A well-organized kitchen will help you cook as efficiently as possible and waste less food. Here are our top tips for organizing the heart of your home.
Decide what you can do without.
Decluttering is the first step to organizing any room, and kitchens tend to have more unique kinds of clutter than other rooms: ice cream makers and other wedding-registry items, gadgets you were suckered into buying from TV infomercials, useless knife sets, and so on. Use the box method to weed out the kitchen tools you never use, reevaluate whether you really need more than the essential kitchen items in your kitchen, get rid of the bulk spices that have already expired, reboot a junk food-filled pantry, and use up food in your freezer at least twice a year.
You might have a collection of plastic cups you’ve picked up from restaurants, a dwindling pile of paper plates, an old coffee maker that no longer works, and so on. Now is the time to pare down your kitchen items to the items that you actually use. Getting rid of clutter will make it much easier to stay organized.
Clean the cabinets from top to bottom.
Gather some good cleaning supplies and prepare to scrub every nook and cranny as well as wiping down the cabinet doors. Clean out all the crumbs, dried splashes and dust to get your cabinets ready for your dishes and other kitchen supplies. Cleaning your cabinets thoroughly will prevent bugs from taking up residence and keep your kitchen items fresh.
Kitchen Organization Checklist
Food Preparation Zone
Organize cutting boards (smallest to largest) Wipe down/disinfect counter tops
Relocate food prep appliances to cabinets near the stove
Put oil, vinegar, knives, and cutting boards near the stove.
Clean the stove
Separate cabinet contents according to use (baking, grilling, etc.)
Group pots and pans by type and size and place inside one another
Move frequently use cookware near the stove Move rarely-used items up high
Wipe down drying rack Wash tea towels/dish cloths
Place a recycle bin under the sink for bottles and cans
Put all cleaning products and supplies in a plastic caddy under the sink
Food Serving Zone
Clean and wipe down kitchen appliances
Position heavy items below the counters and lighter items above
Take inventory of dinnerware
Donate items you no longer use
Organize drawers with utensil trays/drawer dividers
Food Storage Zone
Throw out expired/spoiled food from the fridge Clean and wipe down plastic storage containers
Recycle storage containers if the top or bottom are missing
Use small lidded containers for the junk drawer.
My junk drawer is full of cheap lidded containers that hold, among other things, each in its own container, rubber bands, miscellaneous hardware, twist ties, string, and even one for clothespins, because they occasionally come in handy. I can find anything within a few seconds because the lids are transparent enough to see the contents right away.
The inside of your cabinet door is wasted space. Instead of leaving that surface blank, organize your measuring cups and spoons there, store pot covers on the back with inexpensive hooks, build a knife block into the back of the door, hold cutting boards in a magazine rack on the door, and pretty much mount anything to the back for easy access. You can also just paint the inside of the doors with blackboard or whiteboard paint to keep a running grocery list and weekly meals
USE DISH DRYING RACKS TO STORE YOUR PLASTIC STORAGE CONTAINERS
Plastic storage containers—like Tupperware and leftover dishes–have a nasty habit of getting all over the place! Most of us store them in a cupboard or on a shelf, but they’re hard to see, the one you need is usually behind something, and you have to move them around to grab one— the next thing you know, they’re a disorganized mess. A great solution for this is to organize them in a dish drying rack. You can easily pull out the entire rack and grab exactly what you need. Plastic storage containers have never been so easily managed!
USE WIRE CLOSET RACKS TO STORE CANNED FOOD
Canned food is made to last a long time. But many of us are keeping cans around for years for the wrong reason—because they’ve been pushed to the back of the pantry and forgotten about. Placing cans on pantry shelves is a poor use of space because they tend to get hidden by taller items, but there is a better way.
Just place a wire rack in the pantry and you have instant storage for cans of all sizes. Now you can see the cans you’ve placed on the rack—and actually, use that can of black olives hiding in the corner.
Grouping Objects that are similar together.
Objects that have a similar purpose, group together and designate a cabinet for those objects. For example, keeping bakeware in a central location, this can include measuring cups, spoons, cookie sheets, casserole dishes, etc. Or another example keeping aluminum foil, baggies, plastic wrap, etc., in one specific drawer or cabinet.
As Seen From The Letters Above…How you Organize and arranging the items matters, “Hello”
Create more space on your cabinet shelves by stacking oddly shaped glasses alternating between upward and downward facing.
Stack heavier items on the bottom:
Make removing and replacing dishes easier by positioning your heaviest items on the bottom shelf.
Keep cookbooks in one place:
Designate one space in your kitchen for all of your cookbooks.
Find everything you’re looking for in a pinch by labeling clear containers and stacking them at eye level.
Hang measuring spoons:
Make use out of the inside of your cabinet door by applying adhesive hooks that can hold your measuring spoons.
Hang lids on hooks:
Easily manage the lids of your pots and pans by hanging them on the back of your cabinet door with adhesive hooks.
Repurpose a wine rack:
Instead of losing track of items in the back, use a wine rack to hold your water bottles and thermoses.
Risers will help provide more space in your bottom cabinets, which is especially helpful if you have larger pots and pans.
Hang cookie cutters:
It’s easy to lose track of your cookie cutters, so hang them all in one place by repurposing a paper towel holder.
Use an organization rack:
File away the plates that you use less often in your lower cabinets using adjustable dividers that you can customize to fit each item.
Repurpose a magazine holder:
An old magazine holder is a perfect size to adhere to the inside of your cabinet door, which can hold saran wrap, aluminum foil, plastic bags and more.
Steps to Getting Organized: Making a Work Schedule That Works!
1) Make a list of all the things you are currently doing, have committed to do, would like to do, and are expected to do. Don’t forget the non-work-related things that are important to you, like going to the gym, catching up with friends, or whatever hobbies you have.
2) Assign an amount of time to each task. Include the total time it would take for you to do that task. If it’s attending a meeting, include the time it takes to get there. If it’s writing, include time it usually takes to get settled into my writing mode. It’s important to be generous (but still realistic) with assigning the amount of time because, as we all know, things take longer than we expect. For larger projects (e.g., writing a paper), break the tasks down to the “pieces” it takes to get to that final end goal (e.g., paper sections, drafts, time for feedback, final proofread).
3) Prioritize this list by putting a star next to the ones that are absolutely non-negotiable. Everything else can stay on the list for now, but at this step, it’s important to get some perspective on what you HAVE to do versus what you’d LIKE to do.
4) Create an empty weekly schedule with the 7 days of the week and the hours of the day that you are awake (or a 9 to 5 schedule if you are determined to keep your work to that time).
5) Plug in the required events with a set date/time, like classes, regularly scheduled lab meetings, etc. Remember, you want the REQUIRED events right now.
6) One by one, plug in the required tasks you put a star next to in Step #3, allotting the amount of time you previously assigned. Don’t forget to allot time for your meals!
7) By this point, you’ll notice that you have a lot less time compared to what you have left on the list. Now you can be selective from your list of remaining tasks. You may realize there is not enough time for certain tasks, so you’ll have to give them up (for now). Or, you may realize you won’t be able to go to the gym as many times a week or attend as many professional development activities, and may need to back out of something. Prioritize your own time!
8) Revisit and adjust this schedule to reflect the actual time it takes to do each task. It’s important to stay as disciplined as you can to the schedule to see if it’s realistic for you. Good luck! — prepared by Heather King, Mary Lai, and Andrea Finlay (Penn State University) for the SRA 2010 Biennial Meeting.