I am often asked, “How do you do it all?”
Oh my. Without a doubt, my answer to that question is always, “Mercy, have you seen my closets?” (or cabinets, or laundry pile, or toilets, or pick your messes depending on the day…)
I don’t do it all. I don’t even do half of it all. In fact, it’s almost 6 pm as I’m trying to write this. I still haven’t done my breakfast dishes and I haven’t started to make dinner. For the first time today, I finally got a chance to sit down and work on my website at 5:35 – and I’ve had three interruptions since I started. I think I forgot to have the boys put the laundry into the dryer, which means that the clothes might start to smell sour soon. I didn’t make my bed this morning. I didn’t hang my dress up after wearing it on Sunday. My hair looks kinda funny. And it seems that I have misplaced all of the pens that are supposed to be in my cute pen basket in the kitchen. (FYI: It does not work to write a check with a fat sharpie or an unsharpened pencil.)
But for all of my unmade bed and missing pen issues, one thing I feel that I am getting figured out is efficiency in the kitchen. I believe that one of the reasons I am able to feed my family a (mostly) healthy diet while keeping up with a very busy schedule is because I try to make very good use of my time in the kitchen. I’m not sure I could make it work otherwise. (Although some days, no matter what I do, nothing works, of course. Those are my pancakes and creamy mac and cheese fall back days.)
Here’s what works for me: Hardly ever do I just stand and do one thing at a time. I grind flour while I’m washing dishes; prepare a casserole for dinner while I’m making lunch; bake breakfast muffins while I’m finishing dinner; chop veggies while I’m waiting for butter to melt; shout out spelling words while I’m stirring noodles; get out ingredients while going back and forth to the stove to brown meat…
(And if my boys are capable of doing any kitchen or cleaning chores that need to be done – and at their ages, they definitely are capable of much! – I pull them in with me to help cook or cleanout the dishwasher, or send them upstairs to do some cleaning. It’s multi-tasking at it’s finest! Those of you with little bitty ones, hang in there. It does get easier as your children get older!)
Want to know one of my favorite ways to save time in the kitchen? Make one big mess. (This sounds sooo efficient doesn’t it?) What I mean is – there are some kitchen tasks that are pretty messy or take a while to clean up after. Take homemade peanut butter for example. Making peanut butter isn’t difficult at all, but I have found that washing my food processor afterward takes quite a bit of time. Therefore, I have begun to make two or three or even four batches of peanut butter while I’ve got the food processor already peanut buttery. It keeps just fine in the fridge, so if I’m going to make a mess, why not make plenty of peanut butter so that I don’t have to wash the food processor as often? Makes sense to me. (Kinda sounds like my lasagna making process, huh?)
Oh, and since we are on the topics of peanut butter and kitchen efficiency, you will be glad to know that while my peanuts are whirling about in the food processor becoming peanut butter, I am busy stirring up a batch of muffins, slicing fruit for a salad, or standing on my head trying to get a pyrex dish out while it sits at the bottom of a heavy (and slightly unorganized) stack of dishes in the cabinet. Why not? The peanuts don’t need help turning themselves into peanut butter. A watched food processor never boils you know. Or at least I believe that is how the saying goes.
What tasks have you found that you can do in the kitchen to keep you efficient with your time?