My New Pantry – Inside, Outside, Resources and more

pantry front

This is probably going to be the longest, photo-heaviest post I’ve ever written.  But I’m absolutely in love with the pantry my dad built for us and I can’t wait to show it to you!

We started with this:   [Read more...]

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The Secret of an Organized Kitchen and Meal Planning

Give me 5 minutes and I’ll tell you the secret to having a perfectly organized kitchen and functioning meal plan.

Actually, I don’t even need 5 minutes to tell you this secret.

The secret is that….

There is no secret.

There’s no one fix that will solve your messy container cabinet problem or disorganized pantry.

There’s not a magic solution to getting dinner on the table every night.

There’s not a new technique that will cause things to be permanently organized, once and for all. Oh, how I wish there was!

BUT…

There are a few tips and resources that will help you wrestle chaos into some semblance of organization.

First, you have to come to terms with the fact that this is an ongoing process.  You organize it now, but it isn’t going to stay that way forever.  Things change.  Routines change.  The needs of your family will change.

All of that has an impact on how your kitchen and meal plans function.

That said, I do have some helpful ideas for you.  Just remember to take what will work, and leave the rest.  Choose a solution that will work for your family right now.

Menu Planning

If you like to do your own menu planning, but you’d like some tips on the process I have a fantastic ebook to recommend.

Crystal from Crystal & Co. has a sale on her popular How to Meal Plan ebook right now.  Use the code mealplan2013 to get it for the sale price.

If you’d rather not do your own meal planning (or you’d like a break from it occasionally), check out my new Weekly Menu Plan Service.

At just $4 per month, it’s affordable and a huge time saver when it comes to deciding dinner.  You’ll get 2 menu plans by email each week – a Traditional Menu and an All Slow Cooker Menu.

Kitchen Organizing

Kitchens can get very cluttered with unused appliances and utensils or worn out plastic storage containers.  My friend, Dana from A Slob Comes Clean has a new ebook out about decluttering (not just for kitchens).

If you’re feeling overwhelmed with the amount of clutter in your house, her book is for you.   You can get Dana’s ebook for just $4 right now.  Dana also has another ebook called  28 Days to Hope for Your Home (Not for the Mildly Disorganized).  You can get the 2 book set for just $6 through January.

And because we can always use a few tips to spur us on, here are a couple of posts I’ve written on the subject of cleaning and organizing in the kitchen:

10 Kitchen Cleaning Tips

A Quick Fix for Wire Pantry Shelves

How I organize my spices

This post contains affiliate links.

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How to Meal Plan

If you hang out here for any length of time, you know that meal planning is important to eating at home.  It’s possible to wing dinner, but it won’t take long before that starts to wear on you.  The best way to eat at home is to have a plan.

You can find 3 full years worth of meal plans with the grocery lists to go with each here on my site.  But I know that many people prefer doing their own plans.

Want to learn how to do it efficiently and quickly?  This ebook from my friend Crystal is what you need. Her book is organized and easy to use.  She teaches you how to quickly get a rotating menu together and gives ideas for putting together the grocery list.  She even includes a section on displaying your menu.

Of course, her book includes easy recipes and a list of websites to find new family favorites.  (Eat at Home is one of the sites listed!  Thanks, Crystal!)

If you use the code eatathome, you can get $1 off How to Meal Plan.  The code only lasts until December 8, so don’t wait!

This post contains affiliate links.

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How Do You Use Technology in the Kitchen? (Plus – Setting Up Eat at Home as an App on Your Smart Phone)

How’s that for a long post title?

I’ve had several readers mention to me that they would love to see a smart phone app for Eat at Home, specifically for the menus.  I looked into having an app developed and found that it would cost $5K-$30K!  Yikes!  That’s not in the budget at all.

Thankfully, there are a few ways that you can still use Eat at Home on your smart phone. [Read more...]

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Resolutionize Your Kitchen and Cooking: Organize Your Kitchen Storage

Resolutionize: verb Enacting a mini revolution on your New Year’s Resolution. Small action with big impact.

