the shrink ‘rap: issue 13

the shrink ‘rap: issue 13

In this issue:


Meal Planning

What’s for dinner? If your kids and spouse are not asking you, you are probably asking yourself. Unless you have a personal chef, live on take-out or microwave meals or have recently spent a significant amount of time in a prep kitchen like Dream Dinners (, you are going to have to put some thought into what you are going to prepare for dinner each and every night of the week. Chances are you are busy enough, so to simplify your life just a bit, here are some suggestions to help you plan your meals. Doing so will save you time AND money, reduce stress and provide an opportunity for healthier eating habits.

  • Pick a day of the week as your meal planning day. Weekends usually work best.
  • Look through your freezer, pantry and refrigerator to check if there are any items that need to be used before they expire. Toss anything that looks suspicious.
  • Keep your kitchen organized so you do not spend money on things you already have.
  • Plan your meals a week in advance.
  • Choose meals that require the same ingredients. For example, a menu of tacos, meatloaf and spaghetti with meat sauce all require ground beef or turkey.
  • Look through your grocery store ads and cookbooks for menu ideas AND sales.
  • To save money, clip coupons and stock up on items you use frequently by purchasing them at discount stores like Costco, BJ’s or Sam’s Club.
  • Put together a grocery list based on your planned menu and do your shopping once a week. Create a master list, run off a copy for each week of the year and add “special” items to it as needed.
  • Prepare as much as you can in advance to save time later in the week. Most people find that Sundays work best. Cook the chicken or meat that will be used in several recipes at once. Freeze or refrigerate a portion for later use. For example, chicken for chicken pot pie, chicken salad and chicken casserole can all be cooked at once. Fruits and vegetables can be chopped ahead of time and stored in airtight containers.
  • Plan on at least one day of leftovers or what I call “kitchen potpourri”. That’s a day that you fend for yourself and dig whatever you can out of the fridge, freezer or pantry. Designate another day as soup and sandwich or pizza night. That leaves you with only 5 days of meals to plan.
  • Get your family involved. Let your children and spouse select a recipe each week or month. The deal isÉ..they have to help you prepare it. What a great way to create family time and get help in the kitchen.

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Water Cooler Rap

Simple Tips for Daily Living

Storing Board Games

Perhaps we should play them a bit more often than we do, but we all have the best intentions of having family game night, don’t we? Because of this hope, we keep our board games piled in a heap on some shelf somewhere hoping that the dust will disintegrate on its own before we unfold each board for a turn at being Sorry, getting a Clue, or staying out of Trouble.

Here are some suggestions to make your board games last throughout the years:

  • To prevent pieces from getting lost, store small game parts in plastic Ziploc bags. Label each bag.
  • Avoid stacking multiple boxes on top of one another. Doing so will crush the boxes. Store the boxes vertically if possible. If the small pieces are in plastic bags they won’t fall out.
  • Use drawers or cabinets with doors to prevent the boxes from getting dusty.
  • Keep all board games out of humid environments.
  • If you need a replacement box, check out The Deep Game Savers Box from the Container Store. A Shallow Game Savers Box is also available.
  • Toss the boxes altogether. Label each board and tape the directions on the back of the board with clear packing tape. Stack the boards on top of one another and keep all pieces (in plastic bags) in a basket or bin next to the boards.
  • If you have a game with missing pieces, consider one of these creative options to make use of the board:
    – Cut off a piece of the board and laminate it for a unique placemat.
    – Put brackets on the wall. Bend the board in half so it’s against the wall and the other half is perpendicular to form a shelf. You will need to attach the board to the brackets and/or wall to provide additional support.
    – Frame a collection of boards for an interesting wall display in your family room, playroom or basement.

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Ask the Organizer

We’re excited to include another submission to The ‘Shrink Rap’s “Ask
the Organizer” section. Please continue to submit your questions by
e-mailing them to
Every submitted question related to organizing will be included in a future issue of The ‘Shrink Rap.

Q: I have a large book collection, mostly titles from the last 10 years. My collection has outgrown my available storage space. Can you offer any suggestions on what I should do with the books I do not want to keep?
Sharon, MI

A: Dear Sharon,
If you have already determined which books you want to get rid of (those that are not sentimental, valuable or you do not plan to reread), you have a few options. You can attempt to sell your books on the internet via, or A used bookstore or a garage sale is another option, but do not plan on getting rich from either of these choices. You will find that you will not get more than $1-2 in exchange for a hardcover book in good condition.

If selling your books is not of interest to you, you could always host a book exchange party with your friends or donate to a library, homeless shelter, small hotel or nursing home.
You can also trade your books via Hardcover books are also accepted for trade.

Operation Paperback,, sends paperback books to troops deployed overseas. This is a fantastic resource if you want to send your books somewhere where they will genuinely be appreciated.

You did not specifically ask, but I have had several clients ask about textbooks in the past. Unfortunately, because they are updated so frequently, they are more difficult to sell than other types of books. You can try or research local organizations that support home schooling.

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Need more help getting organized? Call Cluttershrink® for more information on receiving hands-on assistance organizing your home, office or relocation. Phone consultations, customized seminars, mentoring for new organizers and gift certificates are also available. Call 215.431.0590 or e-mail Crystal Sabalaske at

Posted in Ask the Organizer, Books/Magazines, Donations, Kids, Kitchen, Meal Planning, Storage, Toys