12 Months of Home Organization

Do you make New Year's resolutions?  I generally don't.  Or at least I don't think of them that way.  It seems a little too much like following the herd and setting myself up for failure to specifically label something as a New Year's Resolution.  But I do sometimes have little goals or plans in the back of my head, bad habits I want to correct, or good habits I want to start doing more of.  You know, the usual stuff - drink more water, exercise more, get back to healthier eating after the holiday binges, etc.

So today I thought I'd tell you about one of my little plans for 2015.  I have this bad habit of going on crazy organizing sprees around the house.  I'll let it go and let it go until the entire house is driving me insane and I can no longer put anything away, and then I'll exhaust myself trying to organize and clean it up all at once. Well this coming year I'm going to try not to do that!  My goal is to have one or two major organizing jobs each month, to spread it out and keep our home organized throughout the year.

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Meal Planning: How to create a plan that you will actually follow.

Menu planning is one of those things that we all seem to like to talk about, but don't often actually get done. You look around on blogs and Pinterest and you can be left feeling a little intimidated.  Do people really do that?  I’m thinking not very many actually do. 

Those menus look nice, but not the reality of what most of us with busy lives are actually going to stick to.  I don't know about you, but I don't have time to do that much experimenting, and the idea of trying a new recipe every night of the week is just too much. Don't get me wrong - I love reading food blogs and cookbooks, I love experimenting and trying new recipes - but I am also super busy.  I need an efficient system for planning a week’s worth of meals for 7 people. I need a set of tried and true basics that I can just pull out of my mental file and slot into my plan.  I need some sense of structure and consistency.   I need a plan that is going to guide me in the right direction when I've been up all night with sick kids, or I'm totally brain dead from a very full day. I need to not have to think about it too much.  But if I don't put some thought into our meals ahead of time then we end up just having the same stuff over and over again, or I end up staring into the fridge at 5:30 wondering what the heck I'm going to feed everyone in a half an hour.  

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Menu planning - it's a brave new world!

Summer is just about over, and we are on the verge of the 10 month long manic season - 4 kids need to get to & from two different schools, weekly therapy for one, ballet lessons for three - and ski season is still several months away so we haven't even added that yet!  In the interest of saving my sanity, and no longer figuring every meal out at the very last minute every day, or spending a fortune on groceries so that I have the ingredients to make just about anything at the last minute... I have been working on putting together a basic structure for weekly meal planning. I looked at a lot of menus online and didn't find anything that really suited my needs or my style, so I've made my own.

I thought if I came up with a basic structure that I could follow each week, with general guidelines for what I will do at each meal each day, then I can fill out my plan at the beginning of each week with more specifics, recipes, and grocery lists.  I am really hoping this frees up some time in my days, helps us with the food budget, and still leaves some flexibility for new ideas and creativity (when I have time for that!).  I certainly don't intend to be totally hard core about following this, if I have extra time to make something different, I will.  But I anticipate that most days I won't have extra time, and I don't want to be thinking, at 5:00, "what should we have for dinner tonight?".  I also have an autistic child who really loves predictability, so I'm thinking this will really help him to know what the week ahead will hold.  We already do pizza every Friday, and he will tell me all week about that.  I think having some idea of what to expect every day will be great for him - and my other kids are also creatures of habit as well. 

Also - I am guilty of having gotten a little lazy over the summer.  A few too many bowls of cereal or processed snacks have made their way into our diet  - and that needs to stop.  I know that if I have healthy and homemade breakfast and snacks ready to go ahead of time, I won't resort to pulling out the cheerios and goldfish every day (if ever).

I've built this around what our busy schedule is going to be - Mondays and Wednesdays we don't get home from therapy and ballet until 5:30, so I need to have dinner basically cooked ahead of time.  Tuesday is my only weekday that I have nothing extra on the schedule, so I've left myself the most flexibility there.  By Thursday I'm often over it, so letting the kids choose one of their favorites just sounds like a welcome break for me.  Friday pizza just seems like a great family way to welcome in the weekend - my husband is usually home a little earlier to wrangle the kids while I get creative with pizza, we catch up over some nice wine, and everybody loves the dinner. 

It is still a work in progress, but I thought I would go ahead and share my basic framework that I've got so far.  I will try to share my more detailed weekly plans as I go along, and we'll see how this goes!   If you click the picture, it will take you to an editable excel version that you can feel free to download and customize.  Definitely let me know if you have questions or suggestions.

click the picture to get a bigger version, or click here if you'd like access to an excel version that you can download and edit.