Saturday, May 16, 2015

A-Z Of Time And Money Saving Household Systems (Part 1, A-M)

1. Accounts. Have files or folders, a drawer or a shelf for all your household bills and documents. Keep it contained in one place. Have a pending basket where you throw in papers as they arrive to be dealt with later. 'Later' needs to be a specific time in the week when you sit down and clear the pending box, pay the bills, answer letters that need answering, and file everything into the appropriate file/folder. Schedule this into your week, it shouldn't take longer than an hour tops. It can be done in front of the tv on Sunday night or at 6am one morning if you are an early riser. The golden rules are to keep it contained and regulalry keep on top of it.

2. Bedtime. You can't make the children go to sleep and it's often frustrating to have them messing about when you need the evening to be child-free to work or have time to yourself. Do your bit of the routine - supervise homework, enforce music practice, serve supper, de-lice hair, supervise baths and clean up the bathroom afterwards, read stories, put out clean clothes for the morning, etc... And then set a curfew for 8.30pm. All children have to be in their rooms. They can read or play quietly but they have to stay in their rooms. I met someone last week who had his children doing this until they were 16 although I don't think he was still supervising baths.

3. Cooking. Prepare everything in double proportions, make in two dishes and freeze. You then have one week on and one week off cooking. Or alternate days of cooking (using different dishes from the freezer not the same food two days running). You may have to add the pasta, potatoes, or the salad but the soup, sauce, or main dish will be ready. Just remember to take it out of the freezer in the morning.

4. Declutter. It's obvious that the less rubbish you have, even if it's treasured rubbish, the less you have to look after, the less storage furniture you have to clean around, and the easier it is to find and get at what you want quickly and efficiently.

5. Evening Meals. Have a loose weekly menu. For example, Mondays - pasta, Tuesdays - pizza, Wednesday - bangers, beans, and mash (or shepherds pie), Thursdays - fish and chips (or fish fingers depending your age and budget), Fridays - chicken, rice, and vegetables, Saturdays - soup and salad based meal, Sundays - toasted sandwiches, pancakes, omelets or French toast and leftovers. It gives you a starting point and then you can add whatever sauces and vegetables you have in the house. A clearing up rota is good. Or at least a help with the clearing up rota for younger children. In our house it's DD's turn every night #onlychildproblems

6. Flowers. Don't have cut flowers in the house. They last for a week tops and then you have to throw them out and wash the vase. Pot plants last for years, they are less messy, and only need watering regularly. I love flowers but I keep them outside on the balcony or as flowering plants in the house.

7. Guilt. If you don't feel up to doing any of it one day, don't do it. Use your time profitably to catch up on sleep or tv programmes you wanted to see but missed. Do not waste valuable leisure time feeling guilty about it, even if it is unplanned leisure time.

8. Housework. Only clean half the house each week. Bedrooms and bathrooms one week, living rooms and kitchen the next. This requires a certain amount of cleaning up as you go and toilets and sinks will need a once over in between times, but most rooms can survive two weeks between cleans.

9. Ice-cream. We live in a hot climate and the kids want ice-cream every day. They don't get an ice-cream every day but it is hard to say no when you're walking home past the shop and it's 30 degrees C. I have two strategies. The first is to buy a box of cones and a tub of ice cream for the freezer (I could make my own but I don't). This is way cheaper than buying something on a stick or in a cone from the shop. The second idea is to buy small, cheap children's yogurts and freeze them with a plastic spoon stuck in though the lid. A quick once under the cold tap and the frozen yogurt cleanly comes out of the tub. DD can have a frozen yogurt every day if she wants - it's a yogurt!

10. Jobs. Everyone who lives in the house should have jobs. DD is 6 1/2 and her jobs include unpacking the 48-roll packet of toilet paper into the cupboard in the bathroom and making pyramids of the rest on the shelf behind each toilet. She also waters the plants on the balcony every day in the summer. We're working on tidying up her stuff before the bedtime curfew. Actualy we're still working on the bedtime curfew idea.

11. Kitchen Closure. I have a friend who is one of six children and five of them boys. His mother used to clean up the ktchen after supper each night and lock the door. They had a fruit bowl and some nosh, drinks, and tea/coffee making facilities in the morning room (sounds posh but it just meant a separate room for the table instead of an eat-in kitchen) but the kitchen was closed. With eight mouths to feed their mother needed to know what food she had in the fridge and that it was not going to be eaten late at night by teenage boys with hollow legs. She was also able to clean up and know that she would have a clean kitchen to come down to the next morning. You don't have to go to the extreme of actually locking the door but a Kitchen Closed policy has its merits. (You could temporarily open it for a 9pm tea break if you eat supper early.)

12. Laundry. You could do up to 10 loads of laundry in one day, squash it all onto your clothes horses/line to dry and/or tumble dry in the machine. However, you then need to iron everything. If you take the laundry slowly and smooth out the wet clothes on the clothes horse or hang tops on the line on hangers (pegged of course), it will dry without any need for ironing (with a little help from body heat). It may take a few days to get to the bottom of the basket but hours spent ironing are eliminated.

13. Muffins. DD has to take a 10 o'clock snack to school every day. This is for most children a sandwich and some fruit. It's a leftover from the days when people got up a 6 and had their main midday meal at about 2.30 when they came home from school. We live oppposite the school so, though school starts at 8, we get up at 7.30 and there is no time for breakfast. Ten o'clock snack is actually eaten at 9.40 so it is essentially her breakfast. She gets a hot lunch at 1pm. Only she doesn't like sandwiches. So at half the price of buying unfrosted cupcakes in the supermarket and with twice the goodness (not scientifically calculated), I make a batch of muffins every couple of weeks. I make it with silan (date syrup) instead of some of the sugar, I grate in some carrots and courgette, and if anyone asks it is absolutely not a cupcake (which they are not allowed to bring to school), it's a healthy(ish) muffin. This works for us but the point is, a batch of muffins in the freezer are a cheap and healthy snack and they take only about 10 minutes to defrost.

You can read N-Z here.


  1. The kitchen closure if a very good idea for a big family. I do many similar things to you, the kids have jobs, I do the upstairs one week and downstairs the next, plans my meals etc. Mich x

    1. The kitchen closure thing is also good to keep one from grazing all evening. I think I've left it too late to start imposing new rules though.

  2. Amazing tips. bulk buying and cooking in bulk helps you save so much money - and that's only one of your tips!

    Came over from Fabulously Frugal

    1. Thanks Mellissa. I hope you found the N-Z posts.