Having an organized kitchen will increase your productivity, decrease your stress, and help you to be in control. So open your kitchen and mind to some creative and basic ways to organize your kitchen.
Finding Wasted Space
The first step is to learn where wasted space is. Begin by opening all your kitchen cabinets and drawers. Take a step back to view them. Do you have empty space between the top of canned goods and the shelf above them? Look at the dinnerware cabinet. Are there inches of empty space between the plates and the shelf above? Now look in your drawers. Are you wasting the height of your drawers? Do you have a 2" high utensil organizer in a 4" high drawer? If so, this will leave wasted space between the utensils and the top of the drawer.
Maximize space by either moving items to a more appropriate space or by using organizers that will allow you to utilize all the space. Vertical space in drawers is frequently not maximized because people donít know how to use it completely.
"Move Out" of Your Kitchen
The second step is to "move out" of your kitchen for a day. Take everything out of the cabinets and drawers. Group items by category Ė cereals, baking ingredients, spices, pasta, utensils, pots, small appliances, etc. If you cannot devote a minimum of four hours at one interval, then break the procedure into small achievable segmentsóone category at a time.
Also take your small appliances off of your countertops. Youíll gain more working space and your countertops will look neat! Work hard to get your appliances in your cabinets. Be optimistic!
Look to see what you can discard or give away. If you have a difficult time parting with things, try to think of the less fortunate people who can use them. You donít need three gelatin molds or three citrus peelers. If you havenít used something in a year, get rid of it.
Make sure everything you use in the kitchen is in the kitchen. Bring in the old turkey roaster from the basement and the scissors from the office! Wipe shelves, drawers, and organizers with a damp cloth.
Transfer boxed or bagged food items into clear containers. Storage in clear containers will alert you when the item is running low. This will help eliminate the need for a last minute trip to the grocery store for cereal.
Choose square or rectangular containers over round or oval ones. You lose storage space on curves. Do you remember how to look for wasted space? Put two round containers side by side and two square containers side by side. Which pair has unused space between the containers? Now you are catching on!
"Moving Back " into Your Kitchen
The fourth step is to find the most appropriate place to store items as you "move back" into your kitchen. Keep two considerations in mind Ė convenience and space. You want the location of an item to be convenient, i.e., cooking utensils next to the stove, but if the space is not appropriate, reconsider the location. If the drawer next to the stove is a small drawer, donít divide the utensils between two drawers. It will take twice as long to locate a utensil. Instead put the utensils in one large drawer two steps away.
Place categorized items together on the same shelves or in the same drawers. Donít limit yourself to a particular cabinet shelf because of height. These days, most shelves are easy to adjust. Arrange food items in an orderly way within the categories -- alphabetical, height. Alphabetize your spices. Could you imagine trying to find a spice in the grocery store if the spices were not in alphabetical order?
Small appliances can be tricky to store. If you have spinning shelves in a base cabinet, consider storing your small appliances there. Another option is to store appliances on shelves that pull out. This eliminates the need to take out other appliances to retrieve the one stored in the back.
Baking ingredients, condiments, spices, and mixes store well in a corner wall cabinet with spinning shelves. A 3-tier shelf is ideal.
∑ Donít store perishable foods over the stovetop.
∑ Consider storing garbage cans under the sink and above the sink store dish washing detergent, gloves, scouring pads. You wonít need to bend as much.
∑ Place an attractive wooden spice rack on the wall. Saves space and time.
∑ Alphabetize your spices.
∑ Keep a box of baking soda in a cabinet near the stove for grease fires.
If you have a corner wall cabinet without spinning shelves, consider installing them. This will allow easy access to the back of corner units that are deep and difficult to reach. Spinning shelves can be installed to have 1, 2, 3, or 4 durable shelves with one pole in the center. Three shelves usually work best. The cost of a kit ranges from $65.00 to $100.00. Free standing Lazy Susanís can be used, but they usually are not as durable or weight tolerant.
If you need a convenient place to store sponges, scrub pads, rings, etc., install a tilt down sink tray. This allows you to use the unused space in front of your kitchen sink where there is a cabinetry panel. You can install a kit yourself.
If there is open space between the top of your cabinets and the ceiling, store items that will add a decorative touch. Wicker baskets or pretty bowls can hold infrequently used items such as Jello molds, Popsicle molds, and cookie cutters.
Compare vertical storage to horizontal storage. Try storing cookie sheets, jelly roll pans, cooling racks, cutting boards on their side instead of laying flat.
Now that everything has a place it will be easy to maintain organization. A simple rule to follow is "do it now." It takes a few seconds to put something away now. It will take more time and more effort to put something away at a later time. The more you are vigilant about putting things away the easier it will become. Studies show that it takes 21 days to form a habit so stick to it!
Every household will vary on what items to keep on hand. In time you will get to know what you need and donít need. Be careful not to over buy if a food item has a short expiration date.
Keep an ongoing grocery list. Place an attractive magnetic list pad on your refrigerator for everyone to add to. If you would like your grocery-shopping trip to be more organized, create a template for your grocery list. Make the template by folding an 8 Ĺ" x 11" sheet of paper to create blocks inside to correspond with the number of aisles in your grocery store. Next outline the blocks with pencil and label each block according to the aisles in the store. The first block might be "Produce" and the second might be "Frozen and Dairy". Once you have the template made, have it photocopied 25 times (6 months worth). Put a copy on the refrigerator. Now everyone can add the item under the appropriate aisle.
Keep items on hand for unexpected company. Frozen chicken breasts can be quickly thawed in the microwave to make a dish with a seasoning packet. Keep spaghetti and a jar of sauce in stock if you prefer to keep it simple. Keep bagels and a can of orange juice concentrate in the freezer for unexpected overnight guests. A brownie mix is a quick dessert for company or taking it along to a cook out. Keep a box of crackers and a block of cheese on hand to offer a snack to afternoon or evening guests. Crackers and cheese are also ideal for young guests. Use and replace these items periodically to keep them tasty.
The following lists will give you a starting point of what to purchase for your kitchen. Add to the lists as needed.
Spices & Seasoning
Cooking Oil (Vegetable, etc.)
Steak or Worcestershire Sauce
Vinegar Ė White
Vinegar - Red
Cereal (Hot & Cold)
Hot Chocolate Mix
Italian Bread Crumbs
Tomato Soup Canned
Dairy, Frozen, and Meats
Beef for Freezer
Butter or Margarine
Chicken for Freezer
* Use parchment paper for foods that stick easily to bake ware. Youíll save on water, detergent, and time!