Sick and tired of trying 10 lids just to find the one that fits the pot you’re using, or digging through all the spices in your cupboard to find the oregano? Maybe it’s time to organize your kitchen once and for all.
Here are 15 kitchen organizing tips that are guaranteed to make your kitchen easier and freer to work in, no matter how busy you are:
1. Take a Saturday and clean out all your cupboards systematically. Rare indeed is the modern homemaker who doesn’t have a can of something strange lurking in the back of the cabinet. If the food is still good but you’ll never eat it, donate it to the food bank; otherwise, into the recycling or the compost it goes. Once the cupboard is empty, clean it thoroughly inside and out.
2. Instead of fixed shelves inside your cupboards, install sliding racks, which give you access to the contents instantly. You can buy self-standing ones or built-ins at organizing and kitchen stores.
3. Keep drawers of small things neat with dividers, small bowls, or storage containers without their lids.
4. Open shelves that are visually organized are beautiful; ones that aren’t look awful. Store visually similar items on open shelving: matching china, white bowls, glassware, cookbooks. Or create a pleasing composition for your items and put them back in the same place each time you use them.
5. Organize the under-sink area with wire shelving or pullout units. You can also buy storage units that hang on the back of the cabinet door for garbage, small cleaning items, etc.
6. A hanging plastic see-through shoe organizer is an easy way to make use of the back of a tall pantry door and free up room in a crowded pantry cupboard. Self-contained items like boxes of pasta, canned goods, and spice jars are best stored this way.
7. Mount a rack inside a cupboard for spices so you can see them all at a glance. My sister alphabetizes her spice shelf, which I used to think was overdoing it a bit until I tried it. No more hunting through spices to find the one I need!
8. Display cookbooks on an open shelf or in a stand-alone bookcase. (Place the bookcase back from the main cooking area to keep books clear from splatters.) A row of books makes any room feel cozier.
9. If you have room, consider your kitchen like a factory, with different “stations.” Along with the obvious ones, like washing-up things by the sink and cooking utensils near the stove, think of what else you do every day in the kitchen and create a station for it: wrapping leftovers (keep aluminum foil, cling wrap and storage containers in that area); doing crafts (keep a box or bag with craft supplies there); paying bills; housecleaning.
10. Organize the items in your cupboards by how often you use them. For example, everyday cooking implements, pots and pans, and utensils should be by the stove; dinnerware and glasses near the sink (or dishwasher); larger serving bowls slightly farther away; platters for Thanksgiving turkey and Passover buffets farthest from your main traffic area (or even in the dining room).
11. Group similar items in the same drawers or cupboards: pot lids, graded from smallest to largest; mixing bowls; trays; muffin tins and cookie sheets; etc.
12. The same principle can apply to food. Everyday items like canned fruit, oatmeal, and soup should be easiest to access, with less frequently used items like canned clams and artichoke hearts arranged further back. Use the same principle in your fridge.
13. Group food items by category: soups; baking goods; condiments; cereal, etc. It sounds basic, but it makes it much quicker to put things away when you come home from the grocery store, and to find them again when you need them.
14. Keep plastic storage containers and lids in one plastic bin and “file” them by size; when you need to use them, take the bin out and simply pick the one you need; much better than trying six lids before you find the right one, as many of us do.
15. A hanging rack for pots and pans and their lids not only frees up cupboard space and makes retrieval much easier, it’s terribly chic.
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