Simple (and natural) Housecleaning- The Microwave and the Fridge

Image :Pexals
If you’re interested in natural yet simple housecleaning check out the hints below.
The microwave:
To deodorise and clean stubborn food splatters from the interior of the microwave fill a microwave safe bowl or jug with water. Add a few slices of lemon or even lemon halves that have already being juiced. If you have them you can also add a couple of whole cloves. Heat this mixture on high for five minutes then allow to stand for a few minutes. The baked on splatters should then wipe of easily with a soft cloth and the microwave will also smell fresh.
Wipe down the exterior of the microwave with a soft cloth dampened with a vinegar/water solution ( 1 cup of warm water and a couple of capfuls of cheap white vinegar) . Dry and polish any streaks away with a soft dry cloth.
Keep a plate cover in the microwave to encourage people to cover their plates or containers before heating food. If they use it, it will save a lot of work.
The Refrigerator.
Clean the refrigerator the day of or the day before you do your grocery shopping. Do this each week and it will be faster and easier to clean. You will also be able to write your grocery list as you go and save money and cut down on wastage by buying only what you need and not buying what you already have and by seeing what you can use up before it spoils.
Try using plastic baskets or a similar type of container to keep like items together. Find containers that are easy the see items through and that are easy to wash. Plastic baskets are found in discount stores and also in the supermarket- often the aisle where the laundry products are kept. If you are watching your budget buy one a week until you have the supply you need. Otherwise you might already have suitable containers such as food storage containers that have lost their lid, or the plastic punnets apples and other fruit are sold in. This is a great way to recycle.
Consider lining the vegetable crisper drawers with old but clean tea towels or placemats. This saves on cleaning and absorbs moisture. When they become soiled or damp, wash and dry them, wash out the drawers and then re-line them.You can also use paper towels but they’re not as durable or eco friendly.
When cleaning start at the top of the fridge, working down to the vegetable crisper then back up to the top of the door and work down from there. Do the same with freezer. 

Have an ready;

an empty bin

a compost bucket

a bowl or ice cream container filled with warm water with a couple of capfuls of vinegar and a capful of vanilla added

a sponge with a soft scourer on one side

a dry cloth or tea towel

and a notebook and pen for the grocery list.
Take all items off the first shelf. Check for freshness and check use by and throw out or compost any spoiled food. Write anything you need to replace or are low on, on you grocery list. Wipe down containers of items you are keeping and sort them into baskets if you are doing so. If the baskets also need washing do this too. Wipe the shelf over and under with the damp sponge and dry it before replacing the food. Continue on with this until the shelves and inside door are finished.
Wipe down the sides of the door and door seals with the same vinegar/vanilla solution and dry well.
Add an opened container of bi-carb to the back of the top shelf- it will absorb odours.
Wipe and polish the refrigerator door handles and the door. A spray bottle filled with 1 part white vinegar and 4 parts water with work for most surfaces. Add a capful of eucalyptus, tea tree or lavender oil (or all three) to make a sweet smelling cleaning spray the naturally disinfects as well.
Never use abrasive cleaners or cloths on the outside of appliances like the fridge, microwave or dishwasher. They will cause scratches. A vinegar solution or methylated spirits on a dry cloth will make stainless steel doors shine.

When your fridge is clean and tidy look at what you have left and try to incorporate that into your next weeks meal plan.

Clean your freezer in the same way if it is frost free. If it is not you will need to find your owners manual- it should be online if you don’t have a physical copy- because there are safety precautions you MUST follow.

Do you have any tips? Share in the comments below and subscribe for more aSimple Life ๐ŸŒŸ

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Simplifying Your Life with Chronic Illness- The Bedroom

Target Australia Linens and accessories.
The bed and the bedroom is probably one of the most important places for the chronic illness sufferer. Good, restful sleep is high on the list of healthcare protocols for wellbeing and for coping with day to day life, whether you are ill or not and it is of major value in treating illness.

