My favorite, longest running idea is menu planning. We started very early in our marriage (almost 24 years ago). It was so much easier to know what you were having for dinner when we got home from work. You can thaw the meat ahead of time. Whoever gets home first can start the meal. And there are a ton of resources available today on the internet. Everything from exiting menu plans to amazing recipes! Start by writing all the meals you love down on index cards or in an Excel spreadsheet. I like to categorize them by type of meals: chicken, beef, pasta, soups, etc.... While you are at it, write down the ingredients next to the meal. Every week, plan a menu. Try to think about which nights you will be on the go, or whether or not you can plan for leftovers. Using your list, add the ingredients you need to buy to your grocery list. Some people even go so far as planning a monthly meal plan.
A great time-saver is shopping only once a week. I started this when my kids were younger. If you plan a weekly menu then you don't need to be stopping after work or running out at the last minute. I also believe it costs less in the long run. I don't even run around to multiple stores. When the kids were little, it was the last thing I felt like doing - running to more than one store! I used to go to the deep discount store but, ultimately, I think I spent more. When the grocery stores started expanding into the drug-store items, I found that the prices weren't much different. By planning out my menu and shopping the sales, I have consistently stayed on the same budget for years...
One last tip as far as shopping is to create a custom grocery list. Again, I did this in excel. I created a column of boxes next to a column of foods I regularly buy. I leave spaces in between sections so I can write in items. The list is laid out in order of the store. I print several out so that when the kids tell me "we're out of...." I tell them to write it on the list.
I loved the book "Confessions of an Organized Housewife" shown above. I still use a lot of ideas I learned from her book. Others I used for a while but eventually evolved my own variations.
I believe it was her book that suggested doing laundry only on certain days. I know many people do laundry every day. But I try to block mine to one or two weekdays and a weekend day. I LOVE having days when I am not doing laundry. When the kids were younger and I was home more I actually did all the laundry on one day. (My husband often helped!)
I used to clean heavily once a week. Now, I spot clean more frequently and sporadically.
The family calendar helps to keep our activities straight. But, frankly, with teens in the house I feel like an air-traffic controller. There are always decisions and plans being made that make my head spin like Linda Blair! "Can I have the car?" "Can I go to the mall?" "I'm going to my friend's house."......
Please take some time to look at a few of my favorite blogs, where you will find suggestions from chore charts to household management.
Ideas from my friend Sarah, mom of 6, over at Clover Lane.
Simple Organized Living