EVERYTHING happens here. From snacks and lighthearted conversation to dinner parties and budget discussions, this room is obviously more than countertops and food prep. The only way to keep your kitchen functioning like the well-oiled machine it needs to be is to get it organized.
Get In The Zone
Divide your kitchen into several specific areas based on function. Your appliances will give you some clues on where each zone should be. Dishes, glasses, and flatware all belong near the dishwasher. This reduces the amount of time it takes to return dishes after they’ve been cleaned. Putting away the dishes is already hard enough --- so give yourself a break and keep them all close together. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE using these cabinet shelves from Container Store to create MORE space.
The oven and stove top are the center (or end caps if they’re separated) of your food prep zone. Keep measuring cups, mixing bowls, can openers, vegetable peelers, oven mitts, and cooking utensils nearby. Drawer dividers are a life saver and will ensure your prep pieces remain exactly where they should be. Pots and pans also belong here.
Anchor the food storage zone near your refrigerator. You may have a separate pantry that will house food items too. These spaces are ideal for Tupperware, Ziploc bags, and lunch boxes.
Finally, create a zone for serving pieces like platters, specialty dishes, ice cream scoops, and salad tongs.
Edit the Extras
Your kitchen functions best when it’s got some breathing room. Keep your cabinets, shelves, and drawers no more than 80% full. This allows you room to lift items out or set them back in place without knocking other things out of place or creating a Tupperware avalanche. To edit the extras, you’ll need to see what you have. Within each zone, pull all the similar items out. Most folks have an excessive number of mixing bowls, spatulas, and bakeware. What’s excessive? Keeping more than what you normally use between dishwasher runs (roughly 2 days' time).
Check Your Frequency
If you’ve got items that you need to keep because you normally use them, but don’t use them on a weekly or even monthly basis, then they don’t need to take up the prime storage areas of your kitchen. Prime storage encompasses the drawers, cabinets, and shelves within easy reach. If you’re only using that turkey baster at Thanksgiving, keep it with your turkey roasting pan in the deep, dark, hard to reach corner cabinet or in the garage if your kitchen is short on space. Your dishes, spices, and pantry items should follow suit. Keep the most frequently used items nearby, and lesser used items up higher or lower.
Return to Start
Now that your kitchen contains the items you need in the appropriate areas, make it a habit to always reset the area after meals or at least at the end of each day. It’s nearly impossible to cook what you want and use the correct materials when you need them if you’re always having to pause to wash what you didn’t wash before. Wash, dry, put away dishes and prepware when you finish. Don’t forget to catch the crumbs with a quick wipe down of all counters, cooktops, and the kitchen sink.