 The condition of your bed and bedroom will help add to the quality of your sleep, and even if you are not sleeping well, a comfy bed and a clutter free space is more calming.
If your bedroom needs some attention go into it right now and sit with paper and pen and make a list of what could be done.

The list might include:

Decluttering and moving out things that don’t belong.

Packing away clothes.

Creating space on your nightstand.

Organising the things you need at night or when unwell so they are at hand or easy to get to.

Sorting out books etc 

Hanging pictures.

Creating atmosphere.

Buying new pillows, adding a mattress topper to the bed.

Making any adjustments you can to reduce noise or light or other irritations.
The bed-

If you are able, outfitting the bed in comfortable linens will make a difference. This can be done as you can afford it and as items go on sale. Have a running shopping list of your needs and wants in your purse or on your phone.
Make the bed every day if you can. Even if you think you are getting back in it before too long. It just feels better to look at and to get into and it saves embarrassment if someone comes by. It doesn’t have to be perfect either.You can even start pulling up the sheets and various layers while you are still laying down, then straighten them up when you get up and plump up the pillows. Or you can make one side first and then the other and skip tucking when you can’t do it.And for the ultimate in ease in bedmaking you can forgo a sheet and blankets, if it doesn’t bother you, and just have a fitted sheet on the mattress and a quilt with a washable cover, that is easily pulled up in the morning. Children can do this too, they often prefer it to the tangle sheets can make.
You may need more pillows that the average person for comfortable sleeping and as props. A cot pillow or another small pillow placed under the knee or any tender spot may help. Use as many as you need. Regular pillows can be used to support the neck and arms. Make sure the pillow slips are gentle on your skin. Large pillows can support your back and prop you up while reading etc. pillows can prop up books or a iPad etc to give arms a rest. Do some research online and try some different types of pillows out instore or at home. Possibilities such as down or memory foam might work for you. I find comfortable pillows are an individual preference.
If you need an electric blanket to relieve pain and wish to leave it on the bed during the summer months-do it. Why not use the type of bedding that makes you as comfortable as possible? Do whatever you can to make the bed as comfortable as possible.
It is not going to help your spirits to lay in bed and look at clutter, laundry that needs to be packed away and a treadmill that gathers dust. If you have piles of paperwork, books, craft projects that you can see that need attention it is going to stress you out.

Bit by bit, if you need to,  take away what doesn’t bring you peace or add to your immediate wellbeing. Wherever possible move the clutter completely out of the home. Be careful what you bring back in. Use pictures of rooms you like as inspiration for creating your own serene space.  Make space to add some flowers, a candle, a frame etc. Make space for your mind to be clear. 

Maintain your space by keeping up with the tidying. If  you are doing your own housework, keep it simple, but follow through on each job. If putting away laundry is your problem area do smaller loads and remind yourself that the two minutes it takes to put the clothes away is worth it for your serenity, and won’t really make a difference to your energy levels in a negative way. 

If lights, noise, drafts, smells bother you do something if you can to rectify the issue. Block out curtains, covering lights on the tv with tape, sealing gaps in windows and around the door, and keeping ear plugs handy can all help your quality of sleep.

Sweet dreams ๐Ÿ’ค

Let me know your ideas and what’s worked for you. Share in the comments ๐Ÿ˜Š๐ŸŒŸ

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Living Like Audrey -Victoria Loustalot- Some Simple Quotes- a book reviewย 


Hey Audrey fans (or gift givers of Audrey fans) there’s a new book on the market to satisfy your Audrey cravings and there’s some pretty good advice in their too on how to capture some of the grace and simple elegance she was renowned for.

Here are a few of my favourite ‘simple’ themed quotes from the book.

There was absolutely nothing pretentious about her and that showed when she prepared a meal because her tastes were so simple.

She loved just being home with her family,we’d have dinner in the kitchen…she certainly respected and loved her career but her family really came first.

