Favorite Kitchen Organizing Products

Products are not the solution to our disorganization (More about that here). That being said, there are circumstances when a great product can be just what you need.

Almost always, those circumstances arise AFTER you’ve done the hard work of going through your stuff and keeping only what you NEED and USE.

Regardless of how big your kitchen is or how much storage space you do or don’t have, a product that helps to maximize that space and make it function at a higher level is worth the investment.

Best Kitchen Organization Products :: maximizingdaysblog.com

one, two, three, four, five, six

Favorite Kitchen Organizing Products

1 – Expandable Pantry Shelf – This creates a custom-built feature and maximizes space while keeping products visible. It can be used in pantries or cupboards.

2 – Lazy Susan – These make hard to reach places (like back corners of cupboards) accessible.

3 – Shelf Riser – These utilize vertical space without having to next small items into larger items.

4 – In-Drawer Knife Tray – It can be tempting to buy more of something for less. But then you have what you don’t need. This is often the case with knife sets that come in a block. The block is counter clutter and most of the knives don’t get used. Find the knives that you use most often and pare down (get it?) to just those.

5 – Multi-Purpose Bins – Don’t be surprised if you see these on every graphic in this series. These bins are so multi-purpose that I had the hardest time finding them in The Container Store because they can go in EVERY room. See how they save my life in our bottom drawer freezer.

6 – Rectangular Canisters – These are a cost-effective dupe for the very popular (but pricey!) Oxo Pop Containers. These canisters are the only reason that we can live with one small cupboard and no pantry.

What am I missing? What your favorite kitchen organizing product?

Menu Plan Monday

Monday

Chicken Pot Pie & Caesar Salad

Easy Chicken Pot Pie :: maximizingdaysblog.com

Chicken Pot Pie

  • 1 cup sliced carrtos
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery
  • 1 cup cubed potatoes
  • 1 lb diced/shredded cooked chicken
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 1/3 cup chopped onion
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 tsp celery seed
  • 1 3/4 cup chicken broth (+ 2-3 cups more for boiling veggies)
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 2 to 9 ” refrigerated pie crusts
  1. Heat oven to 400
  2. Cover carrots, frozen peas, celery, potatoes & chicken w/ chicken broth and boil for 15 minutes
  3. In a saucepan, melt butter and saute onions until soft & transluscent
  4. Stir in flour, salt, pepper & celery seed
  5. Slowly stir in chicken broth and milk.
  6. Simmer until thick on medium low
  7. Add vegetables to sauce
  8. Pour into pie crust
  9. Cover w/ 2nd pie crust and cut 4 slits in top
  10. Bake for 45 minutes

This is a friend’s recipe that she adapted from The Pioneer Woman. Some readers have told me that they tried the Pioneer Woman recipe and that it was a little runny, but I’ve never had any issues with that with this adapted recipe.

Tuesday

Hamburger Vegetable Soup

Two Pioneer Woman recipes in one week.

This is the easiest recipe. Brown the hamburger with some veggies, dump everything else in & cook. DONE.

Wednesday

Chicken Broccoli Alfredo

I needed something fast, and it was Stouffer’s Skillet to the rescue.

We “beef” it up by adding more chicken & broccoli. I buy cooked chicken breast & frozen vegetables that cook in 4 minutes in the microwave.

Thursday

Cheesy Hashbrowns & Sausage Patties

Day 4 of the Polar Vortex meant no trips to the grocery store and scraping together what we had in the freezer. A friend gave me a pan of cheesy hash browns that needed to be thawed & baked. Combine that with frozen sausage patties & smoothies filled with spinach and you’ve got a meal.

Friday

Out to Eat

Our first day out of the house in FIVE DAYS. And to celebrate, we went to a kids’ winter carnival where they served hot dogs. In hind sight, we should have eaten at a real restaurant, but live and learn.

Saturday

Pizza & Smoothies

Our Friday tradition got moved to Saturday.

