How to Use Pinterest for Weekly Meal Planning

Since January I have been weekly meal planning.  It’s been a very effective tool to keep me on track with mindful eating not only with dinner, but planning my breakfast and lunch meals as well.  Knowing what you will be eating in advance increases the likelihood you will make healthier choices.  If you think about how many times you have left work, tired from a full day and say “what am I going to fix for dinner?”  If you don’t have a plan you will likely pull into fast food and spend the money and calories on food that really wasn’t that tasty or healthy.  Did you know the average American spends $2,625 per year on restaurants (Motley Fool) and wastes around $525 annually tossing groceries in the trash from lack of planning (USA Today)?

There are many techniques for meal planning.  You can make your own journal, you can print the recipes every week and some cookbook authors have their own meal planners  like Skinnytaste .

I like using Pinterest.  It’s free and convenient.  I can meal plan anywhere without having to write anything down.  Here’s the bonus:  Not only do I create my  Weekly Meal Plan from recipes I’ve found on Pinterest, but I can also add recipes from cookbooks I have at home. So, everything is saved to one centralized location.  No photocopying recipes.  Plus, Pinterest has really evolved with allowing users to upload just about anything you can find online.  Love that recipe you saw posted on Facebook?  Love getting your recipes from the daily newspaper?  You can even save links directly from Instagram to Pinterest.

Each Saturday, I look through my Pinterest recipes and my own cookbooks to plan at least three meals for the week.  The other four days we will eat leftovers,  go out to eat at least one night a week, or if we both have evening committments we will just eat a sandwich.

This week was spring break.  Miss Bee is home from school so I planned a menu I knew she would eat.  I also planned to watch a movie for my graduate school class and I wanted to prepare Indian Food to accompany the theme of the film.  I found recipes for Samosas, Hummus, Naan, Indian Butter Chicken, Butternut Squash Lasagna, and Honey Siracha Salmon.  All these recipes are here on my March 11 Weekly Meal Plan board on Pinterest.

When I create my shopping list, I click on each recipe on my Pinterest board and record the ingredients I need to shop for.  Since I use Shipt to do my shopping for me I record the ingredients I need directly into my Shipt shopping cart.

Each week, I create a brand new board with that week’s date.  I’ve also planned my recipes for next week March 18 (you can check those out here).

When it’s time to prepare the meal, I just pull up my Pinterest board, access the recipe and set my device on the kitchen counter to follow the recipe.  No cookbooks to search through or papers to fumble.

Are there recipes in a hardcopy cookbook you love  or maybe a hand-written recipe?  Here are the steps to upload your own recipes to your Pinterest board.

  1.  First, you need a Pinterest account.  It’s free and easy. Just go to www.Pinterest.com.
  2. Now your Pinterest page won’t look like mine because I have had my account for about ten years and it’s full of content.  You will have a blank page.  First, you want to create a board.   Think of ‘boards’ as bulletin boards for each topic of your interest.  See the gray box with the red circle.  Click on that circle and give your board a name, then click on create.  Now you have a board to pin recipes to.

If you want to add your own recipes, not found on Pinterest, this next step shows you how to take your personal recipes and upload them to your newly created menu board.

3. Take screen shots with your phone of the pages of the cookbook or hand-written recipes you want to load on your pinterest board.  Then go to the next step.

4. See the arrow in the upper right hand corner of my Pinterest home page, that little red circle with the plus sign – that’s how you create pins. When you click on it a drop down menu will pop up and you will click on “create pin”

I have added arrows and text with numbers 1-3 on the steps. Your screen will not have all of theses arrows and instructions.

Step 1. What is the name of your pin?  More than likely it’s the name of your recipe.  Let’s say it’s Southern Living meatloaf, well then that’s what you will title it.

Step 2. Click on the gray box and upload your screen shot of the recipe.  Your phone gallery will pop up and click on the photo you want to upload.  It will now show up here.