Audrey spent most of her time letting other people talk and letting other people move and be. And not just any people, but people she loved and respected and could learn from.

Her secret may have been in her understanding of balance and moderation and in knowing herself and listening to herself. ‘I have to be alone very often…that’s how I refuel’.

Every time you feel vulnerable, everytime you’re scared, every time you do what’s right for you despite the naysayers, and you don’t die and the world doesn’t end and you wake up the next day, you turn vulnerability into strength.

Even if your an urban dweller and you can’t imagine living anywhere else, you might remember what Audrey valued about the countryside and try to incorporate it into your daily experience. To cultivate a sense of delicacy, immerse yourself in nature, spending time away from the harsh lights and sounds of the city and its crowds.

Walking! Relaxing! Breathing.These are Audrey’s self professed “rules” of living.


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HYGGE- Getting Comfortable Can Get You Out Of Your Comfort Zone


Have you heard about Hygge yet? It’s a Danish word (pronounced hue-gah) apparently without translation, and describes bringing a coziness, warmth, companionable and peaceful atmosphere in your home, your social life and life in general. Well, that’s a kind of definition- it’s my humble attempt anyway. There are books and blogs and YouTube videos sprouting up trying to define Hygge but most agree it’s easier to live it than to define it.
How do you live it? Well for some it’s candles and cozy socks, wine and friends and a fireplace. For me it often is letting the sun in, feeding my sons lots of home cooked meals and desserts, reading to the youngest one in bed, and chatting on the phone about movies to my eldest, putting my pj’s on early and reading or watching a sitcom or an old movie, setting a friend up on the couch with a cup of tea and a cozy throw. I was living it, some of the time, without even knowing it. Maybe you are too.
If I think about, it I was mostly practising Hygge when I was consciously trying to be good to myself, when I was trying to create comfort and peace against hard times, but mostly my Hygge efforts would be applied to someone else rather than me. And now I think back, when I needed it most is when I let my Hygge efforts lapse, when times went from hard to very hard or even just to normal and busy.
Why is that so? Why do I say Hygge takes effort? It’s interesting because theoretically it takes little effort to light a candle, slip on a robe, run a bath or make a hot drink. I think the effort is in the thought process-that IF you set up a Hygge atmosphere or treat that you should STOP and ENJOY it. I think that’s what it is for me. I might think, ‘ugh I couldn’t be bothered making a cup of peppermint tea and setting some biscuits on a pretty plate’, but what I’m really probably thinking is ‘ if I make myself a treat or make myself feel cozy…I have to stop worrying for a while and find pleasure in the tea and biscuit, I have to commit to the Hygge without getting up to do one more thing, I have to be able to say ‘hey everyone and everything I’m off the clock for a bit, don’t disturb me because I’m very important and am treating myself’. Let me tell you, I would NEVER say that.
So I have only been truly Hygge when I have felt kind of tired and in need of comfort, but not when I’m very in need of comfort. I haven’t been practising Hygge ‘just because’ either, and that, I am willing to bet, is the true practise ideal- to be Hygge anytime, all the time, just because you like it. Wow, that might involve some self-love and self-care there! Maybe that’s why the Danish are some of the happiest people on the planet, hmm, Oprah I think I’m on to something…
So from all this Hygge-nalysis I can conclude that-

*Hygge is important to me and I feel better for it when I practise.

*Hygge involves mindfulness and don’t you know mindfulness cures EVERYTHING!

*Hygge is a natural craving of mine that I often don’t feel able to ‘indulge’ in.

*My sons and my friends like my Hygge ways and I love doing it for them.

*I want to want to Hygge just for me everyday. I want to feel deserving of it and the time it may take and the related expense (though it’s mostly minimal).

*The more I decide to mindfully Hygge the more I will Hygge and reap the rewards. The more I Hygge for myself the more my family will reap the rewards of a relaxed mum.

