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Get Organized: Just Do It | Meal Planning Organization

January 9, 2014

Kitchen Organization.  I want to show you how I've been organizing my Meal Planning.  Let's go ahead and call this Phase 1.  We'll both feel better about it that way.

Organizing and streamlining your life is about making something easier and more efficient.  It's not about making it look Pinterest worthy.  Say aloud and repeat.  I had a mental debate about doing this post because 1. It's obvious and 2. It's not pretty.  And then I realized that it's been really helpful for me this week and I know it might be really helpful for some of you too.


We all know the post that reads: head on over to the dollar store and score 15 little matching plastic bins in all white or clear or maybe pick up some cute wicker baskets for just $7 each with a 50% off coupon.  Then whip up something gorgeous on your cricket and laminate and hang it with twine.  Or make some cute little chalkboard signs using placecard holders to label each bin.   I'm not knocking those posts.  In fact, I'm calling those ideas Phase 2.  Because they are awesome and I want to implement them one day.  I want that to be my life.

But the honest truth is that I'm still stuck on Phase 1.  Phase 1 is free and took an extra five minutes while I put the groceries away in peace.  The babes stayed in the other room after helping me unload the bags and snacked on marshmallows I bribed them with.  Phase 1 is where you know you want to be more organized so you don't let the idea of taking a 2 year old and a 3 year old into the dollar store or your lack of creativity or ownership of a cricket stop you from making your life easier.  You don't let the bridge between you and $50+ dollars of kitchen cabinet baskets keep you from being organized.  You don't let old and unfinished kitchen cabinets keep you from living your life.  You just grab what you can find and make it work.

I started with my coffee.  I corralled all of my tervis tumbler tops, my sugar jar (just a mason jar filled 3/4 of the way to the top and a teaspoon kept inside), my coffee (kept in a special coffee tuperware), and, filters.  I pull it down every morning and then put it away.  I'm not big on kitchen counter clutter.


So I pretty much had an idea of what some of my simple meals were while I was grocery shopping.  Then I came home and put the things I needed (minus refrigerated items) into a bin.  Whatever I could find.  I labeled the bin with the name of the meal and the ingredients.  When Matthew got home from work I let him pick a bin.  Simple.

Now, feel free to judge away.  Non-organic walmart brand canned goods?  Check.  Cabinets that have been in the middle of a face lift since June?  Yup.  Non-matching bins?  Bam.

Okay, judging over.  Do you feel ready to go organize your cabinets today?  Let's talk about what's working for you.  Do you organize by item or by meal?  I always organized by item thinking I was working efficiently by grouping like things together.  And you know what?  That's not working for me.  All it did was applaud my need for order by staring at two rows of kidney beans neatly lined up by dark or light.  It didn't get my dinner made.

The flexibility of choosing from several available meals feels less forced.  I've also made a bin for meals that are mostly made from refrigerated items, like our salads.  That's helping to make them feel like a good viable option.

We still keep certain extra items like pasta or canned goods that aren't designated for a meal yet all grouped together by item in the bottom cabinet.  The kids eat things like penne pasta and black beans pretty regularly so I keep them stocked.  By keeping our "designated meal items separate, it allows for creativity with non-planned meals.  Matthew can still shop our bottom cabinet and throw together a pasta or nachos without leaving a planned meal minus one necessary ingredient.

This system of organizing by meal is working wonders for our family but every family is different and you just need to find what system works for you. 

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35 comments:

  1. You are freaking awesome for real!! But I cant lie I am so ocd that I will wait for pretty baskets and it would have to be all lined up or I couldn't sleep at night. #ihaveissues

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  2. My cabinets are organized in general themes- Mexican, canned things, grains, etc. It would probably be a lot more useful to have them organized in actual containers though! And yes, we eat Mexican themed meals so much it has it's own section in my kitchen cabinet... Don't judge!

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  3. Not judging. I have dollar store baskets in my pantry and a different system but, hey, whatever works.

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  4. I think this is awesome! Cute or not, it's super functional and makes everything (like dinner ingredients) sooo much easier to pull together! I wish we had this much storage space!

    When you do get around to Phase II, I found these great printable labels (for free!) that I'm planning on using for myself eventually.
    http://blog.worldlabel.com/2013/kitchen-spice-jar-pantry-organizing-labels.html

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  5. Um this post may have just changed my life. My pantry is currently organized by item - breakfast-y things on one shelf; snacks on another; canned goods on another; etc. I have no bins but need them desperately. And all the dinners that I "plan" each Sunday at the grocery store never get made because by the time I get home from work and feed the baby and the dogs, there is absolutely 0 desire to round up recipes and ingredients, and my husband and I just look at each other and either eat a snack or something boxed or wine for dinner, sometimes both, and it usually happens around 8 or 8:30 at night. So all this to say THANK YOU for showing this because this would make it infinitely easier to do this on Sunday and then BAM - easy peasy for the rest of the week, with minimal thinking needed. Please keep posts like this coming!! :)

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  6. You called me out...I know this pinterest post and have been stalling on finding "The perfect" containers and labels. I have to say I like the notecard idea better! Great job, thanks for keeping it real!

