It was almost exactly a year ago when I sat nervously at my computer, getting ready to launch The Organization Toolbox. Of all the posts I’ve written over the years, I was the most nervous about that one. I worried that no one would like my printables…or use them. I worried people wouldn’t subscribe to get them, and I worried I was wasting my time. I had all these ideas and plans for tools, forms, and systems I wanted to create…but until that launch, I had no idea if any of them would ever come to fruition. In the year since that launch, thousands of readers and visitors have subscribed to gain access to my printable library; and many of you have even taken the time to write or message me to let me know how much you love and use them. I knew that I loved making and using printables and coming up with systems and processes to make my life easier. But until the success of The Organization Toolbox, I never realized how much I genuinely enjoyed creating those same systems and products for you guys! Week after week, month after month, my confidence was bolstered and I finally found the courage (and time!) to put a plan into motion to launch all those printable ideas overflowing in my mind!
Today is another launch day that has filled me with a lot of nervousness, but also a lot of excitement. Today I launch a total labor of love…a pack of over 200 pretty printable pages to help you organize and improve function in each and every area of your kitchen! I can’t wait for you guys to check out all the goodies in my Ultimate Kitchen Printable Pack!
The Ultimate Kitchen Printable Pack contains pretty printable pages in my signature style to help you organize your kitchen, streamline your meal planning and grocery shopping processes, and ultimately create a kitchen that is a prettier, more organized, and better functioning place to cook, eat, entertain, and more! The bundle includes 4 printable packs plus 3 bonus kits (because I just couldn’t stop creating fun new things for you guys!) You can check out ALL the details, sample pages, and pricing HERE, but here is quick snapshot of what’s included!
4 Printable Kits
Meal Planning Kit –Meal planning is a tried-and-true method for reducing meal-time stress, keeping pantry/fridge clutter at bay, and sticking to a grocery/food budget. This kit includes dozens of meal planners, trackers, and shopping lists to provide you with countless options and ultimate flexibility.
Recipe Organization Kit –Having your recipes sorted, organized, and accessible is key to reducing meal time stress, streamlining your meal planning process, and efficiently generating complete grocery lists. The recipe categories, inventories, recipe cards, stickers, and tabs in this kit are all color-coordinated and designed to create one comprehensive Recipe Binder.
Food Labels & Inventories Kit – The printables in this kit will help you to inventory, track, label, and organize the foods you have on hand, enabling you to generate grocery lists and prepare meals easier and more efficiently. This kit also includes pages and pages of printable labels for everything in your pantry!
Coupon Organization Kit – Having a comprehensive system to sort, organize, and access your coupons is the key to effectively using coupons and ultimately saving money. The printables in this kit are designed to be used together to create a Coupon Binder. The color-coordinated cover sheets, dividers and tabs will help you quickly sort your recipes and make finding exactly what you need while shopping quick and intuitive.
Did you Say Bonus Kits?
I sure did! I just couldn’t stop coming up with fun things to include in this bundle, and these three mini bonus kits are the most fun of the bunch!
Mini Cleaning Kit – You guys have been asking for it, and I am happy to respond! This mini cleaning kit has “Clean Routine” worksheets as well as fun cleaning stickers for your planner/calendar. This kit is a mini version of a full Spring Cleaning Kit coming down the pike soon!
Dinner Party Planner – This kit is a great way to track all of the details of any parties or events you’re hosting. There’s a one-page planner for small events, as well as an expanded 12-page planner for larger gatherings!
Fun Extras – I wanted to provide a variety of binder covers, spines, dividers and tabs to help you create a fun, unique and personal kitchen resource binder. There are 10 bright and fun covers to choose from to give your kitchen binder some extra pizzazz!
For more details, pricing, and sample pages, click HERE!
So…you’ll notice this post is a little short on my usual pictures because well…#Christmas and #baby! However, in the coming weeks, I’m going to have several tutorials on how to use the various printables in this kit, including how to assemble the ultimate Recipe/Kitchen binder, how to use the spice/pantry labels, as well as more about the cleaning routine I’ve developed so keep your eyes out for those.
We are in the final few weeks before Baby arrives – eeeek! (Honestly, sitting here at 38 weeks, I sure wouldn’t mind if he made his appearance any time now!) This pregnancy has flown by…in fact, I can still remember thinking during Henry’s first week of full-time school back in September that I had SO much time to knock out a ton of to-dos before my due date rolled around. From a bunch of organization projects in our new house and designing my soon-to-launch kitchen printables to finishing the nursery and sewing a bunch of fun things for baby, perhaps my expectations were set a bit high. #guilty On top of everything else I had planned, I also really wanted to have a fully stocked freezer of healthy, wholesome and easy meals that we could eat in the first few weeks after Baby’s arrival. While I had very high hopes that I would do some massive freezer meal preparations, I was just never able to carve out the time in our busy schedule to make it happen. But that doesn’t mean we are wholly unprepared! Today, I thought I’d show you my easy and practical approach for stocking the freezer before baby arrives without having to do a massive shopping/prepping marathon. Whether you have a baby coming too or would just like to dip your toe into having a better stocked freezer, hopefully these tips will get you moving in the right direction!
