Clean Your Microwave in 3 Easy Steps

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clean your microwave

How often do you clean your microwave? If you’re like me, not often enough! Yikes!

I don’t use my microwave very often. Growing up, we didn’t even have one, so I’m used to reheating food in the oven. I don’t think I could ever actually cook a meal in a microwave…that just seems gross to me. And I’ve read somewhere or other that microwaving your food kills all the good things in it during the quick heating process.

If you’re sticking to a minimalist kitchen, you don’t need a microwave, but currently we have room for one and it is convenient sometimes. I’ll use it for reheating coffee, melting butter, and the occasional reheat of lunch when I’m in a time crunch. I’ll also use it to speed up my soap making. Cocoa butter and shea butter take forever to melt in the slow cooker.

Regardless of how often you use your microwave, you do need to clean it every so often. I had some butter pop in mine the other day, and just realized I had left the mess when I pulled my sticky coffee cup out. (As I write this it makes me sound like a complete slob. Hm…maybe I should reconsider this confession…)

Instead of ignoring it, I decided to test one of the many life-hacks I see all over social media. I saw a fancy little meme about placing a wet sponge in the microwave for a few minutes, heating it up, and then bam, steam bath for the microwave and all the grim comes off in seconds. Of course I’m skeptical because I read it on the internet (and even more so because it was on Facebook).

But I thought I’d give it a try. And guess what? It works!!

I didn’t have a sponge, but tried a dish cloth instead. I added a little soap to the process since it seemed like the right thing to do. And the whole thing only took about 2 minutes.

Clean Your  Microwave in 3 Easy Steps:
  1. Place damp cloth in your microwave and “cook” for 1 minute.
  2. Carefully remove the cloth and add a dab of liquid castile soap. (It may be hot!) Wipe out the grime.
  3. Rinse the cloth in hot water and wipe out any remaining stickiness.

Yeah, it’s that easy. Why did I put off this simple task? Now that I know it works, no more excuses. None for you either!

Have you cleaned your microwave lately?


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3 Simple Steps to Spring Cleaning your Kitchen


3 Simple Steps to Spring Cleaning Your Kitchen

Spring cleaning time! Yay or nay?

I’ve got some cleaning to do…

If you caught my post on Friday, I talked about putting a stop to the overwhelm and choosing the more important things.

I must confess; I’m still overwhelmed!

I cannot seem to get my kitchen in order. There are pots and pans and random appliances sitting out on the counter and on top of the freezer. I don’t like surface clutter! But I can’t put these items away just yet.

We recently had mice. Again. I don’t know what the deal is but we keep getting the little critters despite the traps and cat and other preventative measures. And they love to cruise around in all the cabinets and drawers leaving me little presents.

Yeah…not my favorite kind of present.

Once we were sure we had caught and disposed of the intruders I started working on cleaning the drawers out. That was three weeks ago. I still have cabinets that need cleaning!

Now this might sound like I’m being lazy. But it’s so hard for me to find the time to clean it up! It’s not something I can do while little man is running around at my ankles. I can’t do it while he naps since our home is tiny and dishes always wake him up. And by night when Hubby can keep an eye on the little man I’m just too tired to get it done.

Excuses. I’ve got to focus and get this cleaned up. It’s stressing me out!

Long story short, any time this happens, I’m ready to get rid of half the items in my kitchen. I usually end up with a box or two of things to donate. It might be more this time around. I mean really…I only need two cookie sheets.

Because I have this “issue” to clean up, and it’s spring, I’m going to make this a big spring cleaning adventure in my kitchen (and other areas of my house). It’s time to de-clutter.

There are 3 simple steps to take when it comes to Spring Cleaning your Kitchen.

3 simple steps graphic

Pretty simple, right? Well, this could be a little more involved.

Keep those steps in mind and break it down just a little bit more and you can succeed at finally straightening up your kitchen! Or desk! Or laundry room!

Evaluating your clutter. For example, I have way too many coffee mugs. Yes I love coffee and I have a soft spot for cute mugs. But do I really need them all? No. I need a limit.

Get rid of the excess. I figure I only need one or two favorites that I use daily for coffee or tea. One or two big mugs for my hubby because he prefers a manly cup. And a few spare for when we have guests. Wow! I can get rid of about 15 mugs! Yikes!

Some of them I can list on eBay to see if I can get a little kick back from the original investment. (I have a lot of Starbucks mugs!) And the rest can be donated since I don’t see them to be of much value.

Organize the rest. Now I have a small number of mugs that will easily fit in my cabinet without stacking and causing a potential fall hazard. I might think of an old favorite mug from time to time, but ultimately I have what I need and life moves on.

