Sunday, March 22, 2015

Preparing for a Panic-Free Pesach


The best part of this holiday is making it simple and stress free.  How do you do that?  You begin with having a good list.  A list of cleaning tasks, a list of menus for meal planning, a list for grocery shopping, and a list of ways to make it easy and relaxing.
Create a notebook to gather your notes and lists.  Write out our menus and what ingredients you need to complete the recipe.  Keep the list in your iPhone or take the notebook to the market. 
Secondly, begin with the end in mind.  Think of what you would like to do the day of the sedar.  Schedule your "to do" list accordingly and work backwards with your tasks, cooking and cleaning schedule.  Make recipes in bulk and storage in clear plastic throw- away containers.   Use zipper lock plastic bags for space saving storage in the refrigerator.  De-stress by using paper and plastic plates so you don't have to slave away in the kitchen. Involve your family in the preparations: cleaning, food preparation and divide up the responsibilities.  Reward your kids with presents, money or praise.  Make the holiday fun loving and don't forget to reward yourself with flowers or something new.  Whatever mood you set in your home is everlasting and your family will remember if always.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Baking Cabinet

My favorite area in the kitchen is the bake center.  I personally love having a cabinet above the counter so I can store my "baking containers" at easy reach.  By using clear containers you can see how much is in each container.  I put a measuring cup in each to make for easy pouring  and measuring. If there is space I put the mixing bowls and trays under the cabinet. The drawers are a good place to put smaller baking utensils.

Organizing an art room

The best way to get an art room organized is to empty everything out first, sort and save only the supplies you wish to keep.  Buy clear plastic shoe box size containers and contain your supplies.  Label the containers for easy identification and then stack them.  Remember there is always going to be a high level of maintenance and  teaching your kids to put back each item and supply after use.

Monday, January 12, 2015

No Left-Overs, Make Right-Overs

In the early years of my meal planning endeavors I came across an unique idea.  I thought up the idea of making "Right-overs" instead of "Left-overs".  The case scenario was that every Sunday night when I tried to give my children dinner they always complained that it was "left-overs" and they were tired of looking at the same chicken that they ate all weekend.  So instead I decided to make new and different recipe on the same night that I did all my cooking (Thursday night) but instead I took out separate aluminum tin or a casserole dish and put chicken in it but I changed the recipe, sauce, or ingredients.  For example, while I was making Lemon chicken and rice, I also prepared BBQ chicken in the extra pan and cooked it at the same time but I didn't serve it Friday night or Saturday.  So when I brought it to the table on Sunday night after a day in the park or an outing, the kids would say "When or where did you make that?"   They got so excited that it wasn't warmed up two or three extra times and it didn't look old.   I just smiled at how "organized" I was and said "Surprise"  Enjoy.  So Sunday night dinners were painless, it felt like we were eating out and I didn't have to cook.  It was better then taking something out of the freezer and it was exciting to see the smiles on their faces.  So next time you are preparing a weekend or shabbos meal, think of Right-overs.  They are not "Left-overs" and they will never be any left over.
P.S.  You can freeze your real left-overs into a small  containers for "emergency meals" when someone is sick and needy.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Family Meetings


Did you ever hear of having family meetings weekly with all the members
 in your household?  It goes something like this... You gather together once
 a week, perhaps on Sunday night or on a night that you know most of your
 family is home.  Gather around the family room or table and begin the
 discussion and conversation around what new events and activities will be
 taken place during the upcoming week.  This can also be a good time to take
 out the family calendar or bulletin board and write down the activities and
post them on the date/calendar.  If you need to color code each child activities
you can do that.  This way each family member knows what the other is doing.
  It's a great reminder and it's fun to see posted in the kitchen.  Also at the
 family meeting you can discuss menus for that weeks dinner, preference
 and needs.  It's a great time to ask for 10 different options on the dinner
 menu and start making a list of well liked foods.  I had a schedule going
 where we planned out our weekly menu and everyone had input and there
 were no surprises and disapproved meals.  Dinner time was well planned and
everyone ate well. I made sure to have a variety so there would be choices
 within the planned meal. For example, I would make soup, salad, garlic bread,
 and pasta on Monday nights. If someone didn't like pasta, they could rely
 on soup and salad, Of course someone was bound to be happy with soup
and pasta and skipped the bread and salad.  The leftovers were my lunch
for the next day. The point of the family members is to have every ones
 input, a chance to be heard and make some joint decisions.  This brings
 great unity, and self-esteem to the young ones. They get to use their voice,
be recognized and be involved in family planning. It's a win-win situation.
Give it a try and let me know what you think.