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Meal planning schedule

Meal planning: Saving time, money and reducing food-waste

In our busy lives, deciding what to feed ourselves and our families, having the right food in, and finding time to cook can be a real struggle. At the end of a long day, working out what to put on the table can sometimes be the thing that tips us over the edge. We find ourselves turning to take-away, or grabbing what we can on the way home, which can lead to wasting food and spending more time and money than we need to, without getting the healthy, balanced meals we want. APDO member and productivity specialist Karen Eyre-White (Go Do) is here to share her meal planning process to help us get organised and take some of the stress out of mealtime.

Step 1 – Schedule time to plan

Taking 30 minutes each week to plan out the next week’s meals can really help you feel in control. It doesn’t need to feel like a chore; sitting down with a glass of wine or cup of tea is a great way to relax during a busy week and be productive at the same time. This is also a great time to sift through some of your old recipe books that haven’t been opened in a while!

Step 2 – Check your diary

One common mistake that you don’t want to make is planning for food that you won’t be home to eat. So, before you start, take a look at your diary. Which nights are you out and therefore not eating at home? Which nights are all the kids at after-school activities and you’ll need to rustle something up in 15 minutes? Be sure to choose meals which fit with the time and amount of people home for dinner.

Step 3 – Check your Cheat-sheet!

Create a list of old faithful meals which you can look at for inspiration, and mix in some new recipes every now and then. BBC Good Food has a great collection of recipes for all cuisines and budgets, or try Yummy Toddler Food for kids. Don’t be over-ambitious, you don’t need to plan culinary masterpieces for every night of the week (or, indeed, for any).  It can also be helpful to choose meals which complement each other. Perhaps the leftovers from one meal can be used as the next day’s lunch, or if a recipe calls for half a bag of spinach and you can use the rest for a meal later in the week. Not only does this reduce food waste, it also saves money. Build in at least a night a week to eat something from the freezer, or for something really simple. This is very flexible so if you find yourself with extra leftovers, or an invitation out to dinner, you can take full advantage.

A lady reading a cook book

Step 4 – Make a list

Make your plan in good time ahead of food shopping for the week and as you choose your meals create your shopping list. This way, you can add things to the list that you may have forgotten when you originally made it. If you find supermarkets stressful, or find yourself tempted by food you probably won’t eat (or eat too much of!), most big name shops have home delivery services. If you plan it enough in advance you can avoid high delivery charges and it saves a lot of the time and the hassle of battling the grocery store.

Step 5 – Make it fun

If you have children, involving them in your meal planning can make the process a positive experience. Sometimes it can help children to have some predictability about food, so think up an easy schedule like Meat Free Mondays, Tortilla Tuesdays, or even Waste Wednesdays for using up anything spare you’ve got in the fridge. Not only are you integrating more quality time together, you’re also teaching them valuable skills for when they’re living on their own. For more ideas on integrating your children into the kitchen and cooking process, check out our recent blog, Play with your food – cooking with children.

Feeding yourself and your family can feel overwhelming, but by following these steps you can take the stress out of it, and go into the week feeling confident. Happy planning!

It’s National Organising Week 2019 and APDO’s 15th birthday celebration! We would love for you to join in the fun by following us on our social media channels. If we’ve inspired you to #loveyourleftovers with this post please tag us with our hashtag #NOWorganise so we can see what you’ve been up to! 

 

Small succulent plant in a white pot signifying organised recycling

7 steps to create your own home recycling system

Reducing the use of plastics, building sustainable houses, repurposing discarded materials – the media is full of information about the problems consumerism can cause and articles about how much we can do to help the situation. Some of the facts are truly mind-blowing… For example, did you know that the energy saved from recycling just one glass bottle is enough to power a light bulb for four hours? When we recycle we are decreasing the need for landfills and incinerators, therefore reducing ground and air pollution as well as land usage. In this post, Filipa do Carmo of Khora Space Sorted explains how to organise your own recycling system at home.

If you want to lead a more sustainable lifestyle, start with the simple act of recycling. Having a simple system in place is a great way to guarantee your commitment. And by simple, I mean, a system that works specifically for you (and your family or co-workers).

