Household Fixes

Maintaining a home is about so much more than keeping the bricks and mortar in shape, or making sure the plumbing and paint are in top order. A home should be a safe space where stress dissolves and peace descends, where we can enjoy the benefits of what our hard work has earned us, where we can entertain family and friends and celebrate the special moments in our lives. All too often, though, there is something standing between us and the enjoyment of our home, and looking around causes our stress-levels to rise, not fall. Why?

When you look around your home do you see unfinished projects or small household fixes that you’ve noticed but avoided dealing with? Have you been meaning to start a renovation, large or small, but don’t know where to start? Would you like to have guests around more often but feel embarrassed by the piles of stuff lying around your home? Do you dream about hiring a professional cleaner but won’t do it until you’ve first “cleaned the place up a little”?

What you need is the help of a professional organizer, a person who can:

  • help you see the big picture
  • clear your space of clutter and unnecessary distractions
  • focus on the right priorities for your family and home
  • find more effective organizing solutions

If you are struggling to decide where to start, Melissa, a professional organizer, can help. Whether it be addressing clutter, storage inefficiencies or preparing for a move or renovation, Melissa will work with you to find the solutions that work best for you and your home so that you can move forward.

We are all busy people in a busy world. Organizing our home and workspace is so much more important than we realize: often the simplest solutions lead to emotional, practical, and even fiscal clarity. You may not notice that leaking tap, that blistering paint until you take the time to organize the bathroom or clean-out the closet.

TIP: Organizing projects can be overwhelming. Start small. Pick one drawer, shelf or box and sort through your items. Dispose of, donate or re-home the items. Enjoy the satisfaction of organizing a small space and vow to do it again before the week is out. Before you know it you’ll be well on your way to a major overhaul.

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What’s for dinner?

I consider one of my hobbies cooking, and I take pleasure in making a meal my family and friends will enjoy. Give me a menu and I’ll happily collect the ingredients and spend hours in the kitchen.

What I like least about the cooking process is deciding “what’s for dinner”? And when I’m tired, hungry, short on time or agitated by the question posed by my family I draw a blank, completely paralyzed with the decision of what to cook and eat, making the cooking process unbearable.

If you suffer from the same, here are a few ways to get organized in the kitchen and answer the question, “What’s for dinner?”.


In an ideal world, you can commit a few hours each week to seeking out new recipes, plan out an entire week’s worth of meals, do all the shopping and prep ingredients for your recipes. Meal planning works best when you plan weekly and routinely eat similar foods or have a large repertoire of recipes you’ve frequently cooked and need only to glance for reference at the recipe. If this appeals to you then do it!

Start by downloading the worksheet What’s for dinner?

Plan meals with the freshest of ingredients for the start of the week, frozen meals or those that don’t expire quickly towards the end of the week.

Going out or ordering-in? Add this to the week’s menu.

For those particularly busy days when you know you will be short on time plan your simplest, quickest to prepare meals.

Starting the process can be daunting and time-consuming. To jump start I suggest doing one or both of the following:

  • For one month, note every meal you eat on a calendar. From take-out to homemade you’ll have four weeks of meals to see your family’s eating patterns. Using this information, you can plan a week’s worth of meals based on what you already enjoy eating.
  • Use a set of index cards to create a collection of recipes you cook frequently. Write down every meal you would cook again and the ingredients used. Once you have a series of cards, you can shuffle through and create your meal plan. The bonus is you also have a built-in shopping list.

TIP: Meal plans are not just for dinner. Use a meal plan when packing school lunches. From snacks to sandwiches have a set menu to reference for the week. Then leave your kids to help pack their own lunch.


Stifled for meal creativity? Create a theme based on food ethnicity (Italian, Asian) or ingredients (noodles, beans). Determine a day of the week that you will always cook (or take away) this meal, such as Friday Pizza nights. Use alliterations to come up with fun theme days such as Meatless Monday, Taco Thursday, or Soup-er Sunday.

