Meal Prep

A few years ago, I used to show up to the grocery store with no plan whatsoever and leave with a bunch of ingredients that did not work well together. Since then, I’ve learned the power of making a detailed list ahead of time, but I’ve also made a few other tweaks to my routine.

Stick to a routine: I used to go to the grocery store a couple days a week, but now I strictly go on Sunday’s. I really like going on this day because it means I have fresh produce for the upcoming week and sets my week up for success.

Organize my food: Right when I get home from the market, I start to organize what I bought. If I buy baby carrots for instance, I’ll take them out of the bag and put them right into a big container to make it easier to snack on them throughout the week. Doing this simple organization right off the bat helps ensure that my food stays fresher longer, and that it gets eaten.

Meal prep: While I am not one of those people who makes breakfast, lunch, and dinner for the week on a Sunday–though I wish I could do that!–I will prepare some things ahead of time. If I know I’m going to make chicken one night, for instance, I might make some quinoa ahead of time and store it in a container in the fridge. Similarly, I may cut up some fruit and put it in a Ziploc bag to make transporting it to work all the easier.

Over The Counter

You may have noticed from my last post about my kitchen that it’s not very big at all. Since we really only have a few feet of countertop to work with, I try to be super selective about what I keep on display vs. what is tucked away in our cabinets. Though even if I had a much larger space, I still think I would stick to this minimalist approach to keep things looking clean, fresh, and, of course, organized.

Oftentimes when I walk into people’s kitchens, I am overwhelmed by how many items they have out on their counters. Sure, items like a cutting board and a coffee maker may be necessary to have out at all times, but others—looking at you, blenders, crock pots, and mixing bowls—can easily be stowed away.

Here’s what I keep on my counters and why.

As I’m sure you’ll notice, I have a lot of white marble on my counters. I intentionally tried to keep my accessories minimal and light, so as to not make the space feel even more crammed and busy. In this white marble, I have a cutting board that doubles as a serving tray, a large holder filled with all of my utensil essentials, and a power towel holder.

I also have a few select cookbooks out on the counter largely for decorative purposes, though they are also very functional. They are nudged within a little cutout in my countertop that would otherwise go unused.

Across the kitchen on my stove, I similarly have only the essentials: dish towels, salt and pepper shakers, and a tea kettle in a fun color. My pans and pot lids, hung just above the stove, are within reach but do not clutter up either my cabinets or my countertops.

Because our kitchen is pretty tiny, we had to get creative with storing things like the microwave, toaster over, and coffee maker. We ended up finding a bar cart that fits perfectly between the end of the counter and the end of the tile floor, and it holds those items, plus a bowl filled with fruit and vegetables.

Last but certainly not least, we’re lucky to have a quaint built-in right above our sink and that’s where we house our dish soap, hand wash, and sponges. I like to hide my sponge within a cute bowl to make the nook feel more styled and pulled together.

DIY: Spice Containers

Without a doubt, spices are kitchen items that can be easily overlooked. You stock up on them as a given recipe calls and then you stow them away. But the problem with this is that you wind up with tons and tons of bottles–some that look too much alike and others that are a completely different shape and size. In other words, you wind up with a mess.

Sound familiar? Read on to find out how to do this super simple DIY that will make a big impact on your overall kitchen organization.

To kick off this DIY, I first took inventory of my spice cabinet. I pulled out all of my spices, threw away the ones I knew I’d never use again, and counted the remaining number. That way, I knew exactly how many bottles I needed to buy. I ended up purchasing these glass spice jars from the Container Store, along with transparent labels.

From there, it was just a matter of transferring from one (not so pretty) bottle to the next.

The final step is to add the label. The pack I linked to above also comes with blank labels so you can add custom labels, should you need to.

Let me know what you think of this simple DIY in the comments below!

Tricks of the Trade: Refrigerator Organization

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Let’s be real, the fridge can get pretty unruly really quickly if you’re not careful about it. Covered tupperware can go unnoticed, jars of tomato sauce can go bad, etc, etc. So how do you keep it clean and orderly? You’ve come to the right place!

