Drawers are a common catch-all area. Even though they're hidden from view when shut, they can be extremely frustrating when you need to access anything inside them. Stores sell all types of solutions, but you can get creative and reuse what you already have on hand rather than spend money.
Here are a few suggestions:
Egg cartons and ice cube trays: Use them to organize small items such as golf balls, jewelry, craft supplies, baby socks, seeds, rubber bands, loose change, garden seeds, etc. These fit nicely in drawers and the items won't slide around and become a jumbled mess anymore.
Boxes: Food boxes like those for butter, tea and pasta can be cut down and covered with contact paper to organize a drawer. One reader, Libby from Canada, shares: "I store shopping bags in empty tissue boxes in a drawer or cabinet. One box can hold a lot of bags, and it's easy to pull one out through the opening as needed."
Shoe boxes: These sturdy boxes can fit in a deep drawer. They are easy to label and they come in a variety of sizes. Reuse them to hold items such as mail, first-aid materials, manicure supplies, CDs, spare adapters, art and craft supplies, greeting cards, scarves, coupons, small toys, school and office supplies, photos or socks and pantyhose. The list goes on and on.
Tubs: Plastic containers like the ones ice cream, baby wipes, sour cream, yogurt and cottage cheese are sold in can fit nicely in drawers to help you organize.
Baby-food jars: Use in furniture, cabinet or refrigerator drawers. Taller jars can hold cotton swabs, cotton balls, tweezers, floss, small barrettes, bobby pins and jewelry that can be tucked away or stored away in a deep vanity drawer. They're the perfect size for storing missing parts, toothpicks, paper clips, saved seeds, safety pins and food items such as homemade compound butter blends, small amounts of homemade mixes, and herbs and spices. Prechop onions or bell peppers, or make cinnamon-sugar mix and spice blends to store in a large baby-food jar:
2 teaspoons dried onion, minced
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon dried red peppers, crushed
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon dried garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon cumin, ground
Mix all ingredients and store in a tight-lidded jar. Makes about 2 tablespoons of mix, or the equivalent of a store-bought packet.
Taco Filling: Brown 1 lb lean ground beef in a medium skillet over medium-high heat; drain the excess grease. Add 1/2 cup water and the seasoning mix. Reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Makes filling for 8 to 10 tacos.
Pringles containers: Use in drawers to hold cords, tongs, crochet hooks, paint brushes, plastic utensils or knitting needles. They're wonderful for storing an open sleeve of crackers or holding pre-cut parchment paper, foil, wax paper or plastic storage baggies you plan to reuse. Another reader, S.D. from Minnesota, shares: "I rolled up my silicon baking mats and put the roll in a Pringles can for storage in a drawer. Ditto for the chopsticks."
(Sara Noel is the owner of Frugal Village (www.frugalvillage.com), a website that offers practical, money-saving strategies for everyday living. To send tips, comments or questions, write to Sara Noel, c/o Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut Street, Kansas City, MO, 64106,firstname.lastname@example.org.)