Depending on where you live, the weather may or not be actually getting warmer, but March counts as spring, right??
It may be a cliche, but the spring cleaning urge is *real, friends. I’ve had the impetus to clean out EVERYTHING in my kitchen recently, so of course I spent hours (procrastinating) scouring the internet in search of the best kitchen and food organization tips and hacks for parents and families.
There’s a ton out there, but at the end of the day, IMO, getting the most out of your kitchen (with your kids!) boils down to these five things:
1. Use containers and labels.
A simple container makes all the difference in the world, friends. Try using clear containers in the fridge and pantry to keep things from getting lost (read: going bad) and group like items together. You can opt to buy containers for this, but you can also repurpose pieces you likely have on hand to the same effect — study cardboard boxes or lids can work nicely in drawers and cabinets for sorting anything from pens and food clips to measuring spoons or spices, for example. We also love this trick: in your refrigerator, consider using a lazy susan for condiments and other everyday items — it’s SO much easier this way!
Labeling is another huge help, especially for children. I love the idea of also using imagery in labels to help young children who aren’t yet reading know what’s where — you can use this strategy in your pantry and fridge, but it’s also very helpful for drawers and cabinets.
2. Put your freezer to work.
You can freeze nearly anything — including some surprising foods like eggs (not in the shell), milk, and meat. Especially given the extent of the food waste problem in this country, leaning more heavily on your freezer is a great strategy not only for keeping your fridge better organized but also cutting down on waste. Frozen fruits and vegetables are just as nutritious as fresh produce, with the benefit of costing less and lasting longer. Keep an eye on when foods will be expiring, and store excess in your freezer for use down the road. (For a quick, easy reference on food safety and freezing, see here; and for everything you need to know about freezing baby food, read this.
3. Prioritize (easy) access to healthy foods.
Make it easy for your kids to help in the kitchen by creating an accessible, kid-friendly space in your fridge and/or pantry.
We love the idea of stocking the refrigerator door shelves, for example, with healthy grab-and-go snacks like Amara smoothie melts. With no added sugar and no-mess, these are the perfect snack toddlers can grab with zero worry or guilt!
Try also prepped produce (i.e., washed, cut grapes, cucumbers, etc.), cheese sticks, applesauce, yogurt, protein bites, or mini muffins. Check out this list of one-, two-, and three-ingredient finger foods for even more ideas.
Amara organic baby food pouches and toddler yogurt melts are perfect for easy, healthy snacks and meals — and they’re SO easy to store. Plus, Amara’s unique packaging uses 12x less plastic than traditional baby food pouches. Add some to your child’s shelf!
4. Have a drawer or cabinet your child can access.
Similar to creating a space where kids can access snacks and foods on their own, creating a designated drawer or cabinet for your child’s things can be a huge help. Young children LOVE to pitch in in the kitchen, and having your space set up such that they can reach for things on their own is really a win-win: your children can learn to build helpful habits (such as setting the table, for example) early on, and they love the independence and autonomy of being able to get out their own plates/bowls/cups/etc. In addition to a cabinet with pull-out drawers for all my children’s plateware, I also keep our mixing bowls, measuring cups, serving spoons, and spatulas where my daughter, who *loves baking, can easily reach them.
5. Keep a good step stool handy.
Lastly, if you don’t already own one, make sure there’s a sturdy step stool that can stay in your kitchen — it’s handy not only for those times when you’re working on a kitchen project together with your child, but also for basic activities such as washing hands.
To me, maintaining an organized kitchen is something in between a pipedream and an actual achievement (it depends on the day…). But whatever else is going on, I want my family’s kitchen space to feel like it’s for us — all of us. Including my kids. Rearranging some drawers and cabinets to accommodate them has made the entire space more enjoyable and usable for all of us!