Best of Both Worlds podcast: Life Hacks

We’re all looking for ways to save time and energy. “Life hacks” are techniques used to do daily activities in a more efficient way. This week’s episode of Best of Both Worlds is a round-up of the life hacks listeners sent in via our Instagram account. Among them:

Give each kid an individual kind of sock OR buy everyone the exact same socks (if kids are close enough in age). This makes sorting easier. Side note: if kids are old enough to have very strong sock preferences, they’re probably old enough to sort and put away their own laundry.

If you have more than one kid, buy items such as snow pants and boots in neutral colors (and no characters). This way you can easily pass them down between genders and cartoon character preferences.

If you shop at warehouse clubs, make a shopping list, but also a “do not buy” list. Sarah once wound up with four containers of corn starch!

Separate utensils in the dishwasher. If all the forks are in one part and all the spoons are in another, putting the dishes away is much quicker. It can also be easier for a child to do.

Keep floss in your car’s glove compartment. Boy is it annoying to have something stuck in your teeth while you’re not home! Also, keep (un-inflated) balloons in your purse. Perfect toddler toy.

Use the time when waiting for calls to start. If you have a lot of calls, this can actually be a surprisingly large quantity of time — certainly enough to do push-ups or order groceries.

Buy ready-made boiled eggs. And pre-cut fruit. Put slices of toast in the toaster and wow! A healthy and filling breakfast that can feed a large number of family members. Incidentally, a toaster oven can be a hack in general.

And there are many more! Please give the episode a listen and feel free to share your favorite life hacks too!

10 thoughts on “Best of Both Worlds podcast: Life Hacks

  1. Omg the corn starch thing resonates. I was recently digging through my cupboard looking for flour (which I did not have) but had multiple containers of cornstarch, each of them about 95% full. I don’t even know why I have it because I never use it.

    1. @Sarah K – I would guess that once a year you make gravy. Or fondue. Those are the two recipes I know that require a thickening agent!

  2. Regarding the Q&A, another reason to plan vacations well in advance: you have the opportunity to savor the anticipation of the trip!

    Our family has been going through a deeply difficult season, but having a few 2020 trips on the calendar means that there’s something to look forward to on the darker days.

    Once a trip is booked, I also tend to follow on Instagram the hashtag for the city we’ll be visiting. That results in a few choice photos each day dropping into my feed, which fuels the excitement. You can also start to develop a feel for the area by seeing what pops up regularly. If you’re into photography, 500px is another great source of anticipation-building inspiration.

    On the hack front: if you hate deciding what’s for dinner and drafting a grocery list, populate a spreadsheet with the ingredients for each regular meal you have in rotation, separated by meal. (My husband did this; it took about an hour but you use it forever). You can then have Excel randomly select meals each week, or you can select them. With a few clicks, you can generate and print the full shopping list. Cross off whatever you have in the house; add whatever staples you need to replenish. Weekly time to make your shopping list is reduced to about 5 minutes, and the frustration of choosing meals is eliminated. My husband does all the cooking and is thrilled that his new approach saves him 20-25 minutes each week, but more importantly eliminates decision fatigue.

  3. I enjoyed this episode! Some random hack thoughts-
    1. A toaster oven is actually great for smaller families too. We are now a family of 3 with one 4.5 year-old, but before I was married I had a toaster oven and did lots of cooking in it! Great for not heating up the whole oven. We also recently got an air fryer which we use constantly.
    2. Grocery pick-up is a marvel and I don’t know I why resisted so long. Our grocery bill has gone down significantly because we don’t end up with random impulse buys in the cart.

  4. It was briefly mentioned on the podcast but having a grocery list on my phone has CHANGED MY LIFE! I can add things to the list as I think of them or things we are getting low on so I know we’ll get the next time we go. Also, I share it with my husband so if either of us find ourselves at the store, we always have the list! I also created a “recipe” in the app that contains all our regulars, like milk and bananas, and every time before I go I can just go down the list and add each item or check to see if I have it. I have drastically reduced my trips to the grocery store and am very close to my goal of going only once every two weeks. I recently had a meeting move from the third to second Thursday, so now my plan is to make the first and third Thursdays my grocery shopping night!

    Another grocery “hack” is that I do 90% of my grocery shopping at Aldi. Their limited selection means I know exactly what they will have, have to make less decisions and can get 2 weeks worth of food (I cook almost all our meals for a family of 4) in 45 minutes. I also started going from 8 to 8:45 (they close at 9) so I can be home for bedtime and also shop child free in an almost empty store! Now if only my recipes would select themselves and add themselves to the grocery list, I would have the whole eating thing mastered! Ha!

    1. @Kristen – the auto populating list can happen! Check out Kathleen’s comment about her husband’s spreadsheet!

      And I agree that shopping, child-free, in an empty store, is like ,y earthly vision of paradise…

  5. Love, love, love episodes like this. There is always something practical for everyone regardless of stage-of-life! I had to laugh when you mentioned the hack of loading “like” things together in the dishwasher. This dawned on our 8-year old (who is responsible for emptying the dishwasher 90% of the time) a few weeks ago and now she is barking at everyone to make sure the spoons end up with the spoons and so forth. A great hack for adults…and kids!

    Some hacks I rely on:
    I have a few basic go-to recipes I make on repeat. Homemade Lara bars, buttermilk biscuits, black-bean brownies, a specific salad dressing etc. I make them enough that I want them handy, but not enough that I have them memorized. On the inside door of one of our cupboards, I have a whole series of recipe cards with these recipes. So handy to not have to dig through my phone or big recipe binder.

    My go-to “filler” tasks for those 5-10 minute waits (between calls, while the kids are showering): hardboil eggs (never seem to have enough), chop up fruit or veggies, or start a laundry.

    On the topic of laundry, I have a friend who has a basket in each room of her house and she does loads specific to the rooms, small or large (so she washes JUST kitchen things in a small load). She loves her approach. Too much to juggle for me…. We have one medium-sized very aesthetically pleasing laundry basket (at the end of a communal hall). When it’s full, laundry needs to be done. I wash most things on cold, so aside from white-whites, everything goes in together. When it’s dry, I dump it in a huge pile on my bed and sort by person/room. I don’t fold it, just toss quickly in to groups. Then I take that sub-pile and either leave it in the appropriate room for the child to put away, or fold it in the destination (say, towels in the bathroom). I find it streamlines things so much, and I never have a tower of folded laundry get knocked over, as I only fold in the destination.

    I think a listener mentioned writing down the steps for certain activities (like a dinner party menu), and I do the same thing with Christmas. I have a blank page at the end of my daytimer that is all about the following Christmas. I might write down recipe tweaks (ratios I used in the cheesecake that was divine), thoughts about gifts etc; this year I even made a note about what weekend we should get our tree the following year to maximize enjoyment. Thoughts about maximizing Christmas always crop up in the current Christmas season and then I forget 11 months later when we enter the chaos again. I also have an ongoing spreadsheet in Google Drive for the following Christmas with all the major people we give to, and then I list ideas as they crop up.

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