Next up, our kitchen and dining area! The toughest part of this room was finding a place to put food. The easiest setting up the dining room.
Until now, everywhere we have lived has had a pantry. We decided to make 3 upper cabinets and 1 lower cabinet our “pantry”. The rest would be dedicated to our kitchenware. We, luckily, had a(nother) hutch that we keep our china, some glassware, and extra accessories in.
After our couch was delivered, I jumped into organizing our living room and entryway. I decided to tackle the entryway, too, because our wall decor was spilt into both rooms. As you’ll soon see, aside from the couch, our room layout didn’t change. The biggest changes can be seen in our main walls and storage ideas.
I mentioned in my grocery store prep post that I meal plan and create a list before going to the grocery store. We plan dinners about 2 weeks in advance and write down meals from actual dinners to leftovers to eating out. In a 14 day period, we know what is for dinner for 12 days.
Before we get started in this Room by Room series, I need to mention that I tweaked some of what I said in last week’s post. I mentioned that starting in the most used room is easiest and what I tend to do. Day one, though, was a little different—I started with our least used room. Our guest bathroom.
We were at the tail end of our third move in about three years and were waiting for the last of our household goods. This means that our main rooms were missing some furniture. Because of this, I decided to tackle the room that had all or the majority of their furniture/goods.
Now, on to the guest bathroom!
As you’ll soon see, I buy a lot of our goods in bulk and/or on sale. Our at home “grocery store” means that we always have backups and can wait for items to go on sale, thus saving us money. Anyway, with this surplus we need extra storage space that we don’t have just yet in the garage. So I split our shop and tossed half of it into the bathroom. What isn’t pictured is the linen closest that houses, well, our linens!
Under the sinks, we have 2 standing cabinets and 2 drawers. I used the inner most cabinet to store every day bathroom items and excess cleaning/healthcare products. In the back, are our not currently needed extras—extra windex, cleaning wipes, medications, etc. Towards the front are the everyday necessities—soap, shaving creams, toothbrushes, etc. Basically, if you or your guests will need it quickly, it goes in the front.
The right hand cabinet holds a variety of different items, but a lot of cleaners. On the left hand side are a set of three drawers. Yes, the bottom drawer is gone, but I’m using it in the kitchen—you’ll see! The top drawer holds different loose items and the middle drawer holds first aid items and pocket tissues. In the open space, under the middle drawer, is a first aid kit. The rest of the area houses cleaners — from bathroom to dental hygiene — and sunblock.
Underneath the cabinets, in the drawers, I’ve placed a mix of guest necessities and miscellaneous cleaning items.
The biggest take away from the bathroom area is to make sure that you can clearly see and easily access all your goods. It doesn’t have to be in straight lines that are a half-inch apart and you don’t need to spend gobs money on organizational products. The three-tiered bin that I used for the bathroom cost less than $5.00 and I’ve had it for years.
All in, Day One took me less than 2 hours. The time breakdown is as follows:
Initial sorting of all goods (keep v. toss): 45 minutes
Throwing away and wiping down items/areas: 25 minutes
I know that grocery shopping is different for everybody. It can be annoying and stressful for some while others look forward to going. I enjoy going as long as I have a list, know the sales and coupons, and can go at a slower time. Finding the best solution will take time.
First, you have to decide on what store/stores you’ll go to. There are local grocery chains, big box stores, food delivery services, and Amazon Pantry/Grocery. In a 10-mile radius from home, there are 5 Kroger’s, 2 Wal-Mart/Wal-Mart Marketplaces, 3 Food Lions, 1 Aldi’s, 1 Sam’s Club, and 1 Costco. I chose to go with Kroger Marketplace and Costco for the following reasons.
They get the produce first (so it’s out earlier)
They are more updated in their preorder kiosks (I can multi-shop)
They have more items on sale
The rewards points/savings work at the gas station, giving us up to a dollar off per gallon of gas
They are bigger and cleaner
They have more produce and meat (by a landslide)
They have more dry good brands
Second, know your times. When trying to decide on what grocery store to use, I will shop on three different days, between three different times, and ask three different cashiers when the store is the busiest. I will also look at the sale flyers and see how long sales last. At this point, I know when I’ll most likely leave less overwhelmed and get the best deals.
