In this second article on organising your home, I focus on food preparation and kitchen storage. The key word in the kitchen is SIMPLICITY.
Reduce the clutter
Kitchen cupboards quickly become highly cluttered repositories of unused items. Overstuffed cupboards and drawers are an ADDer's nightmare, especially when we need to prepare meals and school lunches in a rush. How many extra Tupperware lids do you have?
Reduce the items in the kitchen to the absolutely essential - those that you use on a regular basis. This includes crockery and cutlery, utensils, pots and pans, casseroles and bowls. And don’t forget those clever kitchen gadgets that seemed like a good idea at the time but are seldom used and take up valuable kitchen space. Have a garage sale and turn them into cash.
Stress-free food preparation depends on being able to access what you need quickly and easily. Most used items should be in the front of shelves or drawers and at a convenient height for easy reaching (between knee and head height). Less used items can be placed higher or lower.
Avoid nesting too many items together – high teetering piles of salad bowls or casserole dishes are awkward to manoeuvre and often end up not being used for this reason. As many ADDers are clumsy we know what happens when we rush to grab the bowl on the
Keep lids with containers – they take up more space but with fewer items, this will not be a problem. Develop the habit of putting lid and container back into the cupboard together. Alternatively use a dish drainer in your cupboard to stack the lids.
Speed up finding things in the kitchen by creating zones, i.e. proximity to the fridge, stove and kettle. Keep the tea and coffee supplies as well as the mugs near the kettle. Keep the spices and kitchen utensils near the stove.
Most of us do this to some extent already but I still come across kitchens in my work where making a cup of tea involves several trips to various parts of the kitchen, complicating what should be a simple task!
We have an abundance of shopping malls close by so you don't need to buy up the supermarket. When did you last do an "expiry date" check on your grocery cupboard? How much food is rotting in your fridge? Do you even know what is lurking in your freezer?
A weekly shopping trip is sufficient to stock up for what you need for the week ahead.
Don’t complicate your life with beautiful colour-coded and labelled containers! This is time consuming and hard to maintain. Keep cereals in their boxes or bags using a peg to keep the contents fresh. Use containers only for items that need to be kept fresh for longer periods, such as flour.
Clear containers are best so that you can see the items inside. Label only if the contents are confusing. For storage of leftovers or double portions of meals it is also best to use clear containers – square or oblong works best to maximise fridge or freezer storage space.
Routine (a dreaded ADHD word)
Turn these boring chores into family time. A great opportunity to chat and teach responsibility and discipline. Your children are never too young to participate. Establish routines at particular times of the day that you do without fail (e.g. pack dishwasher at night and unpack and pack into cupboards in the morning), and you will minimise the build-up of a mountain of dishes.
Unless you are an early bird (which most ADDers aren’t), lunch preparation is best done at night, either during supper preparation or straight afterwards – before you lose momentum and crash on the couch.
The preparation of evening meals every day can be stressful for parents at the best of times, and even for those that enjoy cooking. I don’t, so I struggle with this task. The key is to decide over the weekend, preferably before you go shopping, what meals you will be eating in the work week ahead. I like a bit of spontaneity so I don’t decide exactly which day each meal will be, but at least this kind of planning ahead means that I have all the ingredients available in the cupboard and fridge.
Try to keep meals during the week simple and quick to prepare. We all have our favourites, but there are also tons of ideas on the internet. My aunt gave me a couple of Australian recipe books with simple healthy meals consisting of only four ingredients, so there are ways to simplify meal preparation (see http://www.4ingredients.com.au/).
Over the weekend when you have more time, you can make more elaborate meals which use multiple ingredients and pots! If possible make extra and freeze a second meal.
Another habit that has really helped me with to make sure I never run out of ingredients, is a paper shopping list on the fridge*. As I notice that an item is running out, I write it on the shopping list. By the end of the week, I already have a list of many of the items I need. Before I head off to the shops, I do a quick sweep of the fridge and grocery cupboard to check that I may have missed something. I add it to the list, tear it off the fridge and I am ready to go. I rarely run out of items this way. My husband and domestic worker have also got into the habit of using the fridge list, so they get what they need too!
Shopping is another story in itself as shopping can be extremely overwhelming and tiring for the ADHD person. But that is the topic of another blog! Next time we will explore how to keep the living room organised.
*Chalkboards in the kitchen look great for shopping lists, but then you have to rewrite the list before you go shopping. What a waste of effort!
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