Here are some steps to make it happen:

1. Do your research

Start by checking online for recycling options in your community. You can easily find this information on your local council’s website. As you know, the rules vary enormously depending on location, so do check. This information will serve as a guide to help you with the steps below and provide you with a quick reference guide to check. This is especially useful if you need to separate the different types of waste.

2. Know your trash

If you know the type of waste you create and how often it’s collected it will be easier to decide which bins to get, if you need this extra storage, and where to place your bins. Take time to observe the quantity and type of waste you produce before you decide what to get.

Row of organised coloured recycling bins

3. Make it easy

This is a really important step. If it doesn’t make sense, or is dysfunctional, we will be less likely to commit.

Placing the recycling bin next to the non-recycling one will increase the chances of recycling more. When this is not possible in the space we have available, try to find the nearest location.

Another option is to have different containers which let you separate as you dispose, to avoid having to sort everything twice.

4. Compost

The benefits of composting are endless; it makes total sense to use organic matter to nourish our soil. Some councils offer compost bins and bags which they collect on specific days. Otherwise, you can donate it to local gardeners or allotment holders, or use it for your own garden, if you are lucky to have one.

5. Bathroom recycling

Whilst most households are getting better at sorting their kitchen waste, the same rarely happens in the bathroom. A good solution here is to have two bins in the bathroom too and use one to collect empty plastic bottles and paper which can be recycled.

If you want to push it a bit further, start thinking about using plastic-free alternatives – such as soap, solid shampoo –  or making your own face cream. There are a lot of options out there.

Foliage in a glass jar signifying recycling and environment

6. Battery recycling

Set aside a small box or can in which you can place used batteries and other small electrics. These are highly toxic and need to be recycling in specialised containers. Most supermarkets now have bins for batteries, so keeping your battery box close to your shopping bags will remind you to take them with you when you go shopping.

7. Donation box

Another good idea is to have a donation box into which you can place clothes, electronics and other items you no longer need, but which could be useful to others. It’s always better to keep everything in one place, instead of different piles around your home. In this way, whenever you know you are going to pass by your local charity shop, you can take everything with you in one go. Or perhaps contact a charity to book a collection.

In our recent blog post “What to do with your unwanted stuff” there are some further suggestions of how to recycle the items that you are decluttering from your home.

If Filipa’s post has inspired you to declutter and get organised, you can find your local professional organiser here.

APDO organised camping tent

Happy campers!

It’s still festival season, so Catriona Watson, Oxford-based professional organiser and owner of Clear Space for Me has consulted some experienced festival-goers and shares their tips here.

It’s no surprise that the happiest campers are often organised, good planners, skilled at packing lots of stuff into small spaces. From Green Man and Reading, to Glastonbury and even Burning Man, here are some tips for an organised and happy festival experience!

Wheels

Bring cat litter and planks to get out of a muddy patch. Lights can decorate your bike or car (as well as your body and your tent).

Food

We enjoyed buying food out and only bothered to pack snacks.  Personally though I need my cuppa first thing in the morning, so I’m packing coffee-making arrangements even though this will significantly add to my carrying weight. Bringing snacks will help you stick to your budget. But be kind to yourself – you are on holiday!

Money

This leads us to cash. Make sure you have enough money to buy food and drink, and maybe some interesting festie shopping items. It’s easy to spend £40-£50 a day, so budget accordingly.

Drink

Be prepared! Bumps and bruises under the influence of a delicious cider will make plasters and Savlon most welcome. A plastic lid and straw for the top of your pint glass will help keep the wasps and spills under control. A cup is a must anyway. Restrictions on what can be brought onto festival sites, especially in terms of drinks, have led to some fascinating smuggling strategies! (I will limit myself to the observation that it helps if you are a naturally curvy woman!).

 

APDO organised festival camping lights

Self-care

Consider indigestion tablets, a plan for how you will pee at night, tissues for clean-ups of all sorts, and some idea of how delicious you are to midges – and prepare accordingly. Also, if you are offered a VIP pass to a nice loo, take it.

Bedding

A foil blanket on the ground beneath your sleeping area is surprisingly helpful, keeping out damp and chill. And it sound obvious, but make sure you have a big enough tent for your body and all of your stuff.