That’s my pantry after I spent some time organizing it yesterday.  It looks so much better (especially the floor) that every time the kids open it they comment on how neat it is now.

Here’s what it looked like before: [Read more...]

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Resolutionize Your Kitchen and Cooking: 10 Kitchen Cleaning Tips

Resolutionize: verb Enacting a mini revolution on your New Year’s Resolution. Small action with big impact.

Last week we talked about making fast food in your kitchen.  I shared a list of 25 Meals in 20 Minutes or Less.  This week we’re tackling kitchen cleaning.

My mom reads my blog everyday, and I know that as soon as she read the words “cleaning tips” she started laughing. (Hi Mom!)

I’m not known for being a clean freak.  I strive for “live-able”.  There are just a few things that really bug me.  I can’t take sticky floors or crumby counters, but I don’t aim for spotless in my cleaning routine.  In fact, I’m not sure I can really say I have a routine.

This is my list of simple tasks and tools that will have a big impact on your kitchen. [Read more...]

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Stay Sharp! – How to Keep Your Knife Honed (and Rada Cutlery Winner)

It was so fun to read about your knives in the comments for the Rada Cutlery giveaway.  I was a little surprised at how many of you lack sharp knives.   Some of you are carving turkeys with steak knives!

Sharp knives are essential for making dinner quickly, so I thought I’d share some tips for keeping your cutlery sharp.  I’m no expert.  These are ideas I’ve picked up over the years.

1. Start with a good knife - If you don’t have one then get thee to the Rada Kitchen Store.  I recommend the Cook’s Knife.  It’s only $9.20.  That’s less money than it takes to feed your family one meal at a fast food restaurant.  And having a sharp knife will speed your cooking so you’ll be less inclined to grab something quick on busy nights.

You will not regret buying this knife.  It’s so affordable, there’s no reason to keep using your dull knives.

For the record, Rada Cutlery doesn’t know I’m sending all of you over to their site.  I’m not making a commission or earning anything and they didn’t pay me to do this post.  I just want you all to have the joy of cooking with a sharp knife that is affordable!

2. Use a cutting board that won’t dull your knife. Wood, bamboo and plastic are all reliable choices.  [Read more...]

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Kitchens Are For More Than Cooking

kitchen table

I’ve already shown you around my kitchen, but cooking isn’t all that goes on in a kitchen.  I spend most of my time at home in the this room.  I feel comfortable in here.  When I have guests over, we usually sit at the table to talk.  Later, I’ll realize I should have invited them to sit in the living room where the furniture is more comfortable.  I just don’t think about it though, because I’m so comfortable in the kitchen.  Even in the homes of my friends, I’d rather be in the kitchen.

[Read more...]

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Organizing the Pantry – Quick Fix for Wire Shelves

I like my pantry because it’s big enough and it’s convenient to the cooking area in my kitchen.  But I’m not in love with the wire shelves.  Things tip over on them.   Things like small bottles and boxes of cereal.  And things spill, like molasses dripping onto boxes and cans, creating sticky puddles in the floor.

Paying for solid shelving was out of the question.  I found a cheaper solution with the shelf liners at Walmart.  [Read more...]

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Pantry and Freezer Staples

I got an email from a reader named Missy, asking what are the must-have pantry and freezer items that I keep on hand.  The answer to that will be a bit different for everyone, but there are some basics that round out any pantry or freezer.

Produce Items

Garlic – I love having fresh garlic cloves to cook with.

Onions – essential

Potatoes – These can be stored for a while without going bad, so they are nice to keep on hand.  They’re also very versatile.

Carrots – These also will hold up for a while in the crisper drawer.

Canned/Dry Items

  • Diced tomatoes
  • Tomato sauce and paste
  • Crushed tomatoes
  • Black beans
  • Kidney beans
  • Chicken broth
  • Beef broth
  • Cream of chicken soup
  • Rice, white and brown
  • Spaghetti and other pasta shapes
  • Salsa

All of these items are commonly used in recipes.  If you have these on hand, you can throw together a simple Mexican or Italian meal or a quick casserole.

Baking/Cooking Items [Read more...]

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