Managing Your Kitchen

Read the entire series here!

One thing I was not prepared for as a homeschooling mom was the amount of creativity and time management it would take to run one room of my home -

My kitchen.

From the moment I became a housewife, it became obvious I did not know how to manage a kitchen.  It was by far the messiest room in my house.  I would hide piles of unwashed dishes underneath towels and pretend I didn’t see the dirt and debris lurking in every corner and on every shelf.

It took me a very long time to learn the secret of a clean kitchen, but finally the mystery was revealed when I discovered the only answer to keeping a kitchen clean is to actually clean it!

However, for the homeschool mom there is another dimension to kitchen management that can quickly become overwhelming.  You are required to come up with something to eat for the entire family 3 times a day plus snacks.  Its enough to make you curl up in a ball and cry.

There are a couple of ways to tackle this chore that work quite well for the homeschool mom.

1.  Make 1 meal a no-cook meal.  In fact, you could go so far as to make 2 meals no-cook.  For instance, make breakfast a toast and peanut butter and fruit meal or muffins or quick bread you’ve prepared ahead of time.  Yes, even cereal and yogurt will do.  Set what you can out the night before and then just set the rest out in the morning and enjoy breakfast without the extra work of a hot breakfast.  This is also a great way to make time for devotions.

For lunch, go with something simple like sandwiches or fruit, cheese and crackers or chips and dip.  This is something we call Amish Lunch and it has proven to be a life saver on those busy homeschooling days.

2.  Delegate 1 or 2 meals to a child.  Recently, we handed over breakfast duty to our oldest son who really, really likes a hot breakfast.  He made an entire menu by himself and I purchased everything he needed.  He chooses from his list every evening what he feels like cooking the next morning so he can set out sausage to thaw or prep anything that needs to be prepped.  This has turned out to be a great compromise as he loves to cook breakfast and loves a hot breakfast and I love not needing to start cooking first thing in the morning.

Other ideas:

*Keep the pantry stocked with easy snacks.  I have a friend who only serves either popcorn or fruit for snack time.  That keeps it nice and simple!

*Keep staples on hand for easy lunch meals for the days that don’t go as planned.  For us, these items include tortillas and tortilla chips, a can of beans, block cheese, crackers, bread and meat.  I try to never be without these.

*Prepare the night before.  Thaw meats, soak grains, make sure you have all your ingredients or consider what leftovers you have on hand that could be turned into tomorrow’s lunch.

*Double recipes and freeze one or use one as leftovers for the next day.

*Utilize your crock pot for dinner and cut down on the prep time for dinner each day.

I also want to encourage you to streamline your kitchen chores as much as possible and include your children in everything you do.  Here is a list of age appropriate cooking and kitchen skills you can teach your children.

Today, I’m including a printable blank Table Chore Chart (you can see an example of ours here) and a Nighttime Kitchen Checklist to help you manage your kitchen.  Enjoy!

I’d also like to point you to an ebook that has helped many homemakers who feel as if they are drowning in the mess of it all …

affiliate linkDana (aka Nony, the Slob) has graciously offered all of you a coupon code which makes this book only $3.00!

Code: ARROWS
expires: 10/22/12
Get your copy here!

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8 thoughts on “Managing Your Kitchen

  1. I am really loving this series, even though we are not officially homeschooling (though I should start, because my son is ready)
    I have recently discovered the importance/love of double cooking and/or batch cooking. I have done little bits here and there over the last couple of years, but since I am currently pregnant, due in about a month, I am really utilizing that technique to stock my freezer with meals so that I can continue to feed my family well (and hopefully easily) once our youngest arrives. I actually have 5 1/2 lbs of ground beef in the crock pot this morning and by tonight should have about 6+ meals prepped and in the freezer. Since we are a small family, most of them should be enough to feed a meal one night with leftovers later in the week.
    I also already do most of the stuff on your night-time kitchen checklist (except I don’t soak grains).
    Now I just need to start practicing some of your other tips :)

  2. This is such a good post. It is amazing how essential getting meals and the kitchen under control is to feeling successful in homeschooling (for me anyway).

    I taught a class to brand new homeschoolers recently and encouraged them to do the things you listed here and one of the dads broke out laughing. I laughed back and replied something like, “you have no idea what it feels liek to work through an amazing day of school with your kids, only to get tip the end of the day and have no idea what to cook for dinner. Since my priority is to be a good wife, this makes me feel like a failure.” I love the feeling of working together learning all day and then to smell my crockpot:).

    Amy you are such an encouragement!

    • You are so right! Homeschooling is just one of the ways we take care of our families…being able to feed their hungry tummies after feeding their hungry minds is so necessary and rewarding! :)

  3. ah, so practical, yet so what I needed to hear! The kitchen by far is my worse area. I love to cook (esp. to bake) yet I hate to clean. I feel like you’re writing this series just for me! Your descriptions fit me almost perfectly.

  4. Thanks for doing all the work and sharing your lists! I am such a wimp in the area of messes—simply because they happen when I don’t have time to clean it up! That makes me default to doing the cooking myself instead of including the children. They are only excited about learning these things for such a short time! I will strive to be more inviting to them, and not so annal about messes!
    Our grown/married daughter says that she wished she had paid more attention when I was teaching her the kitchen duties. Her teen sisters only like to cook the fun stuff. Wonder if their hubbies will like quesadillas and smoothies and brownies all day long?