Top 5 Cheap or Free Home Organisation Tips

I hate mess and piles of stuff but for ages I couldn’t seem to shake it. It’s not just the initial clear up but actually keeping my home clear that was a daily challenge. Here are the best tips that I have found that actually work and will transform the chaos into order.

1. Have Less, Store Less

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Don’t waste life tidying, sorting, organising, cataloguing and storing things that you don’t like or will never use. In the words of everyone’s favourite Disney princess, “Let it go!”.

If you don’t like something and you don’t use it, then get rid of it.

You don’t even have to go über minimalist if you don’t want to, just get rid of some stuff and see how you feel. Once I started I found it addictive and got rid of loads, and you know what? I don’t miss any of it.

2. It’s the Putting Away that’s Difficult

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…So make it easy by keeping things you put away together, together.

I know very few people that have any trouble taking things out when they want to start an activity, it always seems to be the putting away again that is so much harder. The best tip that I have come across is to make it as easy as possible.

Make sure that everything has a clear home to return to.

Imagine coming home with your winter wear on. Rather than throwing your gloves on the side, your boots by the door and coat where ever it lands, you hang them all together. This way when it is time to go out again everything is to hand. This same practice can be applied to just about anything. How about all of your baking stuff together in one cupboard or box. Or all of your craft supplies?

Store all of your clothes and accessories together where you get dressed and undressed. Store your towels in the bathroom where you wash. You get the idea…

Just moving where you store stuff so that things that go together are all close together and to where you use them saves time and makes life that bit easier.

How about doing your cleaning supplies right now?

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  1. Go around your home and collect every product, pair of rubber gloves, brush, wipe, cloth and don’t forget the bathroom.
  2. There is no need for separate cleaning supplies for every room. Get rid of duplicates, stuff you ‘stocked up’ on 2 years ago but haven’t used once, bought but didn’t like, or anything that has started to look gross.
  3. Store your new kit in a freshly cleaned out bucket. This doubles the function for a bulky item that is rarely used but useful to have, and makes it easy for you to carry it from room to room when cleaning.
  4. Store the bucket in a cupboard or under the sink where it is easily accessible every time you need to clean.

3. Only Buy the Food You Need

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It is really really tempting to stock up for the apocalypse, or so it would seem. Every few months I would go through my cupboards and get rid of stuff that was out of date, that I bought and discovered I didn’t like, or that I knew I was never going to use. Sound familiar? There is no need to keep excessive supplies of food. In the case of a flood or something you would have to leave your home anyway and be unlikely to take this food with you so it serves no function.

I try to live week-to-week in terms of food and store a maximum of a few weeks worth of long lasting dried products such as pasta, rice or flour. The result is that I eat fresher food, save money (and waste) and have good sense of the kinds of food the my husband and I like/ don’t like.  To avoid over-buying, I write the quantity that I need for a recipe on my shopping list and only buy that amount. Why pay for 15 carrots, store them until they go mouldy and then dispose of them when I could have just bought the single loose one I needed and saved myself £2 and unnecessary food waste guilt and cleaning hassle? It’s a no-brainer!

Opening your fridge or cupboard to see the weeks food neatly laid out and fresh will make your home seem far more organised. If you have things that you don’t like but are in date and unopened then give them to a foodbank where someone else may be glad of them.

4. Tidy Up Your Digital Life

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I have had many computers over the years and while I can let go of most things, information was difficult for me. I kept the hard-drives from my old laptops in caddys but never looked at them. I had old college projects  I could barely remember on disk. I felt overwhelmed with information, but equally had no idea what old photos I had stored away or even how to go about looking for them.

I started by gathering everything (including old social media profiles) together and moving them to one place. I use google drive for ease and since I have a Chromebook but any storage so long as it is big enough will do.

I made a few basic folders and sub-folders, such as:

  • Photos
    • 2016
    • 2015
    • 2014
  • Course Work
    • 1 School
    • 2 College
    • 3 University
  • Music
  • Documents
    • Bills
    • Manuals
    • Receipts
    • Statements

I sorted my photos by year and depending on how many I had I subdivided them into logical folders inside e.g. school photos, France holiday etc. This means that the main folder is ordered chronologically but there are not so many folders that it becomes laborious to browse them. You will need some subdivision or else if you have a lot of photos then the folder can take a while to load which is frustrating. I have found any more then two sub-folders feels too much like hard work  so I try to leave it at that. During this process I deleted any duplicates, unnecessary similar photos or blurry pictures. This means that all of my photos were worth looking at.

For chronological content such as course work I put a number before the subfolder. This means that even when sorted alphabetically they stay in the correct order. Rather than storing the paper manuals which come with electronics I download the digital version and bin the paper copy. It is actually more useful as they are searchable using CTRL + f. I also scan as much paperwork as I can and bin the original. Obviously there are exceptions where you need the paper copy but binning what you can gets rid of a significant amount of clutter.

This system might seem elaborate but keeping the file hierarchy small (only 2 or 3 levels) makes it simpler, and in general I spend very little time looking for things as I know where they are.

5. Recycle Packaging into DIY Storage Containers

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It is tempting to rush out and buy cheap storage equipment to make your home feel organised. There is no need and all you are buying is more clutter. Instead look around your home and use what you already have. This way you don’t spend any money, avoid a shopping trip, and if your storage needs change you can simply recycle what you no longer use knowing that you got a bit of extra use out of it.

You will need: toilet roll holders, plastic bottles, glass jars, newspaper, empty packaging boxes etc.

 

I hope that some of these tips are useful to you and that you enjoyed reading this post.

Let me know in the comments below if you have any awesome DIYs that you use to keep your home organised and don’t forget to subscribe.

