1. A garlic press. No – I’m not kidding. It changed my life. We love garlic, I love this press.
2. A citrus press. I never even knew these existed until about six years ago when I hosted a Pampered Chef party for my lovely friend. Again – a life changer. I would cry if I ever lost this little gadget.
3. Shredding cheese with the food processor. I know. This is not rocket science. But I long ago abandoned buying block cheese in favor of the pre-shredded bag kind – purely to save myself time. I figured I was paying a little extra to make life easier. What I didn’t realize was that the average American family can save over $200 a year simply by sticking to block cheese and shredding it at home. Really? OMG. I’ve switched back. And the food processor is the way to go.
4. A wet thing in the dryer. This little gem originated with a trick passed on to me by one of my BFF’s (thanks L!). Years ago, she taught me to spray wrinkled T-shirts with Downy Wrinkle Release and toss them in the dryer for a few minutes. They come out fresh and wrinkle-free.
Unless you are a laundry maniac, I’m guessing you end up with dried, wrinkly clothes in your dryer that look terrible by the time you get around to folding them too. I try to stay on top of it, but let’s face it – with a family of six, I do at least a couple loads a day and I can’t be there the second the buzzer sounds to grab everything out before it wrinkles.
It wasn’t until about a year ago that I realized I don’t need a fancy store bought spray.
The solution? Grab a clean wet garment or towel from the load that’s waiting to hit the dryer, and throw it in with the wrinkled load. Run the dryer for 5-10 minutes. The moisture from the wet piece will release the wrinkles from the previous load and then you can fold it before it happens again! This works better if you remove all the stuff that doesn’t matter first, before re-drying: i.e. towels, underwear, socks, etc. That way there’s more room for the wrinkly bits to spread out. . . .
Hmmmm. . . wouldn’t it be nice if we could stick our faces in a dryer for 5-10 minutes and remove the wrinkly bits too?
5. Keep a homework station. I hope this isn’t the buh-zillionth you’ve heard this, but if it is, it’s worth repeating. Keeping all homework supplies in one spot right next to where the kids get down to business makes life so much easier! I must give due credit to that same clever gal that clued me in to the wrinkle-free laundry trick. Thanks again L-, for insisting that this would transform my homework-doing life. I put it into action about four years ago, and will never. ever. go back.
6. 2000 flushes. Really. Or whatever brand or variety you like. Just not blue, OK? We’re not selling gassoline in our driveways. I made the mistake of buying blue last time and it was a disaster. I won’t go into details. But seriously, who wants to clean toilets??
7. Have ingredients for a go-to meal always on hand. I try to keep about three of these available at all times for those nights when my meal planning has fallen through for whatever reason. I’m talking meals that come from freezer staples and non-perishables and ones that are tried and true successes with the fam. Some of ours are tuna casserole, spaghetti and meatballs, chili, and fried rice (OK, so fresh veggies go into fried rice, but I always have those particular veggies in the crisper).
8. Keep an ongoing grocery list out and in plain sight. Is this a “duh” thing? Does everyone do this anyway? I don’t know, but I do know that without it, I end up at the store almost every day because I’ve forgotten something. With a list easily accessible, it’s easy to jot down items as you realize you need them. Just ran out of bar soap? Write it down. It’s also a handy habit to teach the family too, because when someone runs out of deoderant or pours the last bowl of cereal they know to put it on the list, and it will magically reappear in a few days.
Umm, I don’t know if handy is the right word exactly – I’ve found caramel sauce, Doritos and popsicles on the list before too. . . .
9. Chop and freeze fresh herbs. I am 100%, completely, and totally stealing this from another one of my dear ones. (Thanks E-!) She’s a clever whiz in the kitchen, even though she’s super modest about it. But this prep-ahead habit is one of the most ingenious time and money saving tricks I’ve heard in a long time. It’s so darn simple and ingenious that I felt like kicking myself for not realizing it sooner.. When you buy fresh herbs, wash them, dry them, and chop them immediately. Then freeze them in labeled zipper bags. When you need them, just grab a pinch and go. So easy.
10. Speed clean for 15 minutes. House cleaning, paper sorting, folding clothes – whatever. Set the timer, put your head down, and plow through. It’s less daunting and more manageable.