Friday, November 13, 2009

More Home Organizing

I've been working on a huge project for church so for the past several months I've let a lot of things slip. My organizing has been next to nothing and I've just recently regained control of my grocery budget. Groceries are one of our biggest expenses and it was really bothering me how much I was spending on incidental trips to the grocery store.
This week I decided to regain some order. When my house is not organized it makes me feel very out of control. I was having difficulty finding our homeschool materials, my office/classroom was a mess and my kitchen looked like a tornado hit. It doesn't make for a very efficient lifestyle if I can't find anything I need or have to move a mess to get to something.

This is one of the best purchases I ever made. I originally saw these at the teacher's store for $14.00 but decided that was too pricey. I went to target and found this carryall in the cleaning aisle for just $3.00. I like the curved 8 inside compartments because they fit plastic cups just perfectly. This carryall sits on our homeschool desk so that we can reach everything we need. It also cleared out a huge amount of space out of my filing cabinet.

In our carryall we have gluesticks, scotch tape, scissors-both adult and kid, glue, calculators, rulers, masking tape, sharpie markers, dry erase markers, pencils, a notepad and coloring markers. The best part is that we can carry it to another part of the house if we need it.

My household management book has been sitting on my kitchen counter unused for months now. I purged and cleaned this out and really took a look at what I use and don't use. All of my homeschool information I moved to a separate binder and put that in my office since that is where all things homeschool are. Some sections just did not work. I printed a calendar section-all 12 months- that I never used. We have a dry erase calendar in our kitchen and I have my personal planner so printing out extra calendars for the binder was both a waste of time and ink.
I need to personalize the cover a bit more. This came from:
Here is what works for my. In the very front of the binder I have a ziploc baggie that contains a ruler, scotch tape, an eraser, stamps, address labels, pen, pencil and dry erase markers.
At least now I'm not fumbling through my junk drawer looking for stamps. I use the address labels on all sorts fo things. If I lend a book to friend I throw an address label on the inside cover so that the borrower knows who to return it to. The address labels also work great on the bottom of dishes when you make a meal for someone. When your host washes it they know exactly who to return the dish to.

Another page I use frequently is the Kitchen Conversion Cheat Sheet that I got from the Homeschool Planner. It really helps when I'm cooking large meals and have to double or triple the recipe. It also has some past time measurements on this so I can use my grandmother's recipes again. She has things like "a jigger" or "a peck" of onions. Good to know I have this and can recreate some of her old time recipes.

I have a section for emergency contacts like the hospital, local ambulance and there are numbers of doctors that we may visit a little less frequently.

I have just started to use this Pantry/Freezer Inventory section again. I have let my stock piling and pantry supplies get very low and have not kept good track of them. You can't do good meal planning or cost effective shopping if you don't know what is in your pantry and freezer.
This section also has several blank grocery list pages and a maximum price listing page. The maximum price listing page comes in very handy when shopping. I also keep a listing of the minimum prices I've seen. So for something like tuna-maximum price I've seen around here is about $1.69 a can with a sale price of about $1.00 each. The weeks it's listed for $1.69 are the weeks we don't buy tuna. Buy it on sale when it's 10/$10. That's a saving of $6.90! You can't know what a bargain is if you don't know what the average prices are. Also watch out for "sales" that say 2/$5. The stores like to try this one a lot. If tacos are normally $2.50 a box then a "sale" price of 2/$5 isn't really a sale. It's a gimmick to get you to buy more items.

I will be using this section more too. A lot of people make the mistake of looking through recipe books and planning meals that way. The key to savings is to do your grocery shopping, stock piling using coupons and sale items and then creating your meal plan from what is in your pantry and freezer. Right after Thanksgiving, Turkeys will be on sale at rock bottom prices along with all the Thanksgiving trimmings. Look for sales on pie crusts, produce (potatoes, celery, carrots, yams, apples, mushrooms, cranberries) stuffing, broths and pie fillings.
The stores tend to overstock these items and need to move them fast after the holidays. I will stock up on many of these items and use coupons to further reduce the cost. From the turkey we can have a roast turkey dinner (who doesn't love Thanksgiving leftover sandwiches?), I can freeze the rest of the turkey for another meal and use the carcass to make at least 6 quarts of broth to freeze and to use at a later time.
The extra produce can be frozen for other meals. I like hitting the BOGO sales on potatoes. I can cook up the potatoes, cube them, freeze and thaw when I need them for mashed potatoes or the topping for Shepherd's Pie. Extra mushrooms and apples I can dehydrate for a later use in soups or stews. Cranberries freeze really well. Stuffing has a very long pantry shelf life and so does the canned pie fillings and broths.

My Gardening section was probably used the most this past year even though my garden was a total loss due to blight. I had drawings of my garden plans, seeds I wanted to plant, some articles of new crops I want to try and a listing of companion plants.
One section I didn't show was my Cleaning Recipes. It has all of my natural cleaning recipes like the laundry detergent, all purpose cleaners, window cleaners and a few others.

There is also this listing that tells when it is safe to put plants in the ground.
This chart came from

My Recipe section is the most used. This is only for very frequently used recipes like my bread and muffins, Vegetarian Enchilasagna and Shepherd's Pie. There are several others but it's not for every recipe you have just the most frequently used ones. I've further broken down the Recipe section into drinks, appetizers, breakfast, main dishes and desserts.

The Master list section has things like current clothing and shoe sizes (I keep a smaller version of this in my pocket book so that I always have the information at hand). It also has a listing of birthdays and anniversaries, information about the chemicals for our pool, service listings of our boiler and maintainance repairs of appliances.
In the coming weeks I need to organize our homeschool curriculum books. We order books for the coming year usually in February or March but since the kids are coming up in grades we can reuse a lot of them. I really need to sort the books by grade so that I can easily find them. We are hoping that the only books we'll need to purchase for next years homeschool are my GULP! highschoolers books. Patrick will be starting 9th grade next year, Morgan will use all of Patrick's previous 6th grade books and Tae will just need his Reading and Math book (that is consumable for first grade). I am anxious to get started.
Keeping costs low and staying organized take a lot of work but the more you get used to it the more effeciently everything works.
How is your organizing coming along?


Melissa R said...

Bev, the beginning of this blog described me to a T. I don't like piles. I want everything to be where I can get my hands on it immediately. I should know where everything is because everything has a place.
For the past month things have been chaotic because we've been packing for a move. Every room has stuff not in it's usual place. It has been driving me crazy. I can't wait to establish our well known systems back into our new home. I will start to feel like me again!

Melissa R

Money Saving Maine-iac said...

Great orginiazational tips! I'll be looking at the binder closer and personalizing and putting one together for us.

Thanks for your ideas.