This week's challenge is to work on entryway organization and also organizing your mudroom if you have one, to make all the entrances into your home both functional and inviting.
When you, your family members and guests walk into your home everyone typically has lots of stuff with them, from coats, hats, purses, book bags, today's mail, etc. That means the entrance -- the first place your family and friends see when they come into your home -- can easily turn into a dumping ground for stuff and junk.
Below are the steps for this challenge, but before we begin I just want to clarify the spaces we're working on this week. Whether you have one entrance to your home, or multiple entrances, we're working on those entryways, the hall leading from the entrance to other rooms, and the mudroom, which is typically a back entrance in many homes.
In addition, if your home has stairs within sight of a foyer or other entrance, we'll work on it this week too.
Then, clutter piles up on top of clutter as more people lay their stuff on top of everyone elses stuff, and you end up with a mess and perhaps a tripping hazard. The first step in the Mudroom & Entryway Organization Challenge is to really think about what people are bringing into the house (and carrying out if it), so you can identify what items you need to accomodate in these entrances and exits. As you consider all these types of items begin to look at the space you have and consider where everything can go to make it easier to accomodate all this stuff.
In the Morning Routine & Back To School Challenge we'll focus on these items again, this time making a morning launching pad to help us get out the door each day with less stress.
Take a good hard look at all the stuff that is just piled up on the floor or on flat surfaces, cluttering everything up.
Now all that should be left is the stuff which doesn't currently have a home, but should be stored in the entryway or mudroom. The next step in the Mudroom & Entryway Organization Challenge is to make a home for all that stuff that comes in and out of your home each day. The entrances and exits of your home are not typically very large, but you've got to easily be able to store and access stuff quickly in them. They are also very visible public areas in your home, so you want them to look nice and inviting. Therefore, it is critical that the organizers and storage solutions you choose for this area be both beautiful and practical.
Here are some entryway organizers and storage solutions that can serve these dual functions, and that you may want to consider using in your home. Remember that the front entrance of your home is more formal, whereas the mudroom can have a more homy look to it, so some of these suggestions may be more appropriate in one area versus another.
The types of entryway furniture you may want to consider include hall trees, storage benches, wood or bright cheery colored lockers, narrow tables, or narrow bookcases, and include the items shown below. Further, one reader showed the narrow storage furniture she uses in her hallway to give her storage in a small space.
It is great to use pegs and hooks for hanging up coat, purses, bookbags and more because as long as they're at a height kids can reach they can easily be trained to hang everything up.
Plus, if each family member is assigned their own hook they'll easily be able to find everything when its time to leave! Similarly, if you don't have room for a full bookshelf consider hanging a small shelf on the wall, such as the one on the left above, that also has several hooks underneath. While we're trying to keep most things off the floor there are a couple of items that should be stored there. For instance, use an umbrella stand so family members can stow their umbrellas easily when they get inside and grab one if its going to be a stormy day as they leave the house. You may not want to keep all your family's shoes by the door, and I don't actually recommend it (we'll deal with shore storage in more detail in Week #42), but any shoes that come in from out in the weather with snow, mud, or soaking wet should be stored in a manner where they don't make a huge mess. If this is a common issue in your home, invest in a boot or shoe tray, to place your shoes on.
Finally, once you've gotten storage space for the big items that come in each day, don't forget about all the smaller stuff. Ideally, you'll have a small storage container for each family member, so their small stuff can all stay together and doesn't have to mingle and get mixed up with everyone else's stuff.
One of the easiest ways to do this is to have a small basket or bowl for each family member on a flat surface, such as a narrow entryway table. In addition, something that wasn't always needed but that can come in very handy now that we depend on mobile devices so much in our lives, is to have a charger station set up in the entryway so you can plug up your devices for recharging when you come in the door. Finally, make sure there is a secure place to put everyone's keys, be it hooks on the wall, in a bowl, or in a key cabinet.
You can get lots of key organizer ideas and solutions here, so you don't ever have to hunt for your keys again. However, if you're like my family try as I may there is almost inevitably something on my stairs, since something needs to come down that's up or vice versa. The basket is designed to fit onto two stairs, on the side of course, and helps contain all that little stuff that needs to get transported between floors. The final step in the Mudroom & Entryway Organization Challenge is to begin a new habit to keep this area we've worked so hard to get organized stay that way. With the rush we tend to sometimes let it slip about putting everything in the right place as we rush in or out the door, and our entrances take the brunt of that clutter explosion. Along with making it as easy as possible to store things in an organized fashion, take a little time each week to tidy up your entranceways. Especially look for "hidden clutter" -- such as the item that has been sitting on the hall bench for three days and you're starting not to notice it anymore.
Dealing with mudroom and entryway organization every week keeps clutter from building back up, and keeps things functional most of the time without lots of extra effort, so its well worth the small time investment. I also love before and after pictures of your entrance halls, mudrooms and foyers, and would love to see some of yours. We're working on our homes slowly, one area at a time, so don't get too distracted from the Mudroom & Entryway Organization Challenge this week.