Step 3.  You must tell Pinterest where you want to save the photo.  Since you created the Board ‘Weekly Meal Plan March 18’, click on the down arrow and scroll until you find that board’s title and select it (if you are new to Pinterest you won’t have many boards to choose from).

Step 4.  Click on the red “SAVE” button at the top of the screen.  You have now successfully saved your pin!

I hope this helps give you inspiration to start menu planning and create a system that works for you to make it happen.  Be sure to check back and let me know how it’s going!

My Easy Three for January: Emails, linen closet, medicine cabinet and Marie Kondo

I haven’t done a My Easy Three post in a long time, but it’s time to get back to sharing three simple things you can try each month to feel like you’ve accomplished something.  By breaking it down into “just three”things it’s doable and achievable – not overwhelming.

One:  Emails – Clear the Clutter.  Do you have a stockpile of unread emails like from stores you don’t really shop or did one time to get the discount?  Do you want to start the new year sticking to a budget and don’t want the temptation to buy something?  Introducing — UNSUBSCRIBE!  Don’t just delete, because it will be back again tomorrow and you will just feel like you are on a hamster wheel.

I took about 30 minutes one day going through this process.  It might take a few times to unsubscribe until they get the message, but be persistent.  This activity can easily be done while you are waiting for an appointment, in the carpool line, or drinking your morning coffee.  If you don’t already have inbox folders designated for family members, coupons, photos, important correspondence, for example, set those up.  Then move all the emails from your current inbox into folders.  You should probably have no more than ten emails at one time in your inbox.  If it needs action leave it there, otherwise, it needs to be deleted or put into a folder.  You defeat the point with having 50,100 or 300 emails at one time.  How can you easily find something amidst that clutter?  Think of it has pieces of paper on your desk.  Once you’ve cleared the clutter, try to spend time each day purging, moving and minimizing your inbox clutter.

Two:  Clear out the linen closet, cabinet and drawer.  January is a great time to take advantage of what has been traditionally called a “white sale”  Fun fact:  In 1878, John Wanamaker of Philadelphia department store fame decreed January to be the time for a “White sale.” Bed linens, which were available in white only, were sold at a discount. This was done to increase sales for these items at a time of the year when sales were normally slow.

For this activity, go through all your towels (bath and kitchen), sheets, blankets, comforters and quilts.  Are they stained, torn or worn?  You know who could use them — animal shelters!   Have you stopped using a comforter or quilt because it’s out of style or the wrong color, then give it to a homeless shelter.  Give to someone else what once gave you joy, then it doesn’t feel like such a waste.  Go through your inventory of bath and hand towels and washcloths — do you have too many of one thing, are they random colors and you’d rather just narrow it down to two, then donate the standouts.  Sort everything in its proper place either in stacks or in baskets and if it’s not clear, then label them.  Want inspiration?  Click here for 20 Beautifully Organized Linen Closets like this one!

Three:  Clear out the medicine cabinet and prepare for flu and cold season!  Our home wasn’t built with medicine cabinets, so we use storage bins with snap off lids I bought at Dollar General.  They easily stack and I label them to distinguish between prescription, over the counter, and first aid medicines.  Physically touch each bottle or tube.  Check the expiration date.  Most medicine loses it’s potentcy and can actually be toxic past its expiration date, so be sure to error on the side of caution.  Wipe out the shelves so they are clean and free from goop.  Most drug stores are running good sales right now to prepare people for the cough and cold season.  Here’s a list from Real Simple on Medicine Cabinet Essentials.  I keep a small first aid kit in my powder room.  If guests need a bandaid or headache medicine they can help themselves to supplies on their own.

Bonus Thing:  Please watch Marie Kondo’s Netflix series Tidying Up with Marie Kondo.  Her mission is to clear the clutter and spark joy — my kinda gal!  Her show is really inspiring.  There are a few rituals she strongly believes in to help ground her clients and steer them toward appreciating the process.   There’s always tears, frustration, yelling and then boom the realization.  You will leave each episode with at least one great idea to apply in your own home (like the proper way to fold a fitted sheet!).  You can watch the trailer here.

