Your kitchen likely is a place where many things happen. It could be a study area, a bill paying area, a gathering place, or even a dumping zone. The main function of a kitchen is to be a kitchen where meals are cooked & served, and if space provides, meals are eaten here. Taming and organizing this important part of the home may sound like a big project and it is, but try not to feel intimidated by this space. The timeframe to complete this project will vary depending on the size of your kitchen. Let’s start with zones that house food. And yes, we will have to tackle the fridge & freezer too. By starting here, it will be easy to make “keep/toss” decisions just by expiration dates. You will likely be surprised by how much you may be getting rid of.
First, remove all items from your pantry or food storage area, sort through and toss all expired products. Group together remaining like items and return those to the pantry in their groups. If any of these items could benefit from going into their own storage container, then do so now or make a note to get one. Snacks benefit from clear containers or labeled open baskets, as do baking supplies. For more details on organizing the pantry, please refer to my Stocking & Organizing The Pantry For Summer blog.
Next we will follow the same steps for the refrigerator and freezer. If you are unsure about how long to keep perishable items, please refer to this great infographic courtesy of farmanddairy.com:
http://www.farmanddairy.com/news/miscues-sell-dates-leads-consumer-loss/171705.html. To help you know how long you’ve kept food or had items opened, place a date on the container so you know when it’s time to toss it in the trash. Once the fridge & freezer have been wiped out, return those grouped items. You will likely have more space than when you started!
Now we will focus on the cabinets & drawers. Again all items will need to be removed and the spaces wiped down. You may be surprised where crumbs ended up accumulating. Start with the cabinets and work your way around the kitchen. Keep out as much as you can so when you are ready to return everything, similar items such as pots, pans, baking dishes, small appliances, etc. will be grouped together and in their assigned zones. If you have a lot of dinnerware and drink ware, shelves and racks can help create additional space in your cabinets. Keep seasonal or less used items on higher shelves that you do not need frequent access to. If you keep cleaning items under the kitchen sink, a pull out shelf or a cleaning caddy are good ways to contain these supplies. Consolidate products and get rid of items that you do not use or are no longer good.
Finally for the drawers, all items are removed, drawers wiped down, and like items grouped together (sound familiar?!). The best investment that you can make for your kitchen drawers are drawer dividers and silverware organizers. There are so many options from bamboo & metal to expandable & modular that you will be able to find locally or online. Pick what you like best and don’t forget to measure your drawers. Remember that drawer heights vary and not every divider and organizer is the same height either. Nothing is more frustrating than trying to fit your new divider in the drawer and it just won’t fit!
Now you have tackled one of the most daunting organizing jobs in the house! The time you will have spent organizing your kitchen & pantry will reward you in saved time searching for a pan or serving spoon that you couldn’t find in the past. Your flow in the kitchen will help minimize the time you spend there. To help maintain the hard work that you have done, labeling where items are now located will be a great visual reminder. This is especially important if you are not the only member in your home that is taking out and putting those items away.
Next month we will focus on the home office or place where you manage the paperwork of your home. Get ready!