Some links on this page are affiliate links, meaning that if you purchase a product through them I receive a small commission which helps me provide this information to you for free, plus support my family. Share Your Comments, Tips & IdeasI would love to hear from you, sharing your thoughts, questions, or ideas about this topic, so leave me a comment below. In this week's challenge we'll focus on clothing storage, especially related to both kids outgrown clothes and the seasonal switch or rotation of garments twice a year. Last week we started working on organizing our master bedroom closets, and we're making this a multi-week process so you can get all the parts of this task done.
That means this week we're going to focus on clothing that can be used in the future, but is not being used right now because it is either out-of-season or your child hasn't yet grown enough to fit into it. The key to storing these items is to know what you've got, and to keep it organized while you're storing it so you can find and use it again when you need it. Plus, since it was the beginning of fall, officially, the other day, meaning the change from summer to fall and winter clothing is fast approaching, I thought the timing was perfect for this challenge.
Instead, if you've got enough room in a separate area of your home for clothing storage you can separate out the out-of-season items from the in-season ones, basically doubling the space available for clothes in your closet. For example, now that it is turning cooler where I live I'm putting up my short sleeve shirts and shorts and getting back out my pants and sweaters. While this storage solution has the advantage of letting you have more total wardrobe while still having plenty of space in your closet at all times, the sacrifice is that you'll need to do a switch twice a year of the seasonal clothing, in both the fall and spring as the seasons change.
While you'll have to carve out a few hours of your time twice a year for this task, the time isn't wasted since you can also use it to declutter and get rid of excess items in your wardrobe you no longer want and need, and to take stock of the essentials you may need to replace. If you don't have another child who could later use the outgrown clothing go ahead and declutter outgrown items from your home, donating them to charity, giving them to a friend or family member with a smaller child, or selling or consigning them.
If, on the other hand, you've got several kids there is real economic incentive to saving and handing down clothes from one child to the next.
However, if you don't keep these outgrown clothes organized you won't find them when your next child can wear them, and there is a real danger of them outgrowing them before you come across them again.
Similarly, I love to find clothes at thrift and consignment stores, or on clearance for my kids to wear. The first step in the Outgrown & Seasonal Clothing Storage Challenge is to separate out all out of season and outgrown clothing from your family's wardrobe that is currently being used. You can take this opportunity to do more decluttering too, if for instance, you see an item you know you won't wear again next season, go ahead and get rid of it now and don't bother storing it. Similarly, create a small space to temporarily store outgrown kids clothes in the future, as you or your child run across something too small. Then, you can periodically get rid of such things from your home, or place them into clothing storage in the system I'm suggesting below for the next child to use later. Clear plastic storage tubs are ideal for storingclothes since you can see what's inside when youwant to retrieve it. The second step in the Outgrown and Seasonal Clothing Storage Challenge is to create space in your home to store these items. You can keep these items in a less accessible area of your home, such as in storage tubs in a storage area, such as the basement or attic, or a less used closet, such as a guest room. You can also use a wide variety of clothing storage solutions for the task, from extra drawers, closets, large storage tubs, or under your bed. The key is to find areas which don't get damp, and preferably don't suffer from heat extremes if you can avoid them. Once you know what clothes you'll be storing, and where, take the time to get them all organized before you place them in the storage containers so you can find the ones you need easily when the time is right. First, separate each person's clothes into stacks, including separating each child's clothing out separately. Once you've separated out each person's clothes, again separate these piles first by season, such as winter and summer, and then by type, such as all shorts, shirts, socks, etc. Especially for kids stuff, make sure you also separate it out by size, so all the 4T stuff together, and separated from the 6X items, for example. When you see an entire wardrobe laid out in this way you can really get a good sense of what you have too much of, and also what you're missing. Declutter your least favorite pieces if you've got too many of a certain item, for example. To make your notes, and also keep track of what you own in clothing storage, I suggest creating a clothing inventory. You should create a separate inventory for each family member, or for a certain size of clothing, such as all size 2T outfits, for example. You don't have to list each item separately in the inventory, but instead can group things together into categories. The inventory lets you remember what you already have, so you don't buy stuff you already own again, and also lets you note what you still need or should replace. If you're feeling really organized you can create a shopping list based on your clothing inventory, and look for things off-season or at the end of season to complete your next season's wardrobe or slowly accumulate any additional clothing for the next child over time. Once you've organized all the clothing and inventoried it, the final step in the Outgrown and Seasonal Clothing Storage Challenge is to add it to the storage containers or storage space you've chosen. Make sure the clothes are clean, and neatly folded so they look nice when you get them back out. Further, try to keep the organization you did in step 3 above in place as you add the clothing to the containers. For example, as my older daughter outgrew all of one size clothing I labeled the plastic tub holding all that size of clothing as follows -- "Girl, 3T." Then, when my next girl was ready to wear 3T clothing (a couple of years later) all I had to do was pull out the tub with that label and "shop" for her clothes.
