Category Archives: Routine

Dabbling in Freezer Cooking

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After a visit to my favourite butcher who sells bulk meat, I dreaded the prospect of breaking the meat up into batches and vacuum sealing  it to be frozen.  I did however, feel slightly more enthusiastic about cooking.  So I set out to make some freezer meals.

I have at various times dabbled in freezer cooking.  I certainly loved the convenience of having ready-made meals when I was busy at work or when I was a new mum.  I didn’t hate the cooking days, in fact I quite liked them. So I wondered why I never really stuck to it and made an art of it.

I think in my case it came down to not having enough of a freezer meal catalogue.  In the old days I made the same things ….spaghetti sauce, lasagne, cottage pie, a curry or two and soups. Boring. If only I had looked to the internet for inspiration!

There are hundred of sites and bloggers out there praising freezer cooking.  Many have it down to a fine art – menu plans, recipes, shopping lists, cooking days, even providing sticker templates to print and  attach to your made meal.  There are thousands of amazing recipes out there to suit every taste and even cooking preference.  It really is an eye opener.

As it is coming into winter here in the Southern hemisphere, I am keen to get the slow cooker working.  I found whole sites devoted to creating frozen baggies of ingredients, that you defrost and pop into the crock pot to cook.  Really, who thought you could make crock pot cooking even easier than it already was?

The more I traversed the sites, the more I was beginning to be sold on the idea of freezer cooking.  I don’t know that I would have the majority of meals out of the freezer as I like to eat a fresh, clean and raw as possible, but it definitely has benefits.  It undoubtably saves money as you can shop the sale items and use seasonal produce.  You are less likely to resort to expensive take out on the days when you don’t feel like cooking.  I can see there would be less washing up and probably less food waste.

So if you are keen to dabble in freezer cooking like me, here are some sites that are worth a visit.

Money Saving Mom – Huge recipe selection and some great printables for those organising freaks, like me.

One a Month Mom – Everything you need to be a freezer cooking genius.  Menu plans for all sorts of dietary needs including paleo, vegetarian and baby. Heaps available for free on the site or become a member to receive ongoing menus and recipes.

Who Needs a Cape? – Make 40 meals in 4 hours! Lots of crock pot freezer recipes here.

Life as Mom – Lots of tips on how to freezer cook and every month a new cooking plan to follow.

I have also started to pin some of my favourite freezer meals.  You are welcome to follow along here.

So what did I cook and freeze the other day, you ask?

Freezer Meals

Healthy Butter Chicken – I used a fantastic spice mix from this company

lasagne

Chicken enchiladas

Freezer Meals

Slow cooker braised lamb

Freezer Bread

Pear and raspberry coconut bread.  Yummo! I will share this recipe with you soon.

If you are interested in freezer cooking, be sure to follow along.  I intend to do a lot more freezer cooking and I will share what I make on here.

Have a great day.

 

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Know Your Feel Good Clean

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The weekend has left the Crooked Household….well…..crooked. Today is one of those days, where you can see there are a million things that need to be cleaned, done and fixed, but you just don’t know where to start.  You know there is no chance that you will get everything done and the whole thing is making  you annoyed.

It’s on days like this you need to do your Feel Good Clean before you tackle anything else.  You know what I mean, the cleaning tasks that take little effort but show big gains.  The tasks that instantly make your house feel lighter, cleaner and less cluttered.  The tasks that make you feel better about your home.

Everyone’s Feel Good Clean is different.  If you haven’t really thought about what those cleaning tasks are for you, they are most probably the ones you rush to when you get a last minute house guest.

Today I thought I would share with you my Feel Good Cleaning tasks.

1. Vacuum. Since having children and all the floor mess that comes along with them, I have perfected the art of the quick vacuum clean. Heaven help the toy or child that gets in the way of Mum with the Dyson.

2. Mop. Again I have perfected the quick mop.  When I want fast results I use a microfibre mop head with just a spritz of water.  The floor is cleaned really well and it is dry and ready to walk on in a minute.

Microfibre Mop

3. Make the beds.  Don’t worry, we always make the beds, but it is on my Feel Good Clean list as it instantly makes the bedrooms look neater.

