I spent a decade as an active-duty Navy spouse, and we lived everywhere from Florida to Mississippi to Virginia to DC. We rented and bought and rented, and we never had our “perfect” home (the one house we renovated we sold two days after it was finished). And as every military family knows, when you’re only in one place for a year or two, you don’t want to invest too much in changing a house to fit your needs. That’s why I love these items, which you can take from house to house. I wish I’d had these during my moving years!
- Pot and lid organizer
Military spouses know all about having to “make do” with the space they’re given. Usually, this means figuring out how to fit an entire family’s food and kitchen items into very few cabinets. I recently invested in a pan rack organizer, pot organizer, and pot lid organizer, and I can’t figure out why I didn’t do that earlier! It really does save so much space.
2. Magic erasers
If you don’t have a pile of these on hand, you’re missing out. I use these to clean tables, get the pencil and crayon stains off my kids’ desks, and most importantly, get stubborn marks off the walls. When you don’t want to repaint (or can’t), this could be an easy way to spruce up your house. You can also use them to clean baseboards. I don’t love the waste they create, but I haven’t found a more effective solution for cleaning tough spots.
3. Baskets for bathroom products
Moving would have been so much easier if I’d stored everything in my bathroom in baskets. I recently organized our bathroom products into Kids Medicine, Adult Medicine, Extra Razors/Toothbrushes, and Contact Lenses (I use daily lenses and buy a year’s supply at a time to save money, so there are a lot to store). This way, there’s no digging around in drawers for the things you need, and when you move you can just put the basket into a box.
4. Closet shoe racks
Everyone loves a good mudroom, but we don’t always get them. Putting stackable shoe racks in your entryway closet can allow you to fit so many more shoes, boots, etc. and can keep your entryway clear of clutter and dirt.
Using turntable storage in your fridge, cabinets or especially under the sink can help you save a lot of space for tall/bottled items.
6. A silverware organizer that fits ALL your silverware
Invest in the largest possible silverware organizer you can find. For years (literally over a decade), I used a cheap plastic silverware tray that only had five slots. But most silverware sets come with six types of items: steak knives, butter knives, salad forks, large forks, soup spoons and tablespoons. Buy an expandable wooden organizer that can fit in any drawer and has at least six slots, and it will serve you well from house to house.
7. A junk drawer organizer
The Container Store sells wooden drawer organizers of different sizes that you can combine to fit any size drawer. When you move into a new place, don’t just pour all your junk drawer items into a drawer and forget about them. Organize them into categories, and you’ll realize what you have and what you need (more AAA batteries). For example, when I organized our drawer I found two $100 gift cards that had been thrown in there! I have spots for batteries, tape, scissors, string, spare keys, and our school directory.
8. A spin mop
I have to admit—I was a Swiffer addict. I loved Swiffer wet pads for mopping hardwood floors and considered them an essential item. But I recently switched to an O-Cedar spin mop, and I’m definitely a convert. You wring the mop out by using a foot pedal. I can clean floors so much faster and without the waste of disposable Swiffer pads. It also cleans rougher tile much more easily.
9. A grocery app
I recently downloaded a grocery store app that you share with other members of your family, so any item that is added to the list can be viewed on everyone’s phones. This way, when it’s time to go grocery shopping, I don’t have to ask everyone in the house what they need/want – they’ve already added it to the master list.
10. Fridge bins
These can be a costly investment, but they really do save so much food waste and money in the long run. They’re also great for military housing with small refrigerators. I especially love the can holders for sparkling water, (the biggest space saver by far) and the pull-out plastic drawer bins that can store yogurts for the kids. I also started storing a lot of our fruit and vegetables in clear plastic bins (one type of item per bin) instead of shoving them in the built-in drawers at the bottom of the fridge like I used to. Now I find myself eating a lot more fruits and veggies because I see them immediately at eye level. when I open the fridge door.