I examined the inventory and knew what additional items I needed to buy to complete the wardrobe and have everything a little girl wearing 3T clothes would need.
I would love to know how this week's Outgrown & Seasonal Clothing Storage Challenge is going. I also would love to see before and after pictures of your stored clothing system once you've completed the challenge.
Further, if you get rid of a bunch of the clothing share your closet decluttering pics here in the hall of fame! We're working on our homes slowly, one area at a time, so don't get too distracted from this week's Outgrown & Seasonal Clothing Storage Challenge. We're continuing to work on getting our clothes organized and under control, and next week we'll focus on the organizing the master bedroom. In addition, below this table are links to other pages sharing common freezer storage times, and to a printable cheat sheet you can reference in your home with the information contained in this chart. If a date on a package is shorter or longer than the dates listed, rely on the dates on the package instead of this chart. The times listed also assume you are placing items in the optimum places within your refrigerator for storage. For more information about food safety, check out my article with 5 food storage safety tips, plus visit FoodSafety.gov. In addition, you can also check out my friend Marybeth's site here for additional guidelines and information about storing food in the refrigerator. I've created a printable version of this information for you so it is easier for you to reference when cleaning out your fridge as part of the Organizing Refrigerator & Freezer Challenge. This cheat sheet will help you both know when to throw certain foods out and also when to plan to eat them while they'll taste their best. Here are some additional printable forms about food storage, including other cheat sheets with storage times for food, that you may find helpful.
You cannot expect to get your home completely organized over night, even though that would be wonderful. Plus, even if a whole crew came in and organized everything right now, like they do on some of those television shows, you most likely don't have the habits in place to maintain that organization yet. Trust me, maintaining the organization you put in place can be just as much of a challenge as getting there in the first place, so those skills and discipline are very much needed! Each Monday I will put up a new challenge on the site that we will all work on during the week (including me -- I'm doing the challenge right along with you).
However, I know that it can be hard to remember to check something on the web each week, so I am also going to send out the challenge each week as part of the free email updates and newsletter for the site. For 2016 I've rearranged the order of many of the challenges, combined a few, and added a new one. I've created this one page printable below to show you at a glance exactly what we'll be doing during the challenge each week, and when you open it as a PDF on your computer the links to each week are clickable, meaning you can read that week's challenge all from this document! I want people to participate in this challenge, and to be able to show off what they've accomplished since it feels so good when you get something positive done in your home!
If you do even one of the challenges, whether while it is running that week or anytime you get around to it, and want to show off your accomplishments I would be happy to publish your before and after pictures, or story about what you did here on the site.
In addition, if you have your own blog and share your accomplishments there instead you can send me a link to your blog post and I will link to it from the "Hall Of Fame" if you allow me to use a picture and share a brief synopsis, plus add a link to the 52 Week Organized Home Challenge from your blog post.
Below you'll find the weekly meal planner hall of fame, where I've gathered ideas from readers who have shared how they plan their family meals each week.


Debra has shared her system for planning meals, using menu cards, and I have to say it is a pretty awesome idea!Debra says:I started this system a little over a year ago and it's worked really REALLY well for my family. Jennifer from Life of Reilly shared how she displays her meal plan for the week.She explained, "I love this mini clipboard - I got it a few months ago at Michael's in the dollar bin and it is just the right size to hold my recipes and my menu planning sheet. Above a reader suggested using a Google calendar for meal planning, but you could use additional types of electronic calendaring systems as well.For example, a reader, Sarah, sent in this screenshot, saying, "I use the iPad calendar as it's synced with both mine and hubby's iPhones. A reader, Carter, showed how she plans her meals after recently being diagnosed with a medical condition that required her to change her diet.She explained, I use a "recipe subscription service. Ferris from The Hamman Family Blog also participated in this week's challenge, sharing how she plans her family's weekly meals.She uses a weekly meal planner worksheet that she found on the Internet. I plan out my weekly menu on Saturdays and shop Sunday after church (we only have one car and the hubby works 6 days a week right now).
One thing that I've started doing is I have 3 meal musts each week - 1 breakfast, 1 meatless, and 1 fish. I have made a decorative plan of my own for a 2 week period by using the menu planner under glass in a picture frame.
Before I even start meal planning (kinda fell off that bandwagon more than once) I write on the calendar what we eat every day for about 2 weeks.
You could take this one step further and have several recipes for different types of meat or protein so that when something goes on sale, you know what to do with it. Even if your laundry room is organized, you've got another part of laundry organization to consider -- how to collect the dirty clothes from all around your home and also how to return them to their place once they're clean. The reason I separated this part of the challenge out into its own week is that I believe having a system in place for collecting dirty clothes and returning clean ones is THE MOST IMPORTANT step you can take to keeping your washing under control.