*I don’t need to live in Denmark to become one of the happiest people on the planet.
Do you Hygge and how? Do you let your thoughts and beliefs hold you back from regularly practising Hygge like me? Comment below with your tips and and problems and support. If you’d like to engage with me more on topics subscribe to this blog ๐Ÿ˜Š

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Minimalist Must Have- Earth Choice Naturally Naked Product Review

Earth Choice
Earth Choice Naturally Naked Dishwash Concentrate is my new mulitasking minimalist dream product-I use it to wash dishes and…

I used it as a hand wash!

Yes I do and it’s perfectly fine and suitable for me because I have sensitive skin and stay away from most fragrances and I am washing up or washing my hands ALL THE TIME!

It has no fragrances or dyes (it is colour free so it is minimal and looks good with any colour scheme), is plant based and contains Aloe Vera Extract and is vegan and cruelty free and is Australian made and owned-and it’s sold at a great price at Woolworths.

Best of all there is now one one soap dispenser on each sink-aah…  The one in the bathroom handles hand washing, washing makeup brushes and sometimes delicates and I’ll even use it for a quick clean up of the sink or floor. The one in the kitchen is for dishwashing, cleaning and hand washing . I buy a bottle, pour half into each recycled soap dispenser and recycle the bottle- too easy-one thing to buy, store and recycle.

I will be talking about more favourite products and would love to hear yours too in the comments ๐Ÿ˜Š๐ŸŒŸ

Simple Meals Action Plan- For the Sick and Tired (or super busy !)


 Look at the tips below and keep them in mind for when you are are sick, tired or in a rush. The chronically ill, tired or rushed may decide to take on these tips full-time. Though some of the following are not exactly eco-friendly, you may decide that it is better to ‘bend the rules’ than succumb to fast food and that the convenience is worth the stress reducing benefits.
Consider writing down any tips, lists and recipes on a Simple Meals Action Plan chart. Keep this somewhere easy to locate, like inside the pantry door. If you are lucky enough to have ‘helpers’ they can find and use the chart too.
Plan ahead for the times when getting a meal on the table will be a challenge by making double quantities of dishes that freeze well. Label and store the extra portion in the freezer for up to 3 months. Check out books and websites and Pinterest for recipes that deal with freezer cooking or ‘Once a Month’ or batch cooking.
Make a list of meals that can be cooked in only one or two pans, or in the crockpot. Try some new recipes for one-pot or crockpot cooking and add these to your repertoire. Aim to have all your recipes in one easy to find location.
Meals made in the oven or rice cooker require less standing and ‘slaving over a hot stove’. Search for recipes that bake rather than panfry, e.g. lamb chops can be baked on a rack in a disposable baking pan. Many rice cookers can make dishes such as paella, pilaf, risotto and more, look in the instruction booklet or on the internet for ideas.
Use disposable baking dishes,pie plates etc. Line baking trays or sheets with foil or baking paper to make cleaning easier. 
Label leftovers and extras that you don’t want eaten before you have a chance to use them for a meal.
Make double amounts of browned mince or chicken or beans etc for future meals. Put the extra servings in a labelled,airtight container for up to three days.
When chopping vegetables chop enough for two nights. Store the next nights’ veggies in the fridge in an airtight container lined with a paper towel and they will stay fresh.
Boil extra potatoes. Mash half for next night or the night after and either reheat them or use in a dish such as cottage pie, fish cakes, croquettes etc.
Have a kettle of boiling water ready to deglaze and clean saucepans and frypans to eliminate the need for soaking and scrubbing. 
Fill the sink with hot, soapy water and wash utensils etc. as you cook or stack them straight into the dishwasher. This will mean having an empty sink and making room in your dishwasher BEFORE you start cooking.
Try the method that chefs use called Mise en Place ( pronounced miz on plas) which means to having everything set out. Gather, prep, measure and chop before you start cooking.
Make extra at dinner time for lunch. Pack lunches while you prep for cooking or as you are cutting up veg or fruit for that meal and before you automatically put the leftovers away.
For a super easy meal look in the fridge at leftovers and see if they can be made into a meal or have a cold dinner of salad, cheese, any smallgoods or deli items you might have. Try ‘breakfast for dinner’ it’s usually quick to cook when you want a fast dinner.
Have some ready-to-cook meals like pasta and sauces available or frozen meals or frozen chicken tenders or the like in the freezer to ‘help out’.
Some specialty food shops have ready to heat meals that are quite healthy and can help you out, look especially at stores selling ethnic food, at bakeries and fruit markets for Italian,Greek and other ready to heat meals.Check out the healthier options for take away either at a fast food chain or a local cafe or resturant, even if you buy the cooked chicken or ready to heat pastizzi for example and add some rice and salad at home, for example, you can save some of your energy.
Hopefully the above tips will help you get a meal on the table with less effort and stress but don’t feel at all bad about buying take away or a bar-b-que chicken or even serving sandwiches when you need to. Guilt stemming from not serving the family a Masterchef style meal every night is just not going to help anyone. Your family would rather you be happy and calm and feeling well.
Feel free to comment and share your tips in the comment section. Don’t forget to subscribe for updates and share this blog with other mums who want a simple life!