*this post contains affiliate links
First, let me preface this post with the disclaimer that I am NOT a freezer meal maven. If you’re looking for some serious freezer meal tactics, I’m not your girl. In general, I don’t like to have too much stocked up because 1) we don’t have a ton of freezer space; 2) I don’t like stocking up on things that will never get eaten (i.e., forgotten things stuffed in the back of the freezer); and 3) doing massive shopping/prep sessions overwhelm me. That said, baby coming or not, it’s always handy to have a few meals in the freezer ready to go for busy (or lazy!) nights, and I have found some great ways to keep a steady stock at all times.
What’s My Secret?
It’s pretty simple:
Whenever I make something that freezes well, I double/triple the recipe and freeze the extra into additional meals.
Yep. It’s that straight-forward and simple. Whenever I am making a meal, in our regular meal rotation, that I know freezes/re-cooks really well, I will simply double or triple the recipe while I am making it. We have one “serving” for dinner that night, and then I package and freeze what’s remaining (usually before it’s cooked) into meals that are suitably sized for our family. Here are a few quick reasons why I love this approach so much:
There is very little extra work. Oftentimes, a full recipe is enough to make 2-3 meals for just Greg and I. Instead of half-ing the recipe for our small family OR eating extras as leftovers, I’ll package up the meal (before cooking/baking) into smaller meals to stock the freezer. And if a single recipe isn’t quite enough for a additional meals, doubling or tripling it rarely requires extra work. If I am making something labor intensive (like lasagna or stuffed chicken), I might as well make it worth my time and make as much of it as I can!
I don’t need to shop for lots of extra ingredients. Frequently, making a recipe leaves me with extra or leftover ingredients. By doubling/tripling the recipe, I use up what I’ve bought for that recipe rather than letting it sit in the fridge/pantry (where it will often expire before I get a chance to use it up).
I don’t need to carve out extra kitchen time. I don’t particularly enjoy meal prep as it is, so I certainly don’t want to spend a random/full day in the kitchen if I don’t have to. As such, I only double/triple recipes at the time I am already preparing them for that day/night’s meal. Again, if it’s time I am already planning on spending in the kitchen, why not make the most of it!
My Favorite Freezable Recipes
The internet is FULL of handbooks, workbooks, cookbooks and round-ups of the “best” freezer meals. So if you are trying to really get into freezer meals, I would suggest searching “Freezer Meal Cooking” on Pinterest. As much as knocking out a ton of meals all at once kind of appeals to me…it works better for me and our family when I simply stick to meals we already make and love and just prepare extra of them. As such, I suggest you go through your recipes and identify ones that freeze well and start there. If you need some ideas or are just curious, here are the recipes/meals I find myself freezing over and over:
Creamy Rosemary Penne Pasta Bake – This one is pretty labor intensive and requires ingredients I don’t often buy. So whenever I make it, I triple it and freeze up the extra into disposable baking pans.
Other Freezable Dishes
Rachel Ray’s Lazy Greek Chicken – We LOVE this chicken dish, but I find the recipe labor intensive. As such, I will typically prepare/stuff 6-10 chicken breasts at a time and then wrap them and freeze them individually (before they are cooked). Once thawed, they cook in just 20 minutes. I then pair them with freezer rolls and a bagged salad to get a nutritious meal on the table without having to really cook!
Pulled BBQ Chicken/Beef/Pork – A single recipe usually makes enough for several meals. Since this one is typically cooked before you package it up, all you have to do is heat it up in a microwave and pair with buns and a bagged salad for dinner! I often do a big recipe in the crock pot and then package up 2-3 serving portions into Ziplock bags and store them flat (less bulk!).
Slow Cooker Asian Chicken (for lettuce wraps) – I make this recipe ALL the time. Not only is it quick and easy (hello crockpot!) but it makes a lot and freezes well. It’s a nice change to pastas and other dishes that typically come from the freezer. Once heated up, I just serve it with lettuce leaves and cut up veggies. Couldn’t be easier!
Sausage & Beef Barley Soup – This is another recipe that makes a ton without even doubling it, making all the chopping and browning of meat worth it. We usually get 3-4 meals from a single recipe and it’s also my go-to for families who just had a baby!
Chili – Obviously.
Meatloaf – I typically load extra meatloaf mixture into a muffin tray to freeze it into individual portions. (Once frozen, I transfer the “meatloaf muffins” into a Ziplock bag for storage). To prepare, I pop as many as we need back into a muffin tin, thaw, and bake according to recipe directions.
This is one of my favorite tricks and really makes getting dinner on the table fast! A lot of the dishes I make are pastas or stir-frys that taste “fancy” because of a sauce that is simply added to basic ingredients at the very end. I have a few I now make all the time; and when I do…yep…I make them in bulk and freeze them in small containers or bags. Here are my go-tos that will get a lot of love in the coming weeks:
Rachel Ray’s Artichoke Pesto – We make this in big batches while I have the food processor out. We’ve found it is best served tossed with a hearty pasta (like penne), arugula or spinach, and chunks of Italian sausage.