Once you do the steps in this challenge long gone will be the days where you were overwhelmed by mountains of dirty clothes on the floors of the rooms in your home, or feeling so behind on the laundry that you just want to give up. We'll also deal with the problem of clean but unfolded or not put away laundry that accumulate everywhere but inside closets and dresser drawers. Instead, after doing these steps below you'll be able to have a functional laundry system running in your home that keeps everyone in clean clothes that are placed where they should be when you need them.
This step may not seem that important until you consider that chances are, if you've got trouble with getting dirty clothes into the laundry cycle to get washed, dried and folded, you've got a collection problem on the front end of the process.
If you have not given much thought to where your baskets or other collection containers are located, but instead stuck them where they'd fit, or where you've always had them, this is the time to decide if you made good choices for their location, or not.
Consider that for every basket, bag, sorter or hamper you put into place you've got to have a system for grabbing these clothes periodically (at least weekly) to wash. On the other hand, if you don't have collection baskets where actually necessary in your home you'll just end up picking dirty clothes up off the floor, as they mix with clean ones, getting everything confused. Basically what I'm saying is don't skimp on placing enough baskets around your home, but carefully make sure you'll remember to deal with each one at least once per week if you put it there.
You can get even more ideas, tips and questions to ask yourself when deciding where to place clothes hampers and baskets here in this article. I've already hinted at Step 2 of the Laundry Organization Challenge above, which is to get your system in place for collecting the dirty clothes. Now that you've strategized where in your home to place your baskets, place them there and begin training your family to put their dirty clothes into them and not on the floor, or wherever else you find them later.
In addition, consider the fact that not all clothes, bedding, towels, dish cloths, etc., can be washed together. Therefore, to the extent that you sort your laundry (and with a good laundry organization system in place this shouldn't be too hard to do) you may want to think about getting several baskets, bags, hampers, or my personal favorite, a laundry sorter, placed next to each other in those locations, to do two steps at once -- collect and sort. I personally have a triple laundry sorter of the exact variety shown above, to the right, in my bedroom closet and all my kids place their clothes in it each night as part of the bedtime routine. Even my youngest has been able to sort her clothes, roughly, by color, since she was about two years old, so trust me, you can train your family members to save you this step if you put in a bit of effort! If you don't have room for multiple bags and baskets in each location where you have a collection basket, don't worry. For example, a good system in that instance would be to have three or four stackable laundry baskets placed in your laundry room, or to have a piece of furniture, such as the tilt out hamper seen above on the left which can be used to sort and hold laundry in the room while its waiting to be washed, and also doubles as a narrow folding table on top. The third step in the Laundry Organization Challenge is to put a system in place for returning the clean clothes from your laundry room to the rooms where the clean clothes are held (most likely individual bedrooms).
I've found the best way to do this is to have a rotating set of empty laundry baskets which can be used to carry clothes to the right location in your home, and then returned back to the laundry room afterward. Here again, the main thing is not really the type of baskets or other method chosen to do this task.
I know a lot of people struggle with getting the clean clothes folded and put away, so I've discussed this issue more in depth in my article about how to create a system for putting away clean laundry, and making it a habit. There is an almost unimaginable variety of laundry organizers and storage solutions you can choose from when getting your laundry organized and under control.
If space is an issue for you, folding and pop up hampers, such as the ones shown below, can be very helpful. Further, if you would like to sort at the same time you collect dirty clothes divider hampers and laundry sorters, as well as thin tall laundry baskets designed to hook together to form a sorting system, can all be helpful. If you want to collect laundry in an area of your home where having a big laundry basket may be inappropriate a tilt out laudry hamper (such as the one shown above), or pull out baskets hidden behind cabinets can be the way to go. Finally, if your laundry room is on the same level of your home as where you're collecting the dirty clothes, and you don't want to pick up heavy baskets or bags of clothes, rolling baskets, carts and sorters can be very helpful for you (plus save your back). The final step in the Laundry Organization Challenge is to create a laundry schedule or routine that you can stick with. The key is consistency, and a plan to make sure you wash all the types of things you need to wash each week to make sure your family stays clean and comfortable most of the time. If you'd like more information about laundry scheduling, check out my article on creating a laundry routine, which includes four questions to ask yourself when creating your schedule, plus a free printable for your household notebook. In addition, you can check out routines and schedules from real people in all kinds of stages of life, or circumstance, to give you ideas of what might work for you as well. I also would love to see before and after pictures of how you collect dirty and clean laundry in your home, once you've completed the challenge. In addition, you can see a full list of laundry and cleaning clutter to get rid of here, including what I suggest as part of the daily decluttering missions related to this area of your home.
We're working on our homes slowly, one area at a time, so don't get too distracted from the Laundry Organization Challenge this week.
Next week we're going to continue to focus on getting some schedules and routines going in our home.
