a Meal Plan. Now I’m going to put it into practice and show you what it looks like in our kitchen this week!

It’s looking like a fairly typical week at our house – meaning we’ll have normal weeknights, Wednesday will be busy with church after supper, and we’ll probably have guests for dinner on Sunday. We make a tradition of throwing pizza in the oven to lessen the stress of Wednesday nights, so that one will be easy. Sunday needs to be a little more complicated – something company-worthy that I can make ahead of time and have ready right after church. Crock-pot ziti and sides will work for that!

Tuesday:

Wednesday: Pizza with chips and fruit slushies

Thursday:

Friday:

Saturday:

Sunday: Crockpot ziti, garlic bread, jello salad, and apple slices

Monday:

I’m coming into this week with leftovers in the fridge. We had ham and rice for supper on Monday, so I’ll use those leftovers for a ham casserole (or a “hotdish,” to us Minnesota girls!) on Tuesday. We were given a mix for noodle hotdish a while ago, so I’ll put that in for Saturday night. (Assuming we’re not having leftovers that night! J)

Tuesday: Ham casserole

Wednesday: Pizza with chips and fruit slushies

Thursday:

Friday:

Saturday: Noodle hotdish

Sunday: Crockpot ziti, garlic bread, jello salad, and apple slices

Monday:

Three more nights to go! We haven’t had tacos in a while, and we have supplies for that in the fridge, so I’ll put that in for Thursday night and plan on using the leftovers on Friday. I’ll probably still have enough leftovers from the tacos to plan on quesadillas for Monday night too, so that knocks out my last meal!

So here’s my finished plan:

Tuesday: Ham casserole

Wednesday: Pizza with chips and fruit slushies

Thursday: Tacos

Friday: Leftover tacos

Saturday: Noodle hotdish

Sunday: Crockpot ziti, garlic bread, jello salad, and apple slices

Monday: Quesadillas

 

And that’s a peek into our kitchen this week! What are you planning for your family? I would love to hear about it!

Plan Your Menu (and Save $)!

Plan Your Menu (and Save $)!

The hardest part of cooking is deciding what to make in my opinion. I love getting to make homecooked meals for my husband, but four o’clock rolled around, I’m back at square one in front of the refrigerator. What in the world do I make this time?

So I’ve started planning out our menu a week at a time, mostly because it made me feel organized and on top of things. Now I can’t imagine running a kitchen without doing it! This little strategy saves me the daily dilemma of what to make, and it also helps me be intentional with shopping and using food that’s already in the pantry. So the extra time that it takes to plan out the week’s meals saves us money!

Below are a few of the strategies that I’ve figured out for planning my family’s menu every week.

 

Nine Tips for Saving $ with a Meal Plan

  1. Make your menu planning part of your weekly routine. It’s a priority!

I usually do my grocery shopping on Tuesdays, the day we get our Shopper flyers delivered, so I try to have my week’s meals planned on Mondays. After all, I won’t know what to buy at the store if I don’t have any idea what I’ll be making for suppers, right? Since I start fresh with groceries on Tuesdays, my week’s meal plan usually starts on Tuesday instead of at the beginning of the calendar week. I’ve had to work through some trial and error in figuring out what works for our schedule, and it’s going to look different for every family. So do what works best for you, just make sure you make time to do it!

  1. Write your plan down.

Making a meal plan won’t work if you don’t write it down! I keep a notebook to write down my week’s menu, to-do lists, and weekly appointments. It’s a system that helps me stay organized. I’ve also seen people get really creative with their menu plan, displaying it on a chalk board or dry-erase board in their kitchen. Have fun with it!

  1. Make note for special events in your week.

This one is fairly self-explanatory. If you’re going to be out of the house for supper on Thursday night, you don’t have to plan a meal for that night! At the same time, if you have company coming on Friday night, you might want to plan something bigger than leftover hotdish.