Rachel Ray’s Thai Peanut Sauce – I only use this recipe to make the sauce (again, in big batches). Instead of using it with noodles, we toss it with a stir fry of chicken, onions, carrots, spinach all over brown rice. We easily have this 2-3/month, as it’s my “go to” when I have no energy to cook.
Chicken Spaghetti Sauce – We tend to rely on off-the-shelf jars of spaghetti sauce when we’re doing meatballs or sausages. But a few times a year, I will make my Mom’s Chicken Spaghetti Sauce in large batches and store it in smaller portions. I like this recipe a lot because the meat is already in the sauce so all I have to do is cook some noodles (rather than also cook the meatballs, sausage, etc).
Items I Rely On for Storing Freezer Meals
Over the past few weeks/months, I have been slowly adding to our freezer inventory with many of these dishes. I can’t say I’ve made them all (however some ARE on our list for THIS week!). Some are waiting to for when baby arrives, but others have already been eaten because this Mama has been a bit too tired to cook in recent weeks! Still, I thought I’d show you the items I rely on over and over when putting meals into our freezer:
Glass Snapware – I LOOOVE these. They are small and sturdy, making them ideal for packing up 2-3 serving sized dishes of casseroles, soups and more. I love that they are both freezer- and oven-safe so (once the food is thawed as necessary), I don’t have to transfer dishes before cooking/baking!
Disposable Bakeware – I’ve started storing casseroles and other things that need to go into the oven into disposable tins in recent weeks. Not only am I running out of my glassware, but the fewer dishes the better once baby arrives!
Gallon and Quart Freezer Bags – Soups and sauces are best stored flat (for less bulk), and I find the Ziplock freezer bags NEVER drip or leak. I also use the Gallon versions overtop my glass and disposable baking pans for extra protection from freezer burn.
Tin Foil – Not only can lids be bulky and breakable (especially on the disposable pans), but so many caseroles need to be covered in tin foil for baking. I often skip the included lids, cover the pan in tin foil and then add a Ziplock bag for good freezer protection + easy stacking.
Dry-Erase Markers–I label my freezer items in various ways (I’ll show you here in a sec!), but for any of my glassware/plastic lids, I love using dry-erase markers. Not only are they quick and easy to grab and scribble the contents directly onto the containers, but they wipe/wash off pretty easily once you’ve eaten the freezer dish.
Avery 5264 Labels – Sometimes a scribble on a lid isn’t quite sufficient to describe the contents and cooking instructions of a meal to so I often rely on these easy-to-print labels. More on these below.
Freezer Inventory and Labels – Depending on how much you freeze and store, keeping track of your freezer meals can be just as important as making and labeling them! So that I don’t need to hunt through my freezer every time I put together a meal plan, my freezer inventories have become a handy part of my freezer meal system (more below!).
I LOOOOVE having a bunch of these labels printed out and tucked into my Kitchen Binder, ready whenever I need them. When I prepare a meal for the freezer, I simply fill out a label and stick it right onto the Ziplock bag for the corresponding dish. (Note – I found these labels don’t peel off the plastic lids cleanly, so applying them to a disposable cover is a better bet!). No more mysterious dishes in the back of the freezer OR having to look up the recipe once it’s time for cooking!
For my small glass dishes that often contain sauces or small servings, I often just grab a dry erase marker and write the contents directly on the lid. A simple wipe with a wet sponge gets the words off every time!
Keeping Track of Freezer Meals with an Inventory
(Psssst – These inventories are also similar to my Freezer Labels & Inventory post from last Spring. I’ve re-designed and expanded them for my new kitchen printable pack set to release early next month (and they are soooo good!!!) but if you want access to some similar inventories now, get them HERE!)
As I have mentioned in recent months, I’ve been working hard to create a series of systems and printables to help make my meal planning and prep easier. You’re going to find out all the details here soon, but one of the main things I wanted was to be able to plan out our meals without having to really hunt and peck around the house for all my recipes and meals already on hand. As such, keeping track of what meals, what servings, and how many are on hand has been super helpful. As I make each meal and package it up for the freezer, I simply add it to the inventory in my binder. When I sit down to plan out our weekly meals, I can see at-a-glance what is still on hand as we eat things up!
I have some more cooking and stocking I want to get done in the next few weeks, which is why our meal plan for this week is mostly dishes that freeze really well! Even without a massive cooking day, I can take comfort in knowing I have a tried-and-true method for getting some meals into our freezer. Do you prepare meals for your freezer? What kinds of methods do you use? Any tips to share? Be sure to chime in in the comments!