During this week's challenge we'll organize linen closet or cabinets, so you can easily find the items you need among your collection of fabrics items for use in and around your home.
There are three main types of linens I'll be discussing, and helping you organize this week.
Obviously, get rid of anything you no longer use or love, and any items that are excessively worn or damaged.
However, after that it gets tricky trying to figure out what to keep and what to donate or use in another way. A good rule of thumb for bath linens is to keep two complete sets, which include a bath and hand towel, along with a wash cloth, for each family member, and an additional two sets (at least) for use by guests. For bedroom linens the rule of thumb is two sets of sheets (which include fitted and top sheet, and pillowcases) for each bed and guest bed in your home.
With the popularity of air mattresses these days, make sure you include these beds within your count of how many sets of sheets and blankets to keep, for use by guests. Finally, for table linens, there is no specific rule of thumb, but instead it is more dependent on how much entertaining you do, how many different varieties you have for holidays or other occasions, and finally, and most importantly, how much room you can devote to such items.
Remember, if you don't use something at least yearly though you should seriously consider whether it deserves a place in your home. If you've got an excess of items still in very good condition that you are going to declutter, consider donating them, or selling them at a yard sale. If, on the other hand, the items are no longer in good condition either dispose of them, or better yet, make them into rags, use them in the garage for washing and drying your car, or to dry off pets after a bath.
Such older linens that you're repurposing should be held in a separate location, such as the garage or utility room, instead of with your good linens in your linen cabinet or closet, so they don't get mixed up and used for the wrong purpose.
The second step in the Organize Linen Closet or Cabinet Challenge is to decide where you'll store your linens.
If you can store them all together, such as in a large linen closet or cabinet, this can be convenient for putting things away after you launder them. However, this set up is not possible for everyone, and depends partially on how your living and storage spaces are set up in your home. If you can't store everything together I would suggest storing items close to where they'll be used instead, such as bathroom linens in the bathroom, sheet sets in the bedroom they'll be used in, etc. Personally I think that even if you have most things located in one location you may want to keep a few linens in strategic places throughout your home, such as extra towels in the bathroom at all times, and blankets close to the couch or bed for snuggling up at a moments notice. Once you've decided where you'll store all your linens, the next step in the Organize Linen Closet Challenge is to get this space ready to hold all the items you'll place there. For example, if needed, clear out shelf or drawer space in each room you'll be storing items, so you have an uncramped space to put these items. Further, if you've got a whole closet to work with, make sure you have your shelves spaced well to hold the types of items you'll place there. For example, sheet sets are not very bulky, and having too many stacked on top of each other just makes a mess. Finally, comforters, blankets and pillows are all quite bulky, and you'll need at least 18 inches of space, or more, between shelves for such items. The next step in the Organize Linen Closet or Cabinet Challenge is to sort all your linens, and then begin putting them onto the shelves or into the drawers you'll be using. It is best to sort your linens by type first, such as into the categories of sheet sets, towels, comforters and blankets, and table linens. Then, to avoid the problem of searching for all the parts in the sheet set (I find that maddening, don't you?) keep the set completely together. Then, sort and organize them by size so everyone can easily find a washcloth, bath towel, etc. These will most likely be stored on the lower shelves, since those are generally the shelves with the largest clearance. If you don't use them often you may want to place them in a loose bag, which allows some air circulation (such as the one shown to the left), to keep them from getting dusty. I don't suggest space bags for this shorter-term storage, since such bags compress the comforter or blanket and make it less fluffy, and letting air circulation in is important for keeping the blankets smelling fresh. Sort all of your table linens, first by type, such as tablecloths, placemats, napkins, etc. The key to storing these items, if you're folding them, is to lay them out with as few folds as possible so you don't have to iron them as much before use. Finally, here are some general instructions for organizing all these items in your linen closet.
I suggest always using the set on the top of the stack, and when you are replacing them into the cabinet or closet, place the freshly laundered linens on the bottom of the pile. Second, if you can, it is helpful to label the edges of the shelves of your linen cabinet or closet with some basic information so anyone can place the items in their right spot. When making the most of the space you have available to store linens you may want to consider using some of these storage solution ideas I've listed below. In regard to organization of these spaces in general, you may want to create your own shelf space if none exists, such as using hanging shelves in a closet (as shown above), or purchasing a small linen cabinet or linen tower for a specific room, most often the bathroom (such as the white one on the right). In regard to blankets and quilts, don't forget about blanket chests, and racks to keep items stored while not in use, but still quite handy to grab when needed. Then, to keep piles of linens from toppling over on shelves, and to keep items from gettig to crammed together, it is a good idea to use shelf dividers (pictured above), especially for stacks of smaller items such as wash cloths and hand towels. If you don't want to use shelf dividers, another possibility is to use open storage containers on the shelves, such as baskets or foldable boxes, to place linens into.
