5 Steps to Organizing a Kitchen

After the organization bug bit me in January, I rearranged my kitchen. This two-day project was huge, but well worth it. I love the results! The new placement of items makes sense to me. Check out my organization tips:

Step 1: Research – Do an internet search for articles on “organized kitchen,” “organizing your pantry,” or “clutter free kitchen.” Read how others got the job done.

Step 2: Gather Materials – Find several boxes for donations, cleaning rags and cleaner, shelf liner, a few small plastic baskets & bins (check the dollar store), turntables, and scissors. I splurged and bought a drawer knife block from Target. Love it!

Step 3: Decide on Kitchen Work Areas – Decide how to arrange things in the kitchen to make it more convenient. Some areas to consider might be food, baking, and lunch prep. Also where to store pots & pans, baking sheets, spices, paper goods, snacks, serving platters, bowls and bake ware, silverware, cooking utensils, glasses/cups, plates/bowls, beverages, storage containers, canned goods, boxed goods, etc. I moved my foil/plastic items to a different drawer and love where it is now because it’s more accessible to my food prep area. I put the most used cooking utensils in a ceramic pitcher I already had (a D.I. thrift store find for $1.50).

Wow! Why haven’t I done that before?

Step 4: Sort, then Group – In each cupboard or drawer, pull everything out onto the counter so you can see things. Sort through the items and begin grouping them. Within these groups, divide into smaller groups.

Throw away damaged or expired items. Put donations in a box. Get rid of multiples or items you have not used in a year. How many sports bottles do you really need? Put grouped items into baskets, totes, cutlery trays or boxes. Put items most used in the front of shelves and drawers, and less used items in the back, or up high. Put items that go in another part of the house in a box to be put away later.

Step 5: Clean & Repair – Clean the dust and gunk from shelves and drawers. Wash those hot pads. Nice. Cover or line shelves and drawers with rubberized shelf liner. I made the mistake of using some sticky contact paper (yuck!) on a few shelves, then switched to rubberized liners. Fix broken hinges and drawers. Oil those squeaky hinges. Because my son is living at home before he leaves on his mission to Sweden, he installed the missing drawer knobs on the cupboards and drawers. Wow! What a difference a knobs make.

Organizing Canned Foods – Group canned foods by type: fruits, vegetables, beans, soups, etc. It’s so much easier to put things away after you shop. Keep condensed soups for baking, chicken stock, and evaporated milk in a cupboard near your preparation area. Line cans up in rows going front to back in your pantry. Three is about right for most shelves. My pantry can handle six in a row. However, after arranging them, the next day the weight (about 80 lbs.) of cans on two shelves broke the plastic adjustable shelf pegs and the shelves landed on top of the one underneath them. (see picture below) Lesson learned. Strong nickel adjustable shelf pegs from Home Depot made them sturdier. Make everything viewable to prevent items from going unused which is a waste of money. Store the rest in a basement, under beds, or in a closet in another part of the house where it is about 75 degrees or less. Not in the garage!

Organizing Spices – Some people group spices by type, but I decided to alphabetize them. Store them on an OXO turntable, a spice shelf, a 3-tiered horizontal shelf (I use 2×4’s) or in a drawer. Whatever you do, make it easy to see things, so you don’t have to dig in the cupboard. Label containers on the side of the lid. WinCo sells 4 oz. plastic spice containers for $.84. Perfect for transferring spices from larger containers into the smaller ones. Eventually I’ll move my smallest spices to these containers as well and increase my supply for a year’s supply. Nice and neat. (See next post)

Organizing the Baking Area – In your baking area, keep flour, sugar, and brown sugar easy to reach. If they are kept on a shelf, use Buddeez storage containers. About $5.99 at Walmart. or look at the company website here. They’re large enough to put a measuring cup in, but small enough to lift easily. Have a basket for cupcake items, sprinkles, food coloring, and birthday candles and another one for blender beaters and bread dough hooks. Group oils and vinegar, salt, pepper, baking soda, baking powder, cornstarch, and cooking spray on a OXO turntable. And stack jello and pudding mixes; and cake, brownie and muffin mixes on their horizontal sides with newest on the bottom, oldest on the top. It uses less shelf space. You get the idea.

Hope your kitchen becomes a wonderful place to live in! Now it’s time to tackle more organizational projects.

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