If cooking in or cleaning up your kitchen leaves you feeling overwhelmed, it may be time for a little TLC: tender love and clutter-control!
We all know that good food and family time are super important and often go hand in hand, and if your family is anything like ours, the kitchen is probably the room in your house that sees the most traffic. Thanks to meal prep and daily crumb accumulation, it's also the room that can quickly become a cluttered mess.
Busy schedules can leave mountains of dirty dishes and crusty messes that seem to be forever growing. We get it. Who has time for cleanup after every meal, especially when you're already running late? But, truth be told, a neat, clean kitchen allows you to cook more efficiently. These simple tips will help you organize your kitchen like a pro.
To prevent a kitchen cleaning catastrophe, a few thoughts to keep in mind...
It's easy to get excited and start opening up cabinets and pulling things out. Believe us, we've done it before and it led to chaos in the kitchen and us feeling discouraged with an even bigger mess on our hands. We've found it's so much easier to hone in on one problem at a time. If your schedule is super busy, no problem! Break it up over the next 2-3 weekends. Now, put on your comfy sweats, crank up the tunes and let the pantry purge begin! (Bottle of wine optional.)
Step 1: Nix the unnecessary.
Take a look at your countertops and go through your cupboards. Is there anything collecting dust? Ask yourself, "Do I use this?" If you haven't used it in the past 6 months, ditch or donate it. It's not worth the valuable space!
Step 2: Get rid of anything expired.
We're talking about old spices, condiments and canned goods. Go through your fridge, freezer and pantry twice a year (every spring and fall) and toss anything that's expired. You may find a few who should've been long gone, some of them decades ago.
True story: The first time we did this, both of us nearly peed our pants from laughter. It quickly became a competition to see who had the "most expired item." Lessons to be learned: Spices aren't meant to be family heirlooms and non-perishables are indeed perishable if you're patient enough.
Step 3: Group similar items together and arrange them in a way that they can easily be seen. Think practical, not pretty.
- The pantry: Create designated areas for each category, such as snacks, breakfast items and canned goods. Face the labels forward so you can see what you have.
- Fridge: Rearrange by food group. Place dairy products on the top shelf, fruits and veggies in a drawer, etc. Put your perishable items (leftovers) toward the front, so they aren't forgotten about.
- Freezer: Organize it so it doesn't become one big block of ice! If you're a fan of cashing in on a good old fashioned BOGO or freezer-friendly leftovers (guilty on both accounts!!) use a Sharpie to label and date them so you're not all gathered 'round playing "pork or chicken?" for the third time this week (also guilty...).
Step 4: Organize your kitchen into zones. (Feng shui or Wang Chung it, your choice!)
Feng shui literally means to live in harmony with your surroundings. (We highly recommend Wang Chung while you feng shui, you'll thank us later). If you want to feel at peace while cooking, the areas you work in need to facilitate what you do in them. This can easily be done by arranging your kitchen into zones.
Some ideas for your zones:
- Zone 1: Your cooking and baking supplies should live near the stove so they're easily accessible while cooking. (Think pots, pans, cooking oils, herbs, spices and oven mitts.)
- Use dividers between your stacked pots and pans to protect them from scratching one another.
- If you have an array of herbs and spices, organize them into categories like herbs vs. spices or blends vs. pure. You can do this with spice wheels, baskets or a spice rack.
- Zone 2: Find a practical place for your glassware and plates. Near the stove is convenient because that's where you often plate your food.
- Zone 3: Tupperware, baggies, plastic wrap, foil and other "storage" items should be neatly stowed near the fridge (think leftovers).
- Zone 4: Keep your cleaning supplies in the space under or near the sink.
You can further Feng shui it by using dividers or organizers in large drawers so your tools are neatly separated. Just remember, when your kitchen flows, it transforms into an oasis that looks and feels good to work in!
Step 5: Keep it clean - clean is sexy.
Sparkling countertops, a pristine pantry and an organized fridge.... talk dirty to me! Not only will a clean kitchen help you stay sane, it'll make cooking MUCH more enjoyable.
- Daily: Set a 5-minute timer for a quickie. Wipe those leftover breakfast crumbs off your counters or spaghetti splatter off your stove-top.
- Weekly: Break out your broom, or if you're into simplifying things, a Dyson's Animal Vacuum, and give the floor a little attention.
- Monthly: Wipe your refrigerator shelves and do a quick freezer inventory. Keep a list of items in your freezer (especially leftovers) for future use. Finish things up by steaming or mopping the floors.
Organizing your kitchen and making it a highly functional, pleasant environment is just a matter of following these simple steps.
Once everything has a spot to live in, you'll eat out less, cook healthier homemade meals and not feel so stressed. All the extra time and space you'll create because of it is an added bonus... get creative 😉 .
Lets feel at peace in our kitchens - together!
Pam & Kalie
P.S. What are some of your top tips to organizing and decluttering your kitchen? If we missed any, share them in the comments below!