This $8 Back-to-School Item Keeps My Kitchen and Office Organized

published Aug 9, 2023
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Credit: Jessica Rapp

There’s one item that always seems to be a fixture on my kids’ back-to-school supply lists: a personal dry-erase board. It makes sense why teachers love it, as it cuts down on paper usage and can be used over and over again. Plus, it’s easy to erase mistakes, and it makes much less of a mess than pencil erasers.

Because my kids are accustomed to using one at school, I decided to keep one at home too. However, I opted for a peel-and-stick version, which I hung on the wall next to their homework station. During the school year, it ended up being such a useful item that saw a lot of traffic — it was particularly helpful for my kids when they were practicing math problems and studying for spelling tests.

The peel-and-stick dry-erase board came in a two-pack, so on a whim I hung the extra one on the inside of my pantry door. I figured it might come in handy for making shopping lists, as my existing practice of standing in front of the pantry, trying to remember what I needed, and typing an incomplete list into my phone wasn’t exactly efficient. Suffice to say, it turned out to be a major boon to my kitchen organization. 

Having a dry-erase board right there on the pantry door makes it simple for me (or my family members) to write down any items immediately as they become empty. It’s also helpful for planning meals ahead of time, as I can scan what I already have and jot down the remaining ingredients needed for those recipes. If I happen to remember anything else on the spot — pet food, cleaning supplies, toiletries — they all go on the same list. I simply snap a photo of it before I head to the store, and I’m good to go.

Credit: Trisha Sprouse

Because it made such a big difference in keeping my kitchen organized, I decided to buy another one and hang it in my home office as well. I stuck it to the wall next to my desk, and I use it to keep track of all my projects/deadlines and write out my daily to-do lists. Of course, I program these things into my digital calendar as well, but as a visual person, it helps me to physically see what tasks I currently have in progress, and I relish the small victory of erasing a completed task off the list.

While I realize that using a dry-erase board is by no means a groundbreaking organizational hack, what I find so appealing about the peel-and-stick version is that you can stick it anywhere that’s convenient for your needs. I’ve used it on the wall and inside of a door, but you could also stick one on the fridge, a cabinet, a desk, a folder, or inside a locker. The fact that no hardware is required also makes it renter-friendly and easy to remove.

I opted for the plain white dry-erase board to blend in with my walls/pantry door, but it does come in a cheerful array of colors if that’s more your style. It’s also available in a longer roll if you’d like to customize it to a particular size. I also currently have my eye on this wall-mounted marker caddy to keep my dry-erase markers next to the board (right now I’m using peel-stick velcro to keep the markers in place).

Now that I’ve used a peel-and-stick dry-erase board to streamline the organization in my kitchen, home office, and kids’ room, I suppose I should turn my attention toward how I might utilize one in other rooms too. Keeping an organized home with a family of four is no easy feat, but this item sure has made it easier.