Food Prepping – Back To School Edition

What does it mean to food prep?

 

For me food prepping (preparing food ahead of time) is a way to keep my sanity during the busy school weeks. When we have food prepped and ready to go for lunches, dinners, snacks and breakfasts, we not only save time, we save money!

 

I typically grocery shop on a Friday or Saturday and food prep on Sunday afternoons.  Sunday’s are slower days for us and it’s relaxing for me to be in the kitchen making good food for the week ahead. Get the whole family on board to help. Littles love to help in the kitchen, and big kids can help you cook!

 

What food items do I prep ahead?

 

Meat. Even though I eat vegan, I prep meat for my family. I will cook up all the chicken, beef, turkey burger, bacon, sausage etc. all on one day. Then I freeze it into portions for quick meal prep for spaghetti, tacos, chili, breakfasts, or whatever is on the menu for the week.

*Side note: our trash cans go out on Monday night, so when I cook up all the meat on Sunday, there’s no stinky wrappers sitting in the trash can all week!

 

Veggies. I wash, dry, cut up and prep all the veggies I can. We use these for salads, lunch boxes, snacks, fajitas, you name it!

 

Fruit. You’ve seen my vinegar wash for strawberries and blueberries. I buy in bulk, dump them into a large bowl. Cover with water and pour in 1/4 to 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar (with the mother), stir and let set for one hour. Drain, rinse and set out on a towel to air dry completely. Then I put into mini serving reusable baggies for lunches or snacks.

*Side note: fruit has to be completely dry before putting back in the fridge.

 

Snacks: I buy snacks in bulk and portion them into smaller reusable baggies This saves money and time each morning. When you have a grab and go section in your pantry it makes packing lunches a breeze!

 

Muffins: I like to make a double batch of muffins (any kind) to freeze. Perfect for breakfast, snacks, or to have on hand for guests. They freeze so well.

 

Steel Cut Oats/Pancakes: I make a large batch of oatmeal and heat up a little each morning for breakfast. Add honey, walnuts and cinnamon for the yummiest breakfast ever. You can also do the same for pancakes; make a huge batch on Saturday or Sunday and freeze the rest…pop them in the toaster and you have a quick, hot, and home made breakfast!

 

Quinoa/Grains: I also will make up a batch of quinoa, lentils, rice, or couscous, etc. They make a great side dish when you add veggies, are good in salads, soups, tacos, etc. Having them made up ahead of time makes weeknight meal prep go quickly.

 

Chili/Soup: I love to make a big batch of chili or soup for dinner on Sunday. Freeze the rest and you’ve got a quick dinner all ready to go. Add a salad and bread and you’re done.

 

What do I use to freeze my food in?

 

I have slowing been phasing out plastic baggies and switching to reusable baggies whenever possible. Last week I showed you all the reusable lunch box inserts we have for the grandkids.  Today I’ll show you the reusable silicone baggies I love and use daily.

*Side note: they are dishwasher safe, but I prefer to hand wash and dry them.

 

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Half gallon reusable baggies made of silicone. Thick and durable! Perfect for freezing soups and chilis. I also use them to freeze cooked up meat of any kind. They hold a ton! So easy to have it already cooked up and ready to add to any recipe.

 

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Keep all your frozen bags in this clear bin for easy access, not to mention great freezer organization.

 

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Here are the reusable baggies I love and use. You can write a name in Sharpie for each member of your family. Wash and dry to use again and again.

 

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These are my favorite reusable snack size bags. Portion out the perfect snack and reuse and reuse and reuse.

 

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I love keeping other snack items in the fridge using this divided turn table. I keep one in my fridge and one in my pantry. Easy access to grab and go, or to help littles pack their own lunches.

Fridge:

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Pantry:

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Use these bins and labels to keep fresh foods contained and accessible as well. Be sure and measure your fridge first. These bins come in lots of different sizes to fit any space.

 

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Now what?

