Cooking up Kitchen Organization

476631451 cutlery drawerYou may not believe it, but I actually love spending time working in my kitchen. Recently, I’ve found that making a delicious meal for my usually grateful family has become a huge stress reliever for me! Now, that may be partially due to the several glasses of wine that I end up having during the process… However, not many people feel this way about cooking, and that’s probably because your kitchen turns into a disorganized mess where you can’t find any of the tools or ingredients you have hidden in an unidentified cabinet. Meal time can be one of the easiest parts of your day when you settle into an organized routine and have everything you need prepared around you. Sound impossible? Well let’s just say, if I can get my crazy kitchen organized, anyone can! Here are some problems I ran into before I overhauled my cooking space:

Trash Bag Troubles
Although it’s great to recycle those plastic grocery bags from the store, they usually end up scattered under your sink or shoved into drawers never to be used again. Purchase an inexpensive cabinet-mounted or free standing bag holder to create space for more important kitchen items. When the holder gets filled up, recycle them or donate extra bags to a food bank. Better yet, invest in inexpensive fabric bags for grocery shopping. Many markets offer small cash discounts for using them and the environment will love you!

Creating Cabinet Space
Before I got organized, there was no rhyme or reason to the items in each cabinet, making it nearly impossible to get a meal on the table in a reasonable amount of time. Move special occasion dishes and other infrequently used pieces to a cabinet in the dining room or the highest shelf in your kitchen cabinets. If you have a lot of wine glasses like I do, optimize stemware space by placing every other glass upside down. Bowls, Tupperware, and casserole dishes can nest one inside the other. Finally, keep cups, plates and bowls you use most often toward the front of the cabinet, while that precious bone china passed down from your great aunt can be moved to the back or displayed behind glass.

Utensils, Utensils, Utensils
Knives and forks and pizza slicers–oh my! Those stray steak knives are a safety hazard—and searching for the right tool slows down meal prep time more than you know. If your utensil drawer is a disaster, one trip to your favorite home store will reveal a plethora of drawer organizers that can keep all of your utensils compartmentalized and clean–and speed up the stir fry and salad fixing.  

Refresh Your Refrigerator
Two-week old pot roast has no place in your refrigerator. But in this house, leftovers get buried in the back of the fridge and are soon forgotten. First, start fresh. I pulled everything out, checked all the expiration dates and get rid of foods that have gone bad, you’d be surprised how many old jars and expired condiments you have sitting around. Also a great time to give the shelves a quick facelift! Place items back inside, grouped together based on type and frequency of use, with more perishable items toward the front. When it comes time to put leftovers in the fridge, ask your family if they plan on eating any more in the next day or so. I try to keep Chet and the kids honest on this one…If they say yes, keep it. If they say no, throw it away right then and there. A quick inventory check every evening will keep your refrigerator clutter-free and fresh.

There are so many quick fixes for the kitchen that I never even thought about before. But now that everything is in its right place and I can actually find the previously elusive whisk in my drawers, I would never let my kitchen go back to its cluttered state! Short on time? It’s easy to find a few minutes here and there to de-clutter one drawer or cabinet at a time. Soon enough, your kitchen will be ready for an appearance in Better Homes and Gardens.

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