Go forth, organize, declutter and #seekjoy!

Monday Motivation: Holiday Cleaning and My Favorite Cleaning Products

It’s Monday and you know what that means…my day to launch something to keep you motivated for the week.  Today it’s housekeeping.  Pretty timely since your house was likely filled with family, friends and like me a college student home for the holiday.  They’ve all left you with full stomachs, great memories and a dirty house.  Well today is your lucky day!

If you don’t already know about Clean Mama’s website to help you “keep a clean house while still enjoying your family and life with simple cleaning routines that’s perfect for busy homes” you are going to love her free downloadable December calendar.

Visit her site for your own printable and tons of resources for all her cleaning supplies, books, recipes, oils, labels and tips she employs to keep her home clean and enjoyable.  I love a clean house, who doesn’t, but sometimes it is so overwhelming to think “ugh, I’ve got to clean the house today!”  Then you start with one project, see a stack of other stuff you go through, then you get distracted, go to change the litter box, wait wasn’t there something cute on Instagram I need to look at, go to the kitchen for a drink and see dishes in the sink, unload the dishwasher, notice the microwave is dirty, start to clean it, then go back to project #1, and start the whole process over….

“What if I told you that you could spend just minutes a day on cleaning and homekeeping and you’d have a clean home all week long? Those mundane tasks like laundry and loading the dishwasher will become part of your repertoire and daily routine and you’ll become one of those people that welcome visitors and guests. Keeping a house clean and tidy comes naturally for me and I love the practice of homekeeping.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed and don’t know where to start, forget everything you thought you knew about keeping a clean house. Realize that it’s perfectly normal to loathe or resent cleaning. This is because you’ve let it control your life and you’ve set it on a reactive mode instead of proactive and automatic. Let’s change that!”

Here’s her calendar for December just in time for you to apply on Saturday.

Until Saturday, use this week to put stuff away from your holiday gatherings. Just do your simple routines, but wait to tackle your cleaning until Saturday and see if following her suggested routine helps you.

In the meantime, here are some of my favorite cleaning products.  I love Mrs. Meyers  products and this time of the year is perfect for the holiday scented line — like the orange clove, Iowa Pine and Peppermint multi-surface cleaner.  They also have a Peppermint candle that I think would be perfect as a hostess gift.

And during the holidays I love to have full bottles of liquid handsoap in the powder room.  How about the Mrs. Meyers Pine scent?  Visit Mrs. Meyer’s through 11/26 for 10% off your total purchase and free shipping!

And my favorite laundry detergent that I have been using for over a year — Molly’s Suds Original for Sensitive Skin. It’s scented with peppermint oil and is super concentrated.  I only use one tablespoon scoop that comes with the soap.  It’s formulated for HE washing machines and ever since I started using it my front loading washer no longer has a foul smell.  Plus, the clothes smell clean.  I have it on auto delivery with Amazon to save money and I never run out.

I hope this post leaves you excited about starting a cleaning routine.  Have a fab week ahead!

Christmas Ornament Storage

I had such a nice, relaxing Thanksgiving holiday.  I enjoyed time with my besties in Austin, ate yummy meals with family, and had a sleepover with my sweet great niece.  She loves to spend time with her “Aunt Mizmee and Uncle Doe!”  I especially relished the bedtime snuggles and reading the Christmas Story to her.

And with Thanksgiving being a tiny bit earlier, it gives us a whole extra week to decorate and enjoy all the Christmas decorations.  Mr. Bee put lights up outside and I decorated four Christmas trees!  I know that sounds exhausting.  Want to know my trick? A few years ago, my friend and personal organizer Elizabeth Jones from Nest & Transformation, worked with me to organize all my Christmas decor so I know exactly where everything is.  I have an area set aside in my attic with all my storage bins and it has helped me to enjoy the holidays!