Establishing themes ensures everyone knows what’s for dinner and simplifies the process. A few years ago, my in-laws ate dinner at our home every Wednesday night. In order to simplify the menu, we stuck with the Dutch tradition of gehaktdag (meatball day). The meatballs my mother in-law sourced from her butcher and I ensured we had the accompaniment of potatoes and seasonal vegetable – easy peasy.

TIP: In a real time crunch? Eat breakfast for dinner. Who says a fried egg sandwich or cereal with yogurt and fruit is only for the mornings?


Once you’ve planned your meals and done the shopping, the idea is to spend a few hours, usually on the weekend, prepping and pre-cooking for the week. This includes prepping vegetables and meat by trimming and cutting into pieces ready to cook/eat and creating casserole dishes or soups, to be frozen and (re)-heated. On the day itself, you need only combine or reheat the elements for a quick, healthy and delicious meal.

My friend, chef and Netherlands Master Chef finalist, Bojana Snijders- Nikodijevic is busy creating a cookbook which addresses the dilemma of what’s for dinner and utilizes the prep-cooking method. If you want to remove daily cooking stress from your life while making healthy and delicious food for your family pre-order a copy of THE PLAN, PREP AND PLATE METHOD, Simple Dinners for Busy Families today.


Soups and casserole dishes are clear favorites for leftovers but have you considered other meals you can cook once and turn into different meals? I routinely make a large batch of vegetarian chili. Instead of freezing the leftovers we eat it again later in the week as a filling for wraps or fish tacos.

You might cook up several pieces of chicken or other meats one evening to eat over the course of two or three. Reheating later in soups or stir-fries.


Nothing complicates the decision of what to eat even more than an empty fridge. Shopping on a routine day of the week will ensure that you have a properly stocked fridge and pantry. It will reduce the need to shop daily or around dinner time when the grocery store lines are at their longest.

Before heading to the supermarket make your meal plan. By meal planning, you purchase only what you need to consume in the coming week, thus, saving you money by reducing potential food waste from over purchasing. Looking for more budget saving ideas read, Tips for Slashing the Grocery Budget.

Once you know what you are going to eat make your shopping list. Whether you write it out the old-school way or utilize an app (like Wunderlist or Remember the Milk), a shopping list helps you oversee your potential purchases against your meal plan.

TIP: Organize your shopping list based on the route through your grocery store.

My mission is to help busy families find more space, focus and time to do the things they love. If you’d like help getting your kitchen organized or creating a meal plan contact Melissa.

 I want to help you live a more organized life. Let’s get you sorted.

Tips for Slashing the Grocery Budget

Like the ubiquitous medicine cabinet, we all want to know what’s in each other’s shopping carts. How much do my neighbors and friends spend on groceries each week? Are we spending more? Can we figure out how to spend less?

The weekly grocery budget is a popular topic, here are the top tips and tricks for getting the most bang for your buck while grocery shopping in the Netherlands.

Start with a Budget, a Meal Plan, and a List

Before heading to the supermarket determine what you aim to spend for the week and with this in mind make a meal plan. By meal planning, you purchase only what you need to consume in the coming week, thus, saving you money by reducing potential food waste from over purchasing.

Once you know what you are going to eat make your shopping list. Whether you write it out the old-school way or utilize an app (like Wunderlist or Remember the Milk), a shopping list helps you oversee your potential purchases against your budget. You can add to the list over the course of the week as you discover the toilet paper has run out or the last box of rice is gone.

Do Your Homework and Find the Good Deals

Nearly everything goes on sale at some time or another; from your favorite brand of shampoo to preferred brand of diapers. If you are loyal to brands or products then visit Voordeelmuis to find where the product is currently available at a discount.

With a dozen or more major supermarket chains in the Netherlands, fresh and non-perishable foods are always on sale. By utilizing Reclamefolder you can leaf through supermarkets’ deals of the week.