Dinosaur themed boys bedroom

4. Tidy the kitchen benchtops.  We have an open plan house so the kitchen is visible from the living areas.  By removing the everyday clutter – books, loaves of bread, dishes and appliances,  I feel the house is less cluttered.

5. Polish the dining room table.  Again, as we have an open plan house and a glass dining table, the sticky little finger marks from meal times are visible to one and all.

6. Straighten couch cushions and floor rug.  Nothing entertains my boys more than messing with the couch cushions and sliding about on the rug.  Straightening them will most likely last about 20 minutes,  but for those 20 minutes, my lounge room looks good.

7. Clean the windows. The rear of our house, the living area, is almost entirely made up of glass.  When I do a Feel Good Clean I choose one or two sections of glass and give them a polish.  You can read how I have made cleaning window’s easier here. Nothing makes me happier than looking out of my freshly cleaned windows.  Weird, huh?

glass-mirror-wipes-viva

I did all of these jobs in just over 30 minutes this morning.  I was a whirlwind, but at the end of it the house looked neater and I felt a whole heap better.

I also scored some bonus cleaning in that time by warning the kids I was about to vacuum and mop.  They instantly jumped into protection mode, packing away toys and parking them on their play mat. Score!

What are your Feel Good Cleaning jobs?

Organising Breakfast

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Earlier this month I wrote about my New Year’s Resolution to make my days run more smoothly.  One aspect of my day that could be chaotic was breakfast.  Unlike everyone else in the house, I am not into the whole cereal and toast caper, a pain because they are about as easy and as quick to prepare as breakfasts come.  As I am a little fussier,  it was not unusual for me to miss breakfast, eat late or to end up scoffing my breakfast while completing some overdue task.

I decided that this year I really needed to sort the whole breakfast situation out for myself.  I needed to come up with quick, easy and healthy breakfasts.  After some consideration, here are some of my favourites:

Smoothies

A little while ago I thought it might be beneficial to try a smoothie for breakfast.  I like that it is something that can be taken with me if I am running late.  It is easy to carry around the house while I complete ‘must do’ tasks and is relatively quick to make.

To make the smoothie creation process faster, I went to the farmer’s market and stocked up on lovely fresh fruit.  I got this great box of mangoes for a steal…yum!

Mango Smoothies

After cutting it all up, I popped 1/2 cup portions into little zip lock bags to pop in the freezer.  This way I always have fruit on hand, even out of season, and the frozen fruit makes my smoothies deliciously thick and cold.

Organising Breakfast: Smoothies

I often add some LSA or 1/2 a Weetbix into the blender to help bulk it up and keep me full for longer.

Fruit Salad & Greek Yoghurt

It is not uncommon for us to put together a large fruit salad on the weekend and to pick at it over the course of the next two days . It is a great weekend breakfast, especially if you plan to eat out later in the day, as  it doesn’t keep you feeling as full as other breakfast choices.

Tropical Fruit Salad with Organic Yoghurt & Homemade Muesli

Boiled eggs

On a Sunday evening I boil a bunch of eggs to keep in the fridge. If the shells aren’t cracked, they are safe to be stored 2-3 weeks. If I find I am really hungry in the morning, cutting one or two of these up and eating it on toast is a sure hunger-buster.

Keeping boiled eggs on hand is great idea.  They are a terrific snack on their own and a fantastic sandwich filler at lunchtime.  If your evening salad is looking a little ho-hum, pop some egg on top.

Pancakes

These aren’t the healthiest breakfast choice but sometimes they are just what you feel like.  There is no weekday morning when whipping up a batch of pancakes is possible for me.  So, when I make pancakes as an after dinner treat or weekend morning tea, I increase the mix and cook a few extra to freeze.  More often than not, they get consumed by the kids as a quick morning tea option, but they have proved once or twice to be a great ‘grab and go’ breakfast option for me.

To freeze your own pancakes, I suggest letting them cool completely before layering baking paper between each pancake.  I freeze these in individual potions in ziplock bags.

A little while back I found a fool-proof, easy to remember pancake recipe with just 3 ingredients.  It doesn’t add sugar and always yields amazingly fluffy pancakes.  I will share it with you soon.

