I’ve always loved having the option of a homemade alternative. For me, it’s always provided a sense of self-sufficiency and well being by knowing I can improvise and create and use things in different ways to provide the solutions I need. I often find that the homemade choice is also a very empowering choice.
But as much as I find great satisfaction in homemade solutions, there are also times when I have to face the reality that life gets busy. My commitments and obligations take me away from home and limit my ability to be in the kitchen mixing up my homemade stuff. And it’s at those times that I have to make some decisions and then not beat myself up about it. Sometimes you have to do what you have to do.
It’s always been my hope that the homemade alternatives I share here at The Make Your Own Zone will be inspirational and give you choices. However I never want anyone to feel guilty or burdened by a homemade recipe. When life gets busy and making a homemade alternative starts to feel like an overwhelming and looming task you’d rather avoid, then it’s OK to step back and give yourself a break. Life has a way of throwing unexpected curves at you and it’s always good to stay flexible and adapt.
So today I’m going to share a few of my strategies for when I feel too busy for “Homemade” . I’m in a season of life where I have elderly parents to be mindful of, a new grandbaby on the way, a part-time job outside the home, plus just the regular homemaking duties of life. And oh yeah, I try to find time to blog too!
I say this not to complain or be whiny, but just to share that sometimes I feel like I have a lot of stuff coming at me from different directions, but it’s all good and important stuff that makes up the fabric of my life.
So here are six reminders I give myself about the homemade lifestyle during the busy times and I hope they can be of encouragement to you too.
1. Time is a resource too.
One of the biggest guilt inducers for me when I’m busy and just grabbing a store bought item off the shelf is the feeling of overspending and being wasteful with my money. I think to myself, “It would be so much cheaper to make it!” But then I remember that at this moment, TIME might be the more important resource rather than MONEY.
Being a good steward of your money is important, but being a good steward of your time is just as important. I remind myself that to be motivated by thriftiness is good, but it’s also perfectly fine to be motivated to budget your time wisely so you have it when needed for friends and family. If that means giving up a few homemade things for a while, then so be it.
2. Look for big batch solutions.
When I do have time for stirring up homemade items, I sometimes look for ways to make bigger batches that will last me for several months and help carry me through the busy times. I’ve always liked my Big Batch Homemade Laundry Soap for this reason. Another example of this is how I’ve adapted my basic homemade all purpose cleaner that’s a 50/50 vinegar and water mix.
I saved an empty gallon vinegar jug and then filled it with 8 cups of vinegar and 8 cups of water. I made my own gallon refill for my homemade cleaner! It’s super easy now for me to just grab my gallon refill jug and pour some more in my spray bottle when I need it. My gallon refill takes a long time to use up and helps tide me through the busy times. I usually share the ratios of ingredients in my recipes if possible to make it easy for folks to adjust the quantity up and down as needed just as I did in this example. If you’re in a busy patch of life it might make sense to see if any of your favorite homemade recipes can be mixed together in a larger quantities.
3. Let routine carry you through.
I’m finding that some of my homemade recipes have become so familiar to me, I can make them without too much effort or brain power even during the busy times. The best example of this in my life is that I’ve gotten better at using my own spices rather than relying on pre-flavored mixes and spice packets. I’ve made my favorite basic seasoned rice so many times now I could probably make it in my sleep.
If during the not-so-busy times you keep practicing and getting better at homemade recipes, you’ll find they eventually become second nature to you. Then during the busy times, it’s already become enough of a routine that it doesn’t feel overly stressful anymore. It’s just what you always do.
4. Function trumps beauty.
A while back I did a few posts called “Sometimes It’s Not About Cute” and shared that I sometimes make baking mixes ahead of time and just stick them in ordinary plastic containers with rubber bands and post-it notes on them. I remind myself not to be paralyzed by perfection and the yearning for everything to look cozy and cute like it does on Pinterest. Instead I focus on the function and purpose of what I’m doing.
In this case my purpose was to make a few things ahead of time to prepare for the busy days, and NOT to impress anybody else with the beauty of it all (see label on vinegar & water jug above – ha!) Give yourself permission to not worry if your homemade stuff is photo-op worthy. Leave the ribbons and fancy labels for another day.
5. Some beats none.
The strategy of “Some Beats None” is basically the idea you’re trying to move towards a goal, doing at least something gets you farther than doing nothing at all. A few steps in the right direction still beats standing still and going nowhere.
So maybe you don’t have time to make homemade cookies AND homemade cleaners AND homemade laundry products – BUT maybe you do have time to at least do a little something for one of those areas. Even if you can’t keep up with all the homemade recipes you want to make, maybe you can still find little ways here and there to still do a few things so that you keep moving towards your goal (whether it be saving money, going green, or eating healthier).
6. Semi-Homemade is OK too.
Finally, I remind myself that semi-homemade is OK too. This applies mainly in the area of making meals at home rather than going out to eat when things get busy. Maybe you don’t have time to make every pan of sauce or pot of soup completely from scratch, but opening a few cans or popping in a frozen pizza will still provide important family time together at the kitchen table. For those times, I say semi-homemade is OK too and nothing to get overly guilty about.
An example of a recent semi-homemade meal at our house was a batch of 7 Can Taco Soup (yup, I just opened up the 7 cans in the picture above and added a few spices). With our soup we made this recipe for semi-homemade cornbread from a fellow West Michigan blogger (the ever resourceful Andrea at AndreaDekker.com). Many times I make my own corn muffins, but this semi-homemade cornbread is delicious and I don’t kick myself too much when I make it once in a while.
And the recipe for 7 Can Taco Soup will be coming up next so stay tuned!
How about you? How do you live the homemade lifestyle when things get busy? I’d love to hear your comments!