Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Mom Tips - For the Kitchen

I so enjoy the little "mom tips" that I've come across in life - those little things that I've learned learned from my mom, or a mom friend, that just make life a little nicer.  Things that make the "daily-daily" just a little easier, or make me smile a little more, or maybe will be a time saver for me.  I'm not referring to the bigger projects like de-cluttering or re-organizing, (although those definitely make me smile)!  But just the small things - the "mom tips" that aren't in the self-help books, they're just life-experience things that I've gotten from a mom with experience under her belt.  Well I'll share with you some of my Mom Tips for the kitchen; I hope they bring a simple breath of fresh air to your regular every day patterns!  *smile*


~~~~~
~ Paper plates for pans.  I store our cooking pans with a paper plate between them to protect the non-stick surface from the bottom of the pan above it.  Regular or heavy-duty paper, or foam plates work equally as well.



~ Safe knife drawer.  We've had a problem with one toddler in particular staying out of the knife drawer in the kitchen.  I don't have counter top space to keep a knife block up there (and too many knives anyway), and there is a built-in place for knives in our kitchen drawers, so knives really need to be stored there.  So my husband purchased some extremely powerful magnets online (from KJ Magnetics) and screwed them to the inside corners of the knife drawer front.  Initially we tried a small pair of magnets, but that wasn't strong enough to keep little toddler buddy out.  So Bob changed then to a larger pair of magnets.  Now it's very strongly held closed and kids are safer.  I actually can no longer open the knife drawer by the handle, I have to pull down on the front of the drawer front with both hands really hard to get it to open; but it's worth it -  knives put away out of sight & kids are safe.  *smile*


~ Preheating serve ware.  Before putting the steamed vegetables I've cooked in to the serving dish I need to use, I first fill that dish with the hottest tap water I can and let it sit for a couple minutes with the lid on while I do other things.  I then empty the water, and when I put the food into the dish, cold ceramic does not suck the heat out of our hot vegetables, but rather heated ceramic keeps the food warm for us until it is served.  Nice. 

~ Paper plate food prep.  When I'm cutting up an especially messy food into bite-size pieces for our toddlers, such as pizza or peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, or greasy foods like grilled cheese sandwiches or hamburger - things that I'd have to remove the wooden cutting board from it's slot in the kitchen and scrub it over the sink to get it clean - I instead cut those items up on a paper plate and then throw the plate in the trash.  No messy scrubbing.  (And I can't stand the smell of wet peanut butter - eww - so not having to go there makes me happy in itself.)

~ Dishwasher clean!  We run all kinds of things besides dishes through the dishwasher to get them clean, which not only saves us a lot of headache trying to scrub tiny parts and cracks, but it saves us time.  *smile*  Yay!  Especially the really yucky items.  For instance, our vaporizer which accumulates pink slime inside of it after years of use, and is covered with tiny cracks and angles inside of it, with the motorized part removed (my hubby does this) it gets totally sparkling clean in our dishwasher.  We also clean fan or vent covers from our house this way by just removing them from the wall or ceiling and standing them upright in the dishwasher, and small window screens (like from our bathroom ceiling) that collect dust and hairspray, toddler booster seats that can be taken apart can usually go in to the dishwasher.  My hubby's baseball hats go through the dishwasher and retain their shape (which is very important to my husband *smile*) unlike when they go through the washing machine.  Also candle holders (votif or pillar), kitchen counter top canisters, dusty or food-splattered ceramic wall plaques (from being above the stove), flower vases that hold silk flowers and get dusty, even the children's plastic bathroom step stools that get mud or urine on them (because they're stored beside the toilet) get a bath in our dishwasher.  Love it.

~ Dried food wipes off.  If I have dried food stuck to the kitchen counter or the stove top, I simply put several drops of water over that spot so that the food is covered with water, then I wash the rest of the counters and the sink and when I get back to that food I can just wipe it right off with the sponge.

~ Sippy cups assembled.  When we take little children's sippy cups out of the dishwasher we assemble the lids and stoppers or straws with the cup it goes with before placing the set on the shelf.  This way when we need a sippy cup we can just grab the one we need and not have to waste time digging through drawers trying to find pieces that go together. 


