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Meal Planning to Simplify the Busy Back to School Season

When you plan your meals it will help to simplify the hectic back to school season. You’ll make fewer trips to the grocery store and waste less money on food that didn’t make it into a meal. I often freeze trimmed chicken breasts and steak tips with teriyaki sauce in freezer bags. Take them out of the freezer and thaw overnight. If you forget to take them out, defrost quickly in a pot of room tempurature water. Grill and serve with rice, veggies or salad and dinner’s done.  Think about some of your family’s (easy) favorite meals and have those pantry items on hand to complete the meal. My kids like the Al Frescos Chicken & Apple sausages, so I usually have those in the fridge.  They freeze well too.

When you make your master grocery list, think about what meals you will cook each day of the week ahead.  If you intentially cook extras you can plan to have leftovers on a busy evening.  When I meal plan, I think about whether I am “on” for carpool duty or have an event in the evening. When planning meals for those evenings I often make a double batch the night before and plan for leftovers.  When you create your meal plan and grocery list, go through your pantry to see what items you need for each meal so you use what you have and don’t waste money (and space in your pantry!) on unnecessary items.  Check out our previous post about streamlining your master grocery list here.  Combined with a weekly meal plan you’ll be efficient at the grocery store as well as in the kitchen! {free meal planning printable here}

Summer Project List

blur-close-up-collage-196655School’s out and summer’s here! For many of us, summer signals a new slightly more relaxed schedule –  time off from school or work, weekend or week-long trips and fewer regular commitments. Despite the lack of structure, summer can still be a great time to get some of your organizing projects done. Start your summer off right by creating your summer project list. This should be a list of a few – no more than 5 – projects that you want to complete by the end of the season. It can be whatever you want, but I recommend choosing projects that give you some enjoyment to capture that spirit of summer fun!
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Pro Tip: Stand ‘Em Up

Whether in a closet or a dresser, drawers are a great way to store your folded clothes. I almost always prefer drawers over folded clothing on shelves, simply because stacks of folded clothes tend to fall over on shelves unless you’re super careful removing an item and because drawers mean less visual clutter. That said, folded stacks of clothes in a drawer can quickly become a disaster too. For one, since you can’t see what’s down further in the stack, you tend to wear the same few items from the top over and over again. And while this is an interesting minimalist experiment, if you do decide to venture down to get something you remembered you own, you risk messing up your whole pile!

Enter the stand-up fold – or folding your clothes so that they can stand up instead of being stacked. This has the benefit that they can all be seen and accessed without messing up the whole drawer. If you are already folding your clothes for stacks, this usually just requires folding the item in half again or perhaps in thirds. Experiment to see what works best. Theses pics are a before and after from a drawer of t-shirts. For the stacks, they were simply folded in half length-wise. For the stand-up fold, I folded them in thirds, then in half again for the perfect stand. For full disclosure, I did the initial fold, but I’m finding the maintenance to be much better than the stacks. Sometimes a small organizational tweak is all you need to go from frustrating mess to lined up success!

Before: Stacks

Before: Stacks

 

After: Stand Up

After: Stand Up

 

Before: Disaster

Before: Disaster

 

After: Success!

After: Success!

Celebrating 3 Years with The Container Store!

imageWe are so excited to be celebrating 3 amazing years as a Contained Home partner with The Container Store. We love providing Container Store customers with top quality organizing and design services and look forward to helping more customers in the coming year! As a Contained Home partner, we provide elfa and TCS Closets design services along with in-home organizing and product recommendations to help each customer achieve their goals!

Closet Feature: Maximize Style and Function with Elfa Drawer Fronts

Elfa, the customizable shelving and drawer system sold exclusively by The Container Store, is a long-time favorite of ours for highly functional, fabulous closets. Elfa can transform just about any space in your home from cluttered and chaotic to calm, cool and collected! We also love that The Container Store is always working to improve and expand this fan favorite.

One of our favorite new features, elfa Drawer Fronts, adds a new style option to this already great-looking line. The Drawer Fronts are available in all of the Décor finishes – White, Birch and Walnut – so whether you prefer a light or dark look, there’s an option to fit your style. They’re available in two popular drawer sizes, allowing us to maximize your vertical space and storage needs.

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How a Master List Can Simplify Your Shopping Routine

grocery storeLooking for a little simplification for your household shopping? It can be easy to get overwhelmed with keeping track of all the stuff a household needs. You might feel like you’re re-writing the same shopping lists from week to week and yet your pantry and storage spaces are over-flowing with food and supplies you aren’t using, and somehow you’re out of some of the essentials!?!

The key to simplifying your shopping routine (and storage spaces) is to have a master list to work from. A master list saves you from wasting time and mental energy deciding what to buy and also keeps you from making random purchases that will end up stashed in your valuable storage space. The good news is that with a little effort, you can break the cycle! [Read more…]

Spring Clean While You Declutter

baskets-clean-color-271711_pexelsThis time of year, it seems like spring cleaning how-to’s and checklists are everywhere! While an annual deep clean is a great idea, it can seem very overwhelming, especially if you know you’ve got clutter in the way! Who wants to waste time cleaning around and under stuff you know you don’t need?!

