Need HELP with Meal Planning

Before I talk about how BAD I am at meal planning, I want to say that I have ONLY one cabinet for food. I have an inventory for that cabinet, since it is well-packed, and I don’t want to lose track of the food.  The cabinet over the stove is for spices, oils, baking supplies and desserts. It helps to keep from over-buying foods, but because we are in a small apt (950 sq feet) we have limited space. Which means our fridge/freezer is old and small, but still does its job. So NO freeze ahead meals.

food cabinet, you will sort of notice wine glasses on top of the cabinet. They have been moved the shelves in the basement.

spices over stove

Hubby wants to put a small freezer in the basement, but I REFUSE to have any food items anywhere in the basement. It is dirty, smelly, moldy and unsafe for humans. Can you tell I hate the basement?

So with only a cabinet and a half for foods and a small fridge I have a hard time with meal planning. This is one area I can NOT get organized in.

Now, let me show you the other cabinets in our kitchen and how little space we actually have.

cabinet for plates, glasses, mugs, tea, and sugar

narrow cabinet for bags, garbage bags, and dog food

A few weeks ago I posted about keeping reusable towels on the kitchen shelf. I have moved them under the sink on a lift, I now use the shelf to store Dinosaur’s paintbrushes, let items dry and holiday items.

Another change I made was putting snacks above the cabinets. We don’t eat them all the time and I need more counter space.

Cabinet facing the living area for our Tupperware. Dinosaur is ALWAYS emptying out the cabinet, so it’s never organized

Now this brings me to my main point…

I STINK at meal planning.

I need to better portion hubby’s food and often forget about breakfasts and lunches.

Hubby will eat all the cold cuts in three days and leave us with nothing OR not eat any cold cuts and waste money

How do you meal plan on a TIGHT budget? 

Now that being said…I NEED HELP.

How do you all plan your weekly menus that include breakfast, lunches, dinner and snacks? How can I do that and make sure I don’t run out of almond milk, bread, eggs, and so on…?

I’ve seen sites out there, but what are YOUR favorite resources? What do you use that helps you plan meals? Like I said… I NEED HELP!

Organizng Dinosaur’s Room

Before I show you Dinosaur’s room, I’d love to show off your cleaning schedules every Thursday. Do you have one? Want to get inspired?

This schedule was made by Cassie over at Momity, I love how she added “relax” to her schedule-that is quite important. Every cleaning schedule is wonderful and fits that mom and her needs. It can be a simple weekly one or a detailed daily, weekly and monthly one. For more cleaning schedules checkout my other organization posts. You can also check out my cleaning schedule along my sidebar, I cross off each item as I complete it.

I’m a day behind on my cleaning schedule, but that just means life happens. I don’t claim to be a cleaning guru, my mother can attest to that. The main goals of my cleaning schedule are to make sure I don’t go crazy on the weekend and EVERYTHING gets cleaned and not forgotten about. I WILL get to things eventually…but always know time with family comes FIRST…no matter what. My son will not remember my cleaning schedule or how clean the kitchen floor was, he WILL remember how I twirled him around outside, roared while I played dinosaurs, and how much fun we had playing hide and seek in our home.

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Now onto Dinosaur’s room.

Well, I love how the closet it set up, I have space for two types of shelves in there. We had to put the crib in front of the left door, but it moves easily enough if we need to open that door. I tried to organizable it based on need. The metal racks holds toys that I rotate and our out of season items. The bookshelf holds clothes that are out of season but he still wears, like that pile of shorts hidden by the chart paper, we could have a sudden hot day. I am not packing them away for another week.  I also keep trucks that I can’t fit in his other organizer shown below, books and shoes hidden in a basket on the bottom shelf. Dinosaur loves being able to go in his closet and get what he needs. I hang in season clothes on hangers, as well as, outerwear. On the shelves above the hangers are TONS of diapers and wipes and the pieces that change his crib into a day bed.