Well, you’ve spent one afternoon cooking and prepping. Sit back and enjoy the rest of the week. Trust me, food prepping works. I was a teacher when my kids were younger. Our weekdays were jam packed with school work, activities, sports, you name it. By having a plan for each week, it saved my sanity not to mention my time and money. It takes a little getting used to at first, but if you start simple and stay consistent with it, you’ll soon be a food prep pro!

 

Need help? I’m an email away.

 

Ready to help you today,

Lisa

 

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The Home Edit

I’m so excited to show you the new T.H.E. organization products from iDesign at The Container Store!

I’ve been sitting on this fun secret for a while, and now I get to share it with you!

If you don’t know who The Home Edit girls are click the link to see! They are organizing guru’s from Nashville, TN that have taken the organization world by storm. They just published a book and now have a line of products at The Container Store. #GOALS!

 

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Today I’m going to show you their craft room/school room/play room products! I tried them out with my grandkids and they gave the new products two thumbs up.

 

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My grandson loves all things lego so these large divided drawers were a perfect solution. He loves color coding as much as I do! He can easily find the pieces he needs to make his lego creations!

 

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He built this little house and garage complete with a car that has lights on it!

The Home Edit kids label pack made this organizer and label lover so happy! They are easy to peel and stick, and come off just as easy! They designed label packs  for your whole home too!

 

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I love that the lego sheets fit the top of these stacking drawers perfectly!

 

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I chose these canisters to hold his lego vehicles and back stock pieces. They stack for easy storage. The labels help my grandson find what he needs, and also reminds him where the pieces go when he is finished.

 

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He could literally make lego creations all day, and I love that!! Legos over TV at Nana’s house ;-).

 

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My granddaughters love creating art, so I couldn’t think of a better way to store art supples than with these divided turn tables.  I’ve always loved these iDesign turntables, but T.H.E. girls made them better with removable dividers and a storage cup!

 

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The cup allows you to take a specific item out easily! The labels help the kids know where everything goes when they are done!

 

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As a teacher, these would be AMAZING in a school room! Set one on each table and let the students create to their hearts content! Hint: great teacher appreciation gift!

 

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One last thing I want to show you is this smaller turn table that I use to hold play doh and play doh tools. The sides are lower but still spin for easy access…. I get giddy just thinking of ways to use these new products all over my home!

Head to The Container Store today to see all the amazing designs T.H.E. girls created. Don’t have The Container Store near you? Visit their website! They deliver right to your door!

These products are kid tested and teacher approved!

 

Want help organizing your home?  I’m ready to help you today!

 

Lisa

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Pantry Makeover

What does a professional organizer do when she has two days off in a row?

She organizes her own pantry lol! It’s very rare that I have two days off in a row at home, so I decided to take advantage and redo my pantry.  It’s been on my to do list for a while now.

How I organize a pantry:

Step 1: I empty it all out. This way I physically touch everything, and know exactly what is in there.

Step 2: I make a keep, toss and a donate pile. You would be surprised at what you find in your space, even if you are a Neat Freak lol!

Step 3. Make a plan for putting it back in. I knew I wanted to make over my “builder grade” pantry. I was ready to update it and make it fun!

Empty Pantry
Neat Freak McKinney Pantry Makeover

 

I recently ordered some new products from Organize My Drawer and was excited to add them to my pantry. You all know by now that I love to think out of the box, so why not create custom “drawer organizers” for my pantry? The people at  OMD are so easy to work with. Their website is very user friendly! Trust me, if I can do it so can you. #technicalychallenged

 

Here’s what I ordered:

Did you know they sell  shelf liners ?  I measured my shelves then plugged the measurements into the program.  I chose the Zodiac Silver  to match my color theme. They have a lot of colors and textures to pick from. I chose this vinyl design because it wipes up so easily! I lined all of my pantry shelves. It’s peel and stick and so easy to install, it literally took me less than five minutes to do all eight shelves!