Organising Breakfasts: Pancakes

So there are some quick and easy breakfast ideas that are really helping streamline my morning routine.  I’d love to hear your favourite breakfast ideas, tips, ticks and recipes.

 

 

 

 

Creating a Smoother Day – Morning Routine

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Previously, I had written about my New Year’s Resolution to make my days run smoother.  I realised the key to success would be my morning and evening routine.  Last week I listed some of the tasks that I included in my evening routine to ensure my following day started off on the right foot.  Today, I thought I would share with you my morning tasks that ensure that the rest of the day runs smoothly for me.

  • Go for a walk – This is the first thing I do every morning.  I find I feel a lot more energised and ready to face the day after a walk

  • Drink a glass of warm lemon water – this gets the fluid intake going early in the day and the lemon aids all sorts of things such as digestion and the immune system

  • Unpack the dishwasher – as the dishwasher was run while I was sleeping, the dishes are dry and washer is then ready for dishes used throughout the day
  • Do any last lunch box preparation and packing
  • Unload the washing machine – the cycle, set on timer the night before,  finishes just as I am returning from my morning walk.  While I am happy to wash clothes, I loathe hanging them out and bringing them in.  This is hubby’s task.  Until he reliably remembers that each morning there is washing to hang up, I unload the washing machine and place the full clothes basket in the hall so he can’t miss it.

  • Make the beds

There are also things on the ‘not to do’ list as well.

  • Turn on the television 
  • Hop on the computer to check emails, Facebook etcetera
  • Be side tracked by non-urgent tasks (usually cleaning tasks).  They can wait till later.

By completing this small list of tasks, I immeasurably improve the running of the rest of  my day.  I have still left ample time in the mornings to have a play with the kids, eat breakfast, shower and dress for the day in a very civilised fashion.

Between the morning and evening tasks, things are running relatively smoothly in the Crooked Household.  Far less flying by the seat of our pants moments!

Creating a Smoother Day – Evening Routine

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Last week I wrote about my desire for my days to run a little more smoothly in 2013.

In the past, I found my days rushed or thrown into disarray because of a lack of preparation for the coming day in the previous evening’s routine.  Obviously, I needed to listen to the advice I often give my husband – Prior Preparation Prevents Poor Performance.

I decided there was a few things that I needed to have ticked off the ‘to do’ list before my head hit the pillow each night.  I don’t have a set time that these things get done, as some can be started or completed if I get a spare minute or two during the day.  Most of them get completed after dinner or just before I head to bed. Take a look…

  • Wipe down & sanitise the dining room table, children’s table & children’s high chairs.  Nothing is more annoying than finding you forgot to clean up last night’s spaghetti from the high chair as your 1-year-old is desperate for breakfast.
  • Tidy kitchen – pack dishwasher, pack away appliances and wipe benches. Who wants to be greeted with a messy kitchen in the morning?
  • Fill the family’s water bottles and refrigerate.  Place lunch boxes on the bench ready to pack in the morning. Too often I would find myself running late after spending precious time trying to locate the family’s lunch boxes and drink bottles
  • Put the kids’  breakfast cereal in their bowls ready for the morning.  I found these great lidded bowls, with matching cutlery, that are perfect for breakfast cereals. I appreciate not having to wrestle with the cereal boxes early in the morning while a 4-year-old exclaims, “I’m soooo hungry!” Evening Routine
  • Pack away any stray children’s toys.  I enjoy how uncluttered the house feels when the living areas are toy-free.
  • Choose an outfit for myself  to wear tomorrow.  Iron it if needed.  Generally the kids’ clothes are ready to go for the week.  You can read about my kids’ clothes hangers here.025
  • Consult my organiser and meal planner as a ‘heads up’  for the next day’s happenings and meals Meal Planner
  • Defrost any items needed for tomorrow’s meals
  • Load the washing machine and program the cycle to start in the early morning.
  • Put the dishwasher on just before bed

I choose to run the dishwasher late at night and the washing machine early in the morning as these are energy off-peak times.  It makes them so much more economical to run.

I have made a concerted effort to incorporate these tasks into my evening routine and I am seeing a real benefit.  I am going to bed feeling less cluttered.  The house and my mind are just not as messy.  As my AM is now freed from some of these tasks, the mornings are less hurried and chaos doesn’t descend. YES!