I had the urge this weekend to share some of my favorite easy organizing tips that have appeared on this blog. Hope you enjoy them as much as I enjoy using them!
1) A visible menu. First, I do meal plan. I try to plan at least 2 weeks at a time (and this dictates my grocery list). Read more about that process here. But, I also try and post those meal plans in the kitchen so I know what’s coming up each day and can make sure everything is ready when I get home from work to rock and roll. I found I have saved at least 1/2 an hour each night by prepping ahead of time. I used to have a fridge sticker with days of the week from the Martha Steward line at Staples to post our meal plan, but over time, it got to looking a little gunky and I decided to retire it in favor of something a little prettier. I took a free printable from online and adjusted it to fit my needs. Then, I put it inside a frame and attached a dry erase marker at the top with a velcro dot. This little guy is on a very narrow piece of wall next to our pantry. I like it’s placement because it cuts down on the fridge clutter and is right next to where a bunch of our meal supplies already live. Now, I can keep track of our meals for two weeks in style! I also love that I can erase things and move them around, because if your life is anything like mine, sometimes we have to alter plans. I already know we have all the ingredients for everything on our chart, so making adjustments is no big deal.
2) Pantry Storage–Part 1. Over the door storage has really helped us in our small pantry. It corrals some of the things we use frequently and that aren’t all that easy to store on wire shelving. On the very top of the wire shelves (not pictured here) are some cat related supplies like brushes and cat treats. The next shelf features some rolls like foil and wax paper and a box of zip close bags. It’s the bottom shelf, though, that I really want to focus on. This one handles quite a few jobs.
On the far left there are four “crystal light” or generic version containers (two behind and two in front). The two in the back hold straws (this is so very very helpful, because they are not constantly falling over). The two in the front hold things we are keeping for the kiddo’s school. We found out last year that they collect pop tabs for the Ronald McDonald house, so there is one for those. The one next to it holds all our “box tops for education” or other such things you can cut off of household items that give money back to the school. (I tried using baggies for these, but this sounds lazy, but the opening and closing of the bags was a pain. I like to drop them in the top of these small containers much better). The little orange basket from Ikea holds the little bag clippies from Ikea (which are awesome!). And, finally, a few more zip top bag boxes. Storing them vertically saves a bunch of space and makes it easier to grab a bag when needed. Don’t forget to use that space on the backs of doors or cabinets–it can be incredibly helpful!
3) Pantry Storage–Part 2. Labels. To begin, I use black baskets in my pantry to store items as the wire shelving is kind of a pain in the behind. To make sure items make it in the right place and people don’t eat food that is intended for recipes, I labeled each basket. My previous labels were pretty specific (Rice, Pasta, Sauce or Mac & Cheese and Soup)–which honestly didn’t work all that well because there were always exceptions. So, I decided to go the more generic route this time. When I ran across these chalkboard stickers in the dollar aisle at Target I grabbed them without even really knowing what I wanted to use them for until I thought…hmmm…pantry labels! I tried the chalkboard marker (also in the $1 aisle) and it was terrible. I looked high and low for a decent one that wasn’t part of a huge set and struck out (if you know where to buy one let me know!). Instead, I went with a silver marker I found several weeks later in the dollar bins and was finally able to complete my labels. To make them, I took some brightly colored card stock, laminated it, and cut the corners with a corner rounder. Then, I stuck the labels in the middle. To attach them to the basket, I rolled a piece of duct tape to the back of the label and stuck it to the basket. Then, I took a flat piece of duct tape and placed it over the holes to cover the duct tape roll. I did this with the previous labels, and amazingly, it came off pretty easily when needed.
Now the labels are less specific, but still get the point across. One row has two baskets labeled Meals (which hold items used for recipes) and one basket labeled Meal Prep (which holds items like soy sauce, marinades, cooking oil, etc.). The shelf below holds a basket for Snacks (crackers, granola bars, etc.), Lunch (mac & cheese, soup, etc.), and Misc (drink mixes, peanut butter, jello, etc.). So, basically, one row is off limits for general consumption and the other is fair game. I think the labels turned out pretty cute. Sometimes a simpler label really is better.
4) Organizing the kiddo’s clothes. The dresser is not large, and as she has gotten bigger, so have the size and amount of her clothes. We don’t rotate a bunch of seasonal items in the winter, because it can be -4 degrees one week and 65 degrees the next (I thought I might be exaggerating a bit here, but it was 65 degrees one day this week and -5 the next night!), and options are important. So, the drawers are pretty crammed. We were running into a problem that as kiddo put her clothes away, the piles inside would get messed up and we’d need to refold half the drawer. Ugh. And, it was really hard to see what was really in there–which meant she probably only wore about half her wardrobe (the stuff on top). Then, one day a light bulb went off! I had read and seen posts about the filing system for t-shirts in drawers for adults. You could take an entire drawer and fit it in half the space. My thought, why not for kids too? And, why just shirts? I had tried a filing system for the shirts, workout pants, and pjs I kept in bins in the top of one of our closets, and it worked pretty well. So, I was fairly confident it would work for the kid too. We’ve lived with the filing system for a few weeks now, and it has really made some big changes. Not only do her clothes fit much easier into the drawers, but now when we go to select clothes for the next day, she can actually see everything that is clean when she makes her decision. And, no more messy piles! She was a little nervous at first about being able to put everything away herself, but with a little support the first few times, she now has the hang of it. I highly recommend trying the filing system for you or your kids. I say “BRAVO!” to the person who originally came up with it. Here’s a look inside to see what our system looks like. We have a drawer for shirts; one of pants, socks, and undies; and one for pajamas–which are all labeled so she knows where to put everything away on laundry day.
5) No More Lost Socks! It was always seemed hit or miss that I would get socks that actually could be paired at the end of a dryer cycle. To combat this pesky problem, I adapted a tip I saw on Pinterest (can’t remember where… Sorry!) The blog I read suggested giving each member of the family a lingerie bag to hang on the back of their door to stow their socks in after wearing. At laundry time, the bag is zipped and thrown in the washing machine, thus keeping all the pairs neatly together. What a fabulous idea! I thought this was a great idea, but I am loathe to hang anything on our doors. Instead, I attached small flatish command hooks to the back of our plastic hampers. I simply hang a lingerie bag from the command hooks on the back–and you can’t even see it if you face the bag toward a wall! We both know to put our socks in the bag after wearing (though sometimes I forget), and I have LOVED being able to match socks so easily. Be sure that the socks are unrolled and flat or they won’t dry properly.
6) Another fabulous command hook idea! I love command hooks and use them all over our home, but our bathrooms seem to be given extra command hook love. Towels hang off the back of a door from CH. My necklaces and bracelets hang on the back of a cabinet door from CH. And, in our master bathroom, our shower caddies have hung from command hooks for quite some time. In the shower, we used to have all of our shower items on a caddy attached to the shower head—but the weight of the caddy and gravity kept causing problems with the shower head. Then we moved all the products to little ledges built into the shower, but they were easily and frequently knocked over and shave gel containers would leave rusty marks. Finally, I figured out I could hang shower caddies from command hooks—not just the shower head. Duh! I found two inexpensive caddies at Walmart and it works so much better. My husband and I each have our own caddy, so there is enough space for both of our items without them being in the way at all. I am thinking about doing something similar in our bathtub for my daughter’s stuff down the road. (You can sort of see that on another wall our shower brush and a squeegee also hang from command hooks).
There’s a few of my favorite organizing projects and tips from around the house. What are some of your favorite easy organizing ideas?