Article Line Long1

Do You Need A Family Organization Refresh? Here Are Six Small Ways You All Can Feel More Organized

I have always felt the month of August offers a great opportunity for renewal. It must be the back-to-school mentality that I never grew out of–the one that to this day makes it difficult for me to walk down a school supplies aisle without wanting every marker, pen, and notebook. “You have 100 unused notebooks at home!!” I tell myself, as I reach for a new planner that will CERTAINLY get my life on track. Whatever the impulse may be, I know I am not alone in wanting to refresh, renew, and re-organize this time of year. In particular, I know those of you with families and kids actually going back to school can relate. As this month catapults us into a new phase of the year, we here at EHD got to thinking about the systems that make us feel more organized. What are the pain points and how do we alleviate them? We all brainstormed some simple ideas that can be implemented easily so without further ado, let’s get organized:

Organize Sandwich Bags For Easier Lunch Prep

photo by tessa neustadt | from: our modern english country kitchen

Kitchen drawer organization feels (and looks) oh so good. We all want the peace of mind that comes with opening a drawer and seeing everything has a place. But drawers are often sneaky little monsters because you can have a designated utensil drawer but throwing lose utensils in a drawer isn’t going to feel organized at all. This is why we have utensil holders and drawer dividers. A drawer isn’t as useful or organized without a little help to keep all the little things in their rightful place.

Now if you feel like one drawer has been driving you a little mad, I think I might be able to guess which one. The dreaded sandwich bag drawer is one I battle with every day. The boxes don’t fit quite right, it’s a constant game of Tetris, and they make prying the drawer open an actual workout. If this is a situation you can relate to, it might be time to decant the bags and put them in one of these simple yet so effective organizers:

1. Silicone Ziplock Bag Organizer for Kitchen Drawer | 2. Acrylic Kitchen Drawer Zip Food Storage Bag Organizer | 3. Plastic Bag Organizer w/Sliding Cover and Engraved Labels | 4. Sandwich Bag Storage Organizer | 5. Bag Organizer Box Sets | 6. Bag Storage Organizer

I am already having fantasies about opening the drawer effortlessly and pulling out the exact size bag I am looking for with ease. I love #5 for its light wood shape and minimal labels, and a clear one like #2 is great so you can see when you are running low.

Disclaimer alert! I know most of us are trying to reduce single-use plastics, and these containers can absolutely work for reusable bags too. However, some of us on the team have tried both reusable and biodegradable options with no luck (so we don’t have any we can honestly recommend yet). Does anyone have any recommendations for reusable bags that don’t get disgusting or biodegradable plant-based ones that don’t make food taste funny? Let us know in the comments!

Use Clear Containers To Organize Your Pantry

photo by sara ligorria-tramp | from: inside all our (super organized) drawers & cabinets in the mountain house kitchen

Growing up with two brothers, I can’t count how many times I would go grab a granola bar or pour myself a bowl of cereal, and find the box empty. This was endlessly frustrating and would lead to screaming matches, putting everyone in a bad mood. I now realize why decanting food is not only pleasing to the eyes but is so practical. It signals when you are running low on something and a pantry is always going to be more organized if the dry foods have a specific place. I started decanting dry foods this year and my pantry is 100x more clean and organized.

For kids, Emily suggests keeping their snacks in low drawers so they can access them easily. In the mountain house pantry above, they love using clear lazy susans for easy-to-grab snacks because they make everything visible.

1. Slanted Front Kitchen Pantry Storage Organizer Basket – 2 Pack | 2. Bamboo Wood Organizer Storage Bin | 3. YouCopia Kitchen Cabinet Pantry ShelfBin Packet & Snack Bin Organizer | 4. mDesign Bamboo Slotted Bins (Set of 3) | 5. mDesign Plastic Divided Kitchen Organizer Bin Container Box | 6. Crazy Susan® Turntable with 6 Bins in White | 7. Set of 4 Clear Pantry Organizer Bins | 8. Snack Turntable with Gray Liner and Non-Slip Base | 9. The Home Edit By IDesign Sand Open-Front Bins

For bulkier items, #4 is a good option (and comes in a set of 3). Like I said before, lazy susans like #6 are perfect for snacks for kids, and #5 is another nice option for granola bars or other easy-to-grab and go snacks.