I know I’ve been yammering on about it for quite some time, but the release of my whole new library of kitchen-themed printables set is just around the corner. I’ve been working like crazy on it and I think you guys will really love (and use!) what I’ve pulled together. Right after Christmas, I am going to be sharing sneak peeks and special pricing for those on my mailing lists so if you’re not on it already, be sure to sign up here:
Great! Now check your email to confirm your subscription.
I hope you all have a great weekend! Next week will be my last week of posts before I take some time off for the holidays/baby (that is if he doesn’t come sooner!). I’m hoping to (finally) show you some glimpses of our holiday home, as well as launch this year’s reader survey. See you back here soon!
P.S. Be sure to check out my collection of over 200+ kitchen organization printables to get every area of your kitchen, meal planning, and grocery shopping organized and on track!
The alternative title for this post could have easily been “Don’t Underestimate the Power of Organized Kitchen Drawers,” but I thought it was a little dramatic. But, really…it’s so true! After systematically working through our 8 large kitchen drawers, each and every one is now purged, sorted, and perfectly organized…and I can’t even begin to tell you how nice it is to finally be able to see and find everything at a glance. Like with any new house we move into, it always takes me a bit of time to figure out how we use our kitchen (and therefor, each drawer), and get the right systems in place. Now that our drawers are in tip-top shape, I thought I would not only give you a tour of them, but also share my tried-and-true tips for getting perfectly organized kitchen drawers in your kitchen! Let’s get to it!
*affiliate links used
Let’s start with our junk drawer…and my most important tip:
TIP #1: GET RID OF THE JUNK!
There is no point organizing your kitchen drawers if they are filled with a bunch of stuff you don’t want or need. Before even sorting, shopping for organizers, and making it look all pretty, take some time to go through each item in each drawer and decide 1) if you want to keep it, and 2) if it’s in the right place. I always try and do a purge BEFORE we move so that when we are setting up our new place, I’m already ahead. But even this time around, I needed to go back through and re-look at some things. Some wine charms we never use, broken bag clips, random kitchen gadgets, and worn oven mitts were all thrown out. With all the junk gone, I then set my sites on organizing what all was left!
Our “junk” drawer sits in the peninsula, right smack in the middle of the kitchen where food prep, meal plans, and so much more happens. As such, we really wanted to outfit this drawer with more than just odds and ends: we wanted it to house some of the things we reach for most often. As such, our “junk drawer,” holds everything from basic office supplies to tools, bottle openers, wine charms, toothpicks, scissors, magnets, random hardware and more!
TIP #2: USE THE RIGHT DRAWER ORGANIZERS
This one is probably pretty obvious, so I’ll throw it out there now. Drawer organizers are the ideal way to create order out of drawer chaos. Now, as you will see, they aren’t always necessary or effective based on what you are storing. But for large, spacious drawers (where things can float around too easily) or drawers that hold lots of little things (like this junk drawer), drawer organizers are worth every penny. That said, drawer organizers are not created equal, so part of really maximizing the storage in your drawers is finding the “right” ones for YOUR drawers and lifestyle.
Each one of our 8 kitchen drawers have different widths, depths, and heights. And wouldn’t you know that most of the organizers we already had didn’t fit quite right, leaving LOTS of wasted space in each dawer. After a good bit of measuring, brainstorming and looking at lots of options in various stores, I ultimately decided that these super inexpensive organizers from IKEA were the right solution.
Not only were they super cheap, but they filled out our drawers really, really well. Also the compartments in each organizer were large enough to hold what we needed to store. There is nothing worse than having a bunch of pretty drawer dividers that are too small to hold anything! So when you are on the hunt for the “right” organizers, measure and plan out what you need first, shop around a lot, and make sure what you settle on will hold everything properly.
TIP #3: USE EVERY SINGLE INCH YOU CAN
Even with really precise measuring, planning, and shopping, it’s pretty rare to find off-the-shelf organizers that fit your drawers perfectly. However, I HATE wasted space, so I do what I can to minimize the “empty” space leftover by an organizer. First, rotate your organizers in every possible configuration to find a solution that uses the most amount of space. Then see if you can add in other organizers, boxes, or containers to fill up empty space and make the entire drawer more functional. In our junk drawer, the IKEA organizer (rotated sideways) left quite a bit of room. I rummaged around our garage and found these clear acrylic organizers that also fit really well and provided me with even more space to sort pens/markers and other odds and ends. I used thick double-stick tape on the base of the organizers to keep everything snug, in place, and functioning as a single organizer!
You’ll even notice on the far left of the drawer, I left a small channel that perfectly holds our fire starters. This was 100% intentional, but I only discovered the possibility after shifting the organizers around 100 times. So just play around and find an arrangement that works best in order to use up every possible inch!
Just to the left of the junk drawer is a stack of four skinny drawers. Let’s have a peek in each of them!
