Amy Clark

Organizing the Kitchen

Look around your kitchen and make a list of your top complaints about the room. Is the room too small? Do you not have enough counter space? Do you have trouble finding or getting to the things you need to use when you are cooking? Once you have your list in front of you it is time to begin making your dream for a better kitchen into a reality.

Here are some helpful tips to accomplish your goals:

  • Take a look at your counter space. If you see items on it that you do not use often, relocate them to a different area in your kitchen or basement. This will free up some very valuable countertop space.
  • When you have removed the items that you do not use frequently, readjust the items that you have into groupings. For example, putting the toaster and coffeemaker next to each other would save you time in the mornings since both appliances that you use are together. You want to look for ways to organize things that will save you time and effort.
  • If you have all of your cooking utensils shoved in a drawer, chances are that you have trouble locating them when you are cooking something. Instead either use an old jar, pitcher, or purchase a utensil holder to store them in. Make sure you have the utensils facing the same direction and displayed in a way that they are easily identified. I had too many utensils to put all of them into one holder, so instead I broke them up into two. I put one underneath my sink area with the utensils I used infrequently, and displayed the ones that I used often next to the oven so that I could easily reach them. You may find a better system for yourself, or if you have some that you never use, consider giving them away to someone who could use them, put them in a box for a future garage sale, or store them in the basement if you feel there may be a time that you will use them.
  • If you have a spice rack, alphabetize your rack so that you can find your spices quickly. Another way to organize these would be to group them into groupings that are used frequently together. For example, I always use rosemary and thyme together so I could have them next to each other. If your spice rack is taking up too much space on your counter, here are a couple of alternatives to free up your counters:

    Find a shelf that you can install somewhere near your oven or where you prepare you food so that you can find your spices quickly. If you install the spices higher then eye-level, label the spices on the front instead of the tops so that you can easily find them.

    Another alternative is to purchase a container to store all of your spices in if you do not use them frequently. Place labels on the tops of the spices, alphabetize them, and store them in an easily accessible place. This will free up your counters and they will be quick to get to when you are cooking.

  • You know that junk drawer you have that you insist on keeping everything that doesn’t have a home in it? Well it is time to clean it out. Designate homes for these belongings and if by chance they are things you don’t use (this is a junk drawer, right?) then it is time to throw the stuff away. With this drawer freed up you can now put your dishtowels in there or your phone books or anything else that might be of use. Do not make it back into a drawer of junk though.
  • Some of the best and cheapest organizers in the world are dishpan tubs. Purchase a couple of these to help keep underneath your sink storage more organized. Group all of your cleaners together in one of these and use another one to keep all of your kitchen linens in. You can also keep your cleaners in a handled basket that you can grab to cart them around the house when doing your cleaning. Sometimes when things are more accessible, you will find yourself using them more often. This might be a great source of encouragement for accomplishing the cleaning you have been meaning to do.
  • Make sure that you have a message center somewhere in your kitchen. If you need ideas for how to put your message center together look on FlyLady for some great ideas on message centers, organizing, and cleaning your home. Make sure that you have this on or around your phone. It is a great way to keep track all of keys, bills, messages to your spouse, and to keep track of all of those mounting activities on your calendar. I don’t know what I would do without mine.
  • One of my least favorite chores in the kitchen is cleaning and organizing the refrigerator. I would rather go to the dentist then deal with this household chore, but unfortunately it is one of those things that need to be kept up with, otherwise, you could end up growing some really disgusting science experiments. Here are a few pointers on this nasty chore:

    Designate certain shelves in your refrigerator to operate as shelves for specific items. For example, use your bottom shelf for leftovers, top shelf for beverages, put produce in its drawer, meat in its respective drawer, and door of fridge for condiments. This will make it easier when you are cooking, but it is also a great way to keep track of those leftovers. No one wants to find a forgotten leftover that has been sitting in the fridge for a month. Designate one day of the week to clean out that shelf and make sure that you rotate the leftovers with the oldest in the front and the newest in the back. Take masking tape and write the date on the top so you know when these should be tossed. It will make tracking them much easier.

    Make sure that you clean the fridge periodically and I don’t mean cleaning around stuff. With either a water/vinegar solution (see my homemade cleaners section for more details) or any other all purpose cleaner really scrub the refrigerator down.

    Make sure you have an opened box of baking soda in the fridge to absorb all those nasty smells that have a tendency of popping up in this appliance.

  • Now take a look at your freezer. Make sure that you have items that you have packaged yourself clearly dated. Sort the meat by date so that you use the oldest the first. If you can fit in the freezer some plastic organizers, put these in here and separate the like items together. This will help make grabbing things out of here a lot easier when you are preparing dinner.
  • Nothing says an organized home like an organized pantry. If you do not currently have a pantry try to see if you can make somewhere in your home into a pantry. People with small apartments can purchase a utility cart and sort their canned good on there in their kitchen. If you have a closet that is just empty, take advantage of that and hang an organizer on the back of the door for cans and install shelving for your bake ware that you use frequently, but is currently taking up space in your cabinets. For those of you who are a novice to the stocking of a pantry here is a quick list of items that every good cook has on hand for meals:

    Baking Ingredients:
    baking soda, baking powder, brown sugar, white sugar, flour, powdered sugar, salt, quick cooking oats, cornmeal, cooking oil (olive, canola, and vegetable), vanilla extract, spices, chocolate (semisweet chips, unsweetened and semisweet baking chocolate, cocoa powder), cream of tartar, and cooking spray

    Canned Goods & Condiments:
    diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, pasta sauce, whole peeled tomates, mustard, ketchup, Worchestire sauce, soy sauce, pickles, relish, and mayonnaise.

    Freezer Goods:
    ground beef, chicken. vegetables, noodles, bread and hamburger/hotdog buns, cheese (which can be frozen for future use), and extra flour (which can be used later as well).

For further tips on organizing your kitchen please click on the links below for more creative ideas on making your kitchen your favorite room.

More ideas for organizing:

www.ineedmoretime.com
www.organizedhome.com

www.flylady.com

Places to look for kitchen organizers:

www.organizes-it.com
www.kitchensource.com
www.organize-everything.com

Recommended Reading:

Home Comforts : The Art and Science of Keeping House
by Cherly Mendelson, Harry Bates
To me, this truly is the Bible for all the folk’s out there who aspire to be more organized.

Organizing from the Inside Out
by Julie Morgenstern
This woman has been featured on Oprah as a goddess for home organization. Reading her book will help you discover what type of organizer you are and how to tackle your trouble spots. Be amazed at the fantastic advice she offers.

Organizing for Dummies
by Eileen Roth and Elizabeth Miles
The title says it all. It is for those of us who are just starting on the road to organization.

Published June 24, 2004 by:

Amy Clark

Amy Allen Clark is the founder of MomAdvice.com. You can read all about her here.

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