So what’s the answer? We could continue to put off both deep cleaning and decluttering because the whole thing just seems too overwhelming. OR – we could tackle the two together – making progress one space at a time. Why does this make so much sense? Because – step one of any good organizing project is to completely empty out the space you’re organizing! Whether it’s a drawer, a shelf, a cabinet or a closet, you have to take everything out so you can see what you have and make decisions on what to keep. [Read more…]

Do You Know Where to Donate?

Whether you’re cleaning out your closet or garadonationsge, or anywhere in between, the process isn’t complete until you’ve moved your donations out the door. Yet, this is the step where many well-intentioned clutter conquerors get stuck. One major reason is simply not knowing where we can or should donate certain items. The good news is that in most areas, there are many options out there. Just don’t overthink the process – choose what’s most convenient. If you wait until you figure out the absolute best place for each type of item, no one will benefit. You can always do something different next time if you find a new option.

Here are a few common donation resources that accept a variety of common household items. Just be sure to scan the guidelines for each so you’re not donating items they can’t use. There are many others out there – these are just a few ideas to get you started. [Read more…]

The Secret to Staying Organized

Do you feel like you’re always trying to get organized? No matter how much you donate or get rid of, it still feels like you’re not making any headway! The answer may lie in looking at the other side of the stuff equation. You may be diligently working to part with unwanted items, but until you get serious about limiting what’s coming in, the stuff will continue to win.

Limiting what comes into your house is often easier said than done – gifts, papers, toys, hand-me-downs, freebies, junk mail, bulk purchases – it can seem like the influx is endless. However, with a little effort, patience, and practice, you can make changes to what comes in and finally gain the upper hand in the battle with your stuff. Here are 5 strategies you can try:

Pause before you purchase – When you think of something you “need” or want – hit the pause button before you purchase. Decide on a mandatory waiting period – at least 1 week, but better yet 1 month. Just like a food craving, if you create a little space, it may pass. If you want to keep a list, go for it – write down the item and the date. If after your waiting period is up, you still decide it’s a worthwhile purchase, you can make that choice. But chances are, your pause button will save you a more than a few unnecessary purchases. [Read more…]

Refresh Your Closet with this Easy Upgrade

platinumHuggable2 (1)It’s finally starting to feel a bit like spring in Boston! Wouldn’t it be nice to refresh your closet as you switch out the winter gear for lighter clothes? It can be easier than you think with this quick closet upgrade we recommend to all our clients!

First things first, it’s time to clear out what you don’t wear!

  • If you can, take everything out of your closet! We’re serious.
  • Donate everything you didn’t wear or wore but didn’t love this past season. Be ruthless – if you didn’t wear it this year, you’re not going to next year. Someone else will make good use of it, but only if you let it go!
  • Set aside winter items you’re done with for the season. Make time to clean them and store them away during the warmer weather.

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Five 5-Minute Projects for a More Organized Kitchen

KT_18_Drawer_Steps_After_RGBMaking use of those little pockets of free time that pop up throughout the day can add up to major progress on those organizing projects you keep meaning to get to. Try out one of these 5 simple kitchen projects next time you have 5 free minutes. Do one a day and you’ll be on your way to a more organized space in less than a week. Mini projects are also a great way to build momentum if you’re having trouble getting started! Ready, set, go!

  1. Clean Out Your Utensil Drawer – Empty the drawer or space where you keep your everyday utensils. Grab a cleaning wipe and give the drawer and utensil try a quick wipe down. Put back only what you use on a regular basis. Put duplicates, randoms and anything you just don’t use in a bag or box for donation. Done!
  2. Sort Through Your Plastic Storage Ware – Empty out the space where you store plastic food storage containers. Give the shelf or drawer a quick wipe down. Match up containers and lids. Recycle anything cracked or lid-less and donate excess items you just don’t need. Nest like containers and lids and use larger containers to corral smaller ones. Done!
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Organize Your Pantry with 3 Simple Steps

KT_17_Multipurpose_Bins_R112916_1200

Do you dream of opening a clean, organized pantry where you can see exactly what you have and know what’s for dinner in a snap? Pantries can easily become cluttered and chaotic with bags, boxes, bottles and cans of all shapes and sizes. Open items go stale in days and forgotten items get pushed to the back causing you to re-buy things you didn’t know you had. Don’t let your pantry set you into panic mode! Shape up your pantry in no time with these 3 simple steps.

  1. Clear it out! If possible, clear out your entire pantry space or the cupboards where you store your pantry items. Toss out any expired food or anything your family’s not into at the moment. Unexpired/unopened items can be donated to a local food pantry. Set aside any items that don’t belong in your pantry and take time to relocate them when you’re done. This is also a great time to wipe down the shelves for a fresh start!
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