 

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Shelf Liners from Organize My Drawer

 

Peel and Stick Shelf Liner from Organize My Drawer
Peel and Stick Shelf Liner from Organize My Drawer

 

Next, I thought about the containers I wanted. We are creatures of habit here with what we eat, so it was easy to measure the things we eat most: Triscuits, RXBAR, Lara bars, baby puffs, movie candy, you name it, I measured it.

I then plugged the measurements into their program and look what I designed! A master snack organizer!! So cool right??

 

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Organize My Drawer Custom Snack Organizer

 

Custom Fit to any size you want
Custom Fit to any size you want

 

A place for everything and everything in it's place
A place for everything and everything in it’s place

 

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Next I wanted a container that I could call my party supply box. We entertain all the time and I wanted something that I could store all of my paper goods in…and that I could quickly grab and take outside to the pool, or set on the buffet table.

Again, I measured the dimensions of my shelf, the paper plates, cups, napkins and bowls, plugged them in to the program, and this is what I got! Party supply box, check!

 

Entertaining is easy when you're organized and prepared
Entertaining is easy when you’re organized and prepared

 

Pantry to table in minutes
Pantry to table in minutes

 

Four perfect dividers in one
Four perfect dividers in one

 

Perfect for outside too
Perfect for outside too

 

The other OMD items I ordered were two risers for the small cans in the back of the pantry. We love ourselves some tacos, chili and spaghetti regularly so I measured the cans I always have the most of, and created these risers. They can also double as a condiment holder (turned upside down) if ever I decide to switch things up. #ontheregular 😉

 

Can risers for the pantry
Can risers for the pantry

 

Small can risers for the pantry
Small can risers for the pantry

 

So easy to find what we have in the back
So easy to find what we have in the back

 

So cool right?? The things you can custom design and order from OMD are endless!!

What’s on your summer to do list? Have you ever looked into Organize My Drawer products? I dream of ways to use them in every room of my house. What would you use them for? I’d love to know.

Jewelry, kitchen tools, bar carts, makeup drawers, legos, the list goes on and on and on….

 

Nana's pantry is fun!
Nana’s pantry is fun!

 

I can’t wait to show you all the before and after pictures of the paint, wallpaper and products that I used for my pantry makeover!! Go look on my InstaGram and FaceBook feeds to see all the pictures and videos of behind the scenes! Let me know what you think!

Would you like help organizing your home?

I would love to help you, and create custom organizers like these for your own space!

I’m just an email away, Neat Freak McKinney

Ready to help today,

Lisa

 

 

Calling All Teachers

Did you know I’m a teacher as well as a professional organizer?

And this week, I was able to combine my love for both!

Cupboard before:

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Cupboard After:

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Teacher In Service, classroom set up, and Meet the Teacher Night makes for a long week! But, I am blessed to work alongside these amazing women, we are a TEAM!

 

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The nice thing about starting with a blank slate each year, is that it motivates you to do better. Every year I want to build on the previous lesson plans, and add a little something new to the mix. If I never purged or organized my classroom, it would feel stale and I wouldn’t be inspired to come up with new ideas.

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The same is true in your home. Mixing things up every now and again makes it feel fresh and rejuvenates your soul.

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Start with something small, a closet, or a dresser. Take everything out, sort it. Donate what you don’t use, or wear. Only put back what you truly love. 

The same goes in your classroom, Teachers.

If you don’t use it or love it, why is it in your room?

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After you have put back only what you use and love, label it. It looks pretty and makes it easy to find what you need. 

Teachers, how many times have you said “oh no, my lesson plans are NOT working?” Sometimes we need to switch gears mid sentence lol! When everything is labeled, you can quickly find exactly what you need. The same is true at home.

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Get inspired, start fresh this year!  I can, and would love to help you.

 

Blessed school year y’all!

Lisa

Back To School Routines: Daily Schedule

Having a daily schedule that everyone is on board with makes your days run so much better.

