Thursday, October 23, 2008

Efficiency Week Day Four: Keeping Ahead

If you've been following along and now have a freezer full of cooked chicken and turkey, your bathrooms sparkle and your laundry are is gleaming the next obvious question is, what will you do with all your spare time? Yes, I nearly fell off my chair laughing at the concept of spare time too. As wives, mothers, employees, student etc. spare time is hard to come by. What's worse is that four or five dinner surplus can be gone in a week. Bathrooms get soiled daily and there's always more laundry and it's entourage of dust and grit. Keeping ahead of things is an every day, every hour job and the sooner you face that reality the sooner your house will run smoothly.

So what does keeping ahead of the mess look like exactly?

Let's take the day I prepared all that chicken as our example. If you recall, I'd made four meals while cooking breakfast and cleaning the fridge. The cleanup was only marginally worse than it would have been for breakfast alone and I was sitting pretty on four dinners. That afternoon El Bone Disease Grande was having a snit so I rearranged my dinner plans to have the Lemon Chicken instead of cooking. All I would need to do is pop it in the microwave and my family would have a warm, nourishing meal in minutes.

When five o'clock came though, my back wasn't that bad and it was too late to thaw and prepare the meal I had originally planned. So I went ahead with Lemon Chicken but during the time we set the table and readied ourselves to eat I made two 9x13 pans of homemade granola bars so Chris and the boys would have breakfasts all week. It only took about fifteen minutes but the last three mornings have been simple and mess-free and the kids haven't been asking for expensive purchased snacks to take on hikes in the afternoon. It would have been easy to squander my surplus time and goof around. I could have been smug and basked in my good planning. But I know that things are undone much quicker than they can be done so I invested that work-free dinner and was paid in five work-free breakfasts. That is what I mean by keeping ahead of things.

My family doesn't like having the same meal too often and granola bars at breakfast and on hikes will get old pretty quick. So I made muffins too, and instead of cooking the twelve we normally have for a meal, I made twenty-four (which as far as I can measure took about two and a half minutes longer) and was able to pop a dozen in the freezer. Chris thaws two on his way out the door in the morning - so that two and a half minutes of effort yielded six breakfasts for my sweetie. Those two choices ended up providing a net gain of two weeks of breakfasts. In my opinion it was well worth the additional labor.


What area of your housework do you have a hard time staying ahead of? What steps can you take to make that run smoothly?

For us, our island is a "hot spot" for people to throw stuff on. I'm the worst too. Because I scrapbook at the kitchen table I have to gather it up for each meal and inevitably I toss the stuff on the island. Once my family sees anything on the island it's like a free-for-all and next thing you know it's piled high in mail, gloves, cups - you name it. I tamed the beast a bit by making a tote to collect mail but it's still a hard spot to keep tidy.


Eve said...

I do this system a lot! I find it helps to just double up- or multi task! I have been doing a month of meals and it works great. I will have to post it on my blog!
PS- I scrap on my table too- everything I take out has to be put away each time! A bit of a pain- but it does keep all my product organized.
PSS- This may need to be a weekly write up that you do on your blog!

Comptons said...

*bowing* You are a model of efficiency.

I need to do this more. I keep talking about doing things like chopping all the week's vegetables at once (esp. now that I eat salad almost every day) and making freezer meals. There are too many days in the month where we eat out because of a crazy and/or busy day.