Hello Summer! I absolutely adore summer. In our little neck of the woods, the warmth is so welcome after the winter months. I love the smell of summer, the brightness of summer, and the food of summer. All things summer are my favorite.
The pace of summer, however, is the one thing that in our household could always use a little fine tuning. Perhaps you are sometime breathless like me as we have weddings, graduations, vacations, summer sports, and just plain old summer time chores. I needed a few time saving (and money saving, of course!) tricks. So several summers ago, I created a few of favorite short-cuts for my sanity. Seriously, don’t re-invent the wheel on this…just shamelessly steal my ideas. Go ahead, and create some simplicity and sanity in your summer.
Simplify the kitchen: The heart of the house is the kitchen.
Step 1 Simplify your stations in the kitchen. Go cupboard by cupboard and pretend they are your paid servants. Assign each cupboard or section of your kitchen a task. Get rid of everything that “servant” doesn’t need and keep only what is important for that particular task. For example, I have a coffee station (a must-have for busy mommas) that has all the needed items to create the black creamy deliciousness quick. I have a smoothie station with ingredients for healthy starts to the day or night. Donate any unused utensils, appliances, or misc. junk to your local charity. Remember your donation receipt and stash it with your tax folder for the win!
Step 2 Simplify your dishes. I seriously wish I would’ve done this years ago! Hear me out….I have 8 people in our family and when we are running hard in our business and personal activates the dishes monster can grow to epic proportions. Yes, I have an electronic servant called a dishwasher. However, it has become for decorative purposes only and I’m thrilled. Here’s what I did. I got matching stainless steel plates and bowl total of 8 (one for each person). Then, I got 8 spoons and forks but not butter knives because my sons sword fight with them defending the castle from invaders. I also got white coffee mugs that are all slightly different at the thrift store so that each person could tell which water cup was theirs. Only 8 of those! Do you see my strategy? If a person wants to eat or drink, they have to wash a dish or plate or cup. There’s a limited supply and they can’t dirty the whole kitchen in an hour. And one little rule: we can’t run out the door to do something fun until the meal routine is done. So the family all works together quickly so we can go to the pool. We wash the dishes, dry, and put away after every meal and that’s possible even in a huge family like mine. You will save sanity and not be tempted to use paper plates every meal, which gets expensive with a family of any size. Your summer will thank you!
Step 3 Simplify your food. Oh my goodness the money we spend on food! Here’s my go-to tricks for keeping a reasonable food budget. I buy in bulk. I know that may not be practical for every household, but I think you can definitely modify it. When I had a small family, I split bulk with other small families. I buy 50 lbs. of rolled oats from the local Mennonite store for $25. One small 1 lb. container even at the discount grocery is $3.59. That’s a huge savings and I store it in Walmart #2 plastic paint buckets. Win. Win. Win. The children can cook it, it’s cheaper than cereal and better nutrition too. Set up a simple meal plan with theme nights so you have the flexibility to create a masterpiece from whatever may be in the frig. Schedule a grocery trip only once a week or 10 days. Be committed to use what you have before you get more. This concept alone has save me thousands of dollars!
Extra Tips: Just for fun because there’s so many and if you were having coffee in my kitchen you’d see me do this stuff without thinking.
-trade with neighbors for fresh garden produce. I wish I had a garden but I don't so we trade with the sweet older neighbors who do garden.
-add water to rinse your ketchup and cans into a crock pot of lentils (super cheap and easy and yummy)
-grate your own cheese, it’s just better all the way around and cheaper in bulk
-buy fruit and veggies even if you buy it precut it’s so much better than fruit roll-ups for snacks on the go
-color coordinate water bottles and teach the children to fill their own before heading out the door. No more nasty plastic water bottles that may be toxic and are expensive too. I use Kleen Kanteen and let me just say, they are indestructible. My kids have tried and not been able to destroy them yet! Saves a ton of time and money just having your own water bottles.
-Keep easy emergency meals on hand, like oatmeal, or buy the huge bags of frozen berries for smoothie dinners. Make your life easy momma!!
-Teach your kids to cook. Even my 4 year old can cook his own breakfast with slight supervision. It may take time on the front end but seriously it will be an asset that pays you in time and money for years to come!