TIP #4: CONSIDER ACCESSIBLE AND INACCESSIBLE SPACE
For some reason, some of our drawers don’t pull out ALL the way out. It’s somewhat annoying, but I’ve discovered these spots are great for storing things that we want to keep but don’t often use. In our silverware drawer, I realized that its usual (vertical) configuration left us with two problems: 1) too much wasted space on the side, and 2) we couldn’t easily get to the items in the back of the organizer. However, by rotating the organizer sideways (which we’ve never done before), it opened up the whole back of the drawer for larger items. Now our food scale and first aid kit, neither of which had a logical home when we first moved in, have a handy yet out-of-the-way home!
The next drawer down holds all of our bags and wraps. This is another situation where it’s like a Tetris game…you just have to play around with your drawers to find the right arrangement that allows you to store everything you need while keeping it all accessible.
TIP #5: MAKE THINGS SNUG
I’ve briefly mentioned this already but it’s worth repeating. I like to arrange things so they are as snug as possible (when I can). It really bothers me when I pull a drawer open and everything slides all around. For all of my drawer organizers, I use thick double-stick tape to keep them all secured to the drawer base. But in other drawers where that isn’t necessary or practical, I try to arrange things so they don’t slip around too much. In this drawer, I use our extra/unopened boxes of baggies tucked into the back to hold everything else in place. Again, this often requires playing around a bit, but if you can arrange things so they fit tightly, you’re drawers will remain tidy no matter how much (or how forcefully!) they are opened.
I’ve lined the drawers in many of our homes for a few reasons. The first is that I just enjoy seeing a pop of pretty when I open our drawers. It’s a little and easy detail that makes this house feel more like ours’. It also helps keep the drawer surfaces clean from daily wear-and-tear. Not only is contact paper typically more wipeable than most interior drawer surfaces; but when it’s time to move out, we can just peel and go without having to worry about cleaning the inside of each drawer. I do have some drawer liner tips and tricks I’m going to share in a few weeks, but one tip I used here is to only paper where it counts (i.e., exposed areas). Instead of papering the full bottom of every single drawer, I determined where all my organizers were going to go first and then papered the exposed areas only. This saved me both time (easier installation) and money (less paper required!).
TIP #7: THINK ABOUT THE KIDS
If you have kids in the family, think about 1) the things they use most often and 2) where they can easily reach. This is especially important if you have little, little ones: stock your most accessible drawers with safe (and even fun!) kitchen items because babies do empty them! This holds true for bigger kids too. In our last house, we unintentionally put all of Henry’s cups, plates, and bowls in a low drawer. Over time, he discovered he could help himself, meaning he no longer needed our help in getting a snack or a drink. It worked out so well for us that we were sure to repeat it in this house. As such, the bottom-most drawer holds all of his plates, cups, trays, and bowls. Not only does having these things low help him be more self-sufficient, but it keeps our other cabinets tidier since we’re not trying to stack adult and kid-friendly dishes all together!
(Side note: I randomly picked up these Sistema snap-tight containers a few years ago and discovered that they are PERFECT for Henry’s lunch box. I love that they have separators so I can pack a bunch of different items, they require less plastic bags/wrappers, and are compact and easy for Henry to use. I just added some more to our collection since we were using them every day! If your lunch-packing system isn’t working, I highly recommend them!)
Okay – let’s move to the other side of the kitchen for the final three drawers!
In our smallest drawer, I was able to fit one IKEA organizer (this time arranged vertically), leaving room along the side for our rolling pin. As I mentioned, not everything will fit perfectly into an organizer, but you can still make a dedicated spot for those items by strategically placing the organizer.
This drawer also perfectly exemplifies my next tip:
TIP #8: STORE LIKE ITEMS TOGETHER
So far, you’ve seen that we have all of our “junk” (office supplies, tools, and other random things), tupperware, kids items, plastic bags/wraps stored in general categories. In this drawer, we have mostly items that are used for measuring corralled all together. Not only does storing like items together tend to create tidier spaces, but it helps everyone in the household learn and know where everything belongs.
In between this small “measuring” drawer and the stove is our biggest kitchen drawer, and we use it to store pretty much everything that doesn’t fit into any of the other locations!
I was pretty giddy when I discovered that 3 different IKEA organizers fit perfectly edge-to-edge in this drawer, using up every last inch and providing me with 9 different compartments to put things in. Again…measure and plan before you shop!
Since this drawer holds lots of different things, I tried to balance “categories” of items with how they fit into the organizers themselves. My overall goal in this drawer was to give everything a logical home where it could be easily seen and accessed.
Serving utensils are together, juicers are together, cutting utensils are together, etc. But even in situations where the “categories” don’t hold up, the dividers themselves keep things loosely separated, preventing everything from sliding all around this big drawer as it’s opened and closed!
TIP #9: KEEP ITEMS CLOSE TO WHERE THEY ARE USED
This is true all around our kitchen, but is best exemplified in these next two drawers. When deciding where things should go, think about how you use and move through your kitchen. Where do you pack lunches? Put baggies and lunch containers there. Where do you meal prep? Put bowls and measuring cups nearby. The two drawers I just showed you are right next to the stove, making it easy to grab items as I need them. If you’ve lived in your house for a while, you should have a pretty good idea where you use items. If you are just moving in, I recommend living in your house for a few months before organizing your drawers “for good.” After about 2 months of living with chaos in our drawers, I had learned our space enough to finally tackle them right!