Hang Up Shared Calendars & Chore Charts

design and photo by keyanna bowen | from: blue walls be gone! key’s totally transformed office reveal

Earlier this year, my husband and I started using a physical calendar to keep track of our schedules and it is a complete game changer. Even though there are only two of us in our household, it helps us feel secure and more organized when we can see what the other has on their plate each day.

While we haven’t started using chore charts yet (everything is a friendly competition in my eyes and in this category, he would undoubtedly win), I can see how that would be incredibly useful for us adults too. For kids, Emily is a massive fan of having designated cleaning supplies in one place for her kids, so they feel like big kids and have more ownership over their cleaning tools. The chore charts can act as a reward system and using fun stickers or colorful markers to check off tasks is an inspiring visual way to keep kids engaged (at least this is what I have heard :)).

1. Acrylic Weekly Calendar and Wall Hanging Organizer Set of 4 | 2. 2023 Wall Calendar, 9.5 X 17.25, Wall Planner | 3. U Brands 8”x8” Chore Pad Bold | 4. Acrylic Wall Calendar with Translucent Background | 5. Leila Wall Calendar | 6. Personalized Acrylic Monthly Calendar with Weekly Planner | 7. Peel and Stick Whiteboard Chore Chart | 8. Dry Erase Calendar Decals | 9. Acrylic Wall Calendar with Translucent Background

Many of these are acrylic wall decals so you can use a dry erase marker and use them year after year. I am someone who prefers physical print copies so I am drawn to #2 and #3, but #4 is a really nice, minimal option.

Use Rolling Carts To Create Productivity Stations

photo by sara ligorria-tramp | styled by emily bowser | from: kids organizational hacks – inspiring ways to get them to do more by themselves

I love this mantra that Emily says often: “without systems there’s chaos”. She mostly uses it in reference to her 7 and 9-year-old kids, but I feel it applies to my 28-year-old self too. Even though I am not the same routine everyday kind of gal, I still need systems in place so I set myself up to be productive and efficient throughout the day (not just at work but in life).

For little ones, creating “stations” can be a fun (and organized) way to encourage them to do the tasks they probably don’t want to do. You might remember this post from earlier this year, where Emily shared some clever kids’ organizational hacks, and in it, she shared the idea of creating chores, homework, and crafting carts (envisioned by Emily Bowser). The idea is to create zones for these tasks to help kids stay focused and more organized. You keep all supplies for that task in one drawer or cart, so everything they need is in one place thus making the task less chaotic and scary. I am a HUGE fan of this and think I might need a chore cart of my own to make my own chores more manageable and fun (I am 12 years old at best).

1. Pierro Bar Cart | 2. 3-Drawer Cart Storage Bin Organizer Rolling with Plastic Drawers | 3. Gold Wire Basket 3 Tier Antonia Rolling Cart | 4. 3 Tier Round Metal Utility Cart | 5. 3 Tier Metal Utility Cart | 6. Honey-Can-Do Slim Wire Cart

#2 is a playful option that would look really sweet in a playroom or kids room. #1 has a pretty, minimal wood tone that would be a nice accent in a neutral kitchen or laundry room (or really, any room). If you are looking for something small space friendly, #6 is a great narrow option.