Simple Breakfast Ideas to get you out the door


If you or your family have a ‘go to’ breakfast like cereal or toast with an egg for example,that is great but some people have problems eating breakfast due to reasons, such as those below, that can be remedied.
* Being too rushed- planning breakfast, establishing a morning routine and simplifying can help you have the time to sit down and enjoy your breakfast-even if you have kids!
* You or your child has no appetite in the morning or has food allergies or preferences that may take time or require special ingredients- thinking outside the ‘cereal box’ will help. Typical breakfast food are NOT the only thing that need be on the menu.
* Your family wants a hot breakfast or craves variety- a little planning and pre-preparation will allow you to serve a pleasing breakfast.
* When you think about the cooking and clean up cereal or toast is just easier- True, a quick and easy breakfast is a great idea, but there are options if you are willing to plan ahead.

Any of the following ideas are worth considering if you want to simplify breakfast or enjoy a more substantial breakfast without stress or taking too much time.
* Write a list of possible meal ideas that you and your family enjoy or would like to have. Refer back to this list when preparing the grocery list. When you read the hints below, add any new ideas to this list. Check out the Internet, especially Pinterest, for appetising inspiration. Look up ‘mug cooking’ ‘breakfast bowls’ ‘overnight oats’ for example and prepare to expand your culinary horizons.
*Keep your staples on hand ALWAYS .For example,have bread in the freezer and plenty of milk and allergy free alternatives (if required). If you don’t write a shopping list START NOW or do you like going to Woolies for soy milk in your slippers? 
* Set the scene the night before , maybe after the dinner clean up, by laying out placemats, crockery, cutlery etc. A child can do this – and probably should before they get anymore screen time! Think about what pots and utensils you will need and have them ready on a shelf or corner of the counter.
*If you’re lucky enough to have a dishwasher empty it at night so it’s ready for the breakfast run. If you’ve got dishpan hands like me fill the sink as you fill the kettle and wash as you go. Aim to clean up so you’re next meal isn’t sabotaged by crusty bowls and grungy pans.
* Prepare any ingredients you can ahead of time. When you are preparing ingredients for another meal STOP AND THINK if you can also prepare something else now for another meal. Say you are chopping veggies for dinner, spend a couple of minutes chopping some more for an omelette or similar. Store them extra in a ziplock bag or airtight container and it will be available for the next few days.
* Pre- measure dry ingredients for your own ‘make-ahead’ mixes. If your are making or planning to make muffins, scones, piklets etc measure a few extra batches of the dry ingredients and store these in labelled plastic containers or ziplock bags in the pantry. On the inside of the pantry door have a copy of each recipe with the ingredient list divided into dry and wet categories and also include the method and oven temperature. When you want to make the item the recipe is within easy reach. You will already have the dry ingredients measured and sifted and need to simply add the wet ingredients, mix and cook. Pikelets on a Tuesday should no longer be too much of a problem.
*Leftovers for breakfast-why not? Look at other cultures, breakfast is more varied that we often think. You’ll find variations such as rice dishes, cold platters of meats and fruit and veg, and hot meals that will keep you going until lunch. I’m not suggesting cold pizza out of the box but why not leftover fried rice or savoury mince or spaghetti bolognaise (growing boys love it!) Use leftover roast veggies to make a frittata or have on toast.
*Cook the breakfast ahead and heat it up as required. As my boys need it, I make extra or cook more food alongside the evening meal for lunch boxes or reheating for breakfast. I often do this all during the day to ease the dinner time workload. Some extra chicken breasts or browned mince or burger patties do not go astray when the ‘little ones’ are becoming ‘big ones’! One caveat, label or hide anything you want to serve for a specific meal because the fridge may get raided by growth spurting bandits.
*Don’t judge the minimalist. Some kids and grown ups never deviate from their ‘same ole’- let em be. Overall variety during a week of meals matters more than switching up breakfast everyday. If junior is a vegemite on toast enthusiast ensure that the variety is introduced at other mealtimes and snack times-peacefully too I might add. Don’t fret- a stressful eating environment causes more lifelong challenges than a more ‘relaxed’ attitude.