It’s All About Where You Choose to Shop

If you’ve done your homework and have your list of requirements, then you should be able to divide your list of groceries according to the availability of goods at different supermarkets. You might be used to hopping into the Albert Heijn across your home (which is undoubtedly convenient), but try exploring the other supermarkets in your neighborhood like Aldi, Lidl, the Turkish shop and local Tokos, favorites that offer good quality products at a fair, if not lesser price than the major supermarket chains.

Armed with your list, you know what your shopping needs are; you can now be sure to get a fair deal at your local baker, butcher or outdoor markets.

Shop Less Frequently and Buy in Bulk

Have you ever noticed that you ran in for milk and came out with toothpaste, bananas and a bottle of wine? They may have been on sale but impulse purchases can add up, so resist the urge to purchase items not on your list. Even better is to do your shopping a maximum of once a week and never go shopping on an empty stomach. Food cravings will override your ability to make sound decisions and stick you to your list.

Albert Heijn’s Hamster week is a good opportunity to stockpile. Stock up on non-perishables, cleaning products and freezable items that will last several months. You shouldn’t have to pay full price for diapers, coffee, toilet paper or laundry detergent; and, before your stockpile is up, the deals will be on again.

Track Your Expenses

So in the end, what do we all spend? Well, according to the calculations of the Dutch National Institute for Family Finance Information, the average family of four spends between 400-500 euros per month.

To know what you are spending keep your receipts and tally them at the end of the week. Do this for a month to see what your shopping trends are and discover your actual spending budget. Do you want to track your budget more consistently? Try using an app such as EZ Expense Manager or Spending Tracker. Knowing what you spend and how you spend will dramatically reduce your shopping cost.

By how much could you slash your weekly shopping spend by applying these tips & tricks?

From better home organization to finance and budgeting Melissa can helpI want to help you live a more organized life. Let’s get you sorted.

Schedule It!

The French term it la rentrée, a reference to early September, when school sessions start again, the return from our summer vacations. September marks not just an end to the summer season but the beginning of the “other” new year, the school year.

For those of us with children & teens, we live by the schedule of the school year. Before busy-ness takes over, and you are scrambling to find a free spot on your calendar, take the time to schedule your time for the coming school year.

Here is a list of essential items to consider scheduling in your calendar as appointment non-negotiables.

Holidays you have booked or are planning to book. The idea is that you reserve the time for yourself before work or other plans make time off unavailable. Ensure you request the time off from work before others do so you have the first choice. You can always cancel and reschedule your plans but at the minimum, you have quality time reserved for you and your family.

School holidays, teacher/study days, report cards, parent/teacher meetings, class trips. Most schools have an electronic calendar you can sync to your own, or an app (like Schools United & Social Schools) that gives you an at a glance review of the school’s calendar. There is always that extra day off, in the middle of a random week or added to a holiday, that throws off your weekly schedule. Ensure you always have the latest information.

Personal time. Everything and everyone else gets time on your calendar so why not you? After all, you deserve some personal downtime alone or with friends. Book it in for the coming months for your much-needed recharge.

Haircuts and beauty appointments. Do you, your partner or children routinely need haircuts? Do you have other spa or other beauty treatments that need to be scheduled?

(Routine) date night with your partner. Schedule the babysitter and some one-on-one quality time with your partner. No babysitter available? Put the kids to bed and order in a special meal. Turn off the devices and TV.

Doctor and dental appointments. Twice a year check-ups with the dentist and dental hygienist are recommended. Have you been avoiding calling the doctor over a health issue?

Renewal of vital documents. Driver’s license/passport/identification card due to expire in the coming months? Check the dates and book in reminders to request necessary documents, have passport photos taken, etc., well before the expiration date.

Extra Tip for business owners: block time to in your agenda to catch-up on your financial administration for submission of your quarterly taxes. With the time blocked you can better manage your client workload and pay your taxes on time.

How about you? Which of these items do you regularly add to your calendar at the start of a new year? What other items can you think of that should be added to an annual calendar? 

Are you finding it hard to manage your schedule? Feeling your time is in the hands of others and not your own? Enlist the help of Melissa. I can help you find more space, focus and time to do the things you love.

I want to help you live a more organized life. Let’s get you sorted.