Kitchen Organization on a Dime

                                                 Olive oil tins as utensil holders.

I am an organized person.  I love nothing better than to have a place for everything and everything in it's place.  For one thing, it helps me to remember where something is.  If a certain item is found in a certain spot every single time, I never have to go hunting for it.

I would love nothing better than to spend all my time in one of those sorts of stores that has every organizational aide known to woman or man for closets and cupboards.  I don't want to pay big prices though for clever organization and since most of those stores are located in big cities, no desire to travel to find items, either.  So how do I stay organized?  It's a combination of using what I have and making the most of what I have on hand.  Here are some of my most recent organizational tools.  You might be surprised.

First I am a saver of things: boxes, containers, jars, jugs, etc.

In the top kitchen drawer I keep my baggies.  I store washed and dried cereal bags in a bread sack.  I fold them tight and press the excess air out of them.  I like to store meat in the cereal bags.  It's something I don't mind tossing in the trash after, I can tape them shut and mark directly on the bag what is in them.  I can put like cuts of meat together (say all breasts) and tuck those bags into a large zippered bag to keep them together.  Easy organization, a nice reuse of something that typically is thrown away once empty, and if needed I can even cut on bag into squares to put between pieces of meat or homemade unbaked piecrusts and prevent them sticking together.

I also have a small mustard jar in use keeping my rubber bands all together.

Cottage cheese and sour cream containers are nice for storing leftovers, but I tend to forget items I can't see, so I rely more heavily on glass jars and glass containers.  I'm slowly collecting those glass rectangular pieces with snap on plastic lids.  Love them!   I  pick up one or two at a time when I'm in Ross or Marshalls where they are cheapest.  I do save the lids off the sour cream and cottage cheese containers to put between homemade burgers.  Makes taking out one or two from the freezer a cinch and because I can pat the burger out to fit the lid, I have a controlled portion as well.  And individual ice cream cartons or yogurt lids make great slider burger portions as well as keeping them separated.

Not my photo but what I do in my big deep freezer...

I used milk jugs to store frozen loose vegetables like green peas, butter beans and mixed vegetables and even peppers.  Aldi now has a squared off gallon jug that is super for this use.  I wrote on the sides and tops what is in each jug so I can grab the very one I want right away.  Half gallon jugs are nice for those things I keep in small quantities, like the peppers or chopped diced onions, etc.  If the ingredients inside do clump up it takes only a light tap to loosen them once more.  I plan to store blueberries this way this year and cranberries, too.

I use baskets in the fridge and freezer.  In the freezer, I can put all my chicken or beef or corn etc into one basket.  It makes digging into the deep freeze easy.  I can lift out a filled basket to get to the baskets underneath without having frozen food skittering across the kitchen floor.  I lose a little space to the baskets but not enough to fret over and boy has this bit of organization been life changing!  Now I know just where my beef is, just where the peppers are, etc.

This photo shows one of my baskets in the refrigerator although it wasn't the focus shot at the time...

In the fridge, the baskets hold cheeses and  corral leftovers, or lunch items.  I find the baskets very handy and it's so much easier to slide out a basket and look for an item than it is to move too many items to try and find something, knocking over half and spilling something.  That's the second happy thing about storing in baskets: spills are contained to the basket.  No dripping down shelves and into the bottom of the fridge under the crisper drawers.

I use these corner plate shelf organizers in my fridge.  This one holds water bottles currently which is a blessing because they never stand upright on the door or the racks as they are meant to do.  I was done with their constant falling over.  Originally I was using the rack on another shelf.  The spaces between are just right for storing casserole dishes which meant I could use the vertical space that is often wasted in my fridge.  I plan to buy another of these to use on the lower shelf.

This is my plastics drawer.  I saw a clever idea online last night to use one of those soft sided containers to store the lids.  I don't have one of those on hand.   I did have a cardboard cup holder package.  This fit neatly into the corner of my drawer and in went all those plastic lids.  The drawer look soo much neater and this cost me nothing.