I have come to the point when I can eat the same thing day in and day out for most of the time. It’s a health and simplicity decision for me. My son is currently needing more variety and volume so I can provide that using the tips above-it’s no trouble and I know it’s getting him through the school morning /soccer game.
Share you’re tips and problems and support in the comments. Let me know what you’d like to read about. Subscribe for updates sent straight to you inbox.

๐ŸŒŸSimple Life Mum

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Get another $10 Kikki K voucher (even though it’s not your birthday!)

I received a $10 voucher to spend on any full priced product at Kikki K for my ‘anniversary’ of being a member, I get one every year! You can get one too, plus a voucher on your birthday, just sign up.

Left Over Easter Eggs and Add To Me Muffin Mix

Image :Pexels

(Updated and reposted)
Even though it’s only been a week since Easter, you may be looking for ways to use all the leftover Easter eggs and chocolate, instead of having it tempt you every time you see it. Easter eggs are more expensive gram for gram than regular bars of chocolate, so it is wasteful to throw it out when it can be used in so many ways. Try some of the following ideas, and don’t forget if you intend to use the chocolate for cooking you can always freeze it to use later.
1/. Finely grate chocolate in a food processor. Use this for;

* Hot Chocolate Mix- Add the grated chocolate to hot milk. 

* Cake topping- Sprinkle the chocolate over iced cakes and cupcakes.

