It’s Like Elves in the Kitchen

Do you sometimes feel like you are alone in the kitchen with no help at all? Help can come from all kinds of sources. Here are some ways that you can help yourself and enlist the help of others.

Meal plan a week in advance –  On Saturday look at your calendar for the next week to see what nights you will be involved with children’s activities, meetings or sports. Plan the evening meal based on those activities. Use easy to make recipes on busy nights or meals that can be reheated to serve if family members need to eat at different times.
Shopping ListShopping list by departments –  Make your shopping list as you select your recipes. As you look at each recipe and decide on items that need to be purchased, place that item on the shopping list in the department you will find it. For example: tomatoes, carrots and lettuce will all go under produce but they may not all be used in the same recipe. This will make your shopping so much faster. We tend to take a recipe and just start writing down the items we need and then our list takes us all over the store or we have to mentally jump around our list. This is tiring and time consuming. Give your brain a break and get organized before you hit the store. 
Clean as you go –  There are usually breaks in the process while food is cooking. Take that time to clean the pots and pans, measuring spoons and cups as you go. Load the dishwasher. It is much less daunting than facing it all after you have eaten the meal. You are relaxed after eating and less motivated to clean.
Make ahead dishes – Casseroles and crock pot meals can really save you time especially on the busy nights when everyone has a different schedule and you are the taxi driver.
Use store bought items to fill in –  I love Trader Joe’s! A little trick to making life easier in the kitchen is to use some store bought items so that you are not doing Trader Joes Fearless Flyerall the cooking. This is especially true for dinner parties and festive events when there will be more people to serve. They have a “Fearless Flyer” that will give you all kinds of ideas to work with and it is written with a sense of humor. Laughter always helps to lighten the load. They can help! Seriously!    Trader Joe’s Holiday Flyer
Enlist friends and family to bring items – Let guests help who want to help. This makes many people feel good and close to you in your home.  Invite them to bring a side dish or dessert or help serve or clear dishes.  Enlist the help of teens if this is a party to watch the little ones for a while so you can join in conversation or eat the meal while it is still hot!
Set the table in advance – When you are having a dinner party, set the table with the centerpiece, dishes, napkins and all the glass wear the evening or morning before the party. Set your bar area the day before your party.  One less thing to do means more time for you.  Take the time for yourself to get ready and feel good. Remember you set the mood for your party.
These are just like any new habit, it takes awhile to change the way you have been doing things but once you do, you will be recommending these ideas to all your friends. You may even have time to put your feet up and relax!
Feet up Relax

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