Secret Shortcuts Everyone Needs to Wash Dishes Quickly

For years we did not have a dishwasher and had to wash dishes by hand. I have a dishwasher now, and believe me when I say I will stuff that bad boy completely full before I have to do any dishes by hand.

I like to pretend using the dishwasher to it’s fullest potential is part of my green lifestyle. After all, a dishwasher actually uses less water and energy than doing dishes by hand.

But that’s not the truth.

The truth is I do not enjoy doing the dishes and will do anything to avoid it. However, since it has proven impossible to avoid all hand washing of dishes, I thought I’d share a few of my secret shortcuts for getting the chore done as quickly and painlessly as possible.

Secret 1: Don’t Wash What You Can Wipe

This calls for some judgement on your part. Does it really have to be washed to be clean? For example, if you just used a measuring cup to measure one cup of dried beans – how dirty is that measuring cup? I use a clean dishtowel and give it a good swipe and call it clean.

Secret 2: Have the Right Tools

Start with a clean sponge, scrub brush, and gloves. I prefer a sponge to a cloth so I can nuke it between washings to kill any lingering bacteria. I also like to wear gloves and use a scrub brush. The scrub brush makes light work of tough dishes and the brush can be put in the top rack of the dishwasher to sterilize. The gloves not only keep me from having to touch anything slimy and gross, they also keep my hands from getting chapped during the winter.

Secret 3: Keep Baking Soda Handy

Have a dish that is going to present a challenge? Sprinkle it with baking soda and fill with about half an inch of hot water. Put it to the side and let it sit for a bit. This should help get off anything that is sticking. However, if you can’t get the goop off with the baking soda and a scrub brush, try my How to Clean Burnt Pots and Pans method.

Secret 4: Fill A Sink With Hot, Soapy Water As Soon As You Start Cooking

Have your sink prepped with hot, soapy water, then the process looks like this:

  1. Use a dish and get it dirty.
  2. Immediately take it and scrape it into your compost pail or garbage disposal if needed.
  3. Scrub with scrub brush under running hot water, then place it in the soapy water.
  4. Continue to do this with each dish as you use it.
  5. When you are finished prepping and cooking, you will find you all you need to do is finish scrubbing. Letting dishes air dry in a dish drainer saves you from having to hand dry.

Secret 5: Scrub Starchy Dishes in Cold Water

If you’ve cooked potatoes or rice, you actually want to initially scrub those dishes in cold water. The cold water keeps any potatoes or rice that are stuck in the pan from getting gummy and sticky. So rinse in cold, then put in your sink of hot water to scrub.

Your Turn: Sponge or Rag? Ok to wipe and not wash? Ever leave the dishes until the next morning?

The GBG It Works for Me

“The GBG: It Works for Me” is a weekly series all about that thing you’ve started doing that you’d wish you’d known you should be doing all along.

Solutions, quick tips, and shortcuts. Time savers and sanity savers. It’ll all be right here.

Have a solution, tip, or time saver of your own? Let me know by filling out this form, I’ll try and share it!

Shortcut: Seasoning Food in a Pinch

If you were to look at your recipes, you would start to notice a trend. When seasoning food with salt and pepper, the ratio is almost always two times the salt to one time the pepper.

So I’ve started using a shortcut. I wouldn’t say it’s life changing, but is is time saving – and sometimes those are the same thing!

I have a small ramekin (any small dish that fits on your stove will do) and I add to it 1/4 cup salt and 2 Tablespoons pepper. I stir it together and it is ready for me to just grab a pinch and sprinkle over my dishes. This is great if you are browning ground beef, sauteing vegetables, scrambling eggs, or getting a steak ready to grill. You can season your food as you cook & not have to think about it!

I prefer the pinch method when cooking, but if  you are someone who likes to measure when cooking, all you need to do is measure out the amount in the recipe.

For example, if a recipe calls for 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper ~ just add 1 1/2 teaspoons for your salt and pepper mixture.

(Remember: Baking is a whole other ball game and requires precise measurements.)


