By: Tara Lorenz
Most of us spend our time at home in the kitchen, even if you aren’t necessarily a master chef. So it makes sense that this needs to be the most organized space. But it’s often the most cluttered. A kitchen is a place for cooking, eating, gathering and yes dumping all of our stuff. With a few tweaks to your space (and your habits) you can have a kitchen that works for you instead of against you
Pull everything out and separate by like items. Toss anything broken, rusty, split or cracked. Go through each category and pare down to what you actually need and use. Do you really need 8 spatulas? Maybe 2-3 will do depending on how often you cook. Do you have items that you only use a couple of times a year? Is there another tool that will do the same exact thing? Do you have a set of metal or silicone utensils but you only use wood? Don’t let things you don’t use take up your valuable space.
What about food storage containers you ask? This is always an out of control area but you CAN get it under control. Start by matching the lids to the containers and discard the leftovers. Just do it. You won’t regret it! Some people like to store the containers put together. This works well if they nest together or you have a sizable area where you are storing them. Ask yourself if you or whoever else puts dishes away will you take the time to actually nest them together or do you need a super fast solution? Try storing the lids and containers separately. There are so many DIY options out there like using baskets or bins to house the lids and nesting the bottoms together. You can use small tension rods in a drawer to separate the lids from bottoms in a way that fits your needs exactly. Or you can use options like these from Amazon or The Container Store .
Think of how you use your space. When you are cooking do you have what you need close by or are you always running to another location? Stand at your stove and think of what you usually need- potholders, spices, spatulas? What about where you prep? Make a list of items you need at each station. If your spices are across the room in a cabinet make room for them in a closer cabinet or drawer. If you are short on drawer space another option would be utilizing wall space. You can add a hanging rail for spices, potholders, knives, or even a dish rack. Checkout the IKEA Hultarp series for inspiration. Place your most used cooking utensils in a decorative container next to your stove so they are always at your fingertips.
Do the same for cleanup. For example, when you empty your dishwasher use the cabinets closest to you to unload the dishes. Store your coffee mugs near your coffee and tea station. Prepping lunches? Keep those containers and foils at your fingertips.
Keep in mind how often you use something when you are storing it. If you only use that turkey roaster once a year, don’t store it front and center. Put it in the back of a cabinet or up high. Utilize that prime real estate for items you use all the time.
I know it’s easier said than done and it won’t always be perfect, but if you can pinpoint those key items and relocate them it will add valuable time to your day.
There are so many different ways to organize your fridge and pantry but the easiest thing you can do that costs nothing is to make it a habit to purge old, expired food, spices and condiments on a regular basis. I do this as I am making my weekly grocery list. This also helps to know what I have and I can base my weekly meals on items I need to use up. If you have unopened, unexpired items that no one in your home will eat check if your local food bank or shelter can use it.
Categorize your items together in bins you can easily pull out. You can see what you have at a glance and items don’t get pushed to the back of your fridge to be lost forever. Try The Container Store’s fridge organization kit if you don’t know where to start. They put their most popular items together for you!
You can use the same concept in your pantry. Use bins and baskets to group like items together like pastas or sauces. Lazy Susans are great for corners and can corral spices, canned goods, even kids snacks. Check out our favorite ways to use a Lazy Susan here!
But what about all those things you don’t cook with? Kitchens almost always become the epicenter of all the stuff that comes into your house. Mail, schoolwork, bags and shoes are just a few of the non food items a kitchen contains. A command center, or a spot to hold all of this stuff, will help contain the chaos. It could be a whole wall with bins, file folders hooks, and a calendar or a simple countertop system. Go through all the paper immediately and recycle the junk before it even makes it to it’s home. Don’t overcomplicate the system. Make it user friendly for everyone involved in maintaining the system and label each section- mail, to pay, etc.
If you tend to drop your stuff all over when you enter your home, try designating zones near the door for keys, coats and bags. Got a pile of shoes? A basket to toss them in is easiest but if your household will take the extra step and put them on a shelf, an entry bench with shoe storage will take it up a notch.
MEASURE EVERY SPACE AND LABEL!!
We can’t stress this enough. Before you buy anything measure length, depth, and height. Once you’ve found those perfect containers, LABEL!! This is not just to look pretty. It helps everyone know where things are and where to put them back!
As with any organizing system, sometimes its all about trial and error. Start by making small changes that don’t cost any money and work your way up. Pay attention to how your household deals with their items. Work with them. If they just aren’t going to take the time to open doors and hang up coats give them that hook. Don’t be afraid to try things and have them not work for you. Organizing is not a one size fits all system. Nor is it about having perfection. So get off Instagram and make your kitchen work for YOU!
Are there kitchen tips you use that have made your life so much easier? Let us know!