When I asked MMCW’s staff for organizational tips, I was not surprised when Carla Coroy and Rhonda Ellis immediately replied. The three of us manage homes with a combined total of fourteen children. You heard right–14. Organization is not something we think about–it’s what we do to stay sane.
Having an organized home is about doing little things that add up to equal peace, free time, opportunities, and order. What organization is not about is stressing over the process. Get stressed and you’ll become overwhelmed and go nowhere. Start off with these thoughts in mind:
1. What area is bugging you the most right now? Focus your energy on getting it in order.
2. The best tips are often simple and easy–don’t work at over-complicating it or you will waste time.
3. Do it. Once you find a tip, try it. If it doesn’t work, try another way. Trying out a few methods may help you come up with your own strategy.
4. You do not need special equipment. Do what it takes to get it organized with what you have on hand first. Specialty containers and label machines can run into money that does not have to be spent.
In this first of our organization articles, Carla, Rhonda, and I share how we keep our kitchens organized. If you missed Loi’s kitchen decluttering article you may want to check it out too.
Carla’s Top Kitchen Tips
1. When I freeze soup, veggies from the garden, leftovers, and packages of meat I have divided, I put the food into zip-top bags. Squeezing the air out and making the bag as flat as possible, I make sure the contents reach into every corner. I freeze the zip-top bag laying flat. Once it is frozen flat it is easy to stack, line up, and see in either my deep freeze or fridge freezer. It keeps my freezer organized and my frozen goods easy to find.
2. I use hair bands (scrunchies) to keep electrical cords of small appliances compact. I have one for my waffle maker and hand blender. I also use rubber bands to keep my cords behind the computer all organized and in one out of the way place.
3. I label stuff! Everything in my house is labeled. And I don’t have difficult-to-stack-and-store packaging wasting space in my limited pantry area. When I find square-ish plastic containers with tight sealing lids at garage sales I pick them up for storing things in my kitchen and in my bathroom.
Kellie’s Top Kitchen Tips
1. Keep plenty of paper plates, napkins, and cups on hand. For busy nights, skip the kitchen clean-up and use paper plates. My family uses paper products for lunch and most week night dinners.
2. Use your smart phone for grocery lists. I often email myself the grocery list or just enter it right on my phone. It’s right there when I remember we’re out of peanut butter in carline–I don’t have to wait until I get back home to write it down. I never forget my phone–the grocery list is another story!
3. Make snack bags. I divide up chips, cookies, pretzels with mini-chocolate chips, peanut butter crackers, raisins, etc. and put into Ziploc sandwich bags in serving sizes. On our counter I have a glass dish where I put out the snacks (most are stored in the pantry) for the day, along with fruit. This saves money on pre-packaged snacks and allows me to create healthier options. The kids put their empty snack bags in the sink and they are rinsed out to use again when done.
4. To maintain organization, do ongoing training with your family. Show them where things go and train them to use the system. My husband and children are a huge help to me. While it is messy in the beginning, teach the kids to cook. My 16-year-old son can cook a complete meal–any meal–and my 10-year-old daughter can make awesome desserts. Mentoring our children now in the kitchen will bless their families in years to come.
Rhonda’s Top Kitchen Tips
1. I keep an ongoing grocery list on the fridge. All the children know that when we run out of something, they need to put it on the list. We also list items before completely running out, as well as items we know we will need for upcoming recipes. Included with the grocery list is an ‘other’ category. Each family member has their initial listed where they can add non-grocery items. For example:
K – shampoo
A – deodrant
J – size C batteries
2. Keep an updated list of spices you have hanging on the inside of your cabinet door. This keeps you from duplicating and helps with quickly checking a recipe before beginning.
3. While the groceries are still being unloaded, one of the kids or myself starts cooking all the meat. We brown ground beef and boil all the chicken. The cooked meat is bagged in portion sizes that my family uses and labeled for the freezer. It makes it super easy to pull out a Zip-loc bag of meat and make taco soup, tacos, chili, lasagna, chicken and rice, fajitas, and more. This prep work also allows my family to quickly put together meals to minister to other families.
- Boil boneless chicken breasts and/or thighs in chicken broth
- I buy chicken from Sam’s Club and boil at least two containers of chicken so that I can have a LOT to freeze. This will change your life and enable you to cook some great dishes quickly!
- Boil IN chicken broth (four cans) in a large pot for juicier chicken.
- You can even get a couple of pots boiling if you’re doing a lot of chicken.
- This will enable you to make chicken dishes QUICKLY:
- Quesadilla, chicken pot pie, chicken casserole dishes, fajitas, soups
- Chicken and dumplings, chicken noodle soup, chicken taco soup
- Chicken salad, salads with chicken strips, Ministry Meals, & more!
- Save chicken broth to use for soups. Store in freezer in gallon freezer bags or in plastic containers.
- After chicken cools, cut it however your upcoming recipes dictate: shredding, cubing, and cutting into strips. Label bags accordingly.
- Brown beef:
- Brown a large container of beef, drain excess grease.
- Store in gallon freezer bags. Date and label “Browned Beef.”
- After browning some, you can add taco seasoning and then freeze in bags and label “Browned Beef with Taco Seasoning.”
- This will save you so much time in cooking. Some meal ideas are:
- Tacos, taco soup, taco salad, quesadillas, spaghetti bake, spaghetti,
- Shepherds pie, hamburger helper, chili, Mexican fiesta, lasagna,
- Beef crock pot recipes, and more.
- Boil eggs
- Boil a carton of eggs in water containing a drop of cooking oil.
- Immediately rinse in cold water, dry off, and put back into container.
- Write “Boiled Eggs” and the date on top and sides of carton.
- Great for quick meals:
- Chicken salad, egg salad, deviled eggs, egg wedges in salad,
- Cobb salad, casseroles, and more!
4. HAMBONE: After you bake your next ham, save the hambone and pieces of ham by storing in a labeled freezer Ziploc bag. You can use this when cooking a pot of green beans, dried beans, or in other recipes.