The toy organizer labels have changed as Dinosaur has gown and outgrew toys. I used hubby’s label machine to label the bins for hubby or anyone else helping Dino clean up. I have had to help Dino find a toy that was put in the wrong bin ONE TOO MANY TIMES. I also printed off a large picture of each type of toy and taped it to the inside of the bin. I want Dinosaur to know where his toys go when it’s time to clean up. He is really good about this and will tell you if a toy is NOT in the right place. Some bins are blank as we have miscellaneous items that may change too quickly. As long as his dinosaurs, trees and rocks, big and small cars, Disney Cars, and robots have a home he is good.

not sure if you can see the big robot picture taped to the bottom of the bin

His dresser also has both labels…for Dino and others. I want him to start picking out his clothes and putting them away. He has a drawer for socks, underwear and undershirts, sweatshirts and sweatpants, long sleeve shirts and pants, pajamas and diapers-which I have NOT labeled yet. He is pretty good about putting away his clothes. I only keep a few pants and shirts in that one drawer and the rest I keep in the closet. I will rotate them so he doesn’t wear out just a few. Of course his church clothes always hang in the closet…I can’t have him stain them up by wearing them everyday.

have to peel the old label off the handle, but that tape is on there really good

This is actually MY dresser from when I was a teenager. My parents and in-laws offered to buy him a new furniture set, but I refused. What is wrong with using my STILL IN FAIRLY GOOD CONDITION dresser? He is only three years old, he does NOT need new furniture or a desk until middle school/teen years. He has a great crib that will transition into a day bed, what else does he really need? 

Cheap Organization

Living in a small space forces you to get organized. One way I did this was by creating my Home Central Binder with the help of Simplify 101.All you do is sign up and get all the details you need for getting organized in a binder. I have the following sections; activities, daycare, Anthony, Karen, Tony, Restaurants, entertainment, upcoming events, addresses, emergency, insurance, miscellaneous, holidays, cool ideas, birthdays. I try to put things in there immediately, but sometimes I forget. I still need to update my emergency section and upcoming events.

Then created my own personal organizer. Firstly, because I needed to get rid of my smart phone and the wonderful calendar in it. Second, the ones in stores are too expensive and I don’t want to pay for refills.

So I came up with this sheet. I keep one on our bulletin board and one in my personal binder. I use this sheet weekly house schedule

to organize each week with our family. It’s a chore to get hubby to remember to fill it out. When he does it makes life easy all around. I need know dates in advance, so I made this 2012_yearly_calendar_sep_1-1FOR BLOG  with Microsoft word templates. I also love the free printables form from Organized Home They are great to print out or give me ideas to make my own forms.

How do you keep organized? What organizing websites do you LOVE?

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From now on to save on post space I added my cleaning schedule to a page, you will see what I have done and what I am terribly behind in.

Dinosaur Mommy’s Cleaning Schedule

What’s your cleaning agenda today?

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Tiny Bathroom UPDATE

Last week I posted about our tiny bathroom and asked for some ideas, and I got great ones. My mom found a four pocket organizer for the door, which works perfectly. I use it to store all my personal products, makeup and hair accessories.  

I ripped off the sink skirt, it was being pulled by Dinosaur’s feet each time he washed his hands. Instead I used a big basket to store all my hand towels and washcloths. I put it on top of a metal shelf so the basket doesn’t get wet in case of a flood and to keep my hairdryer under the basket. Even with a messy hubby and Dinosaur the towels don’t get wet, which makes me happy. Cool right? I’m a genius.

Then I gave hubby the space above our only cabinet, over our toilet. He has two fabric boxes to store all his razors, and other manly items that are an eye sore for the bathroom, LOL

Across from the toilet is a shelf my father put up. It holds decorative washcloths, air freshener, and disinfectant wipes. The decorative hand towels are right below it. I wanted to get a picture of my shower liner with the pockets, but it was hard to get a good picture in such a small space.

Our body towels have always been in the two lower drawers of this wicker basket. The top draw was for the wash cloths and towels, but now hides all of Balboa’s leashes, extra toys and accessories. The top two shelves are our “junk drawer” of sorts. Since we don’t have space in the kitchen, this seemed like the best spot. We do have a cordless phone, but need this phone if we lose power; we still have a land line. The basket does cut into the doorway of our bedroom, but now we are used to that. The shiny object in both photos is just Balboa’s reflective collar, glad to know it works, LOL.

