I recently typed a small list of some of my cleaning secrets, and figured I would offer a few more here.

–After creating a monthly menu (as discussed previously), use the menu to write out a monthly Grocery list. Break it down by week, so you have all the ingredients needed for each meal during Week 1, Week 2, Week 3, and Week 4. Then add another section where you list items that should be kept in stock (I call it my “Standing List)–i.e. pet food, bread, cereal, fruit, milk, eggs, sauces, toilet paper, detergents, etc. Each week, take inventory of that week’s list and the standing list. Mark off anything you don’t need, then pick a day of the week to shop each week. You can take it a step farther by buying all your non-perishables in your first trip each month, so every week thereafter, you only have to buy perishables (produce, dairy, etc.) and replace items on your standing list. You save money by buying only what you need, and not wasting produce. You also save time by having a ready-made grocery list each week and reducing the number of last-minute trips to the grocery store for a missing dinner ingredient.

–Learn to use your freezer. If you have the space, you can freeze all kinds of things like milk, bread, extra dinner, etc. It can help save money if you do a major shopping trip at the beginning of the month, and then you will have bread/milk/etc. all month.

–Store bread and fruit in the fridge. Bread won’t mold nearly as fast, and is usually down to room temperature by the time you prepare your lunch. Fruit won’t ripen as quickly, so it will last longer. Again, it can save money and prevent waste by not having to throw it out!

–BASKETS! I LOVE baskets! With our somewhat transient lifestyle, we never know how much storage space our next house will have. Since our homes are usually rentals, we can’t modify space either. Whether you have those odds and ends that just don’t seem to have a place, want to reduce clutter and bulk, want to organize drawers and cabinets better, whatever–there is a size basket to help. Baskets are aesthetically pleasing. I try to buy them in various sizes but complimentary or matching colors since I never know where they will be in the next house. I use them as clothes hampers in each of the kids rooms to reduce clutter by not having bulky hampers, one holds all those miscellaneous cords and wires in the office, one has all my extra candles and candle holders that don’t have a place in this house, one is in my closet for my purses, hats, and shawls, and we have several in our playroom for the toys. They are so versatile, just use your imagination!

–This tip should probably be before the “baskets” tip, but, if you haven’t used it within a year, get rid of it! This is probably one of the most liberating, clutter-preventing tips I ever learned. I will admit there are exceptions. I have a couple of formal dresses, for example, that I may not use every year–it just depends on the year. However, in MOST cases, the one year rule applies. If it doesn’t, a two or three year rule should apply. This clutter-reducing tip saves so much time and effort in routine cleaning, and helps you stay so much more organized, that I HIGHLY recommend it! If you move frequently like we do, just make a point to go through your things each time you move so you don’t move unneccessary items. If you are pretty stationary, then pick one time every year or so to go through your house and eliminate clutter–face it, if you don’t use it, it is clutter! It doesn’t matter how expensive it was, how sentimental it is, or that you might fit into it again one day. If you happen to be the sentimental type, then here is a tip I used: Pick a box or storage container of a manageable size. Allow yourself to fill that box and ONLY that box. It will force you to weed through things that you can part with if necessary. Otherwise, yard sale it, consign it, or just give it away, but get it out of your house.

Good luck and stay tuned for more!

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