Sunday

Super Bowl Party

Here’s the nice thing about eating appetizers for supper every Sunday night: When friends invite you over for a Super Bowl Party, you don’t have to think hard about what to make.

We went with the very cliche Pigs in a Blanket and Chips & Queso.

What is your favorite Super Bowl food?

Why the KonMari Folding Method is the Best Way to Fold Your Clothes

Why the KonMari Folding Method is the Best Way to Fold Your Clothes :: maximizingdaysblog.com

I’m the only person living in civilization who hasn’t seen Tidying Up, the Marie Kondo show on Netflix, or read her book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, but I’ve been familiar with her clothes folding method for a few years.

Being familiar with the folding method didn’t equal actually using it until recently. I don’t even have a good reason why I didn’t do it earlier.

But, a few months ago, I worked the KonMari magic on my sock drawer and it snow-balled from there. Socks led to underwear which led to workout tops & bottoms which led to shirts and then my entire dresser was KonMari-ed.

Why the KonMari Folding Method is the Best Way to Fold Your Clothes :: maximizingdaysblog.com

I saw what a difference it made in my own dresser, that I started folding my kids’ clothes using the KonMari folding method too.

It is the way to go.

Here’s the thing: If you fold your clothes at all – and by that I mean, if you do anything other than live out of baskets of straight-out-of-the-dryer clothes – there is no reason not to fold your clothes using the KonMari method.

It doesn’t take any more time than a “conventional” folding method. How do I know this? Because I timed myself folding clothes my old way and using the KonMari folding method. Lame, I know. But I’m here for the people. And my research proves my point. The difference in an entire load of clothes was seconds.

Why the KonMari Folding Method is the Best Way to Fold Your Clothes :: maximizingdaysblog.com

Benefits of KonMari Folding Method

Maximizes Drawer Space

More clothes fit in your drawer this way. I’m not exactly sure how the math works on this, but it does.

This was my husband’s drawer BEFORE using the KonMari folding method.

And this is the same exact drawer with the same exact amount of clothes AFTER using the KonMari folding method.

Why the KonMari Folding Method is the Best Way to Fold Your Clothes :: maximizingdaysblog.com

In addition to being able to fit more clothes in your drawer, you can also more easily access those extra clothes.

See Everything in the Drawer

You are more likely to wear clothes that you don’t have to dig for. Folding your clothes using the KonMari folding method means that you will actually wear the clothes that you buy.

Requires No Special Equipment

You don’t have to buy anything to make this change.

Do you want a clean, organized space without spending money? Start here. This is a fast, easy change you can make that costs ZERO dollars.

Why the KonMari Folding Method is the Best Way to Fold Your Clothes :: maximizingdaysblog.com

That’s the ‘Why’. I will leave the ‘How’ to the experts. To learn how to fold your clothes using the KonMari folding method, check out these great instructional videos.

Why the KonMari Folding Method is the Best Way to Fold Your Clothes :: maximizingdaysblog.com

What are your thoughts? Do you fold your clothes this way? Have you noticed a difference? What’s your reason for not folding using the KonMari method? Inquiring minds (and by that, I mean me) want to know.

P.S. Check out how I organized my kids’ dresser BEFORE using the KonMari folding method (this is making me realize that I should do an updated post on this…..)

Toddler Lunches

GoGo SqueeZ Apple Pumpkin Spice pouches - a great snack for a pumpkin birthday party :: maximizingdaysblog.com

About 2 years ago, I wrote about what my kids ate for breakfast, lunch & supper in a week. Now that I no longer need to adapt meals for an 18 month-old who can’t chew well, I thought I’d do a little update.

I also learned to not try to reinvent the wheel each week with our lunch menu.

It used to be, every week, as I’d meal plan, I’d sit with a blank slate and try to be creative with my kids’ lunches. After reading A Simplified Life last summer, I realized that this was completely unnecessary.

