kitchen organizing tips
Your kitchen should be organized to make cooking, baking, storing food, feeding pets, recycling - virtually everything you do here daily - as quick and straightforward as possible.
Seems obvious, doesn't it?
To make the most out of your kitchen, first consider all the activities your family does there.
Then reorganize the space to accommodate those activities.
If your kitchen isn't as efficient as you'd like, these kitchen organizing tips can help get things back on track.
Kitchen Organizing Tips for Cooking
Cooking can be subdivided into small sub-activities, and these kitchen organizing tips can help.
Such a plan not only saves steps, but it also enables two people to work at once without falling all over each other. Consider organizing your cooking area into these groups:
- Cooking (as in the actual heating of food): Around the range, put all things needed for cooking. Pots and pans go in the cabinets directly underneath. Hang hot pads nearby. 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. I put our collection of cake and ice cream sprinkles in a big plastic box. When it's time to frosh cupcakes for the class, we all 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.
- Snacking: Make kids more independent and let them fix their breakfasts, lunches, and snacks by creating a snacking center in an accessible low cabinet (away - far away - from the stove). Station snack foods for the kids here: peanut butter, bread, jelly, raisins, cereal bars, chips, and zip-close bags. This is also a good spot for storing lunch boxes. Grouping these items makes it easy for kids to pack their lunches.
How to Organize Food Storage
No pantry? No problem. If you don't have a built-in pantry, just assign some cabinets to the task. Then organize your foodstuff so you know what you have and where you have it.
- Group foods by type. Don't just stuff items into the first open place 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. That 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. Bulky items such as cans go near the bottom.
- Use lazy Susans. 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!
- Place drawer liners in drawers to keep contents from slipping and sliding around. You'll be rewarded when you carefully divide everything up, using varying sizes of containers to house your stuff, and the stuff actually stays that way. This also makes it easy for you to wipe off the dust that naturally settles there.
- 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.
Stash the less-than-fragrant dog or cat food dish out of the way of (foot) traffic lanes. Try to store 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.
Create a Kitchen 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.
Homes with kids should have cleaners and other dangerous brews stored up high and out of reach in the garage.
How to Create a Kitchen Study Hall
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 little 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 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.