The kitchen is often known as the heart of the home. It is the place where we gather to eat, cook, entertain, and spend time with friends and family. As a result, the kitchen can become one of the most difficult rooms to organize and keep clean. Try some of these tips and time savers to organize your kitchen and simplify your life.
Countertops: Clean your countertops and remove any item or appliance you do not use at least once a week. Keep cookbooks to a minimum and store away the ones you don’t use on a regular basis.
Pots/Pans/Containers: Store pots and pans in a cabinet beneath or next to the stove for easy access. Place baking sheets, cake pans, pizza pans, etc.in a cabinet beneath or next to the oven. You can use a rack to help arrange baking sheets by size and those used most often. Consider suspending pots and pans on a wall or from a ceiling mounted rack to maximize cabinet and storage space. Store microwave safe containers in a cabinet near the microwave. Arrange containers by size and stack one inside of the other if possible. Throw away plastic containers that are no longer used.
Pantry: Store each item so that it is easily handy and visible. Group canned goods together and stack so that their labels can easily be seen. Discard canned goods and jars that have passed their expiration dates or are more than a year old. Place pasta, cereal, rice, and other dried foods in labeled plastic storage containers. Store gravy packets, seasoning packets, etc.in a small, clear plastic tub for easy access. Line up boxes with their ‘spines’ facing front (like library books). If possible, store the most often used items at eye level. Choose a lower shelf for paper storage and place all napkins, towels and plates together. Store heavy items, such as boxes of soda and juice, on the floor or on a lower shelf. If you have extra wall space, consider hanging up storage hooks, a hand vacuum, a bulletin board or other helpful organizing items. Purchase handy space saving products such as stacking containers, caddies to store foil and wax paper, and sturdy baskets for onions, garlic and potatoes. If you have school-age children, create a snack shelf of parent-approved treats.
Refrigerator: Designate certain shelves in your refrigerator for specific items. For example, use your top shelf for beverages, your bottom shelf for leftovers, place produce in its drawer, and place condiments in the door of the refrigerator. Delegate one day of the week to tossing out old foods. Consider cleaning out your refrigerator on the same day you go to the grocery store. Since you will be adding new items in your refrigerator it is a great time to toss out old food to make space.
Spices: Organize spices on a spice rack and place the ones used most often in the front row. If you have a shallow drawer near your stove, consider laying all of your small spice jars in there. Place them label side up so it is easy to view them all at once. Most dried spices lose their flavor in six months. Discard any spices that are older than six months or you no longer use. To keep track of the freshness of spices, write the purchase date or throw away date on the bottle with a black marker.
Misc. Consider recycling products to help organize your kitchen. You can label shoe boxes and use them to store items such as cookie cutters, candles, appliance accessories, etc. You can also use checkbook boxes to store items such as matches, batteries, and smaller items. Square containers take up less space and fit more efficiently on shelves than round ones. Place hooks inside a cabinet door to hang cooking utensils on. This will help to clear drawer space. If you have school age kids or someone who carries their lunch to work, create an area in your kitchen for lunch-making. Stock it with lunch boxes and/or brown bags, plastic wraps/bags, thermos, quarters and small containers. Utilize bins and baskets to keep “like items” together. Store trash bags near or in the bottom of trash can for easy changing.
By using some or all of these tips, you can be well on your way to a more organized kitchen.
Lesley Dietschy is a freelance writer and the creator/editor of The Home Decor Exchange. The Home Decor Exchange is a popular home and garden website featuring resources, a shopping marketplace, articles, decorating pictures, free projects, and more. http://www.HomeDecorExchange.com