There’s nothing worse for your cooking habit than a messy, disorganized kitchen. Keeping your kitchen organized doesn’t have to be a lot of work, if you have the right tools.
It’s all about preparation, habits, and organization. Though it may take a little investment of time and money to set up an organized kitchen, the payoff will be a happier chef and easier cooking experiences. Nothing is worse than not being able to find what you need when the burners are already on!
Here are a dozen ways to get your kitchen organized for efficiency:
1. Label, Label, Label
What is this? When did we open it? Is it still good? Anyone who’s worked in a professional kitchen knows that nothing goes in the refrigerator or freezer without a label stating what and when: what is it, and when was it opened? Labeling is a habit that’s much easier if you have a pen and labels at the ready. Tie a pen to a magnet on the fridge if you have to. Dissolvable food labels now make it faster than ever (no scrubbing off the sticky stuff!) With labels, you can batch cook and freeze items without having to wonder if it’s lasagna or curry next month, when you want a quick dinner.
2. There’s No Difference Between Something You Don’t
Have and Something You Can’t Find Create areas in your food storage for certain kinds of items, and, especially if you have children, you may want to label these as well. Labelmakers now have more attractive options to match your decor. Divide your refrigerator by meat, dairy, and vegetables, and your pantry by baking supplies, cans, grains, and snacks.
3. Opt for Clear, Matching Containers
Especially if you have a small kitchen, having matching jars or containers really helps create a more orderly space. If you put all your sauce packets in a clear box, you’ll be able to see which ones have slid to the bottom, so you can actually use them, unlike the ones most likely in the bottom of your junk drawer. One added benefit of having all matching containers is that it makes finding the right lid so much easier.
4. Think Vertically
You might not have a lot of counter space, but chances are you have more vertical space than you think. Hang things on the back of cabinets with sticky hooks, use vertical separators in cabinets to store cutting boards and cookie sheets on their side, and add pop-up shelves to get more spices and mugs to fit. You could also use your refrigerator to store spices vertically. Just put them in little tins and add a magnet to the bottom.
5. Rank What You Have
What do you use all the time, sometimes, or almost never except for holidays? Make sure you have the things you need most closest to where you need them (such as the spatula right next to the stove.) Anything you use once a year could even go in another room, like the garage.
6. Get Rid of Redundant Items
If someone tricked you into getting a banana slicer, it doesn’t mean you have to keep it forever. Just admit you wasted the $4 on a gadget that could easily be replaced by five slices of a knife, and donate it. Do you have a “good” can opener and a “bad” can opener? Donate the bad one. Do you have a bottle opener and another one you got as a souvenir? Choose one.
7. Stock up on supplies that keep you organized
Your kitchen will look totally different (and way more organized) if you have rubber bands to keep cords wrapped, clips to keep bags closed, and markers for labeling.
8. Make over your drawers
Use cork or non-stick padding to help tools stay in place. Convertible dividers can also create right-sized nooks. You might even consider using them diagonally for those extra-long utensils.
9. Add Hardware
It’s amazing what a few hooks can do. Put some up for rags. Got a fake drawer in front of the sink? Add a towel bar for your dish cloth. Get that knife block off your countertop with a magnetic knife rack on the wall.
10. Get creative with a tension rod
You know the kind you use for the shower curtain? You can get a smaller version and put it across a drawer close to the edge to create a place for your lids. Or you can add one under your sink as a spot for your cleaning supplies. Just hook the trigger over the rod. You could also add S-hooks to any rod to create hooks for hanging anything you find gets in your way.
11. Divide You Kitchen Into Areas by Use
You might use the island for meal prep, the area by the sink as a coffee stand, or the cabinets with glass for the nice dishes. Make sure you communicate these zones to everyone who’ll be using your kitchen to make sure it stays organized. The main zones you’ll want are for food prep, cooking, provisions, washing up, and storage.
12. Buy Some Lazy Susans
You can add an after-market lazy susan anywhere. Nothing can get stuck in the back of the cabinet if the back spins to the front. Don’t just use them for your spices. Put your cleaning supplies on one under the sink. Put your sauces on one in the fridge. You can even turn one upside-down, add hooks, and hang cooking utensils from it.
Try just a few of these tricks and your kitchen will turn from a disaster to a pleasure to cook in.