An organized kitchen is de rigueur for a professional chef and makes cooking for those of us who are beginners or amateurs so much more enjoyable. It also makes cleaning faster and almost effortless.
There’s an Austrian kitchen design company that will groove specially shaped indentations to fit your whisk, can opener, potato masher in exotic hardwood set in drawers that roll as smooth as grease on a hot skillet.
Ever since COVID-19 took us away from our stilettos, kitchens have become the new shoe closets. Luckily, even the humblest kitchen can be transformed into a satisfying workspace with a few simple, budget-friendly solutions.
Obviously, cleanliness is essential. You will have to empty the cupboards and drawers in order to reorganize them, so take the opportunity to clean them well and restock everything that needs it.
Windex, Simple Green, Method or Dawn water-based soaps are all good for kitchen cleaning. Pick the one you are comfortable with. I use Windex for pretty much everything, like the dad in “My Big Fat Greek Wedding.” But many of my clients prefer softer products.
People also read…
As for the shelf liner, I use it for cabinets and drawers that store anything that might damage the surface, like pots and pans or oils and vinegars, or for items that I don’t do not want directly on a hard surface as they may chip, such as glassware and dishes. The liner in the spice, tea or cereal storage areas also makes it easier to clean up spills, as you can usually just remove the liner and shake or wipe it off.
Then, organize your cupboards in a logical and ergonomic way. Let your mind and body reap the benefits of common sense investing. Heavy items, like a slow cooker or blender, should either stay on the counter or be stored in a place that’s neither overhead nor too low that you have to crouch to get it out. Obviously, the more you use something, the more conveniently it needs to be stored. If you use your toaster or slow cooker more than twice a week, you should probably leave it on the counter.
Pots and pans are heavy, so they should be stored in lower cupboards. Glassware and crockery can be stored in the upper cabinets, if available, and as close as possible to where you will set the dining table. Alternatively, having crockery and glassware near the sink or dishwasher is also a good choice as it will make it easier to store clean things. Glasses, teapots and coffee pots located near a water source also make sense.
Many kitchens, like mine, don’t have a pantry, so you may need to get creative with food storage. Cans and extra drinks may need to be stored in another room nearby, such as a laundry room or even the garage. But the fridge is a great storage space, and the lack of a pantry might tempt you to eat more fresh foods.
I’m not a fan of transferring items from perfectly thin containers to matching glass or plastic containers, with a few exceptions. If you buy flour and sugar in bags that spill easily after opening, then by all means put those things in canisters with tight-fitting lids. I also like canisters for nuts and seeds. It’s also much easier to use and more pleasing to the eye of loose items, like oats, quinoa, or lentils, in jars or canisters rather than messy plastic bags.
You don’t have to spend a lot of money on containers for the kitchen, but the good news is that anything you buy will tend to last for years (unlike the garage and other places where leaks, dirt or breakage due to falls means replacing containers from time to time). I love the shallow melamine trays (Target, Amazon, Walmart) which are great for oils on a shelf. A pan lid organizer from a kitchen store can be a great divider for trays in an overhead cabinet. Plastic shoe bins are great for gathering protein bars or taco seasonings and other small packets. If you can spend a little more, the Container Store’s Like It “bricks” are upgrades to the plastic 6-quart (shoe) containers.
Finally, the most efficient and pleasant to work kitchen contains only the utensils, pots and appliances that you really use. You probably don’t need five spatulas. Choose your two favorites and let the rest go. Wash things while you cook and not only won’t you need that third spatula, but you won’t have as many dishes to wash when you’re done cooking. Less stuff more organized equals less work and more satisfaction.
Angela Hoxsey is a professional organizer working in the Napa Valley/Bay Area. To visit houseinorder.com for more information.