Finally, if you'll be storing items long term, place your linens in moth-resistant bags to keep them in good condition.
I also would love to see before and after pictures of your linen cabinets, closets, or chests, once you've completed the challenge.
We're working on our homes slowly, one area at a time, so don't get too distracted from this week's Organize Linen Cabinet Challenge. Once we've got our linens, towels, and other fabric in order, it's time to tackle organizing the master bedroom closet.
Lots of readers have participated in the Pantry Organizing Challenge, whether they have a formal pantry or use their kitchen cabinets and cupboard to hold their food items. In fact, this is part 2 of the hall of fame, and it contains lots of great before and after pictures that can inspire you to also organize your own pantry (scroll down to see them all).You can get step by step instructions for Week #3 here, and get your pantry and food storage areas organized too. Amber shared her before and after pictures on Flickr and Pinterest (on her 52 Weeks to Better Organizing Board), and then told me about it on the site's Facebook wall. Jan from The Crafty Mermaid's Grotto blogged about her accomplishments when she took this week's challenge.I was especially impressed with how she made the most out of the pantry space she had. Andi at Crazy Daze Designs blogged about this challenge, and how she did it.Andi loves to craft, so along with her organizing project she turned it into a craft project as well.
Dawn at Megwetch, Gitchie Manito blogged about this week's challenge, sharing these great pictures. It just takes some thought, creativity with storage for items, and some weekly maintenance to keep it looking great.
The Mudroom & Entryway Organization Challenge is part of the 52 Weeks To An Organized Home Challenge.
When we don't have an organized system in place to hold and store these items we end up with a cluttered mess. That's not what you want greeting you each day as you come home, so we're cleaning it up this week. Some of this stuff doesn't belong there are all, but doesn't have a home elsewhere and so family members have just gotten in the habit of dumping it here when they come in. Get your family members involved in deciding where these items will go, since you'll want their cooperation in putting them there from now on. This is the exact stuff you've got to get creative with, and figure out ways to organize and properly store it all for easy access in and out (which we're working on in step 3). Ideally all the furniture and other items will not only look pretty, but also serve some storage use at the same time.
Ideally choose something that can accomodate some baskets or bowls on top (or underneath) so you can have a space for each person's individual stuff (see below for more details).
If you only need to hold a couple pairs of shoes, and weather is not an issue a small floor shoe organizer may work well for your needs. Trust me, that makes it easier when each person leaves so they only grab and move around their own things.


I first saw one of these on Pinterest (follow me, by the way, I love it over there!) and when I pinned a picture of one several of you told me how wonderful they were, and I have to say I agree. You can tell me your progress or give me more ideas for how you've organized this area in your home in the comments below. Submit your pictures (up to four per submission) and blog posts and get featured in the Creative Storage Solutions Hall of Fame. My integrity and your satisfaction are very important to me so I only recommend products I would purchase myself, and that I believe would benefit you.
Join over 200,000 others and get tips, articles and organizing challenges sent directly to your inbox to help you get your house in order. The Outgrown & Seasonal Clothing Storage Challenge is part of the 52 Weeks To An Organized Home Challenge. However, if you've still got more stuff than you can easily fit in your closet don't despair. I'll replace lots of the contents of my closet, meaning I can have more total clothes without making everything too crowded in the process.
There is no sense having these outgrown clothes stay in circulation, having your child constantly try putting them on only to find they still don't fit, and wasting closet or drawer space. I personally do this with my two girls, and to some extent with my son (although he can't wear many of the girls things, of course) to save major cash.
Further, make a note of anything you notice you don't have enough of, such as t-shirts or long pants, so you can get them later.
For example, you can list that you have 9 pairs of socks but only one pair of jeans that isn't so worn out it can be passed down to the next child.
Then, when you see a great sale you can buy the items you need at a discount, or tell loving relatives what exact sizes and types of items your children need if they want to buy a clothing gift. Don't try to shove more than one size of clothing into a container unless you have to, and if you do have to, somehow separate out the sizes so things stay organized.
You can tell me your progress or give me more ideas for how you've organized these items in your home in the comments below.
Below are food storage guidelines for common expiration dates for items in your refrigerator, to learn when food will taste its best and be safe for consumption.
Read all information on packaging regarding expiration and use by dates, and how long the item is safe to consume after opening. If you don't know what those places are for various food items make sure to check out the refrigerator storage chart and guidelines article which provides more information about this. Even if it says it's within the expiration date periods, if it smells or looks funny throw it out!
It just won't realistically happen for most of us because we have too many areas in our homes that we need to address.
Plus, your life and your home will run more smoothly, plus you'll have gained the knowledge, skills, habits and routines necessary to actually keep it that way!
