Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Planning 101: My Tips for Staying Organzied

Unbelievable. It’s nearly the end of August, which means summer is quickly coming to a close. Has anyone else felt that these past few months have been a whirlwind?

Honestly, I feel as though I blinked and summer was over. I guess that is a good indication of having a wonderful season.

Wonderful it was indeed, but definitely busy. Our weekends were full and our days were short. Throughout all of the hustle and bustle, I often forget to remind myself how important it can be to stop in the moment and appreciate the here and now.

I have been so impressed with everyone’s motivation to become more organized in their daily lives. I think this is one quality that I personally acquire and maintain quite well. Others seem to notice my preparedness and planning skills and often comment on them.

As good as it is to be diligent in organization and planning, there is also a slight downfall that I try to make myself aware of when I feel that I am going a little overboard. I often feel that I am trying so hard to stay ahead of myself that I don’t take enough time to stop and value the current moment. Instead of appreciating things as they come, I am always looking for the next thing to get ready for. I know that this is something I need to be better at because as I get older, I realize how quickly life passes me by. I don’t want to look back on something and regret not cherishing the opportunities I have been given.

Something that tugged on my heart strings was a post from Caitlin yesterday. She reminded me of the things in life that we should be doing everyday but often overlook….such as taking a few minutes to lay on our backs and exhale (illustrating this very well with the image of our lovely pets, as they are the biggest advocates of this ability).

So, that being said, I am going to try to take a few moments every day to lay on my back with Sammy and enjoy a quite, peaceful moment.

He makes it look so easy….

Planning is a great attribute and maintaining organization in life brings abundant positive outcomes; however, spontaneity is also an essential aspect in a balanced life, so this is something that I will continue to work on.

But, like I said, I do pride myself with noticeable systematic skills, so that being stated, I think that it will be fun to share some tips that I have learned and acquired on staying organized and prepared. (I’ll try to remember to include a tip every day for the rest of the week) 1st

Organizational Tip: Meal Planning

This is key in maintaining healthy food-intake and saving grocery costs each week. I chose one day that I conduct the weekly grocery shopping (usually Saturday or Sunday). On Fridays, I will take a look at our week ahead, and write out all of the meals (on our google calendar) I plan on making each upcoming weeknight. Then, I will write out my store list of the ingredients that I need in order to make the weekly meals as well as sort through my coupons. I also try to rotate the use of ingredients so that I am not wasting anything I buy. For example, if I am making a meal that calls for one ingredient, I will try to find another meal for a different night that uses that same ingredient so I don’t waste anything.

I’ve actually become quite good at this! At the end of the week, I usually have made at least 5 meals and used almost everything I purchased at the store so then I am ready to start over again. I rarely find myself throwing anything away and feel good about spending and eating wisely.

More tips to come, but I hope you guys find value from some of my insights and interests in this area.

Okay, moving along….. I just discovered one of the most mind-blowing revelations that will change my blog life entirely!!!! Our camera as a food setting!!!! What?!?!?!

I am always to disappointed in the quality of my food pics and it seems as though no matter how hard I try, the pictures come out blurry, dark, or fuzzy. My dad told me that his camera has an actual food setting that enhances the still pictures of food. I did some digging, and found that our Casio has this setting as well. The difference is phenomenal. I couldn’t believe I did not know this before. So now my pictures are 10X better and I am one happy blogger!

Just look at how clear my cereal looks now…

Compared to this (what you were seeing before)….

So to show you how beautiful dinner was tonight (which I can do now because of this food setting), here it is…

I made a wonderful pumpkin veggie dish using eggplant, squash, TJ’s pesto chicken sausage, and sun dried tomatoes on a bed of slightly steamed spinach.

The sauce was a inspiration from Andrea. I had an opened can of pumpkin that I desperately needed to find a use for, so after seeing Andrea’s recipe for Pumpkin pasta, I thought this would be a perfect use. I tweaked some things with her recipe and combined some things from Rachel Ray’s recipe and ended up with a delicious creation.

Since Toly is not so keen on the veggies or pumpkin for that matter, I whipped him up an alternative.

Gnocchi with alfredo and sautéed shrimp. He loved it, naturally.

So here is an example of me living up to my decree of not wasting an ingredient. I came so close to just tossing this leftover pumpkin, but could not bring myself to waste a few cents. I actually enjoy the challenge of finding ways to use everything I have. It makes meal planning and cooking a fun game and something that I always enjoy.

Well, that’s all I’ve got for you today. Wishing the best week for everyone!


  1. I cannot believe how quickly summer flew by! I love that you try to find a few moments each day to relax ...I need to spend more time doing that! I agree- the pups do always make it look easy! Dinner looks so yummy! I love pumpkin and Josh isn't a fan either!!

  2. Hooray for finding out about the setting! I bet it'll save you lots of time trying to get a good shot now. I have always used the nighttime setting. People were talking about using the macro setting at the summit but I tried using it and all my pics were blurry. Weird. I'm pretty content with the nighttime one.

    I never ever throw away food--unless it's moldy. Somehow I manage to fit everything in! I guess that's how creative recipes come about :)

  3. I think balancing organization with a lil chaos here and there is the thing to do!
    And I am with you on the not wanting to waste a thing! Your dish looks amazing!

  4. Yesss, it feels like summer's just whooshed by! I can't believe I'm starting school next week.

    That's so cool your camera has a food setting! I'm jealous ;) And of course I love the pumpkin pasta! hehe.

  5. I love how everyone's getting organized this week!

    You're so right: pets do really help us relax. I don't know how people live without furry children in the home!

    Enjoy your Wednesday :)

  6. Organization is key! I like to plan ahead too, but not too much because sometimes I'm just in the mood for something else :)

    ANYWAY!!! I've caught up on your posts and I have to give you a belated huuuge congratulations on your first year of marriage. You guys look incredible together and you make a wonderful team :D Take care, love!!

  7. I also hate wasting food.

    Brilliant idea for the pumpkin sauce!

    Both of your dinners look so fabulous, I can't decide which I'd rather eat?!

    Love your tips on organized meal planning. It srsly does help the budget and waistline.

    Have a great day friend.

  8. I love your tip for planning more than one meal using one ingredient so nothing goes to waste... I need to do a better job of this!

    Pumpkin pasta sounds delicious... Toly's meal looks yummy too :)

  9. Hooray! I'm so glad you liked the pumpkin sauce! It's so tasty and you have no idea it's pumpkin when you eat it! :)

    Lovin' your organizational tips!