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  7. I totally agree with your post! I've actually never tried organizing by meal, but that's a great idea. I don't think I have enough space to do that, but maybe some day in the future.

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  8. I think you are kicking Phase 1 a$$. Love that you are digging in and keeping it real. My kitchen cabinets look like an episode of Hoarders by comparison.

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  9. I am a crammer. There I said it. I have all of our goods crammed into drawers (we have no pantry) I really need to do something about it. I think your bin idea is great!

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  10. This is real life. And I love it. I think we're all guilty of letting projects slide because we can't do them in the picture perfect way we envision. But this is totally functional, economical and FAST. I think we all need more ideas like that in our lives.

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  11. I'm impressed. The most important thing is what works for each home.This is a great option that I would have never thought of. It's got me thinking......
    Thanks for sharing real life, real solutions!
    Bravo!!!
    Sharon

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  12. Best post of the day! I love the idea to put stuff away by meal so I don't have to gather them all up again later in the week! And I especially love that it's a real life solution, complete with real store brand groceries, real mismatched bins, and real "mid-facelift" cabinets!

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  13. That is a really really neat idea!

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  14. Love this and the freedom is gives me with my non-matching bins. Trying this strategy soon!

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  15. I love that you did this post! I love your description of Phase I and Phase II projects. Too often I don't do stuff because I am stumped by making it look pinterest worthy! Thank you for sharing! This is a terrific idea because with little ones in tow dinner time always seems so chaotic.

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  16. That. Is. Awesome! Your mismatched bins are still satisfying to my OCD tendancies - I love the idea of grab and cook! It probably inspires you to come up with a wider variety of meals too. And way to get going with Phase I... I hope you Pin this because its chock full of good info as it is ;)

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  17. this is such a great idea - especially after working all day I want to make making dinner as easy as possible!! and fast too! xo

    http://allthingsprettyandlittle.blogspot.com

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  18. Thank you for your honesty...and practical ideas! Some days- all days- need a good dose of living in the present moment. Looking forward to reading more :)

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  19. ::slow clap:: keepin it real! Love it

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  20. What a great, great idea! A cabinet organization day is definitely in my near future.

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  21. I am a big fan of phasing in my projects but honestly I like your "real" version so much more than anything else I've seen. And I especially dig the idea of organizing by meal. I'm going to try that!

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  22. Love an organized pantry, in whatever style works for your family! I love these little baskets from Target I've stocked up on.

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  23. This is a brilliant idea and I love that youre putting it up despite the pretty containers. Youre right, it's about Phase 1 for alot of people. When your kids grow up and go to college you can get to Phase 2--hahhJK! I couldn't get to alot of things on my list until I was an empty nester, hope youre a faster learner :) xoxo Nancy

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  24. This is a great idea and I like it more than those pinterest perfect pantries. Sharing they system you use is often more important that making it "pin worthy"

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  25. I think this is genius. Now I just need a pantry with room for bins....

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  26. I'm certainly not judging...ain't nobody got time for that! This is genius and I need you to come help with my meal planning. I'm really trying to be better about it this year!!

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  27. This is genius- I never thought to organize meal planning like this. Sometimes real life is better than Pinterest, I'm sorry but I don't have the time or patience to spend all the time buying fancy boxes and making labels. Maybe one day.

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  28. GENIUS. Seriously, I am the MOST disorganized person on the planet. It's exhausting and I never know where to begin. And I so want to be the person with cute baskets and laminated cards, but having young kids makes it soo much harder. This is a perfect first step. Thank you for sharing!! This could totally work for our family.

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  29. What I like most about this idea is that it keeps what you need together, and keeps the "extras" in a separate spot. I'm a meal planner, and that's how I shop, but every now and then I'll grab an extra box of pasta or flavored rice, extra potatoes and onions, etc. So it would be nice to know that the "meal bins" have everything that I need, so I'm not using a box of pasta I'll need later in the week. Since I'm the only one who ever opens the food cabinets, I'm going to go with cheap bins and clothespinned recipe cards like you! Not having a cricut has gotten me this far in life, I think I'm safe!

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  30. This made me laugh... "Non organic wal-mart brand canned goods" - nice! That is absolutely brilliant and now I want to redo our entire pantry to organize by meal. So smart.

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  31. The blogworld needs more of this sort of real-life honesty! Love it. We have drawers for a pantry, so no space for bins, but we group ingredients together! E-meals.com is a great source for meal ideas that we use on a weekly basis. They just made an iphone app, so it makes grocery runs SIMPLE! (the list is right on the phone, and you can cross off meals you're not interested in, so those ingredients get taken away + you can add other misc. things to your list!) That way, though, we shop early in the week and we have options for our meals, too! Sometimes I just write the meals on a chalkboard in the kitchen so we can decide from the list!

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