Now, I assign a lunch meal to each day of the week so that it’s one less decision that I have to make each week. I thought that when we needed a change of pace, I would change it up. That was in September, and no one’s bored yet. And my kids still eat what I put on their plate each day, so we’re going with it.

Toddler Lunch Building Blocks :: maximizingdaysblog.com

When it is time to decide what to put on their plates, I find it’s easiest to use a “structure”.

For me, it helps to have a reference point. So, I start with the building blocks for each meal and go from there.

Toddler Lunch Building Blocks

  1. Vegetable
  2. Protein
  3. Fruit
  4. Dairy
  5. Carb

Your building blocks may be different depending on how your family eats. That’s fine. Make your own building blocks list and then list what foods fall into each box.

Get Out of the Lunch Rut

1 – Don’t Reinvent the Wheel

Don’t do what I did. Don’t feel like you need to come up with something new and creative each day each week. It’s just not necessary.

Maybe your kids would get bored eating the same thing every Monday. That’s understandable. Then make the same 5 lunches each week and switch up the days. Or come up with 7 lunches and pick 5 each week.

Simple doesn’t have to equal boring.

2 – Make a List

Write down a list of lunches so you don’t have to “come up with something” each day. Get your kids involved and have them pick which meal from the list gets eaten on which day.

3 – Prep Your Produce

Cut up fresh fruits and vegetables ahead of time. This turns ‘making lunch’ into ‘putting food on plates’, which is much easier and faster.

I’m lazy. I’m a lot less likely to give my kids peppers if the pepper is whole and in a crisper drawer than I am if it’s chopped and ready to be eaten.

4 – Don’t Overcomplicate

This sounds the same as ‘Don’t Reinvent the Wheel’, and it kind of is. But it’s good to make the point again.

Sandwiches are fine. String cheese and crackers never killed anyone (okay, so that might not be true, but you get my point).

Do not fall into the trap of thinking you have to make the most creative, delicious, nutritious lunch every day. Give your kid food that nourishes them. That’s it. Don’t let it become more than that.

Our Weekly Menu

Monday – Muffin Tin Monday

Muffin Tin Mondays :: maximizingdaysblog.com - Fill a muffin tins with Veggies, Fruits, Meat, Cheese, Crackers & Condiments. No plates or silverware needed. Easy lunch that your kids will love.

We started this last summer when I saw it on Instagram (social media is good for something!). My kids just think it’s the bees knees. I don’t even know what the appeal is, but they love it.

2 Proteins, 2 Veggies, 2 Fruits & 3 C’s (Crackers, Cheese & Condiments). And DONE.

Tuesday – Chicken Nuggets, String Cheese, Peppers & Strawberries

Toddler Lunches :: maximizingdaysblog.com

I have a thing about chicken nuggets in the microwave. And my thing is that I just can’t do it. Soggy when they should be crunchy? No, thank you.

We don’t go anywhere Tuesday mornings, which allows the 45 minutes that it takes for the oven to preheat and then to cook the nuggets, so that’s our rocket science reason we eat chicken nuggets on Tuesday.

Dino Chicken nuggets because why even bother with any other kind.

Wednesday – Meat & Cheese Roll-Ups, Crackers, Cucumbers & Oranges

This meal comes together in less than 90 seconds. Which is what I need on Wednesdays.

The kids get to choose their meat (I offer whatever sandwich meat we have in the fridge) & cheese (we usually have 4-5 kinds of sliced cheese in the fridge because I’m weird like that). Grab some cut up fruits & veggies and throw in some crackers for good measure.

Thursday – Mac & Cheese, Meat Sticks, Frozen Peas & Grapes

Toddler Lunches :: maximizingdaysblog.com

Yep. I’ve become a Minnesotan. In these parts, I consider processed meat wrapped in casing protein.

