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Set the timer for twenty minutes and jump in!
Simplifying Home | Week 3: Kitchen + Dining
Clean + DeclutterAre you getting the hang of the cleaning and decluttering process yet? I outlined it briefly in Week 1. The key is to start small. A drawer or shelf is usually plenty for one twenty minute session. If kitchen cupboards are a mess, then you might get brave enough to pull it all out at once and slowly put it back where it might make more sense. Just be prepared to have covered table and counters for a couple days while you get it all sorted out. Remember to clear out unwanted or expired food, too.
RefuseI share ideas on how to refuse >> here. Learning to say "no, thank you" is a pretty big part of keeping our homes simple. We might be saying it to ourselves when we see things we want. We might say it to marketers when advertisements make us feel like we need something. We might say it to freebies we don't need. It's hard at first, but we can slowly learn to get better at this, because if it doesn't come into our home in the first place, then we'll never have to worry about trying to get it out later on.
Floors + SurfacesGoing back to cleaning floors and dusting surfaces throughout the home this week. Why the back-and-forth between cleaning floors and setting the timer for twenty minutes? Two reasons.
1. It gives variety to the way we clean. One week the floors are gonna get it good, and the next we can focus on whatever is staring us in the face for a little chunk of time. And when we're busy, which most of us are, it helps to mix it up to be sure things are completely neglected.
2. It's gonna help us experience a couple different ways to clean. So take note of which works better for you. Which is easier or comes more natural or helps you get more cleaned in better time? That will come into play in Week 6 as you create a cleaning routine based on your needs and preferences.
RugsMaybe throwing rugs in the wash is part of your regular cleaning routine. If it's not, now is a great time to get them cleaned. Be sure you check care instructions if the tag is still attached. Some might need a carpet cleaner to get deep cleaning, some might just need a good vacuuming and spot-cleaning, and some might even be safe to throw in the actual washing machine. We have a few of the washable at entrances and in bathrooms--places where they get dirty quickly--so I love being able to throw them in the washer then dryer to get clean quick.
Meal PlanDo you follow a meal plan? Having a plan can save money on groceries, makes shopping easier, and saves time in the evening. Skip your extravagant Pinterest boards for this one. Gather simple meal ideas that need minimal prep and possibly no actual recipe. If you have at least a week's worth of meals, then you'll have a fall-back meal to help get the routine going.
Simple is Good Enough
Recipe/Meal BinderIf you don't already have a recipe and meal binder, then now is a good time to start one. Use sleeve protectors to store weekly meal plans, lists of quick and easy meal ideas, and your go-to recipes so it's all in one easily accessible spot. No need to have it perfectly organized or complete now. Just get the binder started and you can update as you use it.
Family DinnerEven if you don't have a dining table, gather around a coffee table or spread out a blanket and eat picnic style. Leave the TV off and see where conversation leads over a good meal. See 50 Family Dinner Questions for ideas to the conversation started.
Your ProjectsSeriously, are you adding your projects? This is your challenge to improve your home. What would you love to fix or improve in your kitchen or dining area? Add it, or a piece of it, to the list. And make it your priority this week!
Simple Home Kitchen + Dining Products
*Affiliate links used. See full note below.
Here are a few of my favorite products for a simple kitchen and dining. This is not an exhaustive list of kitchen essentials, by any means. But these are some of the products we use regularly and I've found myself raving about.
Kitchen + Dining Essentials1. Lazy Susan | We got a couple at IKEA, but there are also options at Amazon. We put them in a deep or corner pantry cupboard to use more of the space while still, at the turn of the table, be able to easily grab whatever is on the back-side.
2. Glass Jars | We bought various size glass jars from IKEA to store baking supplies (flour, sugar, cornmeal, nuts, etc.). These are functional keeping everything fresh and safe from attracting bugs, but they also keep the cupboard organized. They even look good on an open shelf or on the counter if cupboard space is limited. I usually avoid buying these types of containers in sets, and instead list how many of each size I need based on what will be stored in them.
3. White Dishes | Our dishes are a Dansk Bistro set that we got secondhand on Craigslist. The white Corelle set is an affordable and durable option for young families. I love the versatility of white to serve as everyday wear, but also dress up easy for holidays or special occasions. If we want color, napkins, table cloths, and center pieces are cheaper ways to do that. We have a large set, so no need to pull out paper plates when company comes over. And they also work great for serving, or even stacking up to create a cupcake tier. Plus, they look nice and organized in the cupboard, and that makes me happy.
4. Glass Storage Containers | A couple years ago we transitioned from plastic Gladware-type storage containers to Pyrex glass storage containers. The plastic was too easy to neglect and just throw away. It also easily absorbed odors and made me feel unsafe using them. The glass is much easier to clean and feels safer. They're quite a bit pricier, so we made the transition slowly. We now have several each of the 1-cup, 2-cup, and 4-cup size. These are great for leftovers or for cutting and storing veggies to easily pull-out through the week for salads and such. They also, of course, keep things looking more organized both in the cupboard and in the fridge.
6. Bamboo Cutting Boards | We have a few of these cheap wood cutting boards that we got at Walmart. They're small, handy, and we have enough of them that we can cut things up and serve on them, too. They sometimes absorb odors and dye with some juices, so I have one board I've labeled as our Onion board, then there is another that's got some red from strawberries.
7. Blender That Works | We had a cheap blender when we first got married, and making smoothies kind of sucked. It was a pain and they didn't turn out all that great. We currently have a Vitamix blender and blending everything (soups, smoothies, baby food, fro yo, bread crumbs...) is a breeze. I realize that's a high-ticket item that not everyone can justify spending that much money on (I got ours as payment for work I did). We had a KitchenAid blender before that based on my husband's Consumer Reports research and refurbished shopping, and it worked great. So for a tighter budget, I recommend that.
8. Herb Garden | Okay, this one is still on my wish list. I love air-cleansing plants for the home, and I also love the idea of actually eating/cooking with the plants we have. Our herb garden would probably be limited to basil, cilantro, mint, and maybe rosemary. I've seen the herb plants at various grocery stores. And I love IKEA's white plant pots.
9. Portable Kitchen Island | I shared a little about my search for a portable make-shift kitchen island and the IKEA buffet table we found on clearance that worked perfectly. After moving and no longer having space for a kitchen island, it's still versatile as a side table.
simplifying home: 8-week challenge
week 4: bathrooms + self-care
dining room + kitchen tour
family dinner conversations
monthly dose of simple
*Note: Amazon + Target affiliate links used in this post. Any purchases made through these links could earn me a small commission with no extra cost to you. Thanks for your support!