The same is true to the left of the stove…where we have our coffee station setup:
In the drawer right below, we have all of our filters, scoops, tea bags, and excess K-cups.
This is also where we keep all of our grilling tools because they fit best here. Notice how yet again, I made a dedicated spot for these larger utensils by moving the drawer organizer all the way to the right and leaving this spot “empty.”
TIP #10: REMOVE BULKY PACKAGING
In some cases, it helps (both visually and spatially) to remove the packaging items come in. You all know from how we store foods in our pantry that I try to get rid of packaging when I can, but I find it can be helpful in drawers too. For example, by taking the coffee filters, tea bags, and extra K-cups out of their bulky boxes, they now fit better in this drawer (when before, they didn’t fit at all). Plus, with things out of packaging, it’s easier to see when you are running low or out of a particular item!
When I first organized our drawers, for some reason I overlooked the coffee/grilling drawer. As such, it sat a big ol’ mess for the last few weeks. I finally got around to organizing it last week; and when Greg opened it unknowingly, I heard him say “oh, thank goodness.” Having organized drawers really makes a huge difference in your day-to-day life. Beyond just making any organization-loving person giddy, it saves time and sanity to be able to find exactly what you need when you need it. An organization project like this doesn’t really take a ton of time or effort…just some focused thought and planning…and a few good drawer organizers 😉
For easy reference, here are the products I used in this drawer organization project!
I do hope you found some helpful tips here whether you need to get one or all your drawers tidied up. Also, if you’re looking for more kitchen organization and guidance, be sure to sign up for my FREE 5-week email course where I help you work through every area of your kitchen one week at a time!
I’d love to hear any good tips you have to share, as I’m always looking for ways to refine our system! Feel free to share what’s working in your kitchen in the comments! Back here on Thursday…nursery plans revealed! I can’t wait!
In recent weeks, I’ve been plowing through room reveal after room reveal in preparation for a final home tour before closing out our Kansas chapter. (You can catch up on the Office, Henry’s Bedroom, Playroom, Living Room, Linen Closet, Laundry Room, and Deck so far!). Among the last few “final” spaces to show you are the kitchen and dining room. Admittedly, these two rooms (some of the ones we spend the most time in!) received the least amount of DIY attention. Despite not taking on full makeovers however, both of these rooms illustrate that even with just a few impactful (and inexpensive) accessories, bland and boring rental kitchen and dining rooms can feel stylish and personalized!
(As usual, all the tutorials, links, and product resources will be listed at the bottom of the post for easy reference!)
Before diving into the afters, let’s take a quick walk down memory lane and look at the house the day we moved in last June. When we moved into this home, I was quite excited about a number of spaces and features…the kitchen was not one of them. Ya’ll know that brown is not my favorite; and the brown floors and cabinets and beige counters and backsplash were leaving me uninspired. I was initially concerned about the number of cabinets; but as you will soon see, we were able to charm up this space and carve out some clever storage to meet all of our needs!
Here is a look at the adjoining dining room (the kitchen is just off to the left of the shot below). Hardwood floors, two large windows, and a neutral wall color gave me quite the workable foundation!
We ended up buying/doing very few new things for this space and instead re-purposed and re-imagined a lot of the furniture, storage containers, and accessories we had from other spaces in our previous homes. As I step back and look through these pictures, even I am amazed at how much some simple curtains and accessories can transform a space. Let me take you through the whole space, starting on the kitchen side!
The corner windows tucked back behind the sink provided a bit of a decor challenge. These no-sew decorative roman shades added just enough texture and decor to make the space feel more complete. Their ability to block some of the intense afternoon sun was an added bonus!
This is the very first time having an island in our kitchen, and boy do we totally get the appeal! Not only do Greg and Henry sit and keep me company while I am cooking, but the island certainly is the main gathering spot during all of our parties!
I try to keep my counters as clutter-free as possible. My painted utensil jars are still going strong (and one of my most popular projects!), and they add the perfect pop of color in this very neutral kitchen.
Over on the right side of the kitchen near the pantry is where we keep a few other items that we use on a daily/hourly basis!
We’re pretty serious about our coffee around here, so the final little stretch of counter space between the stove and the refrigerator houses our coffee pot, grinder and accessories. All the mugs are located in the cabinet just above this setup!
I was originally quite worried about the amount of cabinet space in this kitchen. When I discovered that the drawers and cabinets were much larger than the usual build-grade versions we’re used to, my worries faded! I am able to store all of our kitchen items (and then some!) in the cabinets, and these extra-wide and -deep drawers really work extra hard for us thanks to some DIY drawers dividers!
Under the kitchen sink is never a pretty spot with the pipes and garbage disposal so obvious and in the way…but thanks to a cheery and super functional cleaning caddie, these under-the-sink doors aren’t so bad to open!