I also only keep about 13 sippy cups total; we don't need more than that, so I don't choose to manage more than that.  *smile*  We currently have 2 babies and 2 toddlers using sippy cups for milk, and each of those children has 2 cups in their own color, making 8 total (plus they do have a water bottle each, also, but those live on the kitchen table all day every day).  Each child uses one cup all day long for milk, which is stored in the refrigerator between meals (they sip on water between meals).  We run our dishwasher twice a day, once after breakfast and lunch, and once after dinner, so they don't need more than 2 cups each.  Plus I do keep 5 straw-lid cups for older kids to drink pop from when sitting in the family room on pizza night.  But this is all we have - not tons of cups to manage.  And we still have cups available for kid-company. 

~ Rinse dishes until cleaned.  We rinse all of our dirty dishes off completely before setting them in to the sink so that there is no food to put our hands in to later when we're ready to load the dishwasher.  There is no smell, no slime, and there is no scrubbing.  In my opinion, this is an easy, time-efficient, and more pleasant way to load the dishwasher after cooking or after a meal.  Then at the end of the meal who ever is loading can simply pick them up and load them straight in without hassle, a gross mess, and a lot of extra, unnecessary work.

~ Stove light reminder.  Whenever we use the oven or the stove we always turn on the light under the hood at the same time.  This way we ca always see when the heat/gas is on with the light and not risk leaving them on when they're not being used and are unattended.  And, other people who come in to the kitchen can see that the stove is on and be extra careful.

~ A box for the reusable bags.  In a cupboard of the kitchen I keep a plastic shoebox-size container without a lid where we keep any size of ziplock baggie or tin foil that can be re-used, and we always try to remember to check that box first when we need one of those items.  This gives a place to keep the perfectly good, reusable bags and foil without cluttering up the area where we store the new boxes of bags and foil.  Cost effective and uncluttered.


~ Forgotten item to the next appropriate list.  I keep extra copies of our Master Grocery List printed from our computer in my file box on my desk in the kitchen, so that when I need a new list each week I can just grab one.  Occasionally I need to pair-down our grocery list of desired items to just the necessities, and when I do this I'll write down those additional grocery items on either the next week's list, or more likely the next paycheck-day list, which maybe a couple of lists away in my file.  

 

For example, my husband gets paid every two weeks, but I grocery shop every week.  So if I'm shopping on the first Saturday after Friday pay-day, and I need to pair down my grocery list to necessities only then I'll write those extra desired grocery items not on the next week's list, which would be the second Saturday of a pay period, but on the list after that which would be pay-check week again.  So when I go to get my next week's grocery list those items won't be on it as it's the end of a pay period and not the time to purchase any extra things; but when I get the next grocery list after that, then those desired items are already on the list ready for me and not forgotten.

~ From "Ewww" to "Wow!"  My mom told me about the best scrubbing agent ever!  *cheer!*  It's called Bar Keeper's Friend, and only costs about $2.00 for a larger container from Low's or Home Depot.  We let our kitchen sink get really stained so that we could show you what this product can do.  I am not kidding you, it is really this good.  (And no, this is not a paid product review)

(These stains won't come off with "409", baking soda, or bleach...)

(But with Bar Keeper's Friend!  Ta-da!)


(I've cleaned the food off the stove top with "409", but these black marks wouldn't come off even with baking soda...)

(after using Bar Keeper's Friend!)



And this product can be used on all sorts of other areas around the house (but please read the container instructions before using in your own home).  I use it in the bathroom tub, toilet, sink, counter tops; on aluminum, glass, or brass cooking pots; and on my tea kettle. 

~ "Condiments bottle" for dish soap.  I purchase dish soap in large quantities at Costco, so I keep that huge container underneath the sink in the kitchen but fill an inexpensive, clear plastic ketchup bottle to have on hand at the sink edge.  This keeps the soap handy for use, but without bulking up my small counter top with any large bottles.





I would really love to hear about any other Mom Tips you have for the kitchen!  Let's share and add a little "Nice!" to our daily-daily!  

Blessings on your efforts,

* You may also be interested in reading my other Mom Tips for around the house, for children things, for traveling in the car; or posts on organization that include how I organize our small kitchen, our pantry, or how we made a pantry out of a coat closet!

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