 

 

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Getting Home Cooked Food Right

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I don’t usually blog about food, but this post is something that I have been thinking about for a while. One of the biggest challenges of setting up your own home is being responsible for cooking your own food. When I left home I was given a myriad of cookbooks. I had lots of kitchen gadgets. Somehow though, whenever it came time to prepare a meal I felt at a loss. I wasted money on food that sat in my fridge going bad until it got binned. I still felt that all I could cook was a basic pasta dish (poorly). I ended up turning to ready meals for a while before I decided I needed to change.

This post is not a recipe, rather a list of skills and approaches that will help you take control in the kitchen.

Learn Some Basic Skills

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With cooking the basics make a huge difference and often save you a lot of time so, I suggest you take to Google (or YouTube) and learn how to do the following:

  1. Chop an onion (seriously, there is a right way to do it)
  2. Chop garlic (tip: crush it with the flat of a knife before you peel it)
  3. Cook pasta al dente  – it will taste so much better
  4. Wash and cook basmati rice properly (you will never go back)
  5. Dice/ chop veggies evenly – it means that they will cook evenly and taste better
  6. How to ‘wash up as you go’ when cooking
  7. How to season your food + a few herb/spice combinations

These 7 skills aren’t particularly difficult but are everyday habits that will change the way you cook and massively increase your confidence in the kitchen.

Tip: Measure out all of your ingredients before you start cooking so that everything is to hand. This takes the stress out and will make cooking more enjoyable.

Build your Repertoire

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Once you have the confidence to actually cook in the first place it is time to build your repertoire of dishes. These will vary depending on your diet and the climate you live in, but for most people this should serve well as somewhere to start:

  • Chips (fries to Americans) from scratch – so much better than frozen
  • 3 pasta dishes
  • 3 curries
  • 3 oven bakes or casseroles
  • 2 different roasts with trimmings (I’m vegetarian and even I have two!)
  • 3 different salads
  • 3 soups
  • A homemade version of your favourite take away meal
  • 3 desserts
  • 1 really good cake
  • 3 breakfasts
  • A really good packed lunch

It looks like a long list but when you break it down you probably know some of these already (or at leave have a good idea what you would like to learn). If you really want to be organised, you could write or print all of the recipes and but them in a folder in your kitchen with your own little notes along the side. By cooking the same things in rotation you will get good at cooking the recipes and build your confidence and technique.

Meal Planning and Shopping

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As I said at the beginning, one of my biggest faults was letting things go off in the fridge. I would go to the supermarket with a vague idea of what I wanted. I would then  wander aimlessly putting things in the trolley. When I got home I would discover I didn’t have the right things for most recipes and would end up doing multiple shopping trips throughout the week. I spent a small fortune and wasted a tonne of food. Having honed my skills, here are a few things that would have saved me time and money from the beginning:

1. Plan Your Meals

You might feel a bit silly at first, like some 1950s housewife, but the truth is that having a plan is key. Write it the day you go shopping and put on it everything that you will need for the week. The aim is that your cupboards/ fridge will be more or less empty by the end of it but that you will have eaten well the whole week. Remember to pick out things for breakfast and lunch too.

2. Write a List

It sounds obvious, but go through your recipes (and look in your cupboards first) and write down everything that you need. Keep an eye on what veg are in season as these will be cheapest, freshest and most readily available. Don’t forget to include the quantity needed and adjust the recipe for the number of portions you plan to make. Do a quick run around the house to ensure that you have enough of essentials like toothpaste and if not add them to the list.

It helps to categorise products into the aisles that they are found in e.g. all meat together, all refrigerated dairy together, fresh veggies together etc. When you go shopping bring a pen and cross stuff off your list as you go. It will help avoid buying stuff twice, or forgetting things.

Finally, the golden rule, is stick to the list! If it was that important then you would have written it down when you wrote the list in the first place.

Not buying something is always better value than buying an offer that you don’t need.

Consider it happy chance if the product you wanted is on special but other than that just ignore them. They are a ploy by supermarkets to make you spend more on stuff you don’t need. I sometimes switch brands if a competitor to my regular one is on special but in general just ignore special offers.

3. Only Buy the Right Amount

On your list you should have the quantity needed for the number of portions/ recipe. You will find, especially if you are only cooking for 1 or 2, that you will only need a small quantity of most ingredients. Only buy this amount as the rest usually goes to waste. Your trolley might look a little odd with two chicken thighs from the butchers counter, 2 loose carrots and 8 loose potatoes, but your wallet will thank you. Don’t be hooked in by multi-buy offers or large value bags if they will leave you with far more than you need for the recipe you plan to cook. The exception to this is dry goods that last a long time such as pasta or rice. With these I tend to buy the bulk 3kg bags every few months as they are better value.

4. Store Everything Properly

A final tip to cooking delicious food is ensuring that your ingredients are properly cared for. Check online if you are unsure about how to store things. For instance, tomatoes should be kept out of the fridge to preserve their flavour. Potatoes should be kept in a bag in a cupboard as even a small sliver of light will cause them to start growing sprouts.

Keep Your Kitchen Clean and Welcoming

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There is nothing that makes you want to order take away more than the thought of having to do the dishes and clean the kitchen before you can even begin cooking. So, when you start cooking run a sink of soapy water. As you use each utensil put it in the water. If you have a break (for instance while something comes to the boil) you can turn and do a couple of dishes. If you are chopping different things use the same knife, just give it a quick wash in between. When you are finished eating wash up everything and leave your kitchen welcoming. Get into the mindset that your kitchen’s natural state is to be clean and tidy and that it should be reset to this every time after use.

With these tips I hope that you will save time and money, as well as gaining skill and confidence to make delicious, nutritious food.

Let me know in the comments if you have any other core skills that you think should be on this list, and how you fared when you first had to run your own kitchen.

All the best, Daisy xx

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[images from Pixabay]