It's just an old detergent box that I originally used as a magazine file.  Now?  It holds cans of soup quite neatly.

   This next bit of organization isn't for the kitchen but I plan to put it in the car...

This little container is a gum container.  I can fit three grocery bags in it. I like to  have a trash bag handy when it's needed while we're traveling.  This lid slides back and the bags come up out of the center.

I've left things as they are but you can  turn them into something really pretty.  I have every intention of improving the look of my things because I find if I make them pretty I'm more resistant to buying new when what I have is working just fine.  Gracious! it costs very little to make something pretty.  A bit of paint, some contact paper, and voila!  There you are with something that looks lovely.

So that's just a few of my organizational things done over the past couple of months.  Maybe there's an idea here you can use in your home.


Debby in KS said...

I'm a labeling fanatic lol! I don't have a label maker, but I print the item list on the computer (or use the great ones that Jes has at Strangers....) and label everything. I like the way it looks & it keeps things organized.

I do many of the same things you do. I store the lids to the plastics in a larger plastic container to keep them in order. I keep baskets in my freezer to separate things. I hadn't thought to keep them in the fridge so I might try that. I keep all my baggies inside a larger bag. I use an old cookie jar to hold my utensils.
I also decorate all kinds of little containers for holding things. I currently have a small purse sewing kit inside an old mints container. I covered it with a scrap of brocade and it's quite lovely! In my office drawers, my separators are small sturdy boxes covered in contact paper or paper from my wallpaper sample books (that I got for free from thepaint store!) I also use that wallpaper for drawer liners, can liners, & I cover oatmeal containers to use as table top trashcans in my craft and sewing areas. The cereal bags make perfect sized liners!

I love all things organization and hope others post some new-to-me ideas!

Wendi said...

Great ideas! I love the bags in the gum container. I repurpose many things also. Once upon a time my mom used Velvetta often. I requested she save the boxes for me. The bottom cardboard is super sturdy and the size was perfect for many things. Did you know that you can write on your plastic containers with a dry erase marker? I often lable my leftovers with a date or my plan for reuse.

susie @ persimmon moon cottage said...

Wow! A lot of great ideas here. I like the bags in the gum container idea. I've been storing bags in square tissue boxes. I reuse a lot of bags so I needed a bit bigger container for bags. The soft sided containers for plastic lids is a great idea too.

Thanks Wendy for the dry eraser pen on plastic containers idea. I hadn't been able to figure out a way to mark what was in them for freezer. I tried masking tape and it peeled up and fell off, so there was a short time of surprise foods in those containers. It's amazing to me how I usually can't recognize what leftovers were originally after they are frozen.

Our old refrigerator finally just gave out on Friday. I saved the drawers from it in hopes of being able to use at least one of them in the new fridge. The new fridge doesn't have the third drawer for meat and cheese that our old one did. I will use that old drawer for meat and cheese in my new fridge. I just have to remember that it isn't hooked to the fridge anymore and not pull it out too hard and dump it on the floor.

I'm looking forward to seeing everybody's good ideas here.

Lana said...

I am happy to hear about the dry erase markers! You can also write with Sharpies on glass and wash that off so that your glass jars are labeled.

I use a lot of baskets in my base cabinets. The key is to measure before you go to the store and buy the biggest, tallest basket that will fit the space. It has made those cabinets so much more accessible and fewer items get lost in the back. And this getting older couple find it easier to pull out a basket than stand on our heads to find things.

Becky Gepford said...

Those are great ideas!

I've found that I am using the glass containers with lids more and more, as well. It's so handy that they can go straight from the fridge to the microwave, or in Rob's lunch straight into the microwave at school. I even am thinking about getting rid of a bunch of my plastic containers to make the glass ones even easier to find and use. I may put them in a box outside in the shop for a while, and then see if I miss them before I get rid of them forever, though.

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