Tips to Simplify #1

I have 3 children under 41/2 and another one on the way. Just to get the basics done can be a challenge sometimes! So one thing I am really learning is to simplify and find ways to still get things done.
I thought I would share a few tips that are helping me. I don't always stick to them, but life is easier when I do!

Plan meals.
I do my shopping every 2 weeks, so I plan two weeks meals at a time. I found it a bit overwhelming at first, but the next 3 tips make it easier.  It's so nice just to look on your menu and know what to cook.

Have freezer lists.
We have a few freezers--vegies and bread in one and meat etc. in the others. So I have 2 lists on my fridge with everything written down. When I take something out of the freezer, I cross it off. It saves searching through a freezer to see if you've got any chicken etc. left.
It also helps with menu planning, as you know exactly what you have.

Meal lists.
I have a folder that I use to plan meals. On one page I have 'chicken' written on top. All the different meals I make with chicken are written underneath. Next pages is sausages and what I make with sausages. And so on.
When I'm planning meals, I look through for ideas.

Make meals that last for 2 nights.
I have just started doing this and it is so nice! Yesterday I made a big silverbeet and bacon pasta bake. It's enough to last 2 meals, so I don't have to cook tonight. Yay! This week I will make Satay chicken, so I will use double chicken and 2 jars of sauce.
This is also great for meal planning, as you only have to plan half the amount of meals. You just have to make sure you buy enough ingredients eg. 2 jars of pasta sauce instead of one.
You can't do this for all types of meals, but there are lots you can.

Paper plates!! :)
I bought some bulk paper plates online and these cut down on dishes. We have no dishwasher and when I was first pregnant, I got overwhelmed with dishes! I like paper plates at lunchtime, then there's hardly any dishes.

Prepare meals early in the day
Since making dinner is a priority, when possible, I try and get it prepared early in the day. Slow cookers are great for this.  Yesterday I made my pasta bake in the morning and washed all the dishes after lunch. Then at 4:00 I slipped it in the oven for an hour. I love it when I can do this! The afternoon was stress free, with not many dishes after dinner. It's also helpful as my 1yr old is sometimes quite grumpy right before dinner.

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