That’s my tip for this week:  Take time to organize, sort and purge any decorations or ornaments you no longer use.

I stocked up on ornament storage boxes like these from The Container Store.  Each box is $16.95, holds 75 ornaments and comes with cardboard inserts to keep each ornament safe and snug.

I organized and labeled ornaments by tree, so if I just want to decorate the family room tree one evening, I know which box to pull off the shelf.

She helped me to go through each of my ornaments and throw out broken ones and repair a few with glue.  I only kept the ones that were meaningful to me.  If they didn’t bring me joy then I placed them into the donate bin for someone else to treasure.

We created bins for each zone in the house like kitchen, powder room, mantel, entry way, Christmas pillows, books, party supplies, baking tins, etc…  This helps again to simplify the process so it’s not so overwhelming if I just want to decorate a little at a time.  If I am doing some baking, I know exactly which bin stores all my baking tins for gift-giving.

Now is the time to do this process so next year your decorating will be a breeze!  It may take a little more effort this year, but I promise it will pay off when you’re getting it all ready for 2018.

 

Easy Stovetop Potpourri

Rachel Schultz

This weekend while you are gathering up all your Thanksgiving recipes — see Mrs. Twist’s Thanksgiving Guide here, make this easy three-ingredient stovetop simmering potpourri to fill your home with the smell of clean.

Slice one lemon, add three rosemary sprigs, one teaspoon of vanilla and enough water to cover.  I let it sit on the stove at a low simmer.*  It filled the house with the smell of the soaps you purchase at Williams- Sonoma.  I had all the ingredients on-hand, especially the rosemary from the bush in the garden.

And here’s a time-saver from PureWow for the holidays regarding cleaning — fake a clean home!  “A deep clean would be lovely, but you’ve got 45 minutes, woman. The most important thing you can do: Clear every counter and tabletop of clutter and hide the mess away, you can deal with that stack of mail in the hamper later.  Then give each surface a spritz of all-purpose cleaner for a little extra shine. No one will be scrutinizing the corners of your baseboards anyway.”  Try a bottle of Mrs. Meyer’s Apple Cider multi-purpose spray cleaner for your countertops — people will be so obsessed over how yummy your house smells they won’t even notice the cobwebs!

That’s a tip I need to tattoo on my arm — why do we clean before company comes when the mess is after they leave?  I am raising my hand guilty on all counts on this because I get so overwhelmed with cleaning before a party that it makes me crazy.

*Be sure to add water, as needed, and never leave it unattended.  Turn the stove off when you leave the house or go to bed.

My Easy Three: In the Kitchen

My Easy Three are achievable tasks you can apply to keep you and your home organized.  For September I’ve got three easy things to do in the kitchen.

First — go through your plastic storage containers.  Every few months or so, I sit down on the floor in my kitchen in front of the cabinet that stores all my plastic and glass food storage containers.  I take each base and try to find its lid.  Does the lid snap on easy, does it even fit?  Is the container stained, warped? Toss or recycle the rejects.I got a set of Pyrex glass containers from Costso.  They are easy to clean and don’t melt or warp in the microwave or dishwasher.  I keep the lids snapped on and stack them in the cabinet.  Having this nice set means I only need a few plastic or disposable ones for food I might want to give away.  For those containers, I stack them inside each other and I use a divider to stand up the lids.  It keeps everything neat and organized.

Second — Do the same process from your travel cups and mugs. Do they work, are they cracked, stained, do they have matching tight fitting lids? Do you even like them?  Recycle all the ones you don’t have an attachment to. Do you really need 20 travel cups?  I have 3 travel mugs and about 8 tumblers with lids like this.  I like to drink from something with style not a faded, old Quicktrip cup.  I stack the cups and keep the lids in a long, skinny drawer divider and the straws stored upright in a cup.

