Organize These 3 Areas of Your Kitchen and Win at Life
It’s easier than you think.
Like busy parents everywhere, I start to get overwhelmed by the ever-present sight of clutter. On the counters. In the fridge and don’t even get me started about the pantry. Then I get even more anxious about when will I find the time to organize everything? When I’m supposed to be working? When the kids are sleeping? When the kids go to college? So, I took it one task at a time until I had a breakthrough: Your whole house doesn’t have to be a model of KonMari to make you feel calm. In fact, once I got a handle on these three spots, my whole world felt like it was falling into place. (Okay, our mornings went more smoothly and with four small kids, that’s saying something!) Here are the secrets to a calmer family kitchen:
1. DIY snack bins
One in the fridge. One in the pantry. I started with the fridge, removing all the weird old bags with things like two bendy ribs of celery or baby carrots so old they’ve shriveled like the Grinch’s heart. Gave it a good wiping then filled the whole thing with grab-and-go snacks for the kids: washed apples, yogurt strips, wrapped cheese and individual servings of cottage cheese. If I have them on hand, this is where I also stow our favorite double-chocolate fruit & veggie muffins, make-your-own fruit leather or homemade strawberry snack bars, wrapped in baggies. The pantry version includes applesauce, granola bars, bags of popcorn and packs of crackers with peanut butter. Every single morning is SO EASY. The kids each just reach into one of the bins and choose a snack for school. Done.
2. Tupperware storage
After my drawer wouldn’t shut for the zillion and seventh time, I finally pulled every last lid from that abyss and tossed it right into the recycle bin. Then I ordered 3 sets of glass containers with matching lids. Everything nests inside itself or stacks politely on top. Even my kindergartener whose chore was unloading the dishwasher that week gasped. "Wow! This drawer looks so beautiful." Organizing is serious you guys. No one is immune to its calming charms.
3. Key pantry sections
I gave my pantry a makeover, step-by-step and these are my favorite parts:
- Cereal. Put those in nice big containers with snapping lids. No cereal will ever be stale again.
- Everyday baking items. Half the pain of baking is searching for, then hauling all the ingredients you need to the counter. Put everything in one bin, the baking soda, powder, vanilla, etc. Instead of running to the pantry every 10 seconds, just pull the whole thing when you’re ready to make muffins.
- Specialty baking items. How many leftover containers of sprinkles are floating around in my pantry? I don’t know because they’re all contained in one happy bin. Along with mini marshmallows from a birthday project with adorable DIY flowers on top, melting candy, M&Ms to make cupcakes that look like fish, edible markers in case we want to whip up more storm troopers out of marshmallows and extra drink umbrellas from the time we served these amazing pull-apart beach cupcakes for an Under the Sea party.
- Dry goods. Goodbye spilling bag of beans. So long, half empty container of popcorn. I pour all my uncooked rice, quinoa, coconut and anything else that comes in a bag into a nice glass container with a locking lid. Everything looks pretty but there’s something functional going on too: you can see what you’re about to run out of.
It’s not everything and it doesn’t have to be done at once. But these hard-working, high-traffic areas of my kitchen now offer something I hadn’t expected my kitchen to give: support. I don’t have to worry about where to find things, whether we’re out or if the kids can get what they need. Phew.
Photo courtesy of Food Network and iStock