We have 96 intervals of 15 minutes every day, meaning you have many opportunities to make a difference. Each day this month, I’m giving you a 15-minute project idea. Pick your favorites to improve your day, yourself or your world. I promise you have time for this.
I love reality competition shows like Top Chef, Cupcake Wars, Iron Chef and Food Network Challenges. I’ve noticed that with each of these shows, there’s a common denominator for the winners. A clean kitchen. And they do it while they’re in the competition of their lives. Luckily, we can use the same knowledge to quickly and easily make the kitchen a no-stress environment.
Surfaces are for working, not storing. When I watch those reality kitchen competition shows, the judges usually give points for a clean work space. And there is value to this. When you have clean, clear spaces in your house, especially kitchen counters, you’re less stressed and you have the spaces to work when and where you need them. Figure out what you use on a DAILY basis. Those should be the only things that get your prime kitchen storage space. Right now, put everything else in a cupboard, on a shelf–but out of sight (you can deal with it later, it’s fine to have a work in progress). You don’t need to keep your toaster out, just because that is the way it’s always been done–if you don’t use it every day, it’s just taking up precious counter space.
A well-stocked kitchen makes a difference. Have you noticed when the competition chefs go into the kitchen pantry? It’s the kitchen pantry of all kitchen pantries. Wall to wall covered with everything you could possibly want. Now you don’t need to go on a spending rampage, but here’s what to do right now. Think about 10 things you use all of the time that are easily storable (fresh foods won’t often make this list because of their shelf life). If you’re not well-stocked with these items, put them on your grocery list and purchase them next time they’re on a price matching sale. This way, when you need it, you have it and don’t have to stop what you’re doing to figure out an alternative. Here are our top 10 storage-friendly items and how many we have on hand right now:
- Pasta (45): They were on sale for 46 cents! I got eight different varieties of noodles like spaghetti, angel hair, rigatoni, ziti and lasagna noodles. We eat a lot of pasta, so it’s easier to buy it in bulk.
- Applesauce (11): The kids eat pounds of applesauce a week. I like the fruit flavored ones from Aldi and the no-sugar added plain ones.
- Peanut Butter (14): Price Matched them and saved 75% at a back-to-school sale last year. Peanut Butter has a great shelf life and I could (and nearly do) eat it every day.
- Canned Vegetables (33): I counted beans and canned tomatoes here too, in addition to green beans, peas and corn.
- Canned Condensed/Cooking Soups (24): These are great for flavor in most recipes. We use Cream of Mushroom and Cream of Celery regularly. Consider getting the 98% fat-free in one or more options.
- Frozen Vegetables/Fruits (25): Smoothies, Blueberry Hotcakes and Vegetables with every meal. It adds up! I found all of the berries and frozen veggies more than 50% off in March during Frozen Foods Month (ridiculous month? Yes, but I’m participating!)
- Cheese (72): I know what you’re thinking, yes this seems like a lot of cheese. And you’re right. It was on sale for $1 (normally $2.5o or more) when I went to KC to visit my parents. We made 6 trips to the grocery store and I made my parents and my brother be shoppers for me. Crazy? Yes. Worth it? Yes! We keep all of the cheese frozen in our deep freeze, a wonderful gift from my Grandma.
- Baking Supplies (2-27 back ups of each item): We bake and cook most of our own food. So I keep flour, sugar, spices, seasonings, and oil well-stocked so I’m always ready. The 27 back-ups is for Guacamole Seasoning, on sale 50% off for Cinco De Mayo sales.
- Frozen Lemonade/Drinks (43): I usually drink water, but I do love a good lemonade. Mix 1 frozen lemonade and 1 frozen limeade for a nice, tart drink. Yum.
- Chicken (18): We eat chicken regularly so we purchase bulk packs of fresh chicken (which has regularly been cheaper than frozen chicken) on sale (price matching for chicken will save you 5%-10% at best–but every penny adds up!). We separate the bulk packs into ziploc bags of 1-2 pieces so they can just be thawed when we need them.
These quantities may seem large, but I’ve saved more than $700 in 3 months on our grocery bills and am trending to cut our grocery spending by 50% this year (one of my financial goals). The stocked quantities, regular price matching and cooking/baking our own meals is worth it.
Regularly clean your floors. I sweep our kitchen floors every other day. It takes about 5 minutes and it makes me feel better. Instead of using the mop (which comes out about once a month), I take the dishtowel before it goes in the wash, wet it down and walk across the floor to “foot mop” it quickly–usually about 2 minutes. Plus, I’m multi-tasking a tiny workout at the same time I’m foot mopping. Win, Win, Win.