Food Storage Containers…You Need LESS

Food storage containers

I promise you that you need less food storage containers than you think.

Open your food storage cabinet and take a peek for yourself. I can give a pretty good guess what it will contain:

  • A huge stack of disposable containers
  • A pile of mis-matched Rubbermaid bowls. You have about half of the matching lids
  • A few good TupperWare pieces. You only have one or two of these lids. You know where each of these came from.
  • Most of the contents are stained.
  • Over half of the storage containers have dishwasher spots and very visible wear.

You will insist that you need ALL of them for various reasons. 

I can attest that you do not need all the food storage containers in your cupboard. Perhaps you will argue that you do. Here’s a few points to consider.

How many left-overs do you have, at one time, in your refrigerator?

If you are like most of my clients, you have about two meals worth of left-overs that are fit to consume in your refrigerator. You would need just a handful of food storage containers to accommodate this many meals.

Letting go of excess food containers frees up valuable kitchen space.

When I help clients evaluate spacial concerns in the kitchen, I like to gravitate to the food storage cabinet. Inevitable, there is lost space to claim if careful editing and organizing is done here. Very often, food storage frustrates the client and the containers get tossed “willy nilly” in frustration and end up taking up a lot of space. That space could be used for so many other things that would benefit the client more in terms of kitchen storage and meal preparation.

How often do you do the dishes?

Most of us do the dishes every day or pretty close to that. There is no need to keep a month’s worth of food storage containers in reserve, just in case the ones we are using are dirty. In fact, since food storage containers are so much easier (and more pleasant) to clean right after they are used, keep the bare minimum and wash out what you used if you need to refill them. Once again, this helps with storage as well.

I need to keep a huge stash for my family to use for packing lunches. In fact, I have two sets of everything…the old, disgusting set that goes to work/school and my “real” food storage pieces.

Do you realize how many pieces were are talking about? This mindset will fill your cabinets and drawers in a hot second! A few, inexpensive plastic pieces are reasonable to keep for this purpose. Consider having enough for each member of your household to pack one lunch…no more. Additionally, this “disposable” mindset conveys to the family members that you don’t care about the food storage pieces because there are so many. Who cares if they empty their lunch boxes when there are 100 more containers in the cupboard? Who would even notice if they lost your nasty, old CoolWhip container?

What if (gulp…) I don’t have enough storage pieces after I purge?

I can see the look of terror in your eyes. Firstly, this will enable you to know what sizes you truly are missing. Are you running low on a piece to put extra salad in? Is it a larger container for a side dish you are missing? Maybe you need a container to take a left-over to work. Instead of purchasing large sets with many sizes you will never use, consider purchasing the sizes you truly need. There is very little difference in cost because you are only investing in the food storage pieces you use most. Additionally, if you really get in a pinch and the panic begins to set in, you can:

  • use disposable storage bags as a temporary solution for many items. This actually can conserve refrigerator space if you need to store a lot of leftovers.
  • clean your fridge and reclaim storage containers by dumping unused left-overs. We all have them.
  • Canning jars make wonderful storage containers for many items. Don’t be afraid to get creative when you are in a pinch.
  • Cover a plate/dish with wrap or foil until the proper container can be acquired.

I don’t want to spend a lot of money.

I hear you. Food storage doesn’t have to be expensive and you don’t have to buy everything you need at once. Once you have determined what you use and need, I would advise you to also consider five important points:

  1. Buy square or rectangular pieces. They maximize the space in your fridge and lunch boxes. They also stack much better in your refrigerator and cupboard.
  2. Purchase glass storage containers for left-overs. They are a little more expensive up front, but will not stain or get that “container funkiness” that plastic often does. Glass is dishwasher friendly, doesn’t leach chemicals when you warm it up and will last exponentially longer than plastic.
  3. Research before you buy a big set of anything. Check on Amazon reviews or with friends. What sets wear well and avoid leaking? If you really won’t use all the pieces in a larger set, consider gifting the extras to someone else or purchase the pieces you need individually.
  4. Ensure that your food storage containers are easy to clean and store. You want a type of container that is easy to maintain. Consider where you will be storing these new containers and make sure there is room to spare. A few dollar store baskets to contain lids or small, lunch containers is often helpful.
  5. If you have difficulty using your hands or small children will be using the containers, make sure that the latches are easy to open and close.

With the holidays approaching, I will need to be prepared for baking and large gatherings with reserve containers.

I advise my clients to purchase disposable containers for each event and not to store extras. Who wants to have Holiday themed GladWare set stuffed in their cupboards for the other 11 months of the year–just to be sure you have enough on hand in December? With the exception of clients who live in remote areas, far from shopping resources, consider purchasing disposable storage containers with your specific event in mind. This will enable you to also get the exact sizes and patterns you will need and not “make do” with whatever you discover in the back of your TupperWare cabinet.

