Friday, January 14, 2011

Friday - Organizing Process

My goodness, here it is already Friday and I have only accomplished about half of what I had on my list. But at least there is progress, so I will take it.

OH MY this is so frustrating. My keyboard is not working correctly, every few keystrokes are being dropped, more like never getting there. I guess I am typing faster than the keyboard can register.

At any rate. I am taking a break to post a few things. I have been doing a lot of sorting and purging of my kitchen. Well, related to running the kitchen at any rate. I have been following so many things over on I'm an Organizing Junkie. I wish I had half the drive and passion that Laura does. I am continually inspired by not only Laura by her followers as well.

If you have been following my little blog, you already know that I am part of MPM, and am working on not only intending to plan the meals out each week, but actually putting it in writing. There are hundreds of fellow bloggers, although I am no where close to the same league as they are, that all post their menu plans as well, reading over them gives a person great ideas and some great recipes. Eventually I will add recipes to my postings, I just need to get it all together a bit more. Look back to here for my weekly menu.

Another great segment on Laura's blog is the 52 Weeks of Organizing. Each Friday she shares organizing ideas and other bloggers post what they are doing to get organized as well. I love all the creative ideas. There are also some great free printables to be found on the site as well. I caught some inspiration for my overwhelming collection of recipe print outs, cut out of magazines, cookbooks and just family shared that are written out. Before, I could not find the recipe I wanted that is one of the family favorites, couldn't even decided on what to cook that night for the meal much less think ahead for the next day. As a result, meals were thrown together and while they were edible, not very enjoyable. I used some tips from various blogs and here is how my organizing went for the week.

I needed to buy groceries and stock my freezer and pantry so I could actually get back to cooking. I couldn't even plan the day's meal because I had no meat to cook. So I thought, so I cleaned out the freezers to see what I could fine.

Was I ever shocked when I finished sorting and purging. I found enough chicken to feed this family every night for about six weeks. Found a couple of roast, package of steaks, some sausage, bacon (4 packages) and an assortment of vegetables along with a small treasure of processed single dinners for my lunches and such. I was elated. Meat is the most expensive part of the budget. I started a grocery list, did need some ground beef and pork. My family would rebel at chicken every night. Okay, then I moved on to the pantry.

Here are before and after photos of the spice cabinet, yes cabinet as I am a collector of spices and my hubby is obsessed with trying new ones. Besides, have no idea what else I would do with that little small cabinet right by the stove.

And, yes, those spices just sat all over the counter because there was no room in the cabinet. I purged out all the old spices. They don't really expire, but will loose their strength. If I opened the bottle and could not smell the spice, it went in the trash. I also had about two dozen old metal Schilling brand tin cans that still had paper price tags on the bottom. I am pretty sure that I cannot buy a big tin can full of Anise for .67 any more. I also had spices that I know where purchased when I first married, almost 30 years ago.

Here are the before and after pantry cleaning and organizing. I had so much empty space, that the after photo includes all the canned goods and such I bought when I got this bill of groceries. The pantry is the thorn in my side when it comes to this kitchen. I have a huge problem with little tiny brown moths. I will say it used to be worse, it was almost enough to drive me insane as I would walk in to the kitchen at night and hit the light to be swarmed by them. My only redeeming thoughts were that at least they weren't roaches or mice. At any rate, I found some pantry moth traps at Home Depot and those things are just awesome, true sanity savers. You see, they lay eggs that are about the size of a pin head, are sticky, and seem to melt through what ever they are attached to. Then the eggs drop through in to the box of flour, cereal, gelatin, pasta, anything and every thing. The eggs then hatch in to little larvae that look like maggots, which then spin a sticky web to hide in until they turn in to the little brown moth and start the whole thing all over again. It is always so disheartening to end up throwing away boxes of cake mixes, crackers, even rice. Long ago I took to putting most things in plastic containers, but they still get in. Well, you get the idea.

Now that I have my freezer all sorted, the spices and pantry done, had already done the fridge last week, I was then able to make a grocery list. But wait I thought, I should have some idea of what I am cooking for the next couple of weeks before I head out. I dumped all my recipes in the floor of my cave (what my hubby calls my sewing/craft room) along with my list of ingredients on hand. I was immediately overwhelmed. I quickly just pulled off about five favorites that I knew my daughter would eat. Hubby has been gone all week, so knew I could eat pasta and fish and such. I then just pulled together a more common grocery list of things I knew I was out of (because I had just cleaned the pantry out) that I use a lot of. It worked well so far.

Last night, I began sorting and purging recipes. Still have way more to go through. Also have my cooking magazines and cookbooks to go through as well. First I sort by what is TNT (tried and true) that are family favorites, then recipes I want to try sooner as opposed to someday. Then I sorted that down to meats and sides in one folder and desserts and breads in another. Once I get through all the sorting I will do a more precise sorting. I have MasterCook software on my computer and I plan to take advantage of that. I can enter the recipes (to get rid of all the pieces of paper laying out) then will save them in to a cookbook (the name of a file folder in the program) for just meal plans. I can then use the functions in the program to plan a menu, print the recipes for that meal, and it will even generate a grocery list based on the menu plan. If I really get it together, I can enter what I have on hand in to the pantry list and will check to see if I have it on hand before adding it to the shopping list. All that is farther down the road than I can realistically get to at the present, so I needed to go ahead and plan out a few weeks of of meals now.