Optimize Your Shoe Storage

photo by sara ligorria-tramp | design by jess bunge for ehd | from: jess’ long awaited small space living room reveal

A shoe rack, bin, or bench is a great way to start what we like to call a “command center”. It’s usually in the entryway (but doesn’t need to be) and is where all of your grab-and-go stuff should live. Shoes, bags, sunglasses, keys, backpacks, etc etc. This zone is super helpful to have on those rushed mornings. Here are some simple shoe storage options we love:

1. Temple Street Metal/Wooden Shoe Storage | 2. Seaton Large Round Woven Storage Basket with Lid | 3. 26″ Entryway/hallway Storage Bench With Shoe Rack | 4. Mid-Century Disk Entryway Collection | 5. Woven Hamper | 6. Aubrey Entry Shoe Rack | 7. Small Washed Red Metal Stacking Storage Bin | 8. 2 Tier Shoe Rack Metal Mesh | 9. The Sculpted Bin With Lid

#1 is a sleek and modern entryway option that would be great for a small space. If you like lidded baskets to eliminate visual clutter we love #2, #5, and #9. We used #7 in the brand new kid’s room reveal we did with Velux Skylights (if you haven’t checked it out yet, run don’t walk!).

Use Wall Hooks Near Your Entry For Backpacks & Coats

photo by sara ligorria-tramp | from: 8 steps to building a smart, organized pantry and mudroom

This isn’t a new idea but having an entryway hook system is so important for kids (and adults) on the go and is a great addition to the aforementioned “command center”. For kids going back to school, hooks create an easy drop zone for backpacks, coats, umbrellas, etc. If you don’t have a mudroom like the above one from the Portland project, Emily wrote a post on small entryway organization hacks here and it’s full of clever storage ideas.

1. Acrylic Row Of Hooks | 2. Peggy 9 coat rack | 3. Beaumont Grey Peg Rail | 4. Marble Wall Coat Rack | 5. Wood Peg Wall Hook | 6. Cayman Row Of Hooks | 7. Sadie Wall Hooks | 8. Utility Hook Rack | 9. Modern Home by Bellver Wooden Ball Wall Hooks – Set of 4

If you love a peg rail look, #2, #5, #6, and #7 are beautiful options. For a more industrial look, I love #8 but oh my, those wooden ball hooks are so playful and cool.

And that’s a wrap! I hope these simple hacks will help you and yours feel more organized for the rest of the year. Happy organizing! xx

Opener Image Credit: Photo by Sara Ligorria-Tramp | Styled by Emily Bowser | From: IT’S TIME TO ORGANIZE – Small Entry Organization Hacks For Those Of Us Who Are “Mudroom-Less”


Never miss a single post and get a little something extra on Saturdays.

55 thoughts on “Do You Need A Family Organization Refresh? Here Are Six Small Ways You All Can Feel More Organized

  1. thanks for the lovely recommondations! As for the lunch bags I guess that depends on what functions of theirs you’re trying to replace? If its to keep the food contained and wetness from seeping out I’d in most cases just simply grab a reusable, leakproff lunch box instead of a plastic bag. If its to keep the food fresh(er) I’ve had great success with beeswax food wraps. Sometimes on occasion if I want a way to transport a sandwich with as little bulk as possible I’ll use paper lunch bags that are at least biodegradable after use. Wetness will absolutely seep through these (like jam or remoulade sauce or whatever) and a beeswax lunchbag would probably bee even better but I don’t have one of those (yet) so for those rare occassions they can be an at least slightly better option.

  2. We like Stasher bags as reusable bags but mostly just wash the “disposable” ones over and over! We never buy them but somehow accumulate them from school and wherever else. Then wash, wash until they die, which actually takes the better part of a year.

    1. I do the same. I also do this with items that come in a ziplock type bag such as nuts and dried fruit from Trader Joe’s (just wash them out with soap and water and reuse!)

    2. Yes! I’m glad I’m not the only one. I get the freezer version of disposable bags and wash them endlessly. Getting them dry is a bit of a chore but if you can find a way to prop them open to air dry then they are gtg. Note, though: I don’t get the ones that have a pleated bottom…that would make it more difficult to get them dry.

