Ask Erin: Organizing Your Kitchen
article by Erin Sharplin Love
Much of a family’s time is spent in the kitchen. It’s often called the “heart of the home,” and if it’s organized properly, it is the perfect place for family and friends to gather and socialize. When your kitchen is streamlined and organized, it is easier to keep clean, prepare healthy meals; and find any item at a moment’s notice.
The kitchen is full of so many items, from gadgets and appliances to tools and foodstuffs, that it can become quite overwhelming to begin the process of getting organized. I promise, though, the kitchen is actually one of the easiest areas to get organized.
Begin by assessing the layout of your kitchen. The best way to organize a kitchen is according to the natural flow of your space. I recommend that you strive for a “one-motion” system of organizing. In other words, when you are preparing a meal, baking a cake, or simply brewing a cup of coffee you don’t want to run all over the kitchen fetching the items you need. You should, instead, be able to make one- motion moves and retrieve whatever item you need.
Next, notice if your counter space is cluttered, and, if so, determine whether or not a new home could be found for any of the items. For instance, are there piles of school papers and junk mail that is waiting to be sorted? Maybe you have another area, such as a home office that would be better suited for them. If not, a small area in the kitchen can be established, but I recommend maintaining it daily. Is there a myriad of appliances that you rarely use? Could those items be given to charity? If not, try to find room to store them in a cabinet or in the pantry. Keep that in mind when determining where each item will go in your soon-to-be organized kitchen.
Cabinets -Now that you’ve determined where each item should go in order to maximize the flow of your space, it’s time to begin placing the items. During this step, be sure to set aside any item that is broken, you no longer want or you no longer need. In the end, toss the broken items, unless they can be repaired, and make a plan to donate those you no longer want or need. Below are more tips for organizing your cabinets:
• Think about your vertical space! Purchase shelf extenders to maximize the vertical space in your cabinets.
• Place stemware in order of one stem up, one stem down. Most of the time this practice will allow you to get one more glass onto the shelf.
• Get rid of any plastic containers that don’t have matching lids and, if space permits, stack matching sets in a cabinet or drawer.
• Store your spices in a cabinet or drawer near, not directly over, the stove. The heat can melt certain spices and make others expire quicker.
Drawers – Utensil organizers will come in quite handy for all of your shallow drawers, but consider purchasing baskets and bins for your deeper drawers. You’ll be surprised how a simple wicker basket can change the look and feel of a drawer!
• Every kitchen should have a junk drawer! Just make sure you purchase an appropriate organizer, so the items won’t be shifting all over the drawer.
• Deep drawers are great for a lot of items that you would typically place in a cabinet. For instance, plastic containers, spices, bread and chips, and pots and pans. Think outside of the box a bit and get creative!
• Don’t neglect the vertical space in deep drawers. Stack baskets and bins as needed! They are easy to move around to get to what’s underneath.
Refrigerator – Begin this step by getting rid of any expired products. Start at the top shelf and work your way down.
• The meat and deli tray is the coldest part of your refrigerator, so it is great for meats and hard cheeses.
• Group like items together on the door. • Utilize a lazy susan in your fridge! They are great for storing small jars, containers, and packages and help maximize your vertical space!
• Remember that your shelves are adjustable!
• Decant those bulky juice and milk cartons!
Pantry – The pantry is probably one of the most utilized areas of your home, other than your closet, of course! Think about it…you eat at least three times a day, so that means you most likely use the pantry around three times a day. That is a lot compared to other parts of your home. So why is it one of the most often overlooked areas? Just think how much easier it would be to prepare a meal or to prepare your grocery list, if you knew exactly where everything was.
• Remove individually wrapped items from bulky packages. I like to place the individually wrapped items in baskets that are easily accessible.
• Invest in air-tight containers.They are perfect for sugar, flour, tea, coffee, etc. Not only will these items stay fresh longer, but bugs will be kept out.
• Again, put all like items together and facing the same direction.
• Labels are so much fun in a pantry! Use them to label everything from each shelf to each container. There are a myriad of labels to choose from on the Internet.
• Don’t forget about your vertical space. Shelf extenders work great in this area, too, especially for canned items.
• If your pantry has doors, you can utilize them with hanging pocket organizers that are perfect for small individually-wrapped packages, such as Kool-Aid, popcorn, taco seasoning and much more.
Finally, I recommend that you set aside an entire day to organize your kitchen. You don’t want to begin this project and have to stop in the middle. But when it is complete, you will be rewarded with more time to spend with your family and friends. Good luck!