(see Mom…three days later and it’s still looking great!)

What do you all think? Did I do a good job? What would you have done differently?

 vintage-cleaning.jpg

CLEANING SCHEDULE

Daily:
run washing machine if full
put away dried clothes
clean up disaster areas from Hurricane Dinosaur

Thursday:
dust all furniture

30th
declutter and organize

What’s your cleaning agenda today?
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Loving my small apartment

Living in a 950 square foot apartment has its challenges, but we I prefer this space to our former 1200 square foot condo. We rent the lower apartment of a two-story house and share a big driveway and two-car garage. The woman upstairs is very quiet, we sometimes forget that she is upstairs.

The best part of our apartment,

1. LOTS of outdoor space for Anthony to run around. Before we only really had a parking lot, small grass patch and a beaten down playground. Now he can ride his tricycle in the driveway, play catch with daddy, draw with sidewalk chalk, and find worms (which he is currently obsessed with).

pretending he is “Mike the Knight”
pretending the sticks are worms and crawling on his bench

shared driveway looking out to street

lawn on other side of house

2. We have a washer and dryer, after tens years of having to go up and down stairs and into another building, we FINALLY have our own washer and dryer. This alone made the apartment a must have for us. It’s in a small closet without room to organize around it, but I LOVE IT. LOVE IT. We just throw clothes, sheets and towels into the washing machine and when it fills up we run the wash. No, I don’t separate. After hauling laundry up and down for ten years we didn’t have the time to separate. Everything gets washed together, then we hang up the dedicates and dry the regular clothes. Having the washer and dryer is in the bedroom, putting away laundry is a breeze.

3.  I love that I can sit on the couch and watch him play in his room while I clip coupons and watch TV.  Or, when I’m cooking in the kitchen I can see him in the living room. Dinosaur loves that he can see me too, gives him a sense of security.While our condo had more indoor space, he could never see me from his bedroom and I think that is why he ended up always playing in the living room.  

Can you spot Dinosaur in the living room?

This doesn’t mean that dinosaur’s toys haven’t taken over the living room. They are all over the place, but he enjoys spending more time in his room now that he can see me.

The toys somehow crawl out of his room and onto my couches.

even with all those cars, he knows if one is missing
couch cover ripped off and turned into magical hideaway for cars.

Apartment Therapy has given me inspiration on how to utilize and love living in a small space. There are great ideas on organizing, space saving, and keeping kids happy in a small space.

Now, hubby has had the hardest time adjusting to the smaller space, but he is the glass as half empty kind of guy. Basically he’s a pack rat and will keep things he no longer needs just to have them. Most of the items in our basement and our side of the garage are his. I made him throw a ton of stuff out, but he still has more than me. Future Thursday posts I’ll show you how much more closet space he has than me and all the kitchen appliances he has but doesn’t use.

So, what do you love about your space, whether it’s too big, too small, or just right.

Mommy Cleaning Schedule

Over the years I have seen several sites that offer strategies and cleaning routines. Me being me, I need to always create my own that caters to MY needs. Therefore, I created my own easy to use cleaning schedule. I like to do two/three things a day (besides the needed daily routines like washing dishes and tidying up).

So my cleaning schedule is below. I have laminated it and keep it next to my door in my small kitchen. I check off each task I complete and when it’s filled up I erase and start over.

I adjusted it for our new apartment, since our 1200sq foot condo had more space to cover. Though, 950sq feet is harder to clean, because one thing out of place makes the entire space look messy.

I have a crazy three year old dinosaur and by no means expect things to be REALLY tidy. Life with my guy has taught me to just let it be. He WILL break the curtain rod, he WILL break the wicker basket, he WILL break the plexiglass cover over the screen door.

I teach him to clean up after himself and so that he feels better about hsi space. If it’s messy he will feel messy too. It seems to help, he can find his toys and relaxes in organization.