Silly ideas!

“A feather headdress and sequins, and a credit card” was suggested to me! Depending on where you are going, that is actually not so dumb an idea! It will be easier for your mates to find you in a crowd, at least!

 

Experiences add to our memory banks, bringing meaning to our lives, and building our resilience to stress. What’s not to love? Have a fantastic time!

If you need help getting organised this summer, you can find your local professional organiser here.

 

Welcome to Simplicity concept on road billboard

From Harvey Nichols to Diggory Lifestyle

Dee Hope runs Diggory Lifestyle covering Warwickshire, Cotswolds, Worcestershire and Oxfordshire. Her aim is to help clients to ‘dee-clutter’ for a simpler life. In this guest blog she shares her story; how she found her true calling by going on her own journey – and how this gave her true insight into to how to help her clients.

Dee Diggory

I am a declutterer. I help people release the things in their life that are not important and then help them create more space for the things that really matter.

My chosen career path emerged from the experiences I have had in life, and looking back, it is quite clear to me, that helping others is the most rewarding and fulfilling way to spend my days.

I was lucky to learn very early on in life that “things” will not make you happy, it was a very expensive lesson to learn, but I do consider it my most valued learning. I was 23 living in London as a professional nanny, I wasn’t very happy, I was new to the city and I felt quite isolated. I had just sold my flat and had several thousand pounds sitting in my bank account; so, what did I do? I went shopping. I walked up and down High Street, Kensington on my days off for months buying whatever grabbed my attention, skirts, tops, dresses, shoes, boots, sometimes two of the same item, until eventually, the money was all gone….

I remember standing in my room just looking at the stuff I’d bought, piles of it, most of which was still in bags and boxes, with tickets on, I’d never even opened them. I had felt the rush of the purchase, it had made me feel good, happy, but it was only fleeting.

It wasn’t real.

There was nowhere to hide, the money was gone, all I was left with was an empty feeling; and as I stood there silently looking at all the bags, I allowed myself to admit the truth, I was still unhappy and all these “things” had not helped.

So, I resolved to make some changes…

I gave notice to my employer and I sold all the ‘stuff’ that I had bought to friends at a fraction of the cost I paid for them. It was surprisingly easy to ‘let them go’, which was strange because at the time I bought them, I felt ‘I had to have them’. With the money I made, I just had enough to buy a ticket to Australia. I travelled for a year as a backpacker, I did all kinds of jobs, from crewing on a yacht to picking capsicums on a farm to working on a horse ranch. I had no money, certainly no things, but…I was happy. I met some weird and wonderful people and had some amazing experiences.

As I reflect back now and think about when I have been happiest, it is, in fact, a series of moments, involving people, my beloved dogs and sharing experiences, “never things”.

These days I try to help people recover some of the freedom that I felt after making such bold changes. Less radical perhaps, but by reducing and organising possessions it is very possible to create space for life rather than “things”.

I have had many jobs, from nanny (expert with small children) to Executive Assistant (expert with big children) and use my skills and experiences to help my clients big and small put the important things back into their lives. Not only organising and prioritising their world, but also sharing techniques and tools, systems and insights, motivation and methods to maintain the process long after I’ve gone.

As I have said, this is the most rewarding work I have ever done.

One of my very first clients was a young mum suffering from post-natal depression. She asked for my help, her self-esteem was so low, she didn’t trust herself to know when to turn the dishwasher on. She told me I was her last chance if I failed, she believed she may not have a future with her husband and baby. I am delighted to say I did not fail, she sent me a lovely card in which she wrote:

“Dee, thanks so much for the support, help and problem solving. Just having a listening ear was enough to help me move forward, let alone the decluttering and pro-activeness that followed! My confidence has soared and I’m finally being the organised mum I’ve always wanted to be!”

As if I ever needed reminding, this letter always tells me where happiness lies…and it is not in Harvey Nichols or Peter Jones.

Diggory Lifestyle has many services. Each tailored to match different moments in your life and adapted to your unique circumstances and budget.

Perhaps this guest blog has inspired you to consider professional organising as a career change! If so, find out more about training and joining APDO. If you feel you could benefit from the services APDO members like Dee have to offer, find a local organiser here.