Think you are organized in the kitchen?
Your lids may march in a row in a lid
rack and your silverware may nestle in drawer liners but if there
isn’t dinner on the stove then you’ve missed the boat, as the saying
Getting organized in the kitchen means
having ingredients to prepare meals. It means having the time to
prepare meals. What it doesn’t mean is hours and hours of work.
Part of the battle is coming up with
menu plans that really work for your family’s tastes and lifestyle.
Once you have a plan, guard it like gold. Keep them! I have a binder
full of menus that I wrote down. They are made of ingredients my
children enjoy. They are recipes I know how to make. They are things
that I can manage in my day. You could not pay me to give up that
binder. No one could make such a specialized and customized plan for
Yet, many of us have scribbled down a
menu for the week and posted it on the fridge but not kept it. What
were we thinking? Wonderful food ideas deserve repeating. Next time,
grab that note and save it. You’ll be so happy on a busy day to turn
to a file full of your own menus.
Try these tips for kitchen time
Plan ahead at least a
week’s worth of dinners – two weeks if you can. Use the menu you
have planned to create a shopping list.
Keep all your menu plans in
one spot to use over again.
Get menu ideas from
the Internet, magazines, cookbooks, your own notebook and your
Have family members contribute
a menu plan of a favorite meal each week. It teaches them
organization and shared responsibility. Everyone is happy to get
“his or her” meal.
Use technology: Microwaves
are more than popcorn poppers. The Crock-Pot can ease the stress
of dinnertime. There are thousands of Crock-Pot or microwave
Did you ask YOUR mom? Tried
and true family casseroles that can be made in the morning, or
the night before, can save the day.
Share the chores: Even a
three year old can, and should, help sort silverware into the
drawer. Older children and teens should learn to prepare simple
things. It is your job to teach adult survival skills. Helping
to marinate chicken or layer a casserole once a week won’t kill
them and prepares them for life. Most cooks fondly remember that
their mom taught them to cook. How are you doing at this?
Think ahead: Each evening
when washing up, see what you can do toward the next evening’s
meal. This will soon become a habit and relive the stress of the
dinner hour. You can cook chicken in the microwave for a
casserole. Layer a casserole. Chop up a salad. Toss items in the
Crock-Pot and refrigerate it. Marinate meat.
Here are some more fast tips:
already chopped ingredients for a casserole or slow cooker meal
from the store’s salad bar.
the butcher to cube your chicken, beef and pork. There’s no
charge for this service.
of grated cheese are usually as cheap as bar cheese.
ALWAYS make two casseroles and freeze one.
ground beef and ground turkey in a plastic colander, set inside
a bowl, in the microwave. It is a fast, health way to cook and
drain off the fat at the same time – and you can pop both of
them in the dishwasher.
Double your meat cooking. Making baked chicken
breasts? Bake twice as many as you need and use the rest in a
casserole, soup or chicken salad. Make a double batch of
meatballs. Use on batch with spaghetti and serve the next batch
on hoagie rolls with cheese for meatball subs. Grilling meat?