Now, to do this with all the rest of the items in the cabinets as I clean everything. By hand. Again. That’s why I’ve been a little overwhelmed lately and it has taken me so long to get my kitchen cleaned.

But you see? It can be done. Just break it down a step at a time, cabinet at a time, and de-clutter your kitchen. There’s probably a lot that you can do without.

When was the last time you spent Spring Cleaning your Kitchen?

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Saving Time (and Money) in the Kitchen Part 4

Saving Time in the Kitchen Part 4

Welcome to part 4 of Saving Time in the Kitchen! If you missed the last few weeks, part 1 covered Meal Planning, part 2 covered Kitchen Inventory, and part 3 covered making a Grocery List. I hope you are finding this information helpful, or at least motivating to get organized and start saving time!

Today I want to give you some ideas the one aspect of real food cooking that takes up the most time. Food Preparation.

  • Food Prep. The time it takes to prepare fresh food from scratch and include a lot of vegetables in your diet can be overwhelming! This is probably the number one hold up for busy families. It’s hard to find the time to get real food meals on the table. And very easy to fall back on packaged processed foods. But there is hope. Make a plan to prep your food!

I go through periods when I’m really good at prepping things ahead and then other times when I just go meal to meal. I’m starting to find that I really need to make sure I stay on top of having food prepped ahead. My little guy is quickly becoming a food eating machine. A growing boy is going to need healthy snacks that are ready to go! Plus I don’t like to spend uber amounts of time in the kitchen making dinner.

There are a few ways I’ve seen this work well. One idea is to take an afternoon or evening and prep by chopping, cooking, freezing, portioning, all the major meals for the week. This I think works best for parents working out of the home or have busy week nights with activities. It makes your week much smoother and more relaxing. This is also a good idea for having healthy snacks available. Cut up some veggies and put them in glass containers to pull out easily if you need to feed the littles real quick.

Another idea is to schedule in your food prep throughout the week. As part of your written menu plan, write in when you need to prep something ahead of time. I always need to write down when to make mayonnaise so I have it ready in the morning to make lunch for my hubby. Or if you need to soak beans overnight for taco soup the next day. Or bake bread, or make yogurt. Just schedule it in when it will work with your week.

When it comes to vegetables, I try to double up my prep. For example, if I need half an onion for a recipe on Tuesday, and part of an onion for Thursday, I’ll go ahead and chop the whole thing up while I have it and my knife and cutting board out. I can easily store the rest in the fridge and have it ready to go for the next night. Pretty simple concept but it saves some time!

The key to not becoming overwhelmed with getting your real food meals made in a timely manner is to plan ahead with the food prep. That way you are caught last minute with no homemade bread to make sandwiches for lunch. Or stuck spending an hour making dinner when it could only take thirty minutes.

You want to free up some time to spend with your family and also feed them well. There can be a good balance when you are prepared and spend a few moments planning ahead. I’ve seen a huge difference in the flow of my week when I do this. (And I’m not nearly as busy as some moms!)

To help you plan your food prep throughout the week, I have created a weekly meal plan template that includes the prep. But make sure you are subscribed to my newsletter in order to get this free printable!

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I also have something really exciting for you. You’ve read several ideas in the series this month on Saving Time in the Kitchen, and I’ve briefly covered several areas that can help you achieve that. But there is more to learn!

I am finishing up an eBook to give you the knowledge for COMPLETE success in saving time and money in the kitchen!

Make sure to come back next week to find out the details of what is in this eBook and how you can be successful in feeding your family real food without spending all your time in the kitchen. It’s gonna be big!

How has Food Prep changed your time in the kitchen?

 

View the rest of the series:

Take the next step in create an efficient kitchen here.

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Saving Time (and Money) in the Kitchen

Saving Time in the Kitchen Part 1

Growing up, our home was a “Foodless Starvation Camp.” It was either my brother or I that coined that term at one point when we were younger, we can’t quite remember who said it first. But it became quite the household phrase.

Obviously, that is a bit of an exaggeration. I don’t recall a time when I ever went hungry. But because my mom was adamant about cooking real food, it often felt like there was nothing to eat. When you opened the pantry it wasn’t full of all the bright fun packaging of premade snacks. There were no goldfish or Twinkies or animal shaped crackers. We actually had to make our snacks and meals from scratch! gasp!

And I must confess (and I know my siblings agree) that every now and then there were twinges of jealousy when we were at our friends’ houses and they had all sorts of fun snacks. It is convenient and easy to open a pack of fruit snacks and munch!

At the time I didn’t truly appreciate the effort it took for my mom to feed three kids, a husband, and herself. It just seemed a part of life the way she cooked dinners from scratch, baked bread, and made sure we ate plenty of fruits and vegetables. But it is hard work feeding a family healthy food from scratch, especially in the fast-food, convenience-centered lifestyle of most Americans.

