I figured this was the best group for me to write this because for me organization is the key to frugal living. Some of these may not sound like they save me money exactly, but time. And when your balancing a big household, time is sometimes harder to come by. An example I got from one of my sites, and started practicing myself is making homemade tortillas. Generally a package around here cost around $1.49 for 12 large. I can make them for about 25 cents but they take around an hour and a half. I do not work for less than a dollar an hour. My time is much more valuable then that. Here's a some of the software and templates I use to keep things organized and monitor if what I'm doing is saving, time, money and gray hairs.
This program allows you to keep a perfect inventory of everything in your house. There are a few flaws to the program through. There is not a section to write how much of anything you have. Just a little sliding bar that let's you know when you are running low. How I fixed this is to use the section where you can input products not listed and write for example, Quinoa 5lbs. On a seperate template I made for keeping track of quantity and meal planning using excel, I created a column that lists amount used per meal based on the serving sizes of all members of the family. At the end of the month, I add up what was used and go back to the inventory sheet. I use the same feature to rewrite Quinoa 4lbs and delete the first.
The second problem is in the original set up. The program breaks the groups down into too few catagories. For instance, canned is one and packaged is another. Since I can my own veggies, fruit, soups, and meat the list is very long. When listing a group of foods, let's use soups for example, if you miss one you can't insert it near the others. So it winds up at the bottom of the list, away from the other soups. After trial and error, I fixed this using holding places for anything new I may try, or anything I forgot. I use terms like specialty soups, new recipes, misc meat,or misc veggie and use the other template to monitor how many of each I have. A household of four, who generally keep a month long supply won't have this problem, but I keep a pantry for ten with food stuff that ranges from 1 month to two years. Your best bet is to take the time and write a space for all food stuffs (or cleaning, personal items, and pet supplies) that you will ever use within the set. For fresh fruit and veggies, for example, I list all fruit and veggies that every member of my family consumes at some time throughout the year, then use the function at asks whether the item is something you want to keep in stock, and I answer no. As the item is in season, I mark that I have it and when to purchase more. At that point I use my shopping list template for individual stores, shops, stands, markets and sites. Most people don't need to take it this far and can just use the basic shopping list template of your own making to make it easier. There's a brief example attached.
I use a similiar template to keep track of coupons of the same type and organize by expiration date. Unfortunately it's on the other computer and I haven't a clue how to get it on this one.
To get everyone in the house working together, I make honey-do lists and chore charts. I get the chore charts from here http://www.chorecharts.com/Free_Chore_Charts.html They have many free varieties with different themes for kiddies who like, books, sports, cartoons..what have you. Generally as they get older, they get more chores so the chart lasts at least half a year. Next to the chore, I write the approx. time it should take and the reward for completely it. For the older kids, I give them a few bucks here and there to help them learn the value of a dollar but I also use coupon books with rewards such as a day without chores, a video rental, extra dessert, pj day, picnic, sleepover or no homework. What's great about this one is they think they actually have a choice in the matter, when since you hold the book, you really are deciding when their friends are going to keep you up all night giggling, or their junk food intake for the dessert pass.
I get the honey-do lists here. http://www.freeprintable.com/free-printables/honey+do+list
That site also contains other valuable time planning and saving printables.
A master calender is a must in my house. A keep a monthly master calender for all social/school/work events and an hour by hour for those busy days. Windows word, excel or google calenders are all fine for this.
On canning or freezing day I use a prep sheat from www.couponmom.com to organize the prep work. You have to register to the blog and forum to download but they come in handy when preparing multiple meals. A good example is my twice a year Italian day. I make multiple trays of lasagna, veggie lasagna, ziti, manicotti, ravioli and stuffed shells. I whip the pastas up the day before (takes about 4 hrs) then calculate the ingredients that go into more than one dish..such as cheese, and grate it all at once instead of having to keep doing it for each.
To moniter the kids nutrition I use www.caloriecounter.com. This is another all day project to start. Since I don't use much packaged foods, I had to research the the calories, fats, carbs, proteins, vits and minerals of each food, and it's especially important to keep an eye on calcium, iron and floiride intake, then input it on the ingredients page. Now I just click to add it. It takes about 20 minutes in the morning before everyone gets up to plan meals for the day. Execution, is really what takes up the bulk of my time. It's impossible to get ten people to all eat the same thing on any given day and I take their personal tastes and needs into account, accounting for age, gender, preference and any illness I may be treating or preventing.
I have lists for home improvements, and maitenance, feeding the cats, rabbits and chickens, planning the garden and of course my magical, medicinal, and cross over to edible herbs and teas. Financial management isn't my cup of tea but my secondary keeps track of every penny earned and spent with whatever software is good for that kind of thing. All I know is that all the income goes into one account, and he pays the bills, mortgage, college and car accounts for the kids, puts the spending money into our master (for emergencies) and individual savings accounts (a must do ladies) for each of the adults.
I know that like my couponing post, this seems like a hassle but I've tried winging it and it's simply impossible. I hope some of these help you out.
That's really funny considering after I read it before posting, I thought I looked like a nut case.