  1. Start traditions for different nights of the week.

We like to have pizza and chips on Wednesday nights, and we usually have a breakfast-for-supper night over the weekend. Having these simple meals picked out beforehand helps me as I plan out the week’s menu. Those meals get filled in first on my menu plan, and that makes brainstorming meals for the rest of the week that much easier. Pick a meal that your family likes and make it a tradition in your home. (And if your family’s favorite happens to be as easy as a frozen pizza, that’s a double bonus!:))

  1. Transfer unused meals from the previous week.

Sometimes we get invited out to eat unexpectedly, or I have more leftovers that I’d counted on, and we end up with extra meals on our menu. These get entered right away on the next week’s menu plan. After all, you’ve already bought the groceries you need for that meal – why buy more when you already have what you need? 🙂

  1. Use what’s in your pantry.

I still struggle with this one. I like to keep an eye on sales and buy in bulk if an item is really cheap at the grocery store, but if I buy 14 boxes of macaroni and cheese on sale and forget that I have them, I’m not saving my family any money! Take a peek at your pantry as you plan your menu. It helps me save money in the bank and space in the kitchen!

  1. Don’t be afraid to keep it simple.

By this time, I’ve usually planned out 3-5 days for my meal plan, and it’s time to start brainstorming. I try to cook on a budget, so I like to start this stage by adding one more simple meal to our plan. Please note: simple and cheap does not have to be bland! Eggs are a good example of what this looks like at our house. They’re pretty cheap, and I can turn them into frittatas, omelets, fried egg sandwiches, or scrambled eggs! Don’t like eggs? No worries – find something else that works for your family!

  1. Add variety!

This is the fun part. We’ve got 2-3 meals left on our meal plan, and the recipes that we pick here will add variety to our week in the kitchen. Think of meals that your family enjoys or recipes that you want to try from Pinterest. I try to make these “real meals” – something homemade that requires more work than a frozen pizza. Sometimes we have staples like spaghetti or tacos. Sometimes I try something really different. This is my chance to get creative in the kitchen!

  1. Flyers and Coupons

We usually get our grocery ads after I’ve planned out my meals for the week, so it doesn’t always impact our menu, but I do try to at least glance at the ads before going to the store. Sometimes I’ll see a great deal and work that into our meal plan. If chicken is on sale, put chicken on the menu!

  1. Bonus – Smorgasbord!

Make sure you’re using your leftovers well. I often pack them for the next day’s lunch, but sometimes I’ll plan the leftover chicken from Thursday night to make a chicken pot pie on Friday (for example :)). If you can stretch one meal into two, that’s money in the bank! During weeks when we have a lot of leftovers on hand, I hoard them and have a smorgasbord at the end of the week. All the leftovers come out of the fridge, we load up our plates buffet style and throw them in the microwave. An easy meal with no-stress prep!

 

So those are my nine strategies for planning my family’s meals. Keep in mind that your family is different than ours – so do what works for you! What are your tips for planning meals? Let me know in the comments – I would love to learn more! 🙂

5 Great Housekeeping Tips

Housekeeping Tips #1-5

I’ve just finished a decluttering weekend, and it feels so nice to have a clean house! I was reading Melissa Michaels’ section on decluttering in her book Love the Home You Have on Friday night, and pretty soon I was reorganizing baby toys, dusting book shelves, and cleaning kitchen sinks. By Monday, I caught my husband cleaning a bit too, so it must be contagious. 🙂

So here are five housekeeping tips I gleaned from Melissa’s book. Feel free to add your own in the comments below – I’m sure my house could do with some more! You can also check out Melissa’s blog The Inspired Room for her other tips!

1. Start by decluttering one spot in the house. For me it was the baby toys. They needed a home in our living room that wasn’t the middle of our floor! So I pulled out some nice fabric boxes and gave the toys a new home in our bookcase. It felt so nice to have that little piece of our house decluttered, it was easy to move on to another spot.

2. Once everything is uncluttered, keep it uncluttered! I’ve been trying to do a decluttering walk around the house twice a day – once in the morning and once at night after our little boy goes to bed. That way I can start and end the day feeling organized!

3. Clean as you go. The thought of having a clean house all the time is nice, but we also live life in our house! And life tends to be messy! So now I’m trying to stay ahead of the mess by dealing with it when it comes up. Like dishes, for instance – as I make supper, I try to have a sink full of soapy water handy. When I’m done with one dirty dish, I can wash it right away instead of stacking it in the sink for later. (Lucky you if you have a dishwasher! :))

Pin - Housekeeping (2).png

4. Do a little extra every day. This applies when it comes to things like dusting. Just think what the house would look like if I dusted just 10 surfaces every day.

5. Wipe down the sinks with a rag after every time you wash dishes or brush teeth. The daily cleaning is easy, and it really does make a difference. I’m trying to keep a rag under each sink now so it’s always handy.

There’s my five newest housekeeping tips! Any others you’ve gathered? I would love to hear about them!

~ Erin