I know that now.

There are a few things that I learned from my mom, picked up from the many real food blogs I read, and figured out for myself that help save a lot of time in my minimalist kitchen. Many of these will also save you money too. And who doesn’t want to save time and money?

To start off this series on Saving Time (and Money) in the Kitchen here is the first step you need to take.

Menu plan

meal planning

Making a menu plan is the number one key to running a successful kitchen.

It helps tremendously to have a plan. Time, sanity, and money are saved. There are a few ways to make your menu plan. You can plan a whole month at one time. Or two weeks. Or just one week. Set aside a small amount of time to look through your recipes and write down what you want to feed your family this week.

I’m best with the one week plan. I’m usually terrible at menu planning but I’m starting to get a good system set up. Organization and setting aside a little time on the front end really makes a difference for the week as a whole!

My week goes so much smoother when I write down a plan of what meals to eat on which days. I often include lunches for my husband in this plan as well. My brain is not very creative in the morning. I don’t want to send him with the exact same sandwich every single day and eating out is expensive.

As long as I remember to thaw the meat, the menu plan is wonderful. I’m not stuck racking my brain at 4 o’clock wondering what I can possibly scrounge together. It’s also nice to have a ready answer when I get that afternoon text from my hubby wondering what’s for dinner.

It’s really rather simple, but it makes all the difference when you have a plan.

To find out the second step in saving time in the kitchen come back next week for the next part of this series!

As a bonus with this series on Saving Time in the Kitchen I am offering a free printable each week for my newsletter subscribers. You aren’t a subscriber?

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You won’t want to miss this!

How do you save time in the kitchen?

 

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Cutting Vegetables in a Real Food Kitchen

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6 tips for cutting vegetables

How do I CHOP ALL THE VEGETABLES?!

If you are transitioning to a Real Food Kitchen, you may have found that you have significantly increased the number of vegetables your family consumes. Yay! But with that comes all the chopping of those vegetables. And that takes time that a lot of us don’t have.

When I expanded our vegetable variety, I was overwhelmed with the amount of cutting I had to do. It takes a lot of time to get a meal on the table when you have to cut up everything. After struggling at first with keeping up with the multitude of freshness, I finally figured a few things out. Time and experience have helped me find the right tools and a few tricks that make it so much easier. It is especially helpful now that I have a little one around that needs a lot of attention!

I have these listed in order of priority. So if you are overwhelmed, start with the first few ideas. Then move on as you get those tools/habits in place.

  1. Get a few really good knives. And keep them sharp. A sharp knife is a safe knife and it makes your cutting so much easier. There are a lot of really good brands out there. You don’t need to get a whole set either. The three knives pictured are about the only ones I ever use.favorite knives
  2. Keep your cutting board accessible. I keep mine on the drying rack next to my sink. Always accessible and easy to get to. You could also hang a rack on the side of your cabinets or right inside one where you can get to it quickly. Keep it near where you do your cutting too. I love using a large bamboo cutting board.
  3. Look up some simple chopping/cutting techniques on line. There are many videos that you can find that show simple ways to cut vegetables. It also helps to know the different types of cuts too. Chop, mince, matchstick, it makes a difference in your recipes when you cut the way it calls for.
  4. Prep your cut vegetables ahead of time. This one takes some planning and I’m still not very good at it. But if you have a small chunk of time, get some of your veggies chopped, sliced, or peeled ahead of time to make your dinner cooking that much quicker. It’s also helpful to have some ready to go snacks in the fridge. When hunger strikes you can grab those carrot sticks instead of the bag of tortilla chips that made it into your cart last week.
  5. Utilize a food processor. I have a mini food processor which is great for shredding vegetables and making cauliflower rice. I like the tiny size which makes it feel less like a clunky appliance and I can pull it out easily. It creates a little variety in texture when you are eating so much of the same thing. Sweet potatoes and carrots taste different when cut and cooked a new way!mini food processor
  6. Get some fancy cutting tools like a vegetable peeler and julienne peeler or even a mandolin slicer. You probably already have the vegetable peeler, most people do. A julienne peeler will help you make those awesome zoodles that taste amazing. I have yet to use a mandolin slicer, but from what I have read they are great for making “chips” out of all sorts of veggies.

 

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Remember to keep it simple and if any of the tools are not being used, donate or give to a friend to try. You don’t need every fancy appliance. That will actually hinder your efficiency in the kitchen. Simple is always best. A good knife and cutting board are the basics to getting those vegetables on your plate.

What vegetable cutting discoveries have you made?

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