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Raise your hand if you promised yourself you were going to get healthier or more organized this year!
*raises both hands*
Two very lofty goals for myself, but I decided I needed to make some pretty major changes this year. By the end of 2016 I found myself constantly exhausted, unhappy with the way I look and felt, and frequently tiff-ing with my husband because of my lack of organization and slob tendencies.
So, I made my resolutions to do more cleaning, purging, and organizing at home to help things run smoother. I also resolved to make a pretty drastic lifestyle change (not diet) to lose the weight I need to lose and keep it off. Funny enough, I found that keeping on top of cleaning/organization actually has helped me with my weight loss goals as a kind of awesome side effect!
Traditional meal planning is not my style. I don’t tend to plan ahead, I change my mind about what I want to eat too often, and I can never stick to other people’s recipes. What works for me is what I like to call “Extreme Meal Prepping.” It probably sounds more exciting than it actually is, but what it does for me is simplify every single meal I have to make throughout the week.
This style of meal prep doesn’t work without being organized, so the first step is getting your fridge, freezer, and kitchen cleaned up and everything in the right place. Then here’s where I do things differently. Instead of planning out separate meals for the week, I prep all of my ingredients and supplies, and make them easily accessible in clear containers stacked in the fridge.
The last step is keeping the system going, which is why I have a weekly checklist right on my fridge. And because I love to share, I’ve made it available to YOU as a free printable! Click here to print! I made a cute magnetic frame for it out of craft store magnets and a document frame from the dollar store. But you can laminate it, or even just slide it into a plastic sleeve, hang it on the fridge, and check it off with a dry erase marker. (Yours will probably look better if your printer has ink in it…)
It’s pretty self-explanatory, but let me explain it anyway! I started with Monday because we have to get the cleaning/organizing down before the meal prep, right? Right.
So the first thing I do is inventory my fridge and freezer on Mondays. Include containers of leftovers in your inventory, and the date they were made if you know it! I keep my inventory list in my bullet journal planner, but you can do it wherever it fits into your life. As you use things throughout the week, you can cross them off the list, or update it as needed. Bonus: This also helps prevent me from staring into the fridge trying to figure out what I’m going to make or eat!
Then on Tuesday, we’re just gonna wipe the outside of the fridge down too. Including the top. (This is my trick to make sure I clean off the top of the fridge every week and stuff doesn’t pile up!) My fridge is old, and has seen a few different houses and held many foods. It will never look brand new again, but I do my best to make it look nice.
Wednesday and Thursday are similar. We’re just really trying to make sure leftovers get eaten, and perishable foods get used up or frozen or processed in some way before they go bad. (To avoid wasting food as much as possible.)
By Friday, there shouldn’t be much left in the fridge! This is the best day to take everything out and wipe the insides down really good.
Saturday I try to stay out of the kitchen as much as possible. We’re either out and about or doing non-kitchen-related cleaning projects. Alternatively, if Fridays are busier for you, you can always make Friday your break from the kitchen and do the fridge clean on Saturday.
On Sunday you should wake up to a beautifully clean fridge with lots of room for all the prepping you’re about to do! Sunday morning is grocery shopping day for me, and then the rest of the afternoon is cutting, dicing, blanching, boiling, rinsing, spinning, separating, and all that fun meal prep stuff.
Meal Planning Tips for Non-planners:
Tip #1: Keep a running shopping list. I don’t plan out my meals for the whole week. It just doesn’t work for me. But what I do have is basically a running list of things I need to have on hand always, and then I build meals with whatever meats and veggies are on sale, in season, or in my freezer. As I run out of things (or get low on them) during the week, I add them to my list in my phone for when I head to the store.
Tip #2: Keep an up-to-date inventory. This is part of my fridge checklist for a reason! I can plan for that night’s dinner in just a few seconds by glancing at my inventory list. If I do happen to need something from the store, I can pop in while I’m out taking the kids to school, rather than having to make an extra trip.
Tip #3: Make ingredients accessible. I wash, dry, chop, dice, slice, and store all of my veggies on Sunday. I cook up some different meats. I hard boil eggs for the week, make a week’s worth of breakfast egg cups, etc. Then everything gets put into containers in the fridge. I can easily throw together a quick breakfast or lunch for myself, and packing everyone else’s lunches is a breeze. Clear containers like my Rubbermaid® BRILLIANCE™ food storage containers make it easy to see what’s inside, so I’m not left guessing.
Tip #4: Stay clean and organized. Keep up on all those food storage containers in your fridge and freezer, never leave dishes in the sink overnight, wipe down the counters at the end of the day. I can’t even *think* about what we’re going to have for dinner if I wake up to a messy kitchen and I can’t find anything in the fridge. Not to mention trying to do breakfast and lunches at some point too. I’m more likely to just run out and grab food somewhere which would be bad for my budget (dining out comes out of the grocery budget), and it wouldn’t jive well with my weight loss either.
Without working on my organization skills, I would never be able to be as successful in reaching my weight loss goals as I have been this year. Using Rubbermaid® BRILLIANCE™ to help me with meal prep was one of the best decisions I made so far this year! Not only are they crystal clear so you can easily see what’s inside, they stack perfectly, to keep things neat and tidy looking! I can even marinade my prepped veggies right in the containers – they’re stain and odor resistant, and they’re 100% Leak Proof. Guaranteed.
Are you ready to get organized and meet your healthy living goals all at the same time? Rubbermaid® BRILLIANCE™ is available nationwide at Walmart, Bed Bath & Beyond, Target, Amazon and other fine retailers. (I don’t know about you, but I can never pass on an excuse to run into Target and see what’s new!)