Kitchen & Dining Room Mission #5: Find your Recipes!

Filed under: Kitchen/Dining Room,Monthly Missions — Colleen at 7:47 am on Friday, November 28, 2008

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Here’s your last assignment for this month’s mission of decluttering the Eating Zones of your home: organize your recipes! You’ll be ready for entertaining when you find all your favorite seasonal dishes this week.
This is what you need to do:

  1. Go through your cookbooks. If you haven’t used it in a year or two, donate it! If you are holding on to a cookbook because of a handful of beloved recipes, pull out the recipes and discard the book. Only display your favorite cookbooks. If you really can’t decide, get out your calendar and make a date with yourself to re-sort your cookbooks in 3-6 months. If you still haven’t used the book in that time, you’ll know what to do!
  2. Assess how you store your recipes. Is your system working, or do you have trouble finding what you need? If your system works, spend this week organizing any backlog of recipes you’ve accumulated and purging any recipes you dislike or know you’ll never make. If you need a new system, consider one of these ideas.
  3. Do you find yourself collecting cooking magazines that gather dust? Pull out the recipes you think you’ll make and put them in a binder. Still overwhelmed? Some magazines like Cooking Light, allow you to access all their recipes on-line. Most cooking magazines contain an index of all the recipes in the issue. If you can access the recipes on-line, simply pull out the index and highlight the recipes that interest you. Keep the index in your binder. As you try recipes, print out your favorites and file them in your binder.
  4. Tip: I keep a separate binder for recipes I want to try and a binder for my “Tried and True” recipes, those I’ve tried, enjoyed, and want to repeat.
  5. Create list of your favorite everyday meals. As you sort your recipes, make a list of your favorite menus. If the list is extensive, organize it by the type of main dish (poultry, beef, vegetarian, etc). This list will help you answer the dreaded question, “What’s for dinner?”. Each week, simply select the meals you want to make. Consider doubling meals and freezing them for future dinners. This system will save you time and money. And you won’t have to think so hard!

Not sure where to start? Set Me Free! offers hands-on help.

If you are motivated by this mission or have a great organizing idea that works for you, please leave a comment to inspire others!

Kitchen and Dining Room Mission #4: Declutter your Dining Areas

Filed under: Kitchen/Dining Room,Monthly Missions — Colleen at 6:28 am on Friday, November 21, 2008

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Dedicate some time this week to the eating areas of your home- your kitchen table, breakfast nook, dining room, etc.
Start by assessing your problem areas.

  • Are your table surfaces clear? Or are you eating in front of the TV to avoid trying to find your table?
  • Is your china cabinet displaying your best pieces, or have you overcrowded it with your “collection”?
  • Are you storing items in your dining areas that may have a more suitable home in another room of your house?
  • Do you have a closet in this space that you avoid opening, especially in front of guests?
  • Do you know what tablecloths you own and where they are?

After assessing your problems areas, decide which problem is your priority and get to work. Don’t pull out everything at once. Organize one drawer or one shelf at a time.
Additional Tips:

  • If your table is a dumping ground for clutter, keep your table covered with a table cloth. Or keep your table set for your next meal. Keeping your table looking nice will help deter clutter from settling there.
  • A great idea for linens! A friend of mine added a clothing rod in her pantry. She hangs her tablecloths on wooden hangers, each with a label of the tablecloth’s dimensions.
  • If you have a large number of place settings of china, carefully store the excess somewhere else. If you don’t regularly entertain large groups using your china, why keep service for 20 accessible? Free up the space, your everyday tableware will thank you.

If you use your dining room for other activities, read Organizing 101:Dining Rooms for organizing ideas and inspiration.

Overwhelmed by this project? Set Me Free! offers hands-on help.

Are you motivated by this mission or have a great organizing idea that works for you? Leave a comment to inspire others!

Kitchen and Dining Room Mission #3: Clear those Counters!

