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Cereal BoxesKids love cereal (and I must admit, I do too). School is in full force and everyone is looking for places to stash all those school papers, bills, catalogs, and schedules. Here’s a fun and creative way to make use of the empty cereal boxes. Get the kids involved in reusing the boxes to make handy holders for their desk and yours. Kids can let their imaginations run wild by decorating the outside of the box with decorative tissue paper, wrapping paper, markers, stickers, and fabric for a more tailored look. The larger cereal boxes work best for storing books and folders. The smaller boxes are great for keeping smaller odds and ends contained. For the safety of the child, adults need to cut the box with a utility knife at the desired angle and height. Wrap the decorative paper or fabric around the box to see how much is needed. Then unwrap, cut and secure the paper or fabric to the box with double-sided tape or glue. Trim the excess paper/fabric with scissors.

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organized pantryA perfectly organized pantry; what a glorious sight! With a dash of efficiency and a sprinkle of beautiful, you can have an organized pantry too.

Pantries can be the catch all for appliances, canned goods, lunch boxes, extra bulk items, and endless boxes of cereal. They can also be a black hole for items with expiration dates. Have you stuck your head in the back of your pantry lately? Things get lost back there!

A neat, organized pantry makes your life run more smoothly. You should be able to look into your pantry and know in about a minute what you have and what you need. Most of us, instead, see a jumbled mess of precariously balanced canned goods in no particular order. There are most likely expired boxes in the back from 10 years ago that you don’t even want to think about.

An organized pantry can be achieved with only a few simple steps. With these easy steps, one can save time, money, and a few extra calories by having a well organized pantry.

Sort like with like: Separate items by dry goods (pastas, beans, boxed rice, and grains), sauces, canned veggies, canned fruits, snacks, and cereals.

Containerize: I love using clear plastic containers to store snacks, cereals, grains, pastas, popcorn, croutons, and so much more. Make sure to use containers that lock in the freshness and keep the bugs out. Containers that are square in shape will offer a better use of the space than using round containers. Using clear containers will simplify life by showing you exactly what you have and how much you need. Gather an assortment of baskets to store seasoning packets, microwave popcorn, hot coco packets, and any item that is individually wrapped.

Label each shelf: Whether you are stocking the shelves or the kids are grabbing a snack, everyone will know where to go to find what they are looking for.

Leave some room: You don’t want to overstock your shelves. Leave enough room be able to maneuver when gathering supplies for your next meal.

Storing larger items: Many pantries work overtime by housing appliances and extra bulk items. Make sure to store the extra bulk items on the upper shelves and the heavy appliances on the lower shelves or floor space. Otherwise, utilize a wire shelf unit in the garage to store the less frequently used items.

There are three rules to remember:

New vs. Old: Store the newer items in the back and older items in the front. This simple rule will help to eliminate those expired items from piling up.

Remember the 80/20 rule: When stocking your pantry, keep in mind that 80% of meals typically come from the pantry and 20% are fresh produce.

Label, label, label: Label any undated food items with the purchase date.

With thanks to Better Homes and Gardens, here are three helpful lists for having a well stocked baker’s pantry, entertainer’s pantry, and quick family meals checklist.

Baker’s Pantry

Entertainer’s Pantry

Quick Family Meals Checklist