Getting organized will change your life, it changed mine so much that I have developed a bit of an obsession. It began with the 2 months I lived between places (2 weeks in a motel, and 2 weeks with my ex’s family.) and had a 1 year old. I was so stressed out about not having a home, that I began to mentally nest. I NEEDED stability, but I had none. My initial reaction was to stop eating. This is normal behavior for me when I am stressed out. Having recovered from an eating disorder I have to pay close attention to my eating habits. So for that month, I admit, I did not eat a lot. I just couldn’t. I was so uncomfortable, I needed to focus on something else. I bought this awesome book called The Organized Mom by Stacey Crew http://www.amazon.com/The-Organized-Mom-Simplify-Life/dp/1605501301. I wanted my house to be organized, and pretty and I wanted to know where things were when I needed them. My house is pretty damn organized. I have a drawer with baskets inside, one for my mail, and one for my fiance’ mail. There are cups inside the drawer with pens, and pads of paper. Why is it in a drawer? It’s an eye sore. I can’t stand seeing a mess in my house, and with kids you can’t escape from messes, but you can make an effort keep things decent. That is just one example of a nifty change that makes our lives easier, and prettier.
I want to talk about the kitchen. Keeping your kitchen organized will help you want to prepare food, and encourage you to keep it organized.
Pantry: First of all, take everything out. It’s a mess, I know. Now commit to only replacing the food that is healthy. It might not be much… Are you prepared? Get a trash bag and fill it with all of your cans,(you can donate all of it, or pass it on to friends or neighbors.) canned food is not good for you. Next, the boxes of ricearoni, and pastaroni… if it has more than 5 ingredients, it’s not good for you. (Do I have food that has more than 5 ingredients? Yes, and slowly but surely they are being replaced, and now they are much fewer than before.) Now throw out the top ramen, and take a look at your noodles… and say goodbye… unless they are wheat, or rice or maybe soba noodles… most likely your noodles are not worth eating unless you have already replaced them. There are healthy alternatives, there are tofu noodles, you can eat spaghetti squash, quinoa!! I LOVE quinoa, I usually use it to replace rice, oh yeah, throw out your white rice. Bread is really tough, because it is hard to find bread that does not have a lot of ingredients. Next time you’re at the store, READ THE LABELS! Chips, the chips we like are a little naughty, but, we are not hard core yet, so we eat flax chips. Although sometimes we make them! Also, I will admit that occasionally I will buy hot cheetos (I know, I’m fired, but the kids love them! They are being phased out, though). Flour, get rid of white flour. And sugar. Cereal? Try organic! Replace your vegetable oil with coconut oil, or sunflower seed oil. replace peanut butter with sunflower seed butter or almond butter. Are you getting the idea? Now that you have no food… Let’s put it away.
Put all of your like items together. If you have small things, you can do what I do, I have two boxes that are filled with things like oatmeal packets, granola bars, trail mix, and other small snacks. Everything else belongs in it’s own space.
Refrigerator: The fridge should be easy, keep fruits and veggies, and make room, because next time you shop, you are filling your fridge with more fruits and more veggies. If your eggs are not cage free, put them in the bag, replace your milk with almond milk. If you have those disgusting little individually wrapped craft cheeses, *gag* throw them out. You can do better. Personally I use dairyless cheese. But if you can at least get rid of plastic cheese, that would be great. Make sure your meat is organic (see my blog “Why Organic” for details). I honestly can’t remember other crap foods from the fridge because ours has been very clean for a long time. Just make room, You will need it.
Look around the kitchen and figure out if you have put things in convenient places. The coffee maker should be near the cabinet for mugs, for instance. The spoons you use frequently in cooking should be in a vase near the stove. The oven mitts should either be hanging on or near the stove, or the nearest drawer. Tupperware should be organized and contained. I have a bottow drawer that has all the plastic bowls and plates and cups for the kids. It’s easy for them to get to, and it’s all in one place. Go through your drawers and take out everything you don’t need, don’t use, or is broken.
Is there a pile of dishes in your sink… or along the counter? Do your dishes! Just do them! If it’s dirty, wash it. It’s simple. I used to be that person that did not do my dishes until I had no more clean spoons. Looking back, I’m not sure how I survived. Keeping your dishes clean will simplify your life. Keeping up with them is so much easier than spending an hour every few days.
Now that your kitchen is nearly empty, give yourself a pat on the back and make a meal plan. Meal plans make it easier to make a shopping list. Start small, the next week. You can even try going to a website like Emeals http://emeals.com/ , or an amazing blog http://www.100daysofrealfood.com/ that my friend showed me a few days ago. I suggest planning out every meal, but it might be better to slowly work up to that.
One thing that makes my life easier, is preparing food in advance, so all you have to do is heat it up. I make my pasta sauce, noodles, purees and cut up my fruits and veggies, boil eggs, and fill water bottles and put everything in tupperware so it’s easy to grab when I need it. Whether I am running out the door and need a kid friendly snack (or 5), or I need to make a meal.
I hope this was not boring… I just know that organizing made a huge impact for me in every area, so maybe it can help some of you.