chores

Organized Grocery Shopping

I love grocery shopping. I love heading into the store with an empty basket and walking through the produce section to see all the delicious fruits and vegetables. I love wandering the aisles and imagining all the things I could make with the ingredients there. I fill my reusable bags full of healthy food and vibrant colors with my head held high.

Unless of course my kids are with me – in which case I’m buying everything on my list and getting the hell out of there as quickly as possible.

Since I only get to go grocery shopping alone about once every three months, you can bet I’m getting in, getting the things on my list and getting out as quickly as I can. Blissful browsing and hunting for that package of tamarind paste is just gonna have to wait.

Thankfully, there are ways organize your trip to save time and reduce stress – because organized grocery shopping is efficient grocery shopping. I feel like I’ve developed a pretty solid strategy and since it works so well for me I figured I’d share it with you.

Pinterest

So here, without further ado, are my organized grocery shopping tips:

Know your store. I always shop at the same store and I know it well. I know the fastest and most efficient way to make my way through the store so that I can get the things I need quickly. Produce first, then the bakery, meats & cheese, dry goods, dairy, frozen foods and cleaning supplies.

Here’s a little drawing of how my favorite grocery store is laid out.

Grocery Store Layout

Have an organized list. I use two separate lists for keeping track of what I need. I have a list on a chalkboard in my kitchen (it’s not a real chalkboard – it’s a frame from Target with black paper inside that I write on with chalkboard markers) that I use on a daily basis.

IMG_6669

As I notice something that I need to purchase I write it on the chalkboard.

When I’m planning our meals for the week I use a list I created in Remember the Milk. First I sit down and add everything I need for our meals for that week, then I add anything I wrote on the chalkboard. At that point I erase chalkboard and have it ready for the next week.

Remember the Milk is my FAVORITE list making service. It’s cloud based and multi-platform so I can add stuff to my grocery list no matter where I am.

In Remember the Milk each item has four different priority options and I use those to keep my grocery list organized. I divided my grocery store into four sections and assigned each section a priority level. Every time I enter an item on my grocery list I assign it a priority setting depending on where it’s located in the store.

Priority 1 = Produce
Priority 2 = Seafood, Bakery, Deli, Meat & Cheese
Priority 3 = Dry Goods
No Priority = Dairy, Frozen Food, Cleaning Supplies & Pharmacy

scan0214

My grocery list is set to sort items based on priority so all the items in my list are grouped by where they are located in the store.

RTM 1

As I walk through the store I make sure every item in that location is checked off before I move onto the next section. This eliminates a lot of walking back and forth which saves time. My goal is to hit each section once and not go back.

scan0215

Keep your basket organized. I use a smaller hand held basket inside the larger shopping cart to neatly stack produce. The smaller basket keeps the easily bruised produce from getting squished in the cart and it leaves the real estate in the buggy open for larger, heavier items like flour or laundry detergent so I’m not constantly rearranging stuff.

The carts at my grocery store have a smaller space in the top of the front and I use that for cold items.

20150927_100739

By organizing your cart by food type you can unload it by type at checkout. When you unload by type you make it easier for the person bagging the groceries to keep like items together making the checkout process faster. That’s a win for you and the grocery store!

Though grocery shopping is still a chore at least by being organized I’ve made it as painless as it can be. Yes, most of the time the kids fight and scream and sometimes cry but at least I have a plan and that’s a good place to start!

Share this:
organizing the laundry

Organizing the Laundry

organizing the laundryLaundry. No one likes doing laundry.  It’s a pain. It takes forever. It’s never finished. Folding laundry might be the most universally hated household chore in existence.

Fortunately, doing laundry doesn’t have to be the monster we make it out to be. By organizing the laundry and doing it with purpose we can keep keep the laundry monster out of the hamper.

Do laundry often.

As odd as it sounds I’m telling you to do this chore that you hate – more often.

Why? Because laundry that is done often really isn’t that bad. Washing often means smaller loads and smaller loads dry faster, are less daunting and quicker to fold. By washing frequently you give stains less time to set and you don’t need as many clothes.

When you wait until you’re out of clothes, you’re forcing yourself to tackle the laundry all at once because ALL MY UNDERWEAR AND SOCKS ARE DIRTY! You’ve backed yourself into a laundry corner that involves being stuck at home all weekend while you wash, dry and fold 10 loads of laundry all at once. Because if all YOUR socks are dirty, most likely so are everyone else’s.