Place more value on what you have and you need to own less. Toss those food storage pieces.

Here are some resources for left-over storage solutions. (Plastic may be preferable for packing lunches/child use.)

These are not affiliate links.

Amazon 20 Piece Snapware set

Amazon PopIt 12 Piece Storage Set

Amazon Glasslock 4-Piece Rectangle Set

Happy Organizing!

-Lorinda with Vacaville Organizer

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Pretty Pantry Organized

HappyPantry#1It is pantry season this spring with lots of inspiration to share! Most families face the challenge of managing food. An organized and functional pantry is at the top of the spring cleaning list. There are many ways to maximize storage, regardless of your pantry size and configuration.

I had the privilege of partnering with a wonderful client with her pantry organization project recently. Her pantry was absolutely typical for a busy family who cooks daily. It is full of healthy food that this busy mama uses to prepare meals. She kindly allowed me to photograph her pantry on a very busy day to demonstrate that even the neatest homes can benefit from a little boost in function.

prettypantrybefore

I appreciate gracious clients who allow me to see their spaces without tidying before I come. As a organizer, I use the clues left in this photo to develop a system that will solve problems and work long-term based on “organizational tracks.” By studying the photo, I realized that following areas/items needed to be addressed in our pantry organization design:

  1. Ability to assess shopping needs more readily
  2. Categories of food placed together for ease in meal preparation
  3. Small items corralled so they aren’t lost on shelves
  4. Baking items contained and easily accessible
  5. Access to daily snacks for the children
  6. Use of space under the lower cabinet
  7. Bag storage
  8. Art supply storage relocated for easier access
  9. Sweets put out of the reach of children

happypantry#3

We used rolling crates to contain shopping bags and vegetables such as potatoes. This was a great storage choice to maximize the space under the bottom shelf and works with the angled wall. This darling client doesn’t use many canned vegetables, so we placed them (by category) on a rolling can rack under the shelves. Adjacent to the cans is a light-weight grey and white basket. This basket easily slides out, adds texture and holds paper supplies for easy access.

Woven plastic baskets were used to organize the various categories of food. These basket are HEAVY DUTY, easy to clean and add the pop of “happy”this busy mom wanted.

happypantry#8

We further addressed storage on the shelves by adding striped baskets for snacks which the children can help themselves to. The baskets are at a level her children can reach and hide the ugly, big bags (i.e. beloved Pirate Booty) that were making her “crazy”.  We also contained all of her cereals in uniform containers to allow the children to pour their own cereal and to make shopping inventory a snap.

happy pantry #5

Lazy Susans are used to maximize the shelf’s width and accessibility.

  1. The oils are contained here
  2. The various vinegars are contained here
  3. The spreads are housed here
  4. Baking staples are also housed in the pantry in this home. We placed them near the door-at the optimal level for the homeowner-so she could easily reach in and grab what she needed to bake. The airtight containers ensure that the shelves will remain flour/sugar free and that the ingredients will remain fresh between uses.

happypantry#10

As I said, this mama can COOK and she has the cookbooks and recipes to prove it! We used magazine holders to contain the lightweight cookbooks and odd-sized recipe books. This configuration allows the homeowners to pull out the books/recipes they need and the books won’t topple over. Tidy success is built-in to this system.

Designing a system that fits the routines, shopping habits, cooking patterns and invidiual family is paramount in pantry organization. Vacaville Organizer would love to partner with you in your own pantry “spring tidy-up”.

Happy Organizing!-Lorinda, owner of Vacaville Organizer

HappyPantry#1

Cupboard organized for $12


Organization does not have to be time-consuming or expensive. This quick kitchen cupboard update’s cost was less than $13 dollars and took less than an hour. Take a little peek inside of a darling client’s cupboard I had the privilege of giving a “quick update” to recently.

This is a very typical kitchen cupboard and my client had great components already in place. Often, there isn’t a need to purchase very much to make a space function better. They key lies in thinking about function. The client needed access to her spices on the bottom shelf; she wanted to be able to see them clearly. The cupboard’s plan was built around the need for proper spice storage. Here are some of the key components to this fun update:

1. Command hook: ($1): Install a command hook to keep measuring spoons at your fingertips. No more hunting in various drawers to try to find a way to measure!

Gall #6

2.  Dollar Store bins: ($2) and Shop your home ($0): These simple dollar store bins were all that was needed to store extra baking supplies for re-stocking purposes. Shop your home first! We found the bin on the left in another room and it was the perfect finishing touch to store her decorating sprinkles.

white gall bins

3. Lazy Susan ($0): We were able to repurpose the turn table on another shelf in the cabinet and define its purpose. The benefit of the Lazy Susan is that it allows items that would normally be out of reach to be available through the rotating design. We were able to utilize the space on the higher shelf that would normally largely be “out of reach”.