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I like to have a system when it comes to my fridge, not only for where each food group belongs, but also for when I go through its contents with a fine-tooth comb. I typically do all of my grocery shopping for the week on Sundays, and when I get home I like to take a moment to go through the fridge. I’ll quickly check expiration dates, throw out anything that looks browned, and wipe down the bottoms. That way, I’m putting all of my fresh food away into a clean space.

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Much like how I organize my pantry, I use each shelf in my fridge for a different food group. It looks a little something like this:

  • Top shelf: All of my breakfast foods, such as fresh berries, bread, eggs, and yogurt.
  • Middle shelf: Dinner foods and beverages. This week, I made a big batch of soup so that’s taking up the bulk of this shelf currently. On other days, you might find roasted chicken or even some lasagna.
  • Bottom shelf: Since the bottom shelf is hung so low, I usually put all of my smaller lunch items here. I like to meal prep my lunches, so once I do, I divvy them into tupperware and slide them on this shelf.
  • Bottom drawers: We have two drawers in our fridge, so I use one of them for fresh produce and the other one for cheeses and deli meats.
  • Side shelves: You can see a glimpse into my shelves in the first picture. My strategy here is pretty simple: I sort from largest to smallest to create an aesthetically-pleasing array of sauces and jars.

Entertaining Tips: How to Build a Cheeseboard

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I don’t know about you, but every time I find myself in the cheese isle of my grocery store, I pretty much freeze up. There are so many options–and so many delicious options at that–that it can be hard to choose. Tell me I’m not alone in this!

Up until recently, I used to just grab whatever caught my eye or fit within my budget. And while there isn’t necessarily anything wrong with that, I wanted to figure out what my “go-to cheeses” were–the ones that I would serve time and time again at my house. The ones that would make entertaining a breeze and sort of become “my thing.” Hopefully you’re still with me!

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So, I did just that. I did some research, some taste testing (how terrible, right?) and finally figured out my cheese thing–is that cheesy or what? To make your life easier–especially when entertaining–I’m going to share exactly what I buy to make an epic cheese platter.

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As you can see above, I like to serve a mix of snacks to tie people over before the main course. My rule of thumb is to always have at least three different kinds of cheese, and my personal favorites are brie, asiago, and truffled Italian. Along these same lines, I also like to serve a variety of crackers, some healthier and some more indulgent. To top off the cheese, it’s always a good idea to add some charcuterie to the plate. In my case, I usually opt for prosciutto but you could do salami too.

Finally, I add a few snacks in little bowls off to the side. I’ve found that dried apricots, candied pecans, and olives are great options if you’re trying to achieve that salty and sweet balance.

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Oh, and how could I forget? Make sure to add cheese knives to your plate so people can dig in easily. It’s always a good idea to dig in before your guests arrive so the platter doesn’t look too perfect to eat. Plus, you’ll be happier that way, too!

Collection of Cookbooks

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For someone who doesn’t cook that often, I sure have a lot of cookbooks. I just love the way they look on my kitchen countertop, and the possibility of scanning through them for inspiration at my leisure isn’t bad either.

In fact, I actually would go as far as to say that a kitchen just isn’t complete without a few cookbooks. Stack them up against a wall, add a succulent and some empty wine bottles, and you’ve got yourself a little vignette.

Here are the cookbooks that I (actually!) have been reading–and loving– recently.

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Tartine Book Number 3 // Flour + Water // Jerusalem // Plenty // Plenty More

 

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What are your favorite cookbooks? Share in the comments below!

Wish List: Butcher Block Countertops

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I’m having a major moment with butcher block countertops right now. There’s something about the casual vibe it creates, especially when paired with subway tile, that is super attractive to me. To top it all off (no pun intended, I love that you don’t have to be too precious with it since it actually looks pretty good with a bit of wear & tear.

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P.S. Check out more of what’s on my wish list here.