Remember when I said that intentional living was going to be mentioned often on this blog? Intentional living means being proactive, not reactive. No more putting out fires. Let’s keep the fires from starting in the first place.

When you do laundry before it becomes urgent, you’re choosing to solve a problem before it even becomes one saving yourself the stress of a minor-crisis. If you’re going to be stressed save it for something important, don’t waste it on laundry.

Sort as you go.

Get a sorting hamper and sort as you wear your clothes. By sorting clothes as you go, you can do laundry through out the week, doing a little bit every day. We have a three bin laundry hamper so we sort into three piles: colors, whites and nice clothes. I labeled the bins so it’s clear to everyone in the house what goes in which bin.

IMG_6089

I bought this hamper about 12 years ago and it shows. It’s stained and fraying on the sides. I’ve had to repair it several times but I love it and it works great so I’m sticking with it. When the canvas finally gives out I will probably attempt to make a new one. I love it that much.

Create a laundry schedule.

Plan it according to how you wear your clothes. I have 4 categories of laundry. The three mentioned above and kitchen laundry.  I do one category of laundry each day Monday through Thursday. My number one goal is to have all the laundry done during the work week so I can do something fun on Friday and relax a bit on the weekend.

Sunday: I go upstairs and get the kid’s laundry hampers. I then sort all their clothes in with our clothes so I’ve got laundry prepped for the week. Hampers are then taken back upstairs.

Monday: I wash all the colors on Monday. Sometimes it’s one load, sometimes it’s two. It just depends on how busy we were over the weekend and how many sets of clothes we went through. By washing colors on Monday I make sure that the kids and I have plenty to wear throughout the week and the stinkies from the weekend don’t rot in the hamper.

Tuesday: I wash all the whites. Sometimes one load, sometimes two. It all depends.

Wednesday: Kitchen laundry/catchup from Monday & Tuesday if we were busy. Kitchen laundry is generally a very small load so I try to use this day to do any catch up from Monday and Tuesday if we were busy and I didn’t get a chance to finish my loads those days.

Thursday: Nice clothes, which get divided up into 3 separate loads: light, dark and denim By doing nice clothes on Thursday, my hubby has plenty of clothes to choose from on Monday morning. (He wears jeans on Friday).

Treat stains on the spot.

Find a good stain remover that allows you to pre-treat and leave on the garment (not all pre-treaters allowing letting the garment to set. My favorite is Shout Advance Gel. I keep a spray bottle of this stuff in the sock drawer of my dresser so Jason and I can easily treat our clothes before they even go in the hamper. I also keep a bottle in Alvy’s room (on a very high shelf) so I can do the same when I’m changing him.

Let it go. 

No matter how much laundry gets shoved in the hamper when that category is done for the week, it is DONE. Big fat check mark. Don’t touch it again until the next week. When your spouse comes home and throws a towel in the whites, which you just finished putting away don’t stare daggers his/her way, just take a deep breath. That towel will be there next week.

The same goes for the kid’s clothes. Anything that goes into the hampers after they’ve been emptied on Sunday will have to wait until the next week.

When you start a category, FINISH it.

When I say finish it I mean FINISH IT, including folding it and putting it away before you go to bed. When you wake up in the morning you don’t want to start you day with a pile of laundry staring you in the face. Once you’re behind, you’re BEHIND and catching up is tough. I generally try to start all my loads before noon because I know that if it goes in after noon then most likely it won’t get finished before I go to bed.

Have a folding routine. 

Since folding laundry is right next to having a root canal on my list of things I’d like to do on any given day, I do everything I can to make it as easy as possible.

I fold laundry on our bed. It’s a big flat space and is perfect for spreading everything out. It’s also easy to put away mine and Jason’s clothes if I’m already in the bedroom.

folding routine

I dump the basket full of laundry in the center of the bed. My husband and I have two kids, a boy and a girl which means we have two males and two females in our household so I break up our piles by gender. When I fold I always put the girl’s clothes on the left side of the bed and the boys clothes on the right.  Towels and linens go on my dresser behind me. Folding is much faster if you’re not constantly searching for random piles.

If you don’t have an even boy/girl split you can divide up your piles by age or order of bedrooms. It’s totally up to you. The takeaway here is that when you’re not constantly searching for stacks of clothes folding will go much faster.

