Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Saving Time in the Kitchen

Good Morning Everyone!

I'm Ginger from Gingerly Made and am thrilled to be a new contributor here at The Cheap and Choosy! Amy is one of my real life friends and yes, she is as thoughtful and Christ-centered in her personal life as she is here as well. I am so honored to be a part of her 'Simple. Frugal. Intentional.' initiative here. Thanks Amy!

Saving Time in the Kitchen.

A while back, I realized that I needed to spend more time being Mom and less time focusing on the household things that need to be done. So, I'm doing my best to find ways to save time in those arenas. I mean let's face it. Being mom is THE BEST, but there are other responsibilities too. I'm just choosing to give less time to those other responsibilities and in so doing needing to be more efficient with the time I have.

So my first task is to save time in food preparation because typically I spend SO MUCH time there.

Image: David Castillo Dominici /
Menu Planning: One Month At A Time
I've been menu planning for a long time now. But I was only doing it for a week at a time. And it was really putting me in a stale-mate on what to cook. I became much less creative and found myself planning many of the same meals week after week. Even spaghetti gets tiring after awhile.

I've now begun putting menu plans in order for a month at a time. It forces me to be more creative and more varied in the meals I choose to provide for my family. At first it was a little difficult, but now I'm loving it.

Freezer Cooking: A Little At A Time
Ok, I'm probably the last stay-at-home mom to jump on this band wagon, but I've finally figured out how awesome freezer cooking is. It took me forever to try it simply because of time. I know, isn't freezer cooking supposed to save you time? So why would time be a deterrent?

Most of what I had seen about freezer cooking meant going to the grocery store and loading up on a ton of food stuffs and then spending an entire day or even half a day prepping and cooking food to put in the freezer. I just don't have the time for that. My kids would never be ok with me spending that kind of time in the kitchen and devoting so little to them.

But, and here's the big but for me, you don't have to do it that way. What has been working for me is to just prepare one freezer meal at a time. Whatever I cook for dinner that night, I'll make one or two extra and toss those in the freezer. Over time my freezer dinner stash has built up and it only took me a few extra minutes each time I made dinner.

More Simple Meals
Sometimes I think us moms feel like we have to provide a culinary masterpiece for dinner. We don't. And they take too long to cook anyway. Sometimes the best meals are the simplest. Tonight we had a salad full of cucumbers, peppers, tomatoes, and apples. Topped with some seasoned chicken and a sprinkle of cheese it was a complete and healthy meal. And the best part, it took next to no time to cook.

These are just a few of the things that I have been doing to help me be more responsible with my kitchen time. What types of things are you doing? As always, I love learning from you and would love to hear what little tricks you have up your sleeve.

Thanks again for having me as a part of your Cheap and Choosy community!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Space Saving DIY Toy Stove and Art Easel {Chalkboard Contact Paper}

We have a small home, and I am more than content with that. However, my two and a half year old daughter is getting to an age where a toy kitchen would be an ideal toy for her, but there simply is not room.

My daughter "Peanut", being the creative and imaginative girl that she is, found a solution for that!

We have a small bed side stand type cabinet in her room that I once used for her books (which are now on a book shelf). One day Peanut started opening the door and putting her toy cupcakes in the cabinet to "bake" them, pretending that it was a stove.

I looked at the little cabinet and thought, "I can paint four burners on top and paint the front black so that it looks like the window into a stove!"

Since I have very little experience painting, and very little time right now, I thought it would be a long time before I would get around to such a project.

That was until I discovered Chalkboard Contact Paper.  The little stove is the first thing that came to mind. How easy it would be to just cut out four little circles and stick them on, as well as the front "window" of the stove?

I ordered a roll of the contact paper for less than eight dollars, and as soon as possible after the contact paper arrived, I did just that. It took about 15 minutes, and that because I was doing other things at the same time.

I also ordered a little cooking set, and now my daughter has a little stove to cook on without adding a mite of furniture to our home!

Another toy that I have thought would be ideal for my daughter if there were sufficient space is a toddler art easel. We have a little toddler table for tea parties and artwork, so for both reasons of space and the fact that we really don't need another place for her to draw and color, I had let the idea go completely.

But alas, we have an exposed side to our large old refrigerator in the kitchen and it occurred to me that I could made it into a little chalkboard! Since it's magnetic, we can also use magnets to secure paper there for her to write, color, or paint on too. There you go! The primary functions of an art easel only without a tray for supplies. I am thinking of ways to attach something to hold chalk and markers to the fridge, but for now I prefer to not have them laying about freely anyway.

 The possibilities of this amazing contact paper are endless! I have a few other things I can't wait to do with it!

Super cheap. Super easy. Super fun!


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