kitchen organizing tips

To get the most out of your kitchen, first consider all the activities your family does there.

Then reorganize the space to accommodate those activities. 

Well, duh. That seems obvious, doesn't it?

But often we just put things away in the closest place that we can find at the time, without really giving it a second thought. So think about it.

These kitchen organizing tips can help.

Kitchen Organizing Tips for Activity Centers

What are your garnishing tools doing in the top drawer on the kitchen island? How often do you use those things?

Shouldn't they be at the back of the bottom drawer with the cake decorating tips? And where is the paring knife you use every day? Oh! That's in the back of the bottom drawer!

I've organized my kitchen into five activity centers:

  • a cooking center
  • a food storage center
  • a pet feeding center
  • a recycling center
  • a study center 

Let's take a peek at each of these kitchen organizing tips in turn. 

Create Cooking Centers

Cooking can be subdivided into smaller sub-activities. These kitchen organizing tips can help get things rolling. Such a plan not only saves steps, but it also enables two people to work at once without falling all over each other.

Organize your cooking area into these groupings:

  • Cooking (as in the actual heating of food): Around the range, put all the things needed for cooking. Pots and pans go in the cabinets directly underneath. Hang hot pads by the range. Put a jar of utensils on top of the range, but include only those utensils you use at least once a week.
  • Slicing and dicing:  Near the sink, create a workstation with all the paraphernalia you need to wash, peel, and chop foods, including knives, butcher block, peelers, scrub brushes, bowls, etc.
  • Food preparing:Here's where you would group scrapers, colanders, mixing bowls and spoons, whisks, measuring cups and spoons, blenders, and your food processor. Try to contain them all in one cabinet.
  • Baking: Arrange all the things you'll need for baking in one cabinet. Then organize the items inside plastic storage containers for grouping like items.

I put our collection of cake and ice cream sprinkles in a big plastic box. When it's time to frost cupcakes for class, we know right where to go. Nearby, in a second see-through container, we'll find baking soda, baking powder, and sugars, everything we need to make cupcakes.

Kitchen Organizing Tips for Food Storage

No pantry? No problem. These kitchen organizing tips work even if you don't have a built-in pantry. Simply assign some cabinets to the task.

Ideally, choose a few large cabinets close to your refrigerator and stove. Most kitchens have a lot of cabinets and drawers, but they are usually a chaotic mess. 

You buy marinara sauce, just to find three jars hidden behind the olive oil. The solution? Organize your storage, so you know what you have and where you have it. 

Group foods by type. Don't just stuff items into the first open space you see. Instead, stock foodstuff in the same place each time, grouping like items.

In my pantry, I put crackers, chips, and other snack foods on the highest shelf not easily in reach; cereal and other breakfast items on the second shelf. 

Pasta, pasta sauces, and boxed pasta and rice mixes on the third shelf; canned vegetables and fruit on the fourth; and soups and canned beans on the bottom. 

This way, I can tell at a glance what I have and what I need to buy. If there's no oatmeal on the second shelf, I know there is no oatmeal in the house. 

Put rarely used items on the tallest shelves and in the back of cabinets. Put your family's favorite foods in the middle, at eye level. Heavy  items such as cans go near the bottom. 

Use lazy Susans, pullout shelving, and wire racks to maximize storage space. Repackage shelf hogs. 

Get rid of half-empty boxes of cereal and place the cereal in smaller, airtight containers. Then label them with the contents and the expiration date. Unlike wine, food doesn't get better with age!

Finally, store bulk purchases - you know, the 17 boxes of pasta, 40 cans of chicken noodle soup, and 100 rolls of paper towels you got for a steal at the club store - in the garage or downstairs in the basement. Call this your overflow pantry, and replenish your kitchen supply as needed. 

Create a Pet Feeding Center

Hey! You're not the only one chowing down in here. And yes, you can feed the pooch in the kitchen without letting the whole place go to the dogs. These kitchen organizing tips can help.

Stash the less-than-fragrant dog or cat food dish out of the way of (foot) traffic lanes. Try to locate the food nearby.

I keep our trio of bowls - two food dishes and one big water dish - underneath an inconspicuous corner table. The food is tucked into a nearby cabinet out of sight, but within reach when our two cats need chow.

Kitchen Organizing Tips for a Recycling Center

Under the sink, keep plastic tubs for recycling aluminum, glass, and plastic. Let the kids do this. They'll love it.

They'll even like taking it out to the garage. Really. And while you're at it, start a composting pail (with a tight-fitting lid) with non-meat table scraps.

You can add this to your composting pile or worm bin. (Another great kid project.) Maybe keep your dishwashing detergent here, too.

While we're thinking about the sink, let's talk about what not to keep under there.

Do not store poisons, such as cleaners and bleach, under the sink. It's a bad idea with little ones in your home. This is not one of those times that you want to have logical stuff (like drain cleaner) handy. 

Households with kids should have cleaners and other dangerous brews stored up high and out of reach in the garage.

Kitchen Organizing Tips for a Study Hall

Smiling boy studying in kitchen.

Many a mom, including me, likes her kids to do their homework in the kitchen so she can answer kiddie questions while they work.

If your kids study here, too, keep all supplies close at hand, so the kids aren't continually jumping up and down (and prolonging the whole homework process) in search of erasers, compasses, protractors, dictionaries, etc.

Empty a cabinet and create a small office supply center with notebook paper, construction paper, folders, pencils, pens, rulers, calculators, markers, crayons, and whatever else your kids use.

Leave room to store ongoing projects, such as term papers and note cards.

Although younger kids don't do homework, they do do artwork. For younger kids, I've found that since the kitchen is the room best suited to cleaning up messes, it's the perfect place for an art center.

I use a cleaning-supply caddy as a portable home for coloring books, paper, markers, and crayons, and a three-ring binder with zip-close clear plastic cases for stickers and pipe cleaners.

You could also use a storage tower with see-through drawers for art supplies.

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