    • When adding that pinch of your salt and pepper, make sure you are doing so from about 10 to 12 inches above the food. Holding it a little higher helps in even distribution.
    • Use Kosher salt or sea salt. Both types of salt are a large grain, making it easier to pick up in a pinch.
    • Season your meat with salt and pepper BEFORE you cook it. Raw meat absorbs it better than cooked meat, so you will need to use less.
    • Season your beans AFTER you cook them. Salt during the cooking process makes them harder to cook. I believe this, but not everyone does. However, I am right & they are wrong.
    • Tailor your mix to YOUR family’s taste. More pepper, less pepper, garlic powder, red pepper. Throw in whatever your family likes!

The GBG It Works for Me

“The GBG: It Works for Me” is a weekly series all about that thing you’ve started doing that you’d wish you’d known you should be doing all along.

Solutions, quick tips, and shortcuts. Time savers and sanity savers. It’ll all be right here.

Have a solution, tip, or time saver of your own? Let me know by filling out this form, I’ll try it then share it!


DIY Snack Station | Quick and Healthy Snacks

DIY Snack Station

Because my girls are in after school sports, they need to take a healthy snack with them when they leave for school.
Since I do not move very quickly in the morning, having one less thing to do in the morning (other than drink coffee) is always a blessing. I came up with this DIY Snack Station to help organize our mornings, and to make sure my girls had a good snack to take with them each day. This snack station allows me to assemble my snack boxes on Sunday night and have snacks ready to grab and go each morning of the week.


  • Find a large box that will fit on a pantry or cabinet shelf. I used a box from Costco. It fit perfectly in my pantry, was free, and reduced waste. But if you prefer pretty, organized shelves, feel free to see what your local big box store, like Target, has that will work. You want a box that is large enough that it can hold a cracker-size box or two as well as several other snack items you will corral together.
  • 6 to 10 snack-size containers. I found Steralite boxes that are BPA-free at Target for about $2 each. The boxes are about the same size as a lunchable container. These ECOlunch boxes are also the perfect size. I bought enough to make snack boxes for the whole week.
  • An assortment of healthy snack foods.

 What if you don’t have room for a large box to hold 10 snack boxes and all the snack supplies?

Honestly, until I cleared out space in our pantry for my snack station, it sat on my washer. You just need a place easily accessible that will work for you.

Once you’ve found a box and a location for your snack station, start assembling your snack boxes.

Snack Station Box


  • Organic applesauce
  • 100% pure fruit leather
  • Whole grain pretzels
  • Whole grain crackers
  • Trail mix
  • Wasabi peas
  • Dried fruit
  • Dark chocolate
  • Beef Jerkey
  • Yogurt Sammies
  • Packets of squeezable peanut butter or hazelnut butter
  • Pita chips


  • Carrot sticks
  • Grape tomatoes
  • Hummus
  • Cheese sticks
  • Apples, small
  • Grapes
  • Baby peppers


Quick and Healthy Snacks

Once all of your snack boxes are assembled, simply pack everything back up in your Snack Station and return it to the shelf. I grab two pre-made snack boxes every morning, maybe throw in a perishable item or two, and in less than a minute I am done!

What do you think? Would a snack station work for you?

The GBG It Works for Me

“The GBG: It Works for Me” is a weekly series all about that thing you’ve started doing that you’d wish you’d known you should be doing all along.

Solutions, quick tips, and shortcuts. Time savers and sanity savers. It’ll all be right here.

Have a solution, tip, or time saver of your own? Let me know by filling out this form, I’ll try it then share it!

How to Store Fresh Basil

I’ve talked about my love of fresh herbs before. In fact, in the winter I have a whole windowsill full of herbs. When you grow your own, it is an inexpensive way to make your cooking gourmet. (that rhymes 🙂 )

During the summer, I always plant basil in my garden around my tomatoes as a natural “partner”. And this year the basil has gone nutso. So I’ve been bringing it in to use in my cooking whenever the mood strikes (or, ahem, when the recipe calls for it.)