Third, — Kitchen towels and dishcloths.  Go through each one. Is it faded, torn, stained?  Some can be recycled to the cleaning or car wash container in the garage.  Invest in a new matching pretty set for the fall.  I roll my towels into cylinders and keep about 20 in a drawer.  This method keeps the drawer from being over stuffed with towels.  If I bring a new towel into the drawer, I clean out the drawer again.  Here’s a pretty set for the holidays from Williams Sonoma.

What’s a constant trouble area in your home you’d like help with?  Leave a comment and I’ll try to help.  For more ideas from My Easy Three check out the Homekeeping and Organization tab under HomeStyle.

Keeping it Clean: Free Printable from Clean Mama

Since 2009, Clean Mama has been teaching people how to keep their spaces clean and organized with ease and style.  Her site is full of all sorts of resources — printables, schedules, products, and all the tips, tools and tricks to helping you achieve your homekeeping goals.  I follow her on Instagram and recently joined the 7-Day Simply Clean Start Challenge which helps you establish a cleaning routine. #cleaningismyjam

Her trick:  Focus on just one task a day Monday through Saturday.  By the end of the week, you’ve tackled your entire house.  For example, Mondays is bathrooms only -whether you have one or five, that’s all you do is clean the bathroom.  Tuesday is dusting (which is my LEAST favorite chore. B-O-R-I-N-G), and so on.  You can check it all out on her site and in her book Simply Clean which I plan to purchase with my $50 Amazon gift card I won from the gym for achieving an exercise goal!  Winning!

In the meantime, click here for Becky’s free August printable. During the summer Miss Phoebe has been earning her allowance doing housekeeping chores. Now, she can just use this list to see what needs to be done! Again with the winning!

Note:  I was not compensated for this post.  I’m just a fan of clean and Clean Mama.

How to Roast Bell Peppers — The Easy Way

I really love bell peppers — red, orange and yellow being my favorite, green not so much.  Did you know that in addition to their their varied colors and taste, each differently hued bell pepper has a unique array of nutritional benefits?  Green peppers feature an abundance of chlorophyll. Yellow peppers have more of the lutein and zeaxanthin carotenoids. Orange peppers have more alpha-, beta-, and gamma-carotene. Red peppers have more lycopene and astaxanthin, two other important carotenoids.  So, regardless of the color, bell peppers are a very healthy vegetable to include in your diet.  My favorite way to eat them fresh is with hummus or roasted on pizza.

Over the weekend, I did a massive purge of my refrigerator contents.  I took every shelf out so there was absolutely nothing in my refrigerator.  I made a pail of vinegar and hot water with a dash of liquid dish soap and went to town.  I grossed myself out with the gunk in my fridge.  But, it’s all sparkly clean and I found myself opening the door every so often just to peak at it’s beauty.

Revelation — From this exercise, I learned that I don’t need “jars” of pickles, olives, peppers, or bags of produce anymore.  They just go to waste.  Lately, I have just been visiting the salad bar at Whole Foods and Albertson’s and buying what I need.  If I am making a pizza — I buy 10 olives.  If I need spinach, I buy a handful. If I need peppers, I am going to roast my own.

You can roast them over a flame on your stove or grill, but I like the easy method the Barefoot Contessa uses.  Watch her video here.

Ina’s Roasted Red Peppers

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees.

Place the whole peppers on a sheet pan and place in the oven for 30 to 40 minutes, until the skins are completely wrinkled and the peppers are charred, turning them twice during roasting. Remove the pan from the oven and immediately cover it tightly with aluminum foil. Set aside for 30 minutes, or until the peppers are cool enough to handle.

Remove the stem from each pepper and cut them in quarters. Remove the peels and seeds and place the peppers in a bowl along with any juices that have collected. Discard the stems, peels, and seeds. Pour the oil over the peppers. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.

And the best part, I can put them in these French glass terrines from the Container Store!  Elevate your food by storing it in a beautiful container is my motto!

I use these in my pantry, too, which you can see featured on the Container Store website showing how I use glass jars and the multi-purpose bin in my pantry.  #containyourself.