Children of all ages can contribute to the house work. Here are some examples of chores for all ages.

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When our kids were younger and all at home, everyone had a job. Wether it was vacuuming stairs, doing your own laundry, or loading and unloading the dishwasher, everyone was expected to help. And no, we didn’t do allowances, they were expected to help. If they needed money for something, I had extra jobs they could do to earn that money.

Chores were to be done before anyone could play or “go anywhere”. Work before play is my motto.

Daily routines that were non negotiable were:

  • making beds
  • brushing teeth
  • showering
  • hanging up wet towels
  • picking up dirty clothes off the floor
  • putting dirty dishes in dishwasher/cleaning the kitchen
  • packing lunches
  • daily homework finished
  • backpacks packed and ready to go for the next day

 

Teaching younger kiddos to pitch in at an early age helps! They love to help when they are little.

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At age three, she can pick up dirty clothes, get herself dressed, clean up the play room, help take off her own sheets, and sort between lights and darks.

 

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At age 6, he can empty all the small trash cans around the house, empty the inside recycle bin to the larger one in the garage, vacuum, dust, and empty the dishwasher.

And as I wrote yesterday, I am teaching them to cook. 🙂

They really do love to help at this age! It’s usually the parents that get in the way, because we are always in a “hurry” and don’t want to take the time to teach.

Now I’m not going to lie and say all my kids turned out to be neat freaks like me, because they didn’t lol. But what I hope it instilled in them was a sense of respect for their homes and the things they have been given. I am truly proud of the responsible adults they have turned out to be.

 

What are some of your non negotiable daily routines? Need help getting started?

I’m ready to help you today,

Lisa

 

 

 

 

Back To School Routines: Food Prepping

This time of year brings a shift in all our homes. Wether you have kids going back to school or not, summer routines come to an end.

As a teacher, I personally love this time of year. It brings me a renewed resolve to start fresh! I love setting up my classroom, making new lesson plans and welcoming the change that’s about to happen.

Two ways I stay organized during the school year is by food prepping, and sticking to my daily routines.

Food Prepping:

Every Sunday evening, I prep food for school lunches and dinners for the week ahead. Involving your kids in this teaches them about food, helps them feel included, and makes them feel proud to help accomplish an “adult task”. They also get a bonus lesson in math while measuring.

 

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I usually cook double of whatever recipe I am making. For instance, I will cook a huge roast or two, or a double batch of ground turkey seasoned with onions and garlic. This creates a base for so many dishes.

I also make up a large batch of quinoa, brown rice, steel cut oats, and hard boiled eggs. I use these as a base for lunches, adding to salads, side dishes for dinner and breakfast every day. 

  • Quinoa: add to salads, soups, or with veggies for a side dish
  • Brown rice: base for tacos, in salads, or with veggies and chicken for dinner
  • Steel Cut Oats: warm up a portion each morning, add fruit, nuts, honey
  • Hard boiled eggs: breakfast with an avocado, or add to salads

Putting my lunch in individual dishes helps make packing up every morning before school a breeze.

After dinner, have the kids help you pack their lunch box for the next day while you’re cleaning up. Letting them make choices usually ensures they will eat what is packed.

 

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Teaching kids to cook is a life skill they will cherish. When supervised, they really can do a lot of things in the kitchen.

Some of my favorite childhood memories are of cooking with both of my grandmas. They made everything from scratch, and taught me to do the same. I think back to those times with the fondest of memories. I love passing it down to my own grandkids.

Other food prep that I like to do weekly includes:

  • washing fruit
  • washing and cutting up veggies
  • baking healthy snacks and freezing for later
  • food shopping once a week

 

Planning ahead makes those busy week days so much easier. You always have something on had for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Try it for a week and see for yourself.

Tomorrow, I’ll be back with daily routines and schedules to make your days easier! 

Need help, but don’t know where to start? Email me, I’m here for you.

 

Ready to help you today,

Lisa