The kitchen can easily become cluttered, making it less efficient to do daily tasks like making the kids’ lunches. Here are our top five kitchen organization tricks to help organize your kitchen and simplify school lunch preparation.

1. Clean Out Your Pantry & Refrigerator 
Places like the pantry and fridge can quickly become disorganized. If you often catch yourself searching for certain foods or rummaging past miscellaneous items like pet food or cleaning supplies, take the time to clean out these spaces. Remove everything and set them on the counter or table. Sort through the items and toss anything that is expired, anything you know you won’t use, or anything that doesn’t belong.

While everything is out of the pantry or refrigerator, take a moment to wipe down the surfaces. Before you put anything back, create an organizational system that makes the most sense for you—such as sorting and storing items by type or priority for easier access. Bonus points if you repackage some items into clear storage bins for better visibility!

2. Optimize Your Storage Spaces 
While we wish everyone could have walk-in pantries and spacious cabinets, that’s not always the case. Regardless of the size of your kitchen, there are ways to maximize what you have and create a more optimized storage system. Use cabinet shelves to double or triple your shelf space or under-cabinet baskets to create additional storage. If you don’t already have a kitchen island, add a simple wire shelving unit with a wooden top. Not only will this increase your storage space, but it will also increase the amount of work surface you have.

For a weekend project, you can go a step further and renovate your pantry. Remove inefficient wood shelves and replace them with wire shelving. A small swap like this can make a world of a difference for everyday use.

3. Keep Frequently Used Items on a Cart 
Are you always pulling out the same items when making your kids’ lunch or running out of storage room? One of our favorite multi-purpose solutions for kitchen organization is a mobile wire utility cart. This rolling cart can act as moveable storage to hold frequently used snacks, containers, or cooking utensils. This can help streamline the lunch preparation—not only allowing you to pull out everything at once but giving you the ability to tuck it away quickly once done.

4. Designate a Lunch Box Home 
Never hunt for a lunch bag again by creating a designated lunch box storage spot. Streamline the process and add small coat hooks in your pantry or a J-hook onto wire shelving to hang lunch boxes near where you prepare the food. Alternatively, keep them along with their backpack, sports gear, or other school items to keep it all stored in one spot.

5. Make Lunch Prep Accessible to Your Kids 
When your kids feel like they’re part of the lunch-making process, they may be more encouraged to eat and enjoy the meal. Help get your kids involved by keeping items easily accessible. Organize your kitchen to give them some autonomy—store common lunch foods at their height, like in a lower drawer in the fridge or on a lower shelf in the pantry and ask them to pick out what type of fruit cup they want that day.

Store non-dangerous utensils like kid-safe knives, plastic cookie cutters, or rubber containers at their level to select and grab themselves. You can also stash a small stool nearby, so they can reach the counter and assist with food prep and lunch box assembly.

Hopefully these kitchen organization tips will help make packing the kids’ lunches more efficient and enjoyable for the whole family.

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feature image via iStock

This post originally appeared on Teuko Blog.