Thursday, October 4, 2012

Time-saving tips for crazy-busy moms

Throughout my life I have created ways to save myself time -– some a tad odd –- but nonetheless effective. I still get teased by friends who remember the time I placed my shirt and pants under my mattress before going to bed in order to save myself from ironing the garments in the morning.

Tease away. It worked me just as it worked for my dad who garnered the tip from a roommate when he was in college.

My mum had many interests, including her work as a florist, but still managed to run a household and prepare meals for her family thanks to a few of her own tricks. When she didn't have time to make her own recipes she’d do things to doctor up others. I can remember her throwing a packet of chicken noodle soup in a pot on the stove and tossing in ingredients from her garden --  fresh tomatoes, onions, carrots, turnips and spinach. I’ve done the same, using Bear Creek Soup. It comes in a variety of hearty choices: Cheddar Broccoli, Cheddar Potato, Santa Fe Chipotle, Minestrone, Tortilla, Creamy Wild Rice and even Hot & Sour Soup. Then I add the required amount of water (8 cups) along with a variety of fresh ingredients, depending on the mix. To the Cheddar Broccoli I have added cauliflower and broccoli. I’ve also added carrots to the Navy Bean – and it was great. Only next time, I’ll add dill and maybe some extra beans.

I’m not alone in my quirkiness.

Doing an online search, I found dozens of resources for crazy-busy people looking to save some time. Here are a few of the more interesting ones that you might to try. I plan on sharing these with other quirky members of my busy family.

After the kids are tucked in bed, lay out their clothes (including underwear and socks) for the next day. If you have older children, get them in the habit of doing it themselves.

Have a pair of scissors hanging in the kitchen somewhere – or in a designated drawer. This will save you the time of ripping off tags (and risking a tear in the new clothes) or trying to bite off hard-to-open packages. If you chip a tooth you’ll spend twice as much time getting in to see the dentist.

Get a magnet doodle pad and stick in on the fridge. Then tell everyone if they’re out of something – be it toothpaste or hair gel – to mark it on the list. This will save time when filling out the weekly grocery list.

Designate an area on the counter for cups in use. It’s amazing how much time one spends dumping and cleaning half-filled water glasses, Sippy cups and coffee mugs. At the end of the day, toss them all in the dishwasher or sink.

My grandmother used to have a pig pail under the sink. If you’re a farmer, you know that all the scraps from cooking, the peels from potatoes and cucumbers or the tops of strawberries or any vegetation, would go in there. You can do the same. Only instead of feeding it to Charlotte (the pig), use it for compost. Also, to save time tossing things in the trash, keep a bowl or box on the counter for bags, tabs, and other garbage accumulated in the process of preparing a meal.

If you’re having a party consider preparing some of the fixings the night before. This could include cleaning the vegetables for the salad or dips and putting together recipes that go in the oven such as baked turnips or party potatoes.
Invest in an office-size paper shredder that you can use during the week for destroying junk mail.

And my favorite, instead of tossing out leftover lemons and limes from a cocktail party or Julia Child recipe, squeeze them into an ice-cube tray and then transfer them into zipper-top plastic bags. Now when Julia’s Salade Nicoise calls for fresh squeezed lemon juice, you can pull it quickly from the freezer.

Bon Appetit!

For questions or comments, gina.joseph@macombdaily.com.

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