    3. Haha…🤣 I wash and re-use disposal things That end up in my house too!
      I even re-use those plastic fruit containers (Kiwi fruit, etc.), and use tgem as drawer dividers to corral small fadgets into groups (garlic crusher and attachments, small scoops, medicine measuering thingos).

      1. I don’t know if it’s a typo or a real word, but “fadget” is great! I’m thinking it’s a gadget you buy because it’s a fad. 🙂

    4. We have started to save the plastic bags that bread/tortillas/etc come in. It turns out most things (for us) don’t need to be sealed, and the bread bags are a nice size, they aren’t dirty from the bread, and we don’t feel bad about throwing them out if and when they do get dirty. Also, they fold nicely for storage!

  3. We have a lunch box similar to planet box, plus other stainless steel containers. We also accumulate and rewash other plastic bags. I keep some of those green plastic bags you put fruit and veg in at the store. I twist and make a loose knot in the middle to keep them contained.
    Making your own beeswax bags is fun and even cloth zippered bags for dry snacks, instead of too many single use wrapped snacks, more economical too and more catered to what you like!
    I keep some paper sandwich bags, parchment and foil but use those last after other options and mostly for baking!
    These items still need corralling but pretty easy to make a system for all this.

    1. Oh and we have an acrylic calendar and organizer! It’s beautiful and reusable- I purchased on Etsy instead of a big box store. There are a ton of sellers on there, with so many customizable options!

      1. That’s why I like “shopping” at etsy. So many sellers are willing to work with you to get exactly what you need.

  4. I’m curious: when do the schools in your area start/end? K-12 here runs from Aug 17th to May 26th. College student starts Sep 19th and finishes Jun 16th.

    1. It depends on the district. The largest district near us starts on Aug 16. Our district starts Aug 22. But a district about 30 min away already started on Aug 3. Our universities depend on whether it’s semester or quarter system. Those on semester system begin around Aug 19-22 and quarter system is around Sept 19. Personally I’m still getting used to the fact that for almost the whole country, K-12 pretty much starts in August instead of September.

    2. Portland, Oregon here: we start the day after Labor Day, but then we go through June 16th. In general PNW schools tend to start the day after Labor Day, and everyone I know in hot weather states starts in August and gets out in May.

    3. First day of September till the last dat of June in my country. Very easy to remember!
      I never understood that there are regional differences within a country… Although the US is so big I underdstand it there.

  5. We use the stasher snack bags for snack items and the ukonserve stainless containers for sandwiches etc. they last forever (I’ve had some that have lasted through 7 years of kid lunches and are still going strong!)and they recently switched to silicone lids so zero plastic. Plus you can buy replacement lids which is the most likely to break part of the container (but I haven’t had to in 7 years of continuous use!)

  6. Stashed bags of all sizes for all things! Plus planetbox or equal stainless steel for lunchboxes for kids or adults, glass Tupperware with lids you can buy again as needed

  7. Ziploc just came out with a new silicone line called Endurables and the zipper is soo much easier to open and close compared to a stasher IMO. I have one of the flat bottomed ones but am planning on also getting the sandwich bag too!

  8. I use these for all my kids’ sandwiches and snacks! Fruit, sliced veggies, popcorn, sandwiches…. these bags are perfect. The same half-dozen bags have lasted me for years, and saved probably thousands of plastic sandwich bags. If they have crumbs at the end of the day I just rinse them out and leave them on the counter to dry for the next morning. Once a week, I throw them all into the laundry along with kitchen towels. (If I’m sending additional things for lunch like hummous or pasta salad, I just add a bento box on the side.) It’s a Canadian company, but I believe the sell them on Amazon too.

  9. Not lunch related, but HOOKS! At the beach we have Shaker style peg boards in every bedroom for towels, bathing suits, sweatshirts, hats, etc. Every time someone (3 kids) moves into a new home or apartment Dad comes over and installs hooks on the bedroom and bathroom doors. If there’s not a hook on your door where in the world do you put your wet towel? I’m a big fan of hooks.