The skinny pantry was another aspect of the kitchen I was less-than-enthused about…
But thanks to some pretty and clever storage solutions, we are really able to squeeze a ton of function into this awkward space!
Finding and implementing just the right food storage systems is one of my favorite aspects of putting a kitchen together. This time around, I utilized a variety of bins and baskets to store everything from dry goods and liquids to snacks and spices!
Even our freezer got a little organizational overhaul this past Spring. I LOOVE the drawer-type freezer and will certainly miss the space and functionality we have in this top/bottom combo!
Right next to the fridge is a spot I haven’t yet shown you…mainly because it’s a really awkward wall to photograph. But it’s here that I have my Mom’s amazing food still-life art pieces on display!
All in all, just a handful of DIYs, some great organization, and a few decor touches help make this rental kitchen feel a little less basic and a little more homey!
Now let’s take a look at the dining room side of the space!
This room has pretty much looked the same since the 3-Months In Home Tour. All the elements you see fell into place rather quickly by just pulling the various items together from our previous homes (I love it when things come together so easily!); Unfortunately, I just ran out of time and steam to finish the few DIYs I wanted to do in this space. Still…this bright, crisp and fresh space is one of my favorites in the entire house!
The flowered curtains are a huge part of what I love about this space…and the striped rug of course. I wouldn’t naturally pair these items together, but somehow everything just works here!
The sunlight coming in this back window is the best in the entire house so many of the plants have found their way to this buffet!
We placed our “dining hutch” on the long wall on the right side of the room. In our last house, this hutch+mirror arrangement served as an entryway bookcase. This time around, it holds all of our dishes (as it was originally intended!) and serves as a perfect focal point for the dining area!
Our most-commonly used dishes are in our cabinets, but this hutch is a great way to display our serving pieces, my pitcher collection, and some pretty cookbooks!
I never finished a fourth art piece (for under the crab) and the chairs never got re-covered in bright cobalt fabric; but all in all, this space was easy to pull together using items we already had on hand!
I’ve done my best to round-up the products used in this space. If there is something I’ve overlooked, let me know in the comments!
And because I can’t resist before/after shots side-by-side, let’s take one last look!
It’s super tricky to get the entire space in a single shot, but this last one should give you an idea of how the two spaces work together!
I’m happy to report that after 2 months of craziness for our little family, I think I am finally in a place where I can (mostly!) get back to business as usual around here. Coming up next, my tips and tricks for working with vinyl in my latest installment of Cricut Explore for Home Decor! See you then!
Spring is in the air, and boy oh boy do I have an urge to get spring cleaning! Not only do we have a move coming up, but this time of year always makes me want to get rid of the clutter and sort and label every last thing we own! Please tell me I’m not the only one! This last weekend I got a bee in my bonnet (so to speak) about our cleaning supplies, and set to work not only cleaning them out, but making them pretty darn cute too. Today, I want to show you how to organize your cleaning supplies into convenient (and colorful!) cleaning kits. Not only are they adorable to look at, you’ll be sure to always have your cleaning supplies when and where you need them!
There’s a secret you all should know about me: I love a tidy home and could literally organize clutter all day long…but I hate to clean. Hate it. Every bit of it. I’ve tried cleaning checklists and schedules. I’ve tried cleaning a little every day and all out once a month…nothing makes it easier or more pleasant for me, and I really haven’t come up with a system that feels manageable and successful.
You know what does work for me though? Hiring it out. I’m almost embarrassed to admit that (me who DIYs almost everything!), and I certainly don’t say it to sound snobby. We take money pretty seriously around here…which also means that we put it toward the things that mean the most to our family, help us out where it counts, and keep us happy. For me, having someone to come clean the house each month makes me a happier Megan and gives me the time to focus on Greg, Henry, projects and the blog.
The cleaning lady we have here in Kansas does something I’ve never experienced, and I absolutely love. Instead of bringing her own cleaning supplies, she stocked us up and keeps everything here (so we can use it all between visits). That alone is pretty brilliant on her part. But wait, there’s more! She also planted a small collection of supplies in each bathroom and the kitchen in order to limit the amount she carries around the house. Typically, I am someone who likes all-of-one thing contained in a single spot. But over the last few months of using her system, I have loved being able to walk into the bathroom right before company is coming and clean it without having to dig out or go get the right supplies. I guess I could make a single caddy that could be carried throughout the house; but man, it’s just so convenient to have a dedicated cleaning basket in each bathroom!
Until recently, all the supplies were just hanging out under the sinks in each bathroom. I (finally) went to go corral everything into baskets when (of course) I had to take a few minutes to make them extra cute! My sister is going to make fun of me when she reads this post. She and her husband are convinced I label everything. I tried to convince her that I don’t, but this post isn’t going to help my case! When I thought about creating dedicated kits for each bathroom, color-coordinating them was my first instinct! As such, I made super cute basket and spray bottle labels that match…and used a different color for each kit.
