Simple Organizing Tips for Your Kitchen

Green Gifts Ideas for the HolidaysOften referred to as the hub of the home, the kitchen is the most utilized room in the house. It’s where families gather, friends entertain, children do their homework, bills are paid and of course, meals are prepared and eaten. With constant daily use and heavy foot traffic, however, kitchens can quickly go from a gathering place to a place that gathers clutter. Whether it’s your junk drawer jammed with odds-and-ends, your pantry stocked with a messy maze of canned goods, or there’s a shamble of cleaning supplies under the sink, your kitchen can benefit from a few simple organizational tips. The following tips and ideas are meant to help clear the clutter, maximize space and help your kitchen run more smoothly.

Take Inventory. Take inventory of the contents in your cabinets and cupboards by pulling out all the items. Evaluate each item and discard anything that is broken beyond repair or missing parts. A pot with a missing handle, for example, can’t be used and is only taking up valuable space. Donate items that are in good condition, yet you haven’t used in years. Do you have a panini maker you’ve never touched? Give it a new home and give yourself some much needed space. Take an inventory of your kitchen cabinets and cupboards once a year to keep the clutter in check.

Location, Location, Location. Designate different zones throughout your kitchen. Designate a baking zone, for example, by keeping cake pans, cookie sheets, mixing bowls and hand mixers all in one cabinet. To help speed up your prep and cooking time, create a cooking zone near the stove. Store your most frequently used pots, pans and other food prep items close to the stove so they’ll be handy when you’re cooking. Place frequently used cooking utensils and tools such as kitchen shears, tongs, whisks and wooden spoons within arm’s reach by placing them in a decorative pitcher, container, or utensil holder.

Frequency of Use. Arrange your kitchenware by frequency of use. Keep everyday dishes and glassware on the bottom shelf of a cabinet for easy accessibility. Keep special occasion pieces such as fine china on a higher shelf. Free up essential space by stowing away things you use less often such as your gravy boat and turkey platter in a less accessible cabinet or closet.

Counter Clutter. Counter space is the most valuable real estate in your kitchen. Countertops should only hold the items you use on a daily basis. Stow small appliances that you don’t use often such as the blender or waffle maker in an appliance garage or tucked away in the pantry. Kitchen counters often become the dumping ground for all your non-kitchen items. Keep keys, magazines and junk mail in a designated area — off the countertops.

Organize Your Pots and Pans And Corral Your Wayward Lids. Having to search for the right-size pot, or worse, its matching lid can be a daunting task. Install a sliding shelf organizer in your cabinet to make accessing your pots and pans a cinch. Sliding drawers make it easy to slide and retrieve items that seem to get forgotten and lost in the back of the cabinet. Group pots and pans by type and create neat stacks by placing them one inside the other from largest to smallest. Place paper towels or liners between pans to help protect the surface from scratches. Keep your lids neat and visible by purchasing a lid rack. These racks can be mounted on the inside of cabinet doors and stack your lids vertically so you can easily find the lid you need.

Arrange Flatware. Drawer dividers are an easy way to keep all your utensils neatly separated so you can grab what you need in a hurry. Without them, your utensil drawer can end up looking like the infamous junk drawer. Look for dividers that are expandable with non-skid rubber pads underneath. Expandable dividers maximize drawer space by giving you a more customized fit.

Use Your Walls. If you have limited counter and drawer space use your walls to hang up racks or hooks to keep pot holders, trivets and dish towels in plain sight. To save drawer space, hang your oven mitts in a hook inside a cabinet door near the oven.

Pantry Pride. Organize food items on your pantry shelves by food type — canned goods, spices, pastas, snack foods, baking items, breakfast foods, etc. Store the items most often accessed on shelves at heights between your hips and shoulders. Keep items used less frequently on the top and bottom shelves. When putting items away, arrange them so the oldest items are at the front of your pantry shelves and the newer items are at the back.