With some ideas from a few other blogs and determining a system that would work for my way of thinking, I came up with a pretty organized little easy set up. While looking back and forth, literally across the store, through the scrapbook and school/office supplies, I found this really cool report cover.

It has a bound edge, a clear front, a clear pocket on the opposite side to keep the paper edges in for additional protection. So, I got on the computer in Excel and created a blank monthly calendar. Each week is color coded, to make it easier for the way our life works I started the week with Monday. A small open circle is in each day so I can add the corresponding date. Lines are included for writing the main dish and sides in. Now here is my creative twist. The report cover has two metal prongs to load the papers on so I can put a calendar page and all the recipes together. When I first started this, I had it in my mind that I would just use a dry erase marker and write it all in on the report cover, which wipes off easily for the next month. However, I have since decided that I will just print off one each month and just write on it with pen and note if I actually followed the plan. That will give me a record of what I made when, what was a hit and what wasn't and how long it has been since I cooked a favorite dish. Don't want to burn the family out on hamburgers. Now, I found this square cork bulletin board for pretty cheap at Walmart. When I purchased it, was going to laminate the calendar blank and use it with wipe off pens. I might eventually go to that, but felt that for just starting off this would work better for me and retain more usable information to keep me organized now that I am getting it all together. Besides, loved the little close pin clips. I just attached a piece a ribbon across it and just like hanging clothes.

Next, I wanted something that the family could look at and see what was for supper that night. You know I have a bit of an attitude from time to time so when they would ask "What's for super?" I would answer "food!" and go on with what am doing. Originally I had thought that I could make a version of a scrapbook page that permanently had the days of the week on it, a few lines beside it to write in the the main and sides, write in if we were going out or something that evening. It would be laminated so I could write in and wipe off the meal plans and activities. Would then put that on the fridge. Instead I found this cheap plastic easel type photo frame, and just used Excel to create blanks to load in the frame. I think it is a good idea.

In fact, I am going to purchase an extra easel frame to hold recipes while I am cooking. Easy hands free way of having the recipe in easy view.

The blanks are cheap to print off and then fill in. Eventually, I will get to the point to where I can just pull out the old menus, see what was liked, what wasn't and just recycle the meals. It will sure go quicker when It is all entered in the computer and I can just select the recipes for the menu plan, generate and print off the grocery list for those recipes and be done. It is a goal any way, after all, eventually I want to have the house organized so I can take the time to work on, and find the supplies I need, my hobbies. Maybe schedule it in like we do Miss J. and her ice skating lessons, Awanas, and such. I have scrapbooking on one day, laundry on one day, sewing on one day, weekly cleaning a day, quilting another day. Maybe then I will have time to do the things I want to do. Some things, like writing, blogging, reading or such are more of daily needs, but if I can get it all organized around the house, I can possibly set aside a few hours each day for the things I enjoy. Especially with the prospect of starting a little sewing business up. If I don't get my organized enough to keep the house up once it is all in order it will just not be possible to start up the little business for myself.

Also, have not been able to stick with the menu plan to well this week, but have been able to cook up a meal at home, so no expense of eating out. That is exceptional for me, what with hubby being out of town all week. Shows me that I can do it for the week that he will be gone again. We went last night an got Miss J her new glasses, which actually came in on Monday but no one from the optical called to tell me.

She is so happy to have them. She picked the frames out herself and made the comment to a friend how nice it was to be able to read the signs in the mall and be able to read the price tags. Poor kid, inherited my wonky eye sight, one eye near sided, one eye far sided. I remember getting my first pair of glasses (silver teardrop wire frames) when I was the same age as her.

The photo was taken with my new Samsung Galaxy phone. Still have a lot to learn with that thing.

Well, enough for today, I am off to move the laundry around and then back to sorting through my recipes. I am feeling really rough today so am just hanging around the house. Tomorrow is the scrapbook store's crop and bunco night and I am so looking forward to that. Probably more the bunco than the crop. The ladies at the crop are kind of snobby. I have learned however, that I am only going to work on one project. Taking only the essentials to work on that one project. I started a chipboard album for my mom and never finished it, have all the photos laid out on the pages, the papers as well as little do dads to add here and there. I am sure I will have to purchase a few things at the crop, but I am not going to overload myself again by taking so many things to work on that no progress is made at all. I will post the project on Monday. In the mean time, today will be laundry and working with the recipes. It will be a nice accomplishment just have my boxes of recipes all sorted and in one box. I have a plastic container with hanging files in it that I have designated for the use of cooking. In other words, recipes, menu plans, blanks for all of that, and the past ones. Any recipe I cook that doesn't turn out, doesn't go over with the family, will be tossed. I so look forward to being able to find what I am looking for instead of going place to place hoping to find what I am looking for.

Thanks for dropping in and have great day.


  1. Wow you accomplished a lot. I am working on one cabinet and hope to post pictures by the end of today!

  2. I really admire your menu planning determination. You've inspired me to give it a try... I'm so tired of digging around the freezer every day and thinking about what I can cook for supper tonight! Good luck, keep it going!

  3. Very impressed, you have been busy! Love your menu planning system, you've given it a lot of thought and planning and that's terrific. Way to go on all the organizing too!