* Chocolate recipe addition-Add the grated chocolate to pancake, cake, cupcake and muffin batters. Stir or fold through cheesecake, ice-cream and any dessert mix that calls for chocolate.
2/. Melted chocolate. Melt the chocolate in a double boiler or slowly in the microwave. Add it to recipes or use it for fondue, ganache, chocolate dipped strawberries. With Mother’s Day and any other special occasions coming up try making gifts of homemade molded chocolates, chocolate dipped spoons, rocky road and other confectionery. Add it to warm cream to make an ice-cream and dessert sauce.
3/. Mini Easter Eggs- Chop roughly or keep whole and add to muffins, cupcakes and cookies.
This is a simple basic recipe for a plain muffin mix. I make up a few separate quantities of the dry ingredients and store it in takeaway containers in the pantry, and just add the wet ingredients and the flavourings when I am ready to bake them. Mini Easter eggs or chopped or grated chocolate is a tasty addition to this mix. Add between 1/4 to 1/2 a cup of the chocolate.
Just Add to Me Muffin Mix
2 cups plain flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup canola oil
2 egg whites
1 cup skim milk
Place the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a large mixing bowl and blend all the ingredients together well. In a separate bowl use a whisk to blend the oil, egg whites and milk until blended completely together. Pour into the dry mixture. Mix with a wooden spoon just until everything is moistened, don’t over stir or beat. Preheat the oven to 190 degrees Celsius. Prepare a muffin tin with a non stick cooking spray or paper muffin cups. Fill each muffin cup 2/3 full of batter. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a couple of muffins comes out clean.
Consider making a double batch and freezing the muffins individually for a quick lunchbox addition or to have on hand for guests.
For more interesting muffins just add:
Banana – add 2 mashed bananas with the wet ingredients
Choc Chip – add 1/3 cup choc chips with the dry ingredients
Berry – add 1/2 cup frozen raspberries or blueberries with the wet ingredients
Strawberry and White Chocolate – add 1/2 cup mashed strawberries with the wet ingredients and 1/3 cup white choc chips with the dry ingredients
Cinnamon – add 1/4 tsp nutmeg to the dry ingredients, bake as per recipe. Mix 1/2 cup sugar and 1 tsp cinnamon together in a small bowl and dip tops of muffins in this mixture as soon as they come out of the oven
Apricot – half fill each muffin cup. Drop 1 tsp apricot jam into each muffin pan, add remainder of batter on top
Ham and Cheese – add 3/4 cup grated cheese and 1/4 cup diced ham with the dry ingredients.
Try any variation you can think of. I would love to hear your muffin variations or ideas for leftover chocolate in the comments section.

Simple Lunch Boxes

The new school year is about to start here and the supermarkets are hawking the lunch boxes and lunch and snack foods so I thought it would be a good time to think about simplifying the lunch box.

Smash Enterprises Rubbish Free Containers

Packing a lunch box is a great way for anyone to save money and eat healthier food. Being organised and simplifying how you pack the lunch box will make sure you actually DO use it because it is READY when you are about to run out the door. Put a post it on the door to remind you to run back to the fridge and grab it though!  If you are mindful about what you include, packing a lunch box and s cheaper and healthier than bought lunches and snacks too.

Look at the tips below for organising and simplifying the task of packing lunch boxes.

If you don’t do this already, plan on dedicating an area in the fridge and the pantry or place where you store non-perishables, for lunch and snack items so the person packing the lunch box has easy, grab and go access to items. If you freeze lunch items designate an area in the freezer too. Keep in mind that you don’t have to designate a whole shelf or drawer, a basket or plastic container will do. Apart from making it easy to grab and go by having a designated spot for lunch items, the grocery shopper/s in the family can also see at a glance which items need replenishing.