For example, in the Fort Gordon area, the best times to go are Tuesday or Thursday (between 12:45PM and 2:00PM) and on Saturday (anytime between 10:00AM and 1:00PM). I try my hardest to avoid going to any store on Sunday and Monday.
Third, meal plan and know what you need. Going with a well thought out list (and sticking to it) will save you a surprising amount of money. Between meal planning and sticking to the list, we have cut our monthly grocery budget by 40%.
Through trial and error, we found meal planning 2 weeks at a time works best for us. We sit down a few days before I go to the grocery store and decide what meals we’ll have. Everything gets written out—including going out for dinner, leftovers, and “fend for yourself” nights.
FYI: There is a post coming soon about how to meal plan/prep!
Because we meal plan every 2 weeks, I only go to Costco once a month and Kroger twice a month. To help us keep track of what we run out of (or are close to running out of), there is a small dry erase board on our fridge. We put everything from eggs, milk, and snack foods to paper goods on the board. If it’s not on the list, it does NOT go in the cart.
The first trip for the month, is to both Costco and Kroger. This is the longest grocery outing for the month clocking in at 2.5-3 hours. This includes driving and loading/unloading the groceries. Here is a very general description of what we get during trip #1.
Costco (* buying every other month or as needed)
Some dry goods
Trip 2 happens halfway through the month, is only to Kroger, and takes about an hour. Again, this includes driving and loading/unloading. Unless there is a holiday weekend or get together, the end of the month is pretty predictable and looks something like this:
Dairy (milk and yogurt)
Dry Goods (usually cereal and pretzels)
Pretzels tend to go on sale the second half of the month (5 bags for $5) so I’ll stock up then, if we need them
Lastly, when creating the list, I write in the order of the store layout.
This helps me to stay on track because I’m able to go straight to the sections without having to stop and think about what’s next. I just grab, check off, and go.
For a peek at my big Costco/Kroger haul, watch my Instagram story below!
SERIES ALERT! During the month of July, Thursdays will be dedicated to organizing room by room.
Organizing, in general, can be very overwhelming and can get out of control very quickly. I’ve learned that the best thing you can do is go room by room, starting with the most used spaces. Initially, this might take a little longer, but will ultimately be faster and keep you motivated.
Because I am a visual person, I write down every room and the main areas within that need to be organized. I keep this list fairly general, but feel free to make this as detailed as you want. After I have assessed each room, I will give it a dedicated day.
In every room, I will organize, quickly wipe down, and determine what needs to be washed, tossed, and thoroughly cleaned. I do NOT vacuum, dust, or clean at this stage, I’ll come back later on and clean as the cleaning schedule dictates. (Click here to learn the schedule and get the free printable!)
Note that some days may take an hour to get through, while others may take an entire day. Regardless, I HIGHLY suggest only completing one room a day so that you don’t get overwhelmed and burnt out. After the room is completed, go do something fun!
I mentioned earlier that, initially, it may take a longer than your standard organization. This is because, if you’re anything like me, items will have traveled and need to be returned to their room, you’ll need to toss things, really clean a few items, or simply just get used to the idea of getting organized. The first room might take a full day, but each room after that should decrease in time.
I’ll get into the nitty-gritty details in the weeks to come. For now, let’s keep this simple.
Start somewhere. For me, starting with the most used room is easiest because it usually has the least amount of overall pileup, unlike a bedroom or throw space. We all have one of those rooms and for me it’s always the guest room or the office.
Have fun! I blast music like the neighbors want to party or listen to a podcast. This doesn’t need to be boring or torturous.
Get others involved. Once the first thorough organization is complete, I try to organize about every change in season. Being that we move every few years, it’s easier for us to organize thoroughly as we move in. As the one who loves to organize, I tend to take on the brunt of the room by room. There is, however, always part of the day where Mike will go through certain areas (bedroom, kitchen, office, TV console). It usually looks something like this:
He’ll remove his trash and/or traveling items. We’ll go through the major areas of concern and decide what will stay/go. I’ll wipe items down and organize.
Take a break. Sometimes there is no getting around being overwhelmed. There are times when I go into a room already overwhelmed, so I’ll set a timer. When the timer dings, I do something different. Get lunch, watch tv, read, go outside, go grocery shopping, etc. I always finish working on the room that day, but taking a few breaks keeps me sane, happy, and motivated.