If you want these free emails to come to your home, along with additional organizational tips and hints, sign up below. Just for this purpose I've created a "Creative Storage Solutions And Home Organization Hall Of Fame." I'll also be sharing my own progress, week by week, in this section of the site too so you can track my progress (or see my stumbling blocks) toward my own organized home. I take this with me along with the current week's recipes when I do my grocery shopping."Using a form that you fill out each week when you're meal planning can be quite helpful. If I will be using an online recipe I add the URL so I can click on it that day."That's a great way to keep your recipes and meal plan right at your fingertips, isn't it? I decided to buy a monthly subscription service for recipes suited to my recent diagnosis of PCOS.
Therefore, the fewer the number of baskets you've got to keep track of the easier this task can be.
In addition, you're less likely to regularly wash everything that should get washed since you'll miss things. Just make sure you've got a system in place for sorting these clothes from the baskets before washing them somewhere in your house.
Instead, the important thing is the routine of doing this consistently, as laundry is finished, so clean clothes don't pile up in the laundry room causing a back up or confusion about what is clean versus dirty.
What works best for you really just depends on the layout of your home, your laundry and physical needs, and what you find attractive and useful. Further, consider using hanging space in your closet, or pull out stacking baskets to use vertical space for more laundry storage. This way you can still have the functionality of laundry collection, but camoflauged from view.
That can mean doing a load or two every day, or just doing laundry once or twice a week, consistently. You can tell me your progress or give me more ideas for how you've organized this function in your home in the comments below. Since this week we focused on laundry schedules and routines next week we'll move on to create a house cleaning schedule. The Organize Linen Closet Or Cabinet Challenge is part of the 52 Weeks To An Organized Home Challenge. Therefore, you can have a small shelf clearance for these shelves, such as 10 inches or so. The easiest way to do this, I've found, is to place the entire set inside one of the pillowcases of the set. You can then also sort by any other criteria make sense for your collection, such as what types of occasions or holidays they will be used for. As discussed more in the Dining Room Organization Challenge, you may want to hang them (especially tablecloths) where possible to lessen creasing. If you always use one set of sheets, for instance, it will begin to get worn and faded more quickly than if you rotate them with the other set, resulting in more even wear. You can tell me your progress or give me more ideas for how you've organized this area of your home in the comments below. Once you've done this challenge yourself don't forget to take some before and after pictures, and then share then in the Challenge Hall of Fame, so we can all celebrate your accomplishments.Photo by Robert Benner Sr.
She didn't use the printable pantry list from this site, but it was easy for her to create her own, and one that is so individualized can be very helpful!
She used her Silhouette Cameo (see the picture to the right) to make labels for several of her food containers. I recycled several jars I already had, and I bought a few new ones, plus those handy mini-shelves for the canned goods and two baskets at TJ Maxx.
If I don't have these clothes organized as well, I'll completely waste my money because they'll never wear the item I spent money buying for them. Each week we focus on a different challenge area in our homes and make steady forward progress. If you'd like a free one, I've created two different ones including a printable weekly meal planner template for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and another weekly meal planner with attached grocery list.I also like that she displays the list of weekly meals for her family to see. She said:"I tried a meal planning system before, with planning out a weekly menu for breakfast, snack, lunch, snack and dinner. My biggest hurdle to planning meals is just making a decision, and I'm happy to pay a bit of money each month to get those decisions made for me for a few months. Using this form she is able to write out her meals for the week, and also has room for a corresponding grocery list so she can list the ingredients for each item that she needs.Further, to keep within her budget she adds the price of each item on her grocery list next to it, so she can anticipate how much she'll spend. I never have to draw a blank because I get my teen involved and have her help come up with meals. But your comment about looking back over old plans for inspiration gave me this idea - take pictures of the completed plans and keep then on my phone!
It also encourages me to cook more in that 2 weeks because I don't want to see a bunch of take out meals written out.
I've actually done something similar in my own pantry, since I've found these containers to be a good size to hold the bags.
Nonetheless with some cool pantry storage solutions she really expanded the amount of storage space she had in it, especially with the wall mounted can racks she installed. I also love that she put it in a plastic page protector sheet, so she can write on it with the dry erase marker and easily change it as stuff comes in and out of the pantry with shopping trips and daily meals.
If you're not familiar with this product, it is kind of like a printer, but instead of printing onto paper it uses an electronic cutting tool to cut out things from various types of paper, vinyl, etc. These are wonderful for many reasons, especially because they are airtight, stackable, easy pouring, have square and rectangular shapes for space efficiency in your pantry, and finally because they are made with BPA-free plastic. I put the food the kids want to access themselves (cereal, Nutella, dried fruit) to the bottom and moved my cooking staples to the top shelf. I go shopping every week and only hit up deals with coupons and the rare exception to get a few missing ingredients for dinners.
This means it syncs to my phone, my husbands, the ipad (kitchen machine) and our computers.
One thing I do every few years is sit down and ask the family what their favorite meals, sandwiches, soups, salads and desserts are - then I make sure they get into rotation.