Filed under: Kitchen/Dining Room,Monthly Missions — Colleen at 12:54 pm on Friday, November 14, 2008

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If you’ve completed Kitchen Missions #1 and #2, you’ve hopefully managed to find some spare space in your pantry and cabinets. This week we will use some of this found space as we clear off the kitchen cabinets.

  1. Start with a clear organizing surface (kitchen table, island, etc). Remove everything from your counters and place on your organizing surface.
  2. Clean your counters!
  3. Return items to the counter that you use on a regular basis only. If an appliance is gathering dust, find a better home for it. Consider donating the item. Otherwise, store infrequently used appliances in cabinets or on shelving in your basement or in another storage area. Try to put items that you use together next to each other. For example, put your coffee pot near your toaster.
    1. TIP: Use dishpans to store your appliances that have multiple accessories and you’ll no longer have to dig around to find the right attachment. (Dishpans can be found at the dollar store). Store these dishpans in your cabinets.
  4. Reconsider your drying rack. If you only wash a few items by hand, you can simply place these items on a towel to dry. You will have more counter space and be more likely to put away those pots and pans!
  5. Return all items that do not belong in the kitchen to their proper homes.

Overwhelmed by this project? Set Me Free! offers hands-on help.

Are you motivated by this mission? Leave a comment to inspire others!

Kitchen & Dining Room Mission #2: Attack the Cabinets!

Filed under: Kitchen/Dining Room,Monthly Missions — Colleen at 12:46 pm on Friday, November 7, 2008

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With your food sorting finished, it’s time to work on all your non-food items in those cabinets. Start with a clear surface for sorting- such as your kitchen table, counter, or dining room table. Clear out one cabinet at time, putting like items together. With the cabinets empty, take a few minutes to clean them and line them with shelve paper if you would like.

Now take a look at what you have. Keep what you need and use. Donate duplicates. Free up some shelf space by selling those wedding gifts you’ve never used.

Take inventory of your appliances. If you use them regularly, keep them in your kitchen. Perhaps your bread maker looked like a necessity when you registered for it for your wedding, but somehow you’ve managed not to use it for 2 years. If you think you’ll use it in the future, consider putting it in storage to free up your valuable kitchen space.

Consider the homes you give to what remains. If you use an item frequently, put it in an accessible area close to where you use it. Place your dishes in a cabinet near the sink or dishwasher. Use your high, hard to reach shelves for the dishes you use occasionally.

    Overwhelmed by this project? Set Me Free! offers hands-on help.

Kitchen & Dining Room Mission #1: Sort your food!

Filed under: Kitchen/Dining Room,Monthly Missions — Colleen at 6:07 am on Friday, November 7, 2008

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This week you are challenged to take inventory of your food and get it all organized.

Don’t overdo it! If you start by pulling out all of your food at once, you will get quickly overwhelmed. Instead, start by identifying all of your food storage areas. For example:

  1. cabinets
  2. refrigerator
  3. pantry
  4. spare fridge/freezer
  5. basement shelves
  • Pick one of these areas to focus on first. Go through each item and check expiration dates. Not sure about the shelf life of food? Click here.
  • Discard all the expired foods, or foods you know you will not use before their expiration date. If you find that you are storing products you don’t use or don’t like, create a donate pile for your local food bank.
  • Continue this process until you go through all of your food zones.
  • Organize what remains, putting like items together. If you are not sure how to categorize an item, pretend your kitchen is a mini-grocery store. Organize your shelves as “aisles”, creating your own canned good section, baking area, snack section, breakfast zone, etc.
  • Store the items where they make sense. Try to place frequently used items in convenient locations and place multiples of items in a pantry area.
  • Save money on meals this month! Commit to making at least 1 meal each week, using items you already have. If you have an ingredient you don’t usually cook with, click here for some ideas!
  • Consider investing in some space saving items such as lazy susans, tiered spice racks, and can dispensers. You can find some great organizing products at these stores.

Overwhelmed by this project? Set Me Free! offers hands-on help.