10 Things to Organize Right Before Thanksgiving

Are you hosting Thanksgiving this season? Are you helping a loved one put on the feast? We have brainstormed ten things to get organized right before Thanksgiving.

Menu Planning

Finalize your Thanksgiving menu, including appetizers, main courses, side dishes, and desserts.

Make a list of all the ingredients you’ll need.

Grocery Shopping

Create a detailed shopping list based on your menu.

Shop for non-perishable items a few days in advance and perishable items a day or two before Thanksgiving.

Thaw the Turkey

If you have a frozen turkey, calculate the thawing time and start thawing it in the refrigerator in advance.

Prep Work

Complete as much prep work as possible in the days leading up to Thanksgiving.

Chop vegetables, make pie crusts, and prepare any dishes that can be stored in the refrigerator until cooking.

Clean and Organize the Kitchen

Ensure your kitchen is clean and organized before the cooking frenzy begins.

Empty the dishwasher, clean surfaces, and organize utensils and cookware.

Set the Table

Set the table a day or two before Thanksgiving.

Ensure you have enough place settings, napkins, and any special decorations you want to include.

Cooking Schedule

Create a cooking schedule for Thanksgiving day.

Assign specific times for cooking each dish to ensure everything is ready at the same time.

Check Cooking Equipment

Confirm that all your cooking equipment, such as the oven, stovetop, and kitchen appliances, is in good working order.

Prepare for Guests

Clean and organize common areas where guests will gather.

Set up a designated area for coats and bags.

Emergency Plan

Have a backup plan in case something goes wrong.

Know where to find local takeout options or have a few simple backup dishes that can be prepared quickly.

By organizing these aspects before Thanksgiving, you’ll be better prepared to enjoy the holiday with your people.

Remember that being organized is a process, and it’s important to approach it at a pace that feels comfortable for you. Start small, plan one event at a time and develop systems to maintain organization. Gradually, you’ll experience the positive impact and being organized will come naturally. If organizing is daunting task, the professional organizers at Top Shelf Home Organizers are happy to help. Contact Jayme for a consultation.

Simple. Life. Solutions.

We would love to put our talents to use making your home and office functional and organized. Let us know how we can help your space be the best it can be.

10 Ways to Prepare Your Kitchen for Fall

Preparing your kitchen for fall can make the transition to the cozier, colder months more enjoyable and efficient. Here are Top Shelf Home Organizing’s simple steps to help you get your kitchen ready for autumn:

Clean and Declutter

Start by giving your kitchen a thorough cleaning. This includes wiping down countertops, cleaning appliances, and scrubbing the floors. Declutter your kitchen by getting rid of items you no longer need or use. Donate or store items that are taking up valuable space.

Inspect and Organize Your Pantry

Check the expiration dates on canned goods and dry goods. Dispose of anything that’s expired. Organize your pantry by grouping similar items together and making a list of what you need for fall recipes. Make a list of pantry essentials you are low on or out of.

Swap Out Seasonal Décor and Linens

Replace any summer-themed kitchen decor with items that have an autumnal feel. Think about adding fall-colored dish towels, tablecloths, and decorative pumpkins or leaves if you desire. Swap out lightweight kitchen towels and potholders for thicker, cozier options to keep you warm while cooking.

Deep Clean Appliances

Give your oven, stovetop, and microwave a deep clean to ensure they’re ready for more frequent use during the fall cooking season.

Stock Up on Fall Ingredients

If you enjoy baking during the fall, make sure you have all the necessary supplies, including flour, sugar, baking soda, and pie crust ingredients. Make a list of fall-specific ingredients like canned pumpkin, spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, etc.), apples, and root vegetables. Ensure you have these items on hand for fall recipes. Consider having a variety of teas, hot chocolate, and coffee on hand for those chilly fall mornings and evenings.

Organize Your Spice Rack

Check the freshness of your spices and herbs. Replace any that are past their prime. Organize your spices for easy access when you’re cooking.

Prepare Your Slow Cooker and Soup Pots

Dust off your slow cooker and other large pots you use for making soups, stews, and chili. Ensure they’re clean and in good working order.

Prepare for Canning and Preserving

If you plan to can or preserve fall fruits and vegetables, make sure you have all the necessary canning supplies, such as jars, lids, and a canning pot.

Update Your Kitchen Lighting

As the days get shorter, consider adding some cozy lighting options to your kitchen. This could be in the form of warm-toned light bulbs or decorative candles.

Create a Menu Plan

Plan some fall-inspired meals and recipes to enjoy throughout the season. Having a menu plan can make grocery shopping and meal preparation more organized.

By following these simple steps, you can create a warm and welcoming kitchen environment that’s ready to embrace the flavors and activities of the fall season. Remember organizing your home is a process, and it’s important to approach it at a pace that feels comfortable for you. If organizing your home is daunting task, the professional organizers at Top Shelf Home Organizers are happy to help. Contact Jayme for a consultation. This article was written in collaboration with our friend, OpenAI.

Simple. Life. Solutions.

We would love to put our talents to use making your home and office functional and organized. Let us know how we can help your space be the best it can be.

14 Steps to Decluttering Your Kitchen in February

An image of a kitchen to talk about how to go about decluttering your kitchen.The new year is in full swing. Healthy eating and conscious kitchen choices are likely some of your new year’s goals. This month, we offer ideas on the 14 best areas to focus for decluttering and organizing your kitchen. Every day or two this month, declutter and organize your kitchen by breaking it down into small categories. You will feel a revised focus on your healthy eating goals.

1. Baking dishes

Gather, sort, and evaluate all your dishes intended for baking. Simplify your inventory to the most practical items. Replace items that have lost their non-stick finish, are starting to rust, are starting to warp, or are only used on rare occasions.