    1. Except in winter (which it is now in Australia), after showers, towels are hung out on the clothesline… dry in no time, taken down, folded into nice hotel-scrolls and ready to go again.

  10. My last baby is grown now but I used PlanetBox for his school lunches.
    Silicone sandwich bags are a reasonable alternative.
    Not only are single use plastic sandwich bags a terrible idea, spending $60 something dollars for handcrafted bag organizer is the most first-world bougie nonsense I have heard in a long time.

    C’mon Rusty, where you at? Let ’em have it!

    1. As they say…. “Lunch more. Waste less.”
      Check ’em out!!

      Seriously, get real and do your bit.
      Every single habit we change takes effort, but it’s worth it.
      The world has become immensely individualistic and selfish.
      Saying ‘Oh, it’s just not convenient ‘ is a complete cop-out and lazy. More like ‘I’m selfish and can’t be bothered’.

      There is no planet B. 🌏 Really. There is not.

  11. Some good storage solutions for sure, but nothing really new or surprising here.

    Reusable sandwich bags are something EVERYONE can do. 👍
    Each change for the betrer takes a little getting used to, just like changing any habit.
    Here’s the lowdown:

    I still have a visceral reaction each time I see food pouches of basically ‘pre-chewed’ food for children.
    Got teeth? Let ’em chew their food instead of sucking it in.

    I love those trolleys! 💖
    Next time I manage to get to IKEA (going to do a big expedition to get frames for my own artwork with my sister along as accomplice), I’m planning on buying one,, lus a step-stool that I’m going to do a colour wash on.

    1. Also, chewing whole foods stimulates proper jawbone growth and development. Children who don’t eat enough chewy and hard foods have shorter jaws and will need more adult teeth pulled, more braces and other stuff put in their mouths. Think about that the next time you want to give them a pouch of baby food even though they are not under 2 years. That’s *your* thousands of dollars/euros/whatever going away in a few years.

      1. This is a theory that is popular in the incel community and pushed by two British orthodontists (a father and son) but unsupported by evidence beyond their own anecdotal claims. Would be so cool if we could let parents make decisions about what to feed their own children without judgment from people like you all.

  12. Hi all! May I make a post suggestion? Sure, it’s back to school time for those fine folks with kids, but it’s also moving season!! My husband and I were just priced out of our apartment and have to move into a 400 sq ft studio with our dog. I would LOVE a Budget Rooms Studio update! The last one was posted in May of 2018. 🙂 Update pretty please!! (And you all know that I am always on board with any Budget Room designs. I miss them so much!)

  13. We use a mix of stainless steel tiffin type containers, or a square snap-lock or tupperware container – they all come in different sizes, and there’s no need for bags.
    The single portion snack bags are just so wasteful…please, please consider the impact of throwing away all that trash.

  14. I’m a big fan of Stasher bags and Tupperware-like containers. The idea of buying and using single use bags puts me over the edge!

  15. We use sistema boxes for lunches and snacks instead of baggies. They are easy for kids to open and have lasted FOREVER (plus they aren’t expensive). My 8th grader is still using pieces from the set we got her to start kinder! It’s wild when I think about how many baggies that would have been! My family also uses those Talenti gelato containers again and again and again. They are great for food (grapes, trail mix, etc.) and I also love them for paint. I’ve put our trim paint in one and keep it handy for when I need a touch up somewhere. They are lightweight and screw shut—plus the container is a great excuse to eat more gelato (I like the mango).

    1. Oh, Talenti containers are great, because they have the screw top. I don’t eat dairy, but my husband gets it sometimes. I’ll need to save the container. Of course I have a whole cabinet shelf full of saved containers already!