Try to pick a regular time of day to pack lunches. Pick the afternoon or before dinner if mornings are a mad rush. If afternoons are a problem think of another time when you might be in the kitchen anyway, like lunch time, while you’re cooking dinner, or after you have unloaded the dishwasher- you will probably only need 5 or 10 minutes max. Consider delegating the task and get the kids involved. If they don’t want to help, tell the, that’s ok you were planning on packing sardine and liverwurst sandwiches, they will be happy to fetch the Vegemite then. Wink!
If you succeed in getting the children involved make it easy for them to help you by storing the items you will commonly use where they can reach it. You can even have your child make their sandwich when they have their afternoon snack or while you are making dinner or cleaning up after breakfast. It is possible that the more involved they are the more likely they are to eat their lunch! Consider posting a chart somewhere in the kitchen (like the inside of a cupboard door) with pictures of what you want packed, eg a sandwich, one or two pieces of fruit, veggie sticks, a treat, and a drink- whatever you wish they would eat!
Speaking of getting the kids involved, I started and continue to try and enforce the habit of bringing the empty lunch box and drink bottles to the kitchen as soon as we get home. This is usually the time when when I will be fixing an afternoon snack anyway so it makes sense to me. It’s a good time to discuss what and why something hasn’t been eaten and enjoyed so you can plan alternatives and it’s a good time to wash everything. A caveat-don’t rely on your child (or teenager!) to completely empty all the food and containers out of their bag, it is highly unlikely that they will ! Unless you personally check their bags frequently, you WILL one day be lead to an odour that turns out to be a shocking, soggy, mouldy mess that will permanently stain and ‘odourise’ their bag and turn you off your own lunch for quite some time-trust me on this one, I have l much experience in this matter.
Cut veggie sticks the night before when preparing the veggies for that nights dinner-(This is also a good time to prep veggie for the next nights dinner!) Store in airtight containers or ziplock bags lined with a paper towel liner and the veggies will stay fresh. Save little sauce containers if you get some with a take away to use to sometimes add a dipping sauce for some variety.
When washing grapes, take the time to wash the whole bunch. Use kitchen scissors to cut smaller bunches and pop them into containers or ziplock bags. Place these into a storage basket in the fridge for a grab and go snack or a quick addition to lunch boxes. Try popping a few of the pre-packed bunches of grapes into the freezer for a refreshing snack the is a healthy alternative to ice-blocks etc.
Most fruit can be washed ahead of time, but strawberries should only be washed close to the time when they will be eaten for the best texture and flavour. Oranges can be pre-cut but keep apples whole or cut them at the last minute and then reassemble it into it’s “apple” shape and wrap it tightly in plastic wrap to keep out as much air as possible so it won’t go brown.
Most schools have a ‘munch and crunch’ programme for students to have a snack and reenergise during class time. You will probably be given a list of suitable foods, which are not only healthy choices, but are also ‘less messy’ foods. Use this list to remind you to pack the munch and crunch and as a jumping off point for what you can pack that is healthy and not as likely to stain that freshly ironed school uniform-you may say I’m a dreamer… You may note-cherries are NOT ON THAT LIST!
Half or quarter fill drink bottles with the chosen beverage and freeze them. Each morning top them up with the rest of the beverage to make a handy ice pack to keep lunches fresh as well as providing a cool drink.Remeber what beverage you froze though, some combinations that may occur as a result of forgetfulness may not be so palatable- chocolate milk and lime cordial comes to mind. Better to stick with water, I think.
Check containers are easy to open and close for your children to prevent them dropping or spilling their lunch and prevent leaks-refer to stained school bag dilemna above. Schools encourage labelled, reusable containers, and while try are better for the environment, they can be quite costly, so check that they are user friendly too. Don’t spend too much though, they will get lost! You may don industrial grade rubber gloves and check ‘lost property’ but don’t expect too much of this black hole of  scholarly belonging so-in fact, I limit my search to two minutes or less, lest I also be sucked into this portal where Tupperware lids, jumpers and yellow raincoats go to die.
Be on the look out for different sizes and shapes of containers. Reuse takeaway containers and  tiny sauce tubs too.Label the top and bottom with the families last name. Also have on hand ziplock bags, foil, wrap, paper towels and even some plastic cutlery. Try to find a common drawer or shelf to store all of this. Keep it as neat and organised as you can and try not to have too much, toppling Tupperware towers will NOT inspire you to pack a lunch and being hit on the head by an avalanche of alfoil and glad wrap boxes just plain HURTS, When you wash and dry a drink bottle or container put it’s lid on before storing it and discard the odd bods.
Consider having two lunch boxes per person. While one is being used or washed and dried, the other can be filled ahead of time and kept in the fridge, ready to go.
When you have time be creative with your child’s lunch just to make it more appetising and special, present it bento box style, cut food into shapes or make wraps or rolled up sandwiches, include stickers or a note, add a few treats to share such as home popped popcorn or some smiley faced biscuits.
That’s quite a few tips for now, I might leave it there and revisit this topic again later. I also think most of these tips apply to adults as well, working or not, consider taking more homemade lunches and/or snacks when you are not at home and I think you’ll feel better for it.
Add your own tips in the comments too, I’d love to hear them!
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