And I don’t know what it is about frozen peas, but my kids love it. I can’t take them out of the freezer too soon before putting them on their plate otherwise they won’t be cold enough. You can’t make this stuff up.

Friday – Rice Cakes, Peppers, Go-Gurt & Kiwi

Toddler Lunches :: maximizingdaysblog.com

This is the meal where the condiments – peanut butter & hummus – count as protein. And what they don’t have, the go-gurt makes up for. At least that’s what I tell myself.

Toddler Lunches  :: maximizingdaysblog.com

P.S. Read more about my meal simplification journey here or my favorite lunch recipe here.

What do you find to be the hardest part about making your kids’ lunches?

Menu Plan Monday

Menu Plan Monday :: maximzingdaysblog.com

Monday

Bacon & Gruyere Biscuits & Fried Eggs

The Bacon & Gruyere Biscuits were this week’s recipe attempt from the Magnolia Table cookbook.

We had leftover bacon, so it was a perfect time to make them because half of the work for the recipe had already been done.

THEY ARE DELICIOUS.

And why wouldn’t they be? They’re loaded with butter and salty, melty, gruyere cheese.

Fried eggs were an easy and quick side and a green smoothie loaded with veggies made me feel better about eating my son’s body weight in biscuits.

Tuesday

Cheese Tortellini & Parmesan Chicken Tenders

This dinner is all thanks to the Aldi prepared section. The tortellini needed to be boiled for 4 minutes & was ready to eat. I heated up some jarred marinara sauce.

The Parmesan Chicken tenders were not the homemade ones I told you about last week. These came from the freezer section at Aldi, and they were delicious. And oh, so convenient when you need to throw something in the oven and have no time to prep anything more than putting foil on a pan.

I would say that I make our meals from scratch 60-70% of the time. And the the rest of time, I rely on easy, convenient, yummy meals like this.

And no one dies.

Wednesday

Sausage & Kale Soup with Bread

This is another recipe from the Magnolia Table cookbook, but this is the second time that I’ve made it.

We had somewhere we needed to be right before supper, so I made it in the afternoon and let it simmer while we were out. I added the kale when we got home and supper was ready less than ten minutes after walking in the door.

Thursday

Salmon & Parmesan Cauliflower Rice w/ Zucchini & Sweet Corn

Let me reassure you, while salmon sounds “fancy”, it is one of the easiest and most delicious meals.

I always have frozen salmon filets in our freezer and the only other two ingredients are butter & lemons, both of which we always have on hand.

Baked Salmon

  • Salmon filets
  • Aluminum Foil
  • Lemon Slices
  • Butter
  • Salt & Pepper
  1. Heat oven to 300
  2. Spread foil on a pan, & line salmon filets on foil
  3. Place pad of butter on each salmon filet
  4. Cover each filet with lemon slices
  5. Sprinkle with salt & pepper
  6. Wrap up filets tightly in aluminum foil & bake for 25 minutes

As I mentioned last week, the Parmesan Cauliflower Rice with Zucchini & Sweet Corn is one of our favorites and a weekly staple around here.

Let me say this for, like, the three-millionth time – TRY THIS RECIPE!!!

Friday

Pizza & Smoothies

30 degree below zero windchill meant that I had planned on doing frozen pizza because it’s too cold to bundle two children and drive 8 blocks to pick up pizza. And I’m too cheap to pay for delivery.

But $5.99 two-topping large pizzas changed my mind. And my husband picked it up on his way home from work, so that helped.

Saturday

Frozen Pizza

It’s a good thing that we didn’t eat frozen pizza the night before, because our plans changed at the last minute, and I needed something in a pinch. Even though we had eaten pizza the night before, 3 of the 4 of us voted for pizza again, so majority wins.

Sunday

Snacky Supper

I added chocolate chip cookies to this tradition this week. Because it wasn’t unhealthy enough already.

Do you follow me on Instagram?  I often share meal details tips on stories.  Check it out.