  16. ryann i feel like we’d be best friends based on the opening paragraph!
    jars/tupperware are great alternatives. i also have some stainless steel containers that are great/lighter (a peek of mine here). havent bought plastic bags in years.
    for people with small spaces (ie not enough room for stations) kits are great alternatives! i have all sorts of kits stashed around my house to keep things corralled and organized. picnic kit, shopping kit, the list goes on 🙂

    1. Yes to glass jars and tupperware! Haven’t bought plastic ziplock bags or plastic wrap in years and do not miss it. Also using plates on top of bowls for leftovers (which also is great for stacking in the fridge. ) I also occasionally use beeswax wraps. (You can buy one huge one and cut it down to suit the bowls you own) I honestly do not ever feel inconvenienced.

  17. What’s the source of the stacking wooden bins featured in Emily’s Insta story promoting this blog post? Y’all put out these teasers but don’t cite your sources that draw us in… ?

  18. We have a few silicone ziploc style bags that work great, and some silicone bowl covers that stretch over your bowl/container for keeping things in the fridge. So easy. We also have lightweight metal snack containers with silicone lids for our kids. TMI for some people who don’t have kids— I had to buy some single use plastic ziploc bags to put my placenta into when I had a home birth five years ago, then I found that we had the same full box of bags in a drawer last month when I had another baby at home. Ha! So essentially never using single use ziploc bags can really be done, even when you have kids.

  19. For what it’s worth, there are very few products that actually help me organize and simplify, what makes the biggest difference is just having LESS stuff to manage. Less shoes means you don’t need a $200 shoe rack. By using a lunch box, you don’t need plastic baggies and don’t need a $60 organizer. Less coats/clothing and you won’t need to go purchase hooks. If American’s would consume less we probably would need less hacks. We are a country with the biggest houses on the planet, yet we need to have storage units to keep our things. I think we can do better.

    1. Not letting us Americans off the hook for our overconsuming ways, but in my travels around Asia which led me to live in a wide variety of ordinary families’ homes, they overconsume with gusto as well.

  20. For bags we use: reusable sandwich bags (I have some fabric ones from Ikea and wipeable fabric with velcro from Target a few years back) or lightweight metal containers. When a ziplock bag it the answer, I just wash and reuse them! We have been using the same ziplock bags for literally YEARS. Oh, and good old wax paper or butcher paper works and is compostable!

  21. Re: ziploc bags: every time I reach for one, I try to take a half second and try to use something else instead. Turns out I can usually think of something! Aluminum foil, mason jar, Glasslock container (we have a few nesting sets of these and they’re amazing), a plate over a bowl, or just … stick the thing in the fridge without using plastic, like dropping a leftover half a lemon into the produce drawer (which is totally fine!).

  22. Many thanks for the Newsletter very happy to become a part of the discussion share my thoughts good to know that we are organized at home infact it is a team work when husband and wife share responsibilities towards success of common objectives and see our family to grow in a healthy environment by doing little things as discussed.

    Best Regards

  23. For snacks, I preferred the containers with a screw top, so that not only would the snacks not get crushed, the container wouldn’t accidentally open (we’ve had plenty of container lids pop off in a lunchbox or backpack). I can’t find the ones I originally bought at The Container Store, but these are similar:
    I’ve also used Ziplock containers like these:

    For sandwiches or salads, I’ll use a larger Tupperware like container. If for an adult, I’ll use glass Pyrex with lids.

    We’ve also used various bento boxes for full lunches, but the individual containers are nice to pop a snack in my purse or my child’s backpack.

  24. Ikea just put out reusable silicone bags that I found so much easier to clean over stasher bags, and cheaper but dont think you can sous-vide with them.

    I use reuseable tupperware and stainless boxes wayyy more > ziplocs.

  25. Oh, if space is an issue, there’s collapsible silicone boxes to use for food on the go!

  26. I like a stackable metal tiffin for snacks that go in a backpack and mason jars for many purposes and will toss crumbly snacks into a half pint jar. On a hike, my friend packed cut sandwiches in a large reused yogurt container. And I have beeswax wraps, a few stasher bags, and reuse bags.

Comments are closed.