2. Seasonings and spices

Pull out all seasonings and spices. Purge those that are expired, lack aromatics, are hard, or will not be used. Inventory what you have in writing, and make a list of what you need to replenish.

3. Coffee mugs

Mugs can consume a large amount of real estate in a kitchen. Consider the number of people in your home that use mugs and how often they are used. Simplify the quantity of mugs to what is practical in your kitchen.

4. Water bottles

Water bottles also take up a lot of space in a kitchen. Limit the quantity of water bottles to the number of people in your house. Bottles that require handwashing, have difficult spouts, tend to leak, or are not popular should be purged.

5. Freezer

Dig deep, inventory your kitchen freezer and deep freezer. Purge items that are old, smelly and show freezer burn. Meal plan around the freezer food you keep to reduce inventory and save money.

6. Formal entertaining dishes

Realistically examine the formal dining and service dishes you need to have on hand. Keep a practical set for a typical gathering. Reconsider if you need specific dishes for a specific holiday.

7. Bar glasses

A general set of tumblers, wine glasses, and pint glasses work well for most cocktails. Ditch the narrowly defined glasses that take up room in your cabinet.

8. Glasses

Reduce your daily glassware to what you use in a day. Every souvenir glass you have collected during your life likely doesn’t fit in your kitchen. Stick to the drinking glasses that are practical for your household and lifestyle.

9. Storage containers

Storage containers have a history of reproducing while you are not looking, and then ditching their partnering lid or base. Gather all storage containers, match up sets, and remove the misfits. Storage containers also take up a large area in your kitchen, so it is important to keep them under control.

10. Specialty gadgets

Avocado slicers’ and pepper storage containers might be fun gift items. But these specific, specialty items that are rarely used take up a lot of space. Consider more multiuse gadgets that are practical and don’t use up your precious kitchen space.

11. Small appliances

So many appliances for so many creative kitchen uses are available. The ideas are unlimited. Small appliances can be economical and practical if they serve more than one purpose and are used more often than once per year.

12. Disposable dishes and flatware

Disposable dishes and flatware from takeout and past parties may be taking over a cabinet in your kitchen. Gather all these items and intentionally plan to use them up. The kids will love having their breakfast on some cute happy birthday plates.

13. Snacks

The pantry likely has a collection of opened bags of snacks and crackers, and an inventory of candy from the past holiday. Get all of the snacks and candy together. Purge those that are stale, old, and completely unhealthy. Use up any opened snacks for your next family movie night. Keep the candy on hand for special treats and rewards for good behavior (if you decided to keep any).

14. Condiments

Condiment packets from school lunches and take out may be filling a drawer in your kitchen. Reduce the amount of condiment packets. Gather them all together, throw out any old condiments, keep a small selection of condiments you would use, and donate all the extras to a food pantry.

Now it is time to get started!

Take this month to work through your kitchen and remove the stuff that doesn’t meet your needs and takes up your limited kitchen space. Take the project category by category. It will keep you focused and it doesn’t require a large block of time.

If organizing your kitchen is overwhelming, Top Shelf Home Organizing would love to help. Contact Jayme for more inspiration.

3 Meal Planning Tips: Saving You Time and Money!

I am sure you have heard meal planning can help you eat healthy and stick to a budget. This is true, no matter your culture, eating habits or household size, having a plan will prevent you from last minute drive-thru lunches and take and bake pizza dinners.  Although we all love a simple pizza dinner every once in a while.

Here are a couple ideas to help you to get into the habit of planning your meals.

Planning Meal Ideas

Jot down meal ideas to last two weeks and keep a running list with you at all times. This can be a simple notepad or a meal plan app such as Mealime, Yummly or Foodprint.

For your meal planning, double recipes for freezer meals and leftovers, and leave room for dining out. Make sure not to over plan. Over planning can lead to food waste and possibly leave you feeling burnt out from too much time in the kitchen. Keep your meals simple, especially if you do not enjoy cooking or have a busy schedule. Consider a no cook or raw meal every once in a while. In our house, we do a meal of cubed cheese, cold meat, raw veggies, fresh fruit and whole grain crackers every couple weeks. The kids love it and it works well on a busy weeknight.

You can also try meal delivery services such as Blue Apron, Sun Basket, etc. it works well as a supplement to  your planning. However, be sure the meals arrive on a good day for you to actually cook the food. The food will arrive fresh and need to be prepared within a day or two. In addition, check the portion options are sufficient for your family and will produce leftovers.

Planning a Meal Budget

Identify your food budget. Be sure to include a reasonable budget for dining out. Stick to your budget by eating seasonal produce, stocking up on meat when it is on sale or purchasing protein from a local meat supplier. In your meal plan, include a couple inexpensive, non-meat meals.

Eating healthier does not have to require spending more money.  A local holistic health coach can guide you to planning healthier meals without breaking the budget. Better Health by Heather has helped our family eat healthier (our kids now get a serving of veggies in their breakfast smoothies without even knowing it!).

Planning for Shopping & Preparing

Plan a day to do your grocery shopping. Take your list to your local grocery store and try your best to stick to the list. You may also consider grocery delivery. Stores may add on a minimal fee for deliver, but the cost typically is made up in the time you would spend driving and shopping.

Identify a day for food preparation. This does not need to be an entire day; just a day that you can prepare fresh produce for weekday lunches and after work and school snacking. Although, doing both shopping and food preparation in the same day may leave you feeling frustrated and burned out. Try to keep these days separated.

Have fun planning your meals and enjoy watching your family eat better. There is no perfect plan. Don’t get frustrated by wasted food or too much time in the kitchen. Learn from your mistakes and tweak your plan to best fit your household.