Is your kitchen the “heart” of your home? I know mine is. It’s not just a place where we prepare food, but also a place where we gather with our families each day, where our kids do their homework and where we pay bills and take care of other household tasks. For me, my kitchen is a fun and relaxing space where I can explore my culinary creativity. When is it not fun? When it’s disorganized and cluttered. The good news is that a functional, organized kitchen is possible for everyone in just one dedicated weekend.
Start by gathering several boxes that you’ll use for donation items and a few large trash bags. On Saturday, begin by tackling your refrigerator and pantry. Take every item out of your refrigerator so that you can clean it well, and toss the ancient condiments you bought for a special recipe and only used one time, expired items and petrified crisper contents. Once your fridge is empty, clean and sanitize it well. Next, review the food you’ll be returning to your refrigerator and organize it by category as you place it back inside. Ensure that every item is visible so that you can do a quick scan of your fridge contents before you grocery shop. Repeat these steps with your freezer, and your refrigerator is good to go.
Next, turn your attention to your pantry. I finally took the time to organize my pantry after the green bean incident of 2015. My pantry was in such disarray that just opening the pantry door made my eye twitch. And then I would close the door, go shopping and hope for the best. The problem with this system is that you’ll over-buy some items, and forget others. Hence the green bean incident. Having an organized pantry will save you time and money.
Begin by removing everything from your pantry shelves, and give the pantry a thorough cleaning. Next, grab one of your boxes and mark it “food donations.” In this box, place canned goods and unopened, non-perishable boxed food items you’d like to donate to a local food bank. Next, consolidate if you have multiple open bottles of a particular condiment, such as soy sauce or syrup. Review your boxed and bagged items, such as pasta, flour and sugar, and again consolidate where you can. When I cleaned my pantry, I found four open bags of flour, which I consolidated in one clear storage container.
After you’ve purged pantry items and consolidated containers, review what’s going back in your pantry and consider how best to organize your items for maximum functionality. In my pantry, baking ingredients are on the very top shelf because I don’t need them very often. At eye level are my canned goods, organized by type (all soups together, all vegetables together, etc.). You’ll want to do the same, making sure that the items you need most often are easy to access and visible. One quick tip—when placing food in your pantry, make sure that the labels face forward—just as you see in a grocery store. This simple step will save you so much time when you’re searching for items to cook, or taking inventory prior to shopping. And your friends will be impressed!
On Sunday, tackle your cabinets and countertops. Again, I recommend taking everything out of your cabinets for a thorough review. As you take inventory, you’re going to find duplicate items that can be donated or perhaps passed on to a young family member setting up housekeeping. You’ll also find things you no longer use, like ancient sippy cups, scratched pans and pot lids without pot mates. Get rid of anything that’s damaged. Next, make a pile of duplicate items and those things that still have use, but you don’t need. Box up these things for a charity of your choice.
Now that your cabinets are empty, wipe them down and lay new shelf paper if needed. Next, organize everything you’ll be keeping into categories such as bakeware, pots and pans, glassware, etc. Before you replace these things in your cabinets, consider how often you use them, and place your most-used items for easy access. Group rarely used things, such as seasonal serving pieces and specialty bakeware, in the less convenient cabinets.
Now that your cabinets have been tackled, give your counter tops some attention. Remove everything from your counters and clean them. If you have a backsplash, clean this well while you have good access. Before putting anything back on your counters, think about placing items logically for convenient access for specific kitchen tasks. Also, if you prefer a less cluttered kitchen environment, remove some of your decorative accessories and pare down counter top appliances. For example, I now store my blender and stand mixer in a hall linen closet, and only keep my toaster, which gets used daily, on my countertop.
Many people also collect and enjoy cookbooks, but these can really clutter up a small kitchen. If you don’t have storage for your cookbooks in your kitchen, I recommend moving them to a bookcase in another area of your home. Don’t box them up. You need to see them to enjoy and have ready access to them. I keep a cookbook stand in my kitchen, and like to rotate my cookbooks on a regular basis.
If you’d love to have an organized kitchen, but don’t want to give up your weekend to make it happen, consider hiring a professional organizer to help you out—that’s what we do! When your kitchen is tidy and organized, the heart of your home will be a more relaxed and rejuvenating space for your entire family to enjoy.