That makes it so easy to keep track of.Finally, look at her can storage in the second picture of the top 2 shelves. Therefore, one of the things you can do with it make cute little labels.I think she did a great job! I could see how someone who needs to cook from scratch a lot, like you do, would also find these canisters very helpful in a pantry.
For example, this week I will feed my family of 3 humans, 1 dog and 1 cat for less than $30. I can check the calendar each fortnight, make any adjustments for if I want a different meal or we have different commitments (like dinners out, holidays, etc.) and it's done in no time.
This can be such a time saver when your creativity is just now flowing and you don't know what to plan for the week's meals.I've created a free printable menu planning ideas form that everyone can print out and write their family's favorite meals. Here's additional examples of other worksheets that other readers have been using successfully.Here's a photo, below, from Adamilka. Since our household has had to make a few dietary changes - diabetic, cancer-recovery, gluten-free, vegetarian and still satisfy a teenage boy - I am currently in the process of revamping my entire recipe collection.
Put two portions in fridge or freezer, on Day 1 make spaghetti, Day 2 sloppy joes (bonus--mix left over spaghetti sauce a bit thicker using more meat & add some BBQ sauce for super easy sloppy joes.
In addition, she used plastic food canisters for her dry goods storage and some clear small storage tubs to organize categories of food stuffs on her shelf.You did a wonderful job Jan, and I really appreciate you sharing your pictures on the blog and taking up this challenge!
These shelf expanders can be very helpful to show all the cans you've got, letting the ones in the back get up a little higher so you can easily see all of them (such as the example on the right).
In addition, she went to the dollar store to buy some little storage containers to help containerize the pantry.
We do a lot of from scratch cooking too, and my hope is to eventually get some of these for my own pantry, some day. And we will have left overs for lunches or in case a friend drops in.I made weekly planner cards. I just check that we have what is needed for each meal, and if not add it to the shopping list, and add things that we've used up that are on the little whiteboard on the front of the fridge.On the google calendar you can tell it to repeat an event every 6 weeks so my whole year (& beyond!) is already done!You can do something similar electronically, even without Google calendars.
She explained, "I use a weekly shopping list (not organized enough for a monthly one, plus my refrigerator is small).
So I will use that and have one night be Mexican and I only need chicken broth to make Mexican rice so that's the only thing on my list for that nights dinner I had a lb of dried beans, so il buy a ham hock and one night will be soup beans and cornbread. Please note they have similar shelf organizers for spices -- if you want one for cans just make sure you're buying one that is deeper to fit the fatter cans instead of just the thinner spice bottles.
I think that is a great idea, and a great way to get some cheap pantry storage solutions.Thanks for blogging about the challenge this week Andi!
Some days I just write "chicken with veggies" or "quinoa with veggies" and just throw together what is left over. Work on a few weeks worth of them, or seasonal meals like Julie mentioned above, and then just use them over and over. I pick out a weeks worth of cards (they rotate, see below), from that I pick out each night's meals the day of. Once a week I try a heirloom recipe of my husband's family or share with him one of my German recipes, -he loves those! If you have a large enough rotation you still won't get tired of what you're eating, but after you make the initial menus your work is done! I use the list all the time but my goal this school year is to consistently follow the menu!!"In addition, here's another form used by a reader, Leigh. I plan an easy meal, a "hubby" meal and a breakfast dinner (usually the hubby dinner) into each week.
I have a bag of Fritos that I will use with chili out of the freezer I made a few weeks back to make petros.
Soup & sandwiches, couscous & black beans sprinkled with feta, vegetarian pizza using refrigerrated biscuit dough, and topping with lots of healthy veggies. And a full bag of potatoes that are looking close to going bad so I'll make hash browns to freeze with those and baked potatoes I'll put with fish I'll buy this week.
My husband sometimes peeks into the binder to check out when it's finally "taco day" again."Similarly, another reader, Maureen, sent in a photo of her monthly meal plan that she keeps in a spiral bound calendar.
I filled in these with our staple dinners and repeated favorite ones, like spaghetti a couple of times. And trying to keep perishable ingredients that don't freeze well all on one week (Enchiladas and tacos on the same week since they both use sour cream).
Once the weeks were broken down I marked them with A, B, C and D so that one week doesn't fall into the other.5.
By the end of the week you only have one or two meals to pick from, but it gives lots of options early on in the week.This gives me the flexibility that we needed. If Aunt Sally drops by and wants to take us out to dinner, as long as she's paying, I don't have a problem with that.
That means that when pasta goes on sale and I have coupons I know my family will eat about 70 lbs of pasta in a year (pasta has a long shelf life and I've got the space for it). So I can get up to 70 lbs of pasta for free or nearly free.It saves me a TON of time because I don't have to make up a new menu every week. It sounds like you've got a great system going for you, and that you've coordinated it with your recipe organization and your couponing. I especially like the aspect of this system that you did the majority of the work once, and then it is easy each week to repeat it.



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