Keep Fresh Basil Fresh

How do you store basil so it will keep fresh for weeks? Basil hates the cold, so keep it out of the fridge! Instead, keep it in water on a counter or table. My basil is acting as a centerpiece at the kitchen table. It smells great and has lasted for well over a month this way. This is particularly helpful if you’ve noticed your basil is ready to bolt and you currently have no time to make your fresh pesto.

Make Pesto with Fresh Basil

When you do get ready to trim your fresh basil, I show you how to cut basil so you get more leaves here.

So remember, store bought or home grown, basil needs to be stored at room temperature in a glass of water – not in the fridge!

The GBG It Works for Me

“The GBG: It Works for Me” is a weekly series all about that thing you’ve started doing that you’d wish you’d known you should be doing all along. Solutions, quick tips, and shortcuts. Time savers and sanity savers. Got one of your own? Let me know, I’ll try it then share it!

Hot Appetizers: Easy Solution to Keep Them HOT!

Hot Appetizers

Are you serving hot appetizers at your party?

What party? Any party.

Your Super Bowl party, your Academy Awards party, your I’m turning 40…again party.

Whatever the occasion, when it comes to serving hot appetizers the question always becomes: How do I keep them hot?

I’ve got a really inexpensive solution that uses re-purposed items that not only will keep your appetizers hot – they will look elegant as well. And this solution costs a LOT less than a chafing dish!

I went to our Habitat for Humanity Restore to get the supplies for this project. Here is what I bought:


Hot appetizers supplies

  • One 12 x 12 granite tile $3.00
  • One chandelier shade made of glass $2.00

Other supplies you’ll need that you probably have at home or can buy at a craft store:

  • Glass beads
  • Tealights

Since I already had the glass beads and tealights, I don’t have a cost for you. Under $5 is my bet. So your total out-of-pocket should be less than $10.

About the glass chandelier shade:

  • Select a shade with a scalloped bottom. Why? Your tealight will need oxygen to stay lit. Having a scalloped bottom helps.
  • A scalloped shade doesn’t allow the tealight ot get enough oxygen, so you need the glass beads.

Here is how to assemble your hot appetizer plate:

  • Attach the glass beads to the rim of the glass shade using an adhesive that will work on glass.

Attached Glass Beads

  • Heat the oven to 200 degrees.
  • Warm the granite tile in the oven for 10 minutes.

Granite Tile in Oven

WARNING: Your tile will be HOT! Do not burn yourself!

  • Light the tealight and put under the glass chandelier shade.


  • Place the hot tile on top of the glass chandelier shade.
  • Add your hot appetizers.

Hot Appetizers

The tealight will keep your granite tile and appetizers smoking hot for the duration of your party! 

How to Measure Flour for the Best Results When Baking

In an effort to encourage the use of more whole grains, I’ve been posting all of my favorite whole wheat recipes.

I’ve shared my Tasty Cakes, my Whole Wheat Pancake Mix, my Whole Wheat Pizza Dough, and my Whole Wheat Banana Nut Bread – to name a few.

I’ve been baking with whole wheat for forever. Maybe even a little longer than that. So, we are used to the flavor and texture and really enjoy it.

That said,  I find it is a tough sell to some of my kid’s friends. I’m amazed when they turn their nose up at the whole wheat bread I use for sandwiches. I want to say, “Don’t your parent’s love you?” or  “Haven’t they read a blessed thing about the benefits of whole wheat?” or  “Aren’t you a little old to be so picky?”

Not really.

Well maybe.

Ok. So I do think it. But I always end up making them something else with a smile.

And, apparently, a bit of judgment on the side.

If whole wheat is a hard sell in your house, there is one key thing you can do to make sure that you get the best results. Measure your flour correctly. This really does matter when you are baking. Baking is more science than regular cooking is, so you need to have as close to exact measurements as possible to have a successful recipe! Here is a little clip to show you how to measure flour correctly:

Can’t see the video? Head over to The Natural Green Mom YouTube Channel.

Just in case you’re thinking it: I’m not sure what’s up with the weird eyes I make. Nerves? Jeesh.

Anyway, I’d love to hear from you if this makes a difference in your baking!

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