IMG_6086

For clothes that need to be hung, I take them out of the dryer immediately and lay them out on our bed in stacks by type of item. I’ll stack up all the shirts, all the shorts and all the pants. Then I count how many hangers I need and come back to put them on hangers. After everything is on hangers I put them in the closet.

I know what you’re thinking, well you stay at home all day so you have a the time to get laundry done. Yes, that’s partially true but even if you work outside the home you can still get one load of laundry done every day. Put it in the washer before you leave for work, put it in the dryer as soon as you get home and fold/put it away after dinner.

Share this:

Creating and Keeping a Daily Chore Routine

household choresHousework. Ugh!

Everyone loves a well-kept house but household chores are a beast. The most important chores (laundry! dishes!) need to be done every day. It’s mind melting and discouraging to complete a task knowing you will be forced to do the same thing again tomorrow. Even more frustrating are the tasks with seemingly little visual progress. Emptying the dishwasher anyone?

But what do you do? You create and keep a daily chore routine.

You write a list of chores to do every day at the exact same time to help you maintain control over household chaos. I began using my daily chore routine about 18 months ago and it changed my life. Not exaggerating.

Since some chores are better to be completed at different times of the day I break my daily chore routine into two smaller routines, a morning routine and an evening routine, each of which is designed to make the next 12 hours of my life more successful and less stressful.

Here’s a peek at my routine:RoutineIt doesn’t seem significant but these eight tasks makes a huge difference in the stress level of my day. If even one of them gets skipped the implications are evident for hours. They’re that important.

You can benefit from a daily chore routine too.

Start by asking yourself the question, “What 5-10 things can I do every day to help my household run smoother?” Now, take that list and decide which items are most easily accomplished in the mornings and which ones fit better into the evenings.

MORNING ROUTINE

Your morning routine should take no more than 15 minutes and must be completed before you leave for work/take the kids to school/leave the house to run errands, etc.

Do you work outside the home? Then imagine how you’d like the state of your house to be when you get home. Will it be easier to cook dinner if your sink and dishwasher are already empty? What else can you do in the morning to help your house welcome you home after a hard day at work?

Do you work from home/stay at home with the kids? What can you do to make your day at home easier? Will you be more likely to complete a load of laundry that day if you start one first thing?

Things you might consider adding to your morning routine are:
Unloading the dishwasher
Starting a load of laundry
Making the bed
Feeding the pets
Watering the grass/garden

EVENING ROUTINE

The evening routine is the key to maintaining control over your house. It’s when the meat of the work gets done and if you skimp you will feel it later. Though none of the evening tasks take a considerable amount of time each of them is key to making the next morning stress free and happy.

Things you might consider adding to your evening routine:
Loading/running the dishwasher
Making coffee
Making lunches
Laying out clothes
Picking up main living space
15 minute spot cleaning
Folding/putting away laundry

Evenings are hard for me. After dinner is finished I am mentally done with the day and am ready to relax, which makes the evening routine especially hard to stick with. I’ve come to learn that I need to get most of the “evening routine” completed in the early afternoon to make sure they all get finished.

For example, I make the coffee for the next day while I’m cooking dinner. I try to keep the sink empty during the day and clean my dinner mess as I cook so we’re not burdened with a lot of cleaning afterwards.

STICKING WITH IT

Now that you’ve got a daily chore routine it’s time to stick with it. At first it will be hard and will seem burdensome but give it a couple of weeks. It will become less of a chore and more of a habit and habits are great because they’re done without thinking! It’s hard but it’s worth it!

If you’re still having a hard time sticking with your new routine, try the following:

Make your routine a team effort. Ask for the help and support of whoever else lives in your house, be it a spouse, a roommate or an older child. Over the last 18 months of enforcing our evening routine my husband has learned that neither of us goes to bed until the routine is completed, so he’s more than willing to help. Even the kids have learned that we clean up the den before we go to bed. Everyone can pitch in.

Write them down and check off the boxes! Does it seem silly? Yes but it works! Checking boxes is strangely satisfying so write it all down so you can put a big, fat check mark next to it!

Start Small. If the thought of jumping head first into a daily chore routine is overwhelming then start small. Choose one chore to complete in the morning and one in the evening then add on as you feel you’re ready.

It may seem overwhelming at first but over time it will get easier as your routine becomes habit. You’ll find that when you’re in control of your house, you’re in control of your life.

And nothing beats coming home from a long day to a clean house. NOTHING.

Share this: