I helped a friend reorganize her kitchen yesterday and am heading back today to do some more for her and her family, it’s an interesting process. Having known this friend for about 20 years I am familiar with many of her quirks and habits and understand many of her problem areas in the kitchen. She’s married and has three kids, no dishwasher, loves to cook, spends a large part of her day in her small kitchen with limited counter tops, and she loves tea. When I say she loves tea, I mean really.loves.tea. The have a cabinet full of tea and packages of tea cover a significant part of the counter, and several beautiful tea pots which sit on the counter and typically only one gets used with any regularity. When I asked her if she had any tea that was older than six months, her reply was, “no.” To add to that her husband loves snacks, every time he goes to the grocery store he comes back with more snacks, even if they don’t need them. The have snacks in several different parts of the kitchen, making it difficult to asses what they do have. To get started on this reorganization we stood in the kitchen and talked about each of the problem areas. Dishes, snacks, tea, special dishes that get used once a year maybe were using up a significant portion of usable shelf space, while under the cabinet storage that is typically blocked by a garbage can and cutting board are used to store grains and legumes. The cabinet with grains and legumes also has a moth problem that needs to be addressed immediately. Shortage of storage and counter space for a family of five is a significant issue. Day One
- Cleaned off the counter tops, put everything on the kitchen table, and gave everything a good scrub.
- Emptied grain and legume cabinet, gave that a good scrub and moved seldom used dishes to the lower shelf. The legumes went on the top shelf there, but in a significantly better organized manner so they are easy to find.
- All of the snacks went into two organized bins that went on the top of the refrigerator, one of the few areas that was easily cleaned and organized.
- bins for tea, and a moratorium on buying new tea until it would all fit into the cupboard (not an easy request for this family).
- stackable storage for another cabinet that contains miscellaneous baking equipment to allow for more usable space in a tall cabinet.
- pull out drawers for deep cupboards to provide easier access to things in the back
- height and containers are your friend for kitchen organization!
Coming back with fresh eyes was crucial to finish this project.
- Cleaned out two cabinets with a variety of baking products, condiments, and a variety of other items.
- Consolidated and arranged foods by their uses and types to make it easier to visualize what was on hand to avoid more over buying.
- Shopped for organizational products to help with the organization. Despite planning and measuring, some items needed to be returned, while others worked out better than originally planned, flexibility is important in this process.
Continuing to maintain organization that suits the needs of you and your household. That means finding solutions that work for you, which may not be what others find useful. I found some of the solutions, plastic bins for example, would work for me personally, but they didn’t work for my friend. When you find a system that works for you stick to it, but stay vigilant. Keeping organized is an ongoing process. For this family the #1 recommendation I made was keep like with like, that prevents over buying and ultimately food waste. That’s good for your budget and good for the planet, two things that are at the top of my list of reasons for staying organized in the kitchen. I will continue to consult for this family as they learn to use and develop further systems to keep their kitchen organized.
The initial start has inspired my friend to organize her tea and spices in a way that has surprised us both. She admitted her tea cabinet was out of hand and upgraded from her old spice bottles, which while cute, didn’t have a lot of function once the cabinet became so cluttered.
We went from:
Cluttered countertops, spices, tea, and snacks overflowing onto the counter. Seldom used special dishes and tea pots on shelves and countertops that can be used for everyday items…
Bins for organizing cupboards, making what’s inside easier to see and therefore use. Moving infrequently used items to less usable cupboard space and moving everyday items into easy to access space. That process lead to clean countertops and more work space for cooking. Making good use of storage prevents food loss and makes cooking more pleasurable.