So, yeah. Maybe it’s kind of boring to talk about cleaning and meal planning, but having these tasks be an automatic part of my week means I don’t have to talk or think about them most of the time. They just get done and I can save my energy for more important stuff. (Though food and having a fairly tidy home is pretty darn important to my sanity.)
How the Cleaning Gets Done
Learning to be tidy was a huge, huuuuuuuuge asset in keeping our house clean. We used to let things pile up and pile up until we’d spend an entire weekend day deep cleaning the whole house.
Now, it takes just as much effort to clean up as we go and we spend far less time doing actual cleaning as a result. (And we have two kids now!)
I’m not being hyperbolical when I say, as a former messy girl, that it’s amazing. I’ve written about overcoming my slob-like nature before, so if you struggle with that, check it out.
The three habits that help most:
- keeping my sink free of dishes (doing all the meals dishes right after the meal)
- putting things away constantly (It’s really simple, but effective. Naturally neat people like my husband already know this. Stupid naturally neat people.)
- 10 minutes picking up before bed
It’s so simple but it makes cleaning so much easier. Having a tendency to declutter helps, too. As does having recently downsized by half. Less to pick up!
My Cleaning Routine
We’ve had a chore chart in the past where I could do my cleaning tasks whenever I felt like it and just mark it off by the end of the week, but I found in this season of my life, having a more predictable – but still super simple – routine of when I clean more
It’s so simple you’re going to laugh.
Tuesday I clean bathrooms.
Wednesday I clean the kitchen (clean out the fridge and freezer, wipe down the cabinet doors, stuff like that).
Friday Mike mops.
Saturday or Sunday we do laundry.
Every day we vacuum the living room and tidy the kitchen – dishes, counters, sweep it 12 times.
And…our house is ready for visitors most of the time. I never, ever thought it would be this simple, truly.
My Meal Planning Routine
I’ve also written about my meal planning outline before, though now I generally firm up my plans a little bit on Sunday and write the plan for the week on a dry erase board. I usually just plan for 3-4 meals and the rest are leftovers or spontaneous or out.
I’ve also created a Google calendar with 3 weeks of meals that repeat every 3 weeks (with leftovers on Thursday). I use this for inspiration if I’m stuck:
It takes all of 10 or 15 minutes each Sunday to write it down.
Cooking ahead of time
To avoid the dinner bottleneck, I try to take a look at my meal plan and see if there’s anything I can prep early so the evenings don’t get too crazy. I do this on the weekend if we’re having a lazy day or in the morning mornings if I’m home.
Some ways I make dinner prep easier by working ahead:
- Make it in a crockpot if possible (I adapt a lot of recipes to do this).
- Prep the dinner (like enchiladas) the day before, just pop in the oven before dinner
- Cook two dinners at once. I often chop double the veggies and prep tomorrow’s crockpot dinner while I’m cooking tonight’s dinner
- Double a recipe and freeze half
- Pre-cook dried rice and beans and freeze – saving a ton of money and time by doing the whole bag at once.
- Chop vegetables
- Bake rice instead of cooking it so I don’t have to pay attention to it (love this recipe for Spanish rice!)
- Roast or prep any veggies that I’ll incorporate in other dishes (ie: roasted broccoli for the quiche, pureed sweet potatoes for the lentil shepherd’s pie)
- Frozen veggies keep longer than fresh and can be substituted almost always
If all else fails, I have a frozen pizza and I roast frozen veggies to top it. Dinner: solved.