How to Make Basket Labels from Chipboard
I wanted to make large, sturdy labels for each basket, but also wanted to do it using only things I had on-hand. I had some chipboard leftover from another project and knew it would be a great solution! While chipboard isn’t waterproof, it’s nice and sturdy and will hold its shape over time.
To make labels using chipboard, you will need:
Chipboard (the thicker the board you choose, the sturdier your labels will be)
Acrylic paint (in the color of your choice)
Vinyl (in the colors of your choice)
Brads (optional, for securing the label to baskets)
Start by drawing your label shape onto the chipboard with a pencil. I simply traced a planter saucer I had in my office!
Next, cut out the shapes from the chipboard. Chipboard can be pretty tough to cut with a scissors. I found that trimming away most of the chipboard with a utility knife allowed me to then get in with a scissors to cut out the final shape. Once cut out, paint the chipboard with acrylic paint.
I knew I wanted to have a silhouette image on my baskets (hence the black background). After playing around in Cricut Design Space with a few different images, I finally decided on a two-toned sprayer bottle that I then cut using an array of brightly-colored vinyl!
Once cut, I applied the vinyl to the painted chipboard rounds!
You can attach the labels to your baskets in a variety of ways (including Velcro, double-sided tape, etc). My new favorite way is to use brads, which require holes in the label. Chipboard is a bit too tough to punch with a regular hole punch so I used this snazzy little tool from StampinUp! I’ve had it forever and it makes putting in perfect holes a cinch!
All that’s left to do is secure the labels to your basket using the brads (or any other method you prefer!).
Of course I couldn’t just stop at the basket labels, I decided to add labels to the spray bottles for each kit as well! Our all-purpose cleaner is made from concentrate, so we use generic bottles and mix our own whenever we run out. The labels are made with more vinyl using images from Cricut Design Space.
With the cute stuff done, it was time to load up the baskets!
Bathroom Cleaning Kits
We have three bathrooms, so I made a kit for each one!
These kits aren’t big or full, but provide just the things we need to walk in and get the bathroom clean in a jiffy. Here is what’s included in each:
All of our rags had gotten pretty gross, so I used this opportunity to stock up on new ones. I don’t shop at Walmart often, but when I found this really inexpensive kit of four different cloths, I knew they were perfect for these bathroom-specific kits. And the fact that they come labeled…they were made for me! (I can’t find them online, so check your stores!)
I corralled all the supplies into my favorite Y-weave baskets from Target. I was in Target the other day, and they don’t seem to carry this “medium” size anymore…however THESE are a great alternative! Functional, simple and oh-so-cute…don’t you think?!?
Kitchen Cleaning Kit
In addition to having cleaning supplies in the bathrooms, I also like having some in the kitchen for quick and easy clean up after meal time, for regular wipe downs, and for when we’re entertaining! I organized our cleaning supplies a good long time ago, but as often happens…it had gotten a little out of control in recent months. Take a look:
Admittedly, these two containers weren’t working very well for us at all. Not only did we not use some of the items in here, but the stuff we did use wasn’t accessible or easy to maintain. The plastic caddy never seemed to be wide enough to hold most bottles and supplies; and the cardboard box was a pretty bad idea for under the kitchen sink!
I started by cleaning out everything we had under the sink. The cardboard box got tossed, and the plastic caddy was put into our garage sale pile. I then set out to make one more kit!
Here are the things we really need under the sink. A bunch of rags, sponges and brushes to wash a variety of kitchen-related things, our all-purpose cleaner, some quick disinfecting wipes, and our metal polish. Everything else either got tossed or transported to our THESE (where we store our less-used cleaning supplies).
Every now and then, it helps to add a basket inside a basket to corral things even better! A simple plastic shoebox holds our rags and sponges in a way that is a bit easier to maintain!
Everything fits in comfortably; and it is all easy to pull out and to put back!
The problem I wanted to solve under our sink was where to put used rags (other than tossing them in our laundry) and our dead batteries (to save for proper recycling). I dug out two tins I had in our stash and added new labels to them. Admittedly, I’d love a perforated tin/basket for rags, but this will do for now!
They both fit perfectly (along with our dishwasher detergent) in a plastic tray (which is really a basket lid!)…and the whole thing can slide right under our kitchen sink!
Ahhhh…much better, don’t you think?
It’s pretty hard to make the cabinet under a kitchen sink look glamorous with all those pipes and such…but the baskets and sunny yellow labels sure do help! So excited to have our mess contained under here now!
My Organize This series is all about (relatively) simple and quick organizing projects that make a big difference in your day-to-day life. These aren’t intended to be large organizational overhauls, but rather quick sessions you can accomplish in an afternoon or weekend! This cleaning kit project is exactly that: quick and easy enough to do today or this coming weekend! Catch up on other projects in this series by clicking on the pictures below:
I hope this cheerful post motivates you to tackle your cleaning supplies if they are out of order! AND…if you are working you way through the Conquer Your Kitchen course…this is a great way to tidy up under the kitchen sink, don’t you think?