What’s one thing you can cut back on buying that can help you save money and refrigerator space?  Please share!

My Easy Three: Keeping it Clean and Fresh

Summer is here and so are the sweaty odors that come with it.  It isn’t a glamorous topic, just keeping it real.  Here are My Easy Three tips for June!

Swim Wear — It is an investment every year to add a new swim suit to your poolside frolics.  You can extend the life of your suit by taking just a few minutes to wash it out after each use.  If you don’t have time to soak it in a gentle detergent like this set from Everything But Water, at least rinse it out with cool tap water before hanging it to dry.

I keep a set of these detergents (Woolite is good, too) in my swimwear drawer.  It only takes a capful of the cleaner to your pail of water, add your suit, let it soak for 3 minutes, rinse, then soak in the protector, skip the rinse, wring, and hang to dry. Chlorine, salt and sun deteriorate the delicate fabrics of your swimwear and by washing your suits after every use, you can keep them just as fresh as the day you bought it.

Smelly Sneakers — working out, hiking, yard work, and so on makes for odorous sneaks.  When we traveled to Turkey a few summers ago, one of the best tips shared by a Container Store employee, were these Mini Moso Charcoal Deoderizers.  They are naturally safe, help to absorb odors and moisture, are renewable by recharging them in the sun and after two years of use, they are biodegradable.  Just plant them in your flower beds when you are done!  They come in sets of two for $9.99.  I have several sets and stuff them in all my active footwear when not in use.

Baking soda is my friend. Remember that hot sauce commercial where the Grandmotherly voice says, “I use that SH*& on everything!”  Well, I do use baking soda for a variety of uses and not just in my biscuits.  I buy a bag just like this at Costco and fill a bin in my laundry room.  I add a scoop of soda in the laundry powder dispenser.  It mixes in with the detergent pod and keeps the inside of the washer clean (if you have a front loading machine you are familiar with that odor), and it deodorizes my towels, sheets and active wear.  I also add a scoop every time I clean the litterbox. In addition to being a multi-tasker, baking soda is inexpensive and safe to use.

If you want more of My Easy Three tips — visit my other ideas for Organization and Homekeeping.

Have a fabulous Friday!

My Easy Three: Accessory Organization

My Easy Three is a series I started in January to share inspiring ideas that are doable and make you feel like you’ve accomplished something.

This month, I focused on my closet using a few products from The Container Store, taking advantage of their 15% off closet storage sale. Warning:  I am showing you my underwear drawer!

First up, we might as well get the “unmentionables” out of the way.  I purchased the 3-section twill drawer organizer.

What I like about the drawer organizer for lingerie is I can fold my undergarments and organize them according to color and type. It helps me to see what I have, access it quickly and keep it neat and tidy.  I purchased three organizers.  The first easily held all my lingerie, the second I used to organize shape wear, and the third for my tank tops.

Second, I wanted a way to see all my brooches and pins.  Some belonged to Mother, and others I’ve picked up on my own either new or in antique stores.  These low-heeled shoe boxes are made for a narrow profile shoe like a flip flop.  Wonderful on it’s own, I decided to use it to stack accessories on the glass shelves I hung on the wall in my master closet.  I wanted a space for my accessories that had the feel of a boutique and these stackable boxes are pretty and functional.  I can easily see what I have.  If you know what you have you will wear it!

Third, over the last several years as I have switched to wearing glasses more than my contacts, I have curated an eye wear wardrobe. I mean, you can’t wear the same glasses everyday!  I feel like eye wear is jewelry for the face.  I needed a place to house all my eye glasses so I can easily access them and keep them protected.  These stackable boxes are perfect for my prescription sunglasses, too.

If you want to catch up, here are projects from January and March.  I wonder what I can tackle for May?  Do you need inspiration for a project? Be sure to leave a comment for Mrs. Twist and she will get to work with ideas just for you!