Weekly Quick Tips

Organize Your Kitchen

The kitchen is the heart of the home. Organization in this key area will make or break your household routine. It’s one of the most used rooms in the house:families eat, entertain, relax and do homework in the kitchen. We go there when we are tired, hungry and stressed so there is a big payoff in getting it organized. A well-organized kitchen is welcoming, and also saves time, energy and money. Here are top tips to help create a nurturing yet functional kitchen.

Set up an efficient workspace:

Set up your kitchen work area to avoid unnecessary steps and extra trips. In an efficient work area, the sink, stove and fridge should create a triangle. Ideally, they should be no more than a step or pivot apart. It can be hazardous if it requires too many steps to carry a pot of boiling water from stove to sink.

Treat your counter as prime real estate: keep only the appliances you use every day here. Not enough counter space? Remove seldom or never used items from your cabinets.

Find storage space for kitchen supplies:

Store items for easy access so you can see what you have  and get what you need quickly and easily. Rearrange all items in cabinets to correspond with frequency of use. Often-used items should be easy to reach. Items used less often can be stored higher. We refer to this the hot, warm and cold zones. Post a list of contents on the inside of cabinet doors to remind you what’s in those hard-to-reach storage areas.

Stow items near their point of use: toaster near the plate cupboard; coffee maker near the sink; coffee, measuring spoon and filters close to the coffee maker.

Nest frying pans to save space, placing the largest on the bottom.

Keep pot lids in plastic baskets or on the inside of cabinet doors.

Store cutlery, plates and glasses that you use every day near the kitchen table to save steps when it’s time to dine.

Stand baking sheets and pans on their sides on wire divider racks, largest to smallest.

Stack plates and bowls. Put tallest items at the back of the shelf and shortest in the front.

Hang cutting boards for easy access and save space.

Use permanent marker to code plastic containers to match their lids. Try letters of the alphabet.

Install a rack for wine glasses on the underside of a shelf.

Store kids’ cups and plates at kid-friendly height to encourage independence.

Avoid extra trips by putting the tablecloths in a dining room hutch rather than a second-floor linen closet.

Organize your food items:

Group similar food categories so it’s easy to see what you have available and prevent overstocking. Materials used together should be stored together to save time (i.e. pasta with sauce).

Avoid storing canned foods next to or over the stove to prevent deterioration in quality. Opt for a cool, dry cupboard.

Keep spices on a tiered platform or turntable so the ones at the back don’t disappear from view. Buy only the quantity you can use within six months to a year. Spices lose their flavour over time. Store alphabetically if possible. The reason that they are stocked this way in the grocery store is because it makes them easier to find, and it works!

Pour sugar, flour, cereal and pasta into clear plastic or glass containers to keep bugs away. Round containers waste storage space. Choose square, stackable containers.

Products to help maximize kitchen space:

Drawer Dividers: Choose ones with slots that aren’t molded to specific shapes, such as spoons. You won’t limit your options or waste space.

Stairs: plastic expanding stairs ar like bleachers for your canned goods.

Three-tiered wire shelf racks: create two or three shelves from one.

Turntables: use for spices and cans, or condiments in the fridge.

Double-tiered lazy Susan: gives you access to a seldom-used corner space.

Dish organizers: Store plates upright to save space

Narrow shallow plastic container: keeps pouches of soups, mixes and pasta organized and stored upright for easy access.

Paper and plastic wrap organizer: save space by installing on interior of cabinet doors.

Before you apply any of the steps above, you’ve got to declutter, and purge. Most people try to arrange what they’ve already got, and then wonder why they get frustrated! It’s so much easier to clear out and get rid of what isn’t really adding value to your life, and then organize what’s left. Just imagine if you let go of even 50% of what’s in your kitchen right now: half of those mis-matched coffee mugs, half of the Tupperware that no longer has matching lids, half of the spices that you haven’t used for sixteen years anyway. (spices DO lose their spicy-ness). And then go take a good look at all those appliances that you just HAD to have…you know, so you could create cozy family Sunday brunches at home with your special juicer and waffle iron and ‘Sunday best’ dishes. If you DO use those things, by all means keep and cherish them…and use them often. If not, let them go. They’re simply making you feel guilty for not being Martha Stewart in the kitchen, not to mention taking up a huge amount of cupboard space counter space. After you have cleared the excess from your kitchen, it’s time to set it up to be functional, efficient, and wonderful to cook in.

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