By Mona Ismaeil
With kids heading back to school after a long summer of family, friends and fun it is a great time to get your home in order to make back to school time as easy and seamless as possible.
We will be doing a series of articles on how to organize your home, starting with heart of the home itself, the kitchen!
The pantry is an important area of the kitchen that needs a great deal of attention but is often over looked since ‘nobody sees what’s in there anyway.’ WRONG! Your pantry holds everything that fuels your busy home and all its activities. Some key things to keep in mind when organizing your pantry are as follows:
Jars: Clear glass or plastic jars are a must-have in any pantry. They are ideal for bulk foods and pastas. They help keep your food from getting stale, keep spills from happening and make it easier to see what you have.
Bins: Plastic tupperware bins are great for keeping snacks like granola bars as well as other dry edibles. They are easy to stack and store your food better than the boxes they originally come in.
Categorize: Keep like items together in your pantry. Put items you would likely use at the same time together. This makes them easier to access and inventory.
Cabinets & Drawers
When you first move into a new place your kitchen cabinets are neat and tidy, but over time – with a busy family – things can get out of control fast!
Dedicate one cabinet to plastic tupperware containers. It is best to buy stackable containers to save on space. Also, stackable containers mean you are less likely to spend your time searching for the container and its lid. If you already have lots of containers and lids, remove all the lids and use a larger container or basket to hold all the lids then the uncovered containers can easily sit inside of each other.
Try not to have a ‘junk drawer.’ It is best if everything has its place. A junk drawer, although a handy place to put ‘miscellaneous stuff’ in, can get very messy.
Designate a drawer for manuals and menus. Do not pile them in the drawer! What you need are 3-ring binders, page protectors and sticky labels. Use a binder to keep your manuals separated by categories (ex. Appliances, Baby stuff, etc.) Use labels to identify them. Do the same for menus. Divide them by the category food (Mexican, Pizza, Friday Night Faves, etc.)
The fridge is a vital part of the kitchen and yet it is rarely organized or cleaned. Cleaning and organizing your fridge should happen almost every time you grocery shop. This gives you a chance to remove old inedible food as well as clean the fridge up from any bits, piece or spills that have appeared, keeping bacteria at bay!
Place newer items (or refills of items) in the back so that the older ones are used first.
Do a quick inventory of the fridge a couple times a week to see what needs to be used up. Plan your meals accordingly to incorporate those items. Meals like soups, stews and stir-fry’s are a great way to use up veggies in an easy and healthy way before they spoil. For fruits about to spoil, go ahead and freeze them, then use them in smoothies later on.
Keep a box of baking soda in the fridge to keep odours out. Also, use it to clean your fridge along with vinegar. They are great natural, non-chemical cleaners.
Everyone loves the ease of freeing away food for later use, but the freezer can get very unorganized fast and a great deal of food can go to waste if not used in time. Some easy tips to organize your freezer are as follows:
Portions: When buying meat in bulk, use freezer zip lock bags or containers and divide it into one-time use portions. This way you will not have to thaw the entire pack and re-freeze it.
Labels: Be sure to label your zip lock bags or containers. Once frozen it is often difficult to know what is in them. Also, on the label put the date that the meat was frozen so that they can be used in the order they were frozen. First frozen, first used!
Bins: Placing bins in your freezer can help to keep all your frozen goods organized. Choose categories which best suit your meal planning (veggies, fruits, fish, etc). Keep other like items together for easy access and inventory.
About the author:
Mona Ismaeil is mother to a sweet little toddler, owner at Modern Hejab and a blogger.