I love eating a home-cooked meal, I mostly always enjoy cooking it, definitely don’t love cleaning it up. Being more hands-on in the kitchen is not always perfect or easy, but it’s worth it. And though we like the idea of living a hand-made lifestyle, when the reality of time, energy and maintenance sets in – it can get tricky.
I have found that the best way to stay on track with my health and life goals – is to have an organised plan. I know, “being organized” is not the fun answer – but it’s the honest one. There is no one plan that’s effective for everyone’s kitchen – but here are some basic tips that I’ve picked from spending a lot of time in mine.
1. Organize your space. Keeping it organised is the constant struggle, and only plain old consistency that will do it.
- De-clutter. When you really take a look, you may realize that you don’t actually need to have 6 spatulas and 14 mugs in your kitchen. Clutter causes stress and slows things down. My cabinets only have what I use and need. Sometimes I see pictures of cabinets full of beautiful, colourful bowls and plates – but what happens for me at least – is that I’ll use them all and end up with a sink full of dishes! I have some other sets stored away for guests. If you have dishware that you love and want to display, give them a separate place to live outside of the high-traffic cabinets.
- Organize. I’ve labeled my shelves! A little crazy, I know, but it has been the best thing that has worked. Now, my bowls always go back in the bowl section and there’s no question about where that is.
- Categorize. I organised my cabinets to fit our life. We drink a lot of tea, so we have a “tea section” We often eat pasta, stews, soups and noodles for dinner, so that has it’s own section. My girls have their own section and because they ask for a snack at least 10 times a day, I made a “snack section” that I fill up with little nibbles. Thinking about how you eat and use your kitchen will help you to create categories.
2. Prep ahead. Convenience foods exist because we are busy and they are easy. But, with a little planning, you can make whole-food more convenient too!
Some of my favorite things to do are to:
- cook a batch of pasta sauce and freeze it for a quick meal in the week.
- soak dried beans overnight for a quicker cooking time the next day.
- freeze cut-up fruit and veg to make green shakes thorough the week
3. Plan your meals. This isn’t for everyone, but if you are willing to prep a day in advance, then planning your meals in advance can be a great tool! Here’s what I have found: When I plan out my meals for the week – I save money and eat better. I’ve been doing this for years, sometimes I’ll stop, but always return to it!
I usually do it over the weekend, maybe on Saturday with a few recipe books. I look at my week ahead and start to plan according to our family schedule. If we are eating out, I’ll just write: dinner out. If I know that I’ll be super busy on Wed – I may plan to cook a big meal on Tuesday to re-heat. If I plan to eat chickpeas on Friday – I know ahead of time, I need to start soaking them on Thursday. It helps me to be better organised all around!
- “snacks & treats” is really for me. I’m no different from my toddlers – always hungry for a snack! So, I plan ahead to have healthier options on hand
- “prep ahead” is where I write in what I need to do for the next day’s meal – like soak, chop or anything to get prepped.
- The healthy plate guide reminds me to keep my meals well-balanced
- I fill it out and bring it to the grocery store, so that I can buy all the ingredients I need in one trip.
- I don’t worry about plans changing! Creativity in the kitchen should always be encouraged – so feel free to switch it up, but a basic plan helps to end the stress of dinner time approaching and having no idea what you’re going to cook!
So, those are my tips: Organize your space, prep ahead & plan your meals. Let us know if you have any clever tips that help you to keep your kitchen running smoothly!
UPDATE: I’ve been asked to share the menu planner that I use – so here it is! Click the image to download!