4. Mason Jar ($1): This idea is all over Pinterest and is a fabulous storage option. I hate when my cupcake/muffin liners get wrinkled and ruined. The tall jar’s design allows you to stack multiple sets of liners in a small footprint. The blog, Table For Two, (click over here to read more) featured this inspirational photo which was a snap to recreate.

Screen Shot 2015-05-04 at 10.43.36 PM

5. Expandable Stair Organizer ($7.99): My client already owned one expanding stair organizer, so we decided to extend the multi-level concept across the entire bottom shelf. I love the flexibility of the risers and the fact that it enabled her to see all of her spices at a glance. We further categorized her spices, to fit the way her family uses them. The spices on the far left are “blended” the spices in the middle are sweet (i.e. nutmeg, cinnamon, etc.) and the spices/rubs on the far right are all “grilling”. Some quick labels on the necks of the containers toward the back ensured that all the spice names were visible for her and is a system that will be easy to maintain. Organize your cupboard items to fit the way you cook and use them.

Cupboard Before and After

I can assure you that your cupboards are absolutely normal and probably need just a little “organizing love”to get them to function a lot better for you. Vacaville Organizer would love to give your kitchen cupboards organization with creative, custom ideas to fit your lifestyle. 

Happy Organizing!

-Lorinda, owner of Vacaville Organizer

Hall Closet Organized

Hall Closet Organized

Hall Closet Organized

Spring project: Hall Closet Organized

Hall and linen closets are often a goldmine of wonderful space in the home. I had the privilege of working with a darling client to organize her hall closet that served many functions. This hard-working closet served as the family’s linen closet, medicine chest, household stock warehouse and storage for more essentials than I could even list. Storage is often at a premium in homes so every cabinet needs to function well. My lovely client lives in an older home and was looking for a way to brighten and lighten the feel of the aging wood in her closet without the time, hassle and mess of painting. Within a few hours with Vacaville Organizer, her closet was transformed into a happy and organized space.

Getting started:

This was a relatively quick and inexpensive project. As with all projects, everything from the closet was removed and the shelves were thoroughly cleaned. The contents of the closet were then carefully categorized and a bit of purging took place.

Typical hall closet

Typical hall closet

 

Add some fun!

With the shelves gone, removable contact paper was installed to give my cute client the “pop” of color she was looking for. I have been encouraging clients to add color and personality while we are working on their organizational project. When you open a drawer or cupboard, seeing the freshly organized space with a lovely background of pattern is so pleasing. There are several brands of removable wallpaper and shelf liner now which enable you to add pattern without the commitment of traditional wallpaper. Some of my favorite shelf liner is found through Amazon and made by MacBeth (click here for the link). Screen Shot 2015-02-17 at 11.30.36 AMOnce the back of the closet was properly lined, the shelves were adjusted to maximize storage for the client’s various categories of items and the storage systems which we selected. One of the most common misconceptions homeowners have is that their present shelf placement is the only option. Most cabinets and shelves are fully adjustable and can be customized to your individualized storage needs.

Before re-installing the shelves, each shelf was also lined with the same fun chevron print liner. Lining the older shelves made them feel fresh again.

Loading the newly organized closet:

The contents of the closet were then carefully arranged to allow for proper access for this family. Consideration was also given to children who reside and visit the home. Medications and other caustic chemicals were arranged on the top shelves-out of reach. Vacaville organizer created a first-aid kit in a tall shoe box with inserts to hold various sized band aids and ointments.

Tall Shoe boxes perfect for First Aid

Tall Shoe boxes perfect for First Aid

First aid kits should have the ability to be removed, instead of put in a stationary storage system, so that it can be taken to the place of injury. The tall shoe boxes are also wonderful as liquids such as alcohol and hydrogen peroxide can be placed upright, minimizing leakage.

 

One of the most popular items lately for clients has been this type of “grab and go” bin. It is perfect for items that homeowners need to access quickly such as sunscreen and their deep bin and sturdy ability to stack is a recipe for success. Also, since there is no need for a lid, the system is nearly maintenance free.

Grab and Go stackable bins

Grab and Go stackable bins

  Labeling as a final step

Labeling the space is also important to ensure that items return to their proper place and to involve the entire household in the new system. We selected bright yellow labels that are easy to read for this hall closet.MP containers

Spring is just a few weeks away. Hall and linen closets have been a popular request for the clients I have had the opportunity to set systems up for this month. Just a few hours can easily create a happy and organized closet in your home.

Screen Shot 2015-02-17 at 11.50.27 AM

 

 

Vacaville Organizer can make your hall closet just a happy in a few hours time. Contact us and ask about the “happy hall closet” special for the month of February exclusively for blog followers.

Happy Organizing from Vacaville Organizer!

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