The urge to get organized can be strong in the fall. September is a great month to tackle your kitchen, well before the holidays stretch you to your limit. Tidying your kitchen now lets you be thoughtful about what you want for your upcoming holidays in terms of the functionality of this hardest working room in the house. For some, tidying the kitchen might seem like a monumental task, but when broken down into manageable steps, it can be a rewarding process that sets you up for success on a daily basis as well as on special occasions.
Step 1: Tools for eating. Remove from your cabinets and drawers those things that facilitate eating: plates, bowls, flatware, glasses, serving ware, tablecloths, placemats, and food storage containers of all kinds. Place them in categories of like things. Then get brutally honest. How much of this do you need to find joy when serving food to your family and guests? If you frequently do dishes, maybe you can get by on fewer than a dozen of each plate, salad plate, cup, saucer, juice glass, drinking glass and wine/beer glasses. If you frequently entertain large groups or have a large family, then keep what you need to serve them, but no more. The real estate in your kitchen is precious and it should only be used for those things it makes you happy to use. If you have a cabinet full of coffee mugs, you probably regularly only use a couple of them. Keep those and a couple others if needed, and let the rest go. The found space will serve you well when it’s time to reorganize. Put aside all of the items you are letting go of for donation or discard.
Step 2: Tools for cooking. Clear your counters and make room on your dining room table. It’s time to empty your cabinets of everything you use to prepare and make food. As you take things out of the cabinets and drawers, group them together by category. Pots, pans and lids in one area, cutting boards in another. Keep going until you have crock pots, waffle irons, mixers and other gadgets all out in the open and grouped by category. Then, go through each category and look for duplicates, worn out or broken items, and things that don’t get used much, if at all. You may be surprised to learn that you have 6 rubber scrapers and 3 garlic presses. Do you need them all? If so, great! Now they’re all in one place. If not, pick the garlic press that works the best and is easiest to clean and put the others in a discard/donate box. This will free up space when it’s time to organize and put away everything.
When you’re done going through everything, assess whether you need to replace any worn out or lost items that you regularly use.
Step 3: Food. Now is the time to go through your pantry, spice drawer, refrigerator, freezer, and any other place you keep edibles to identify anything that has expired or has passed its “use by” date. When it comes to spices and extracts, most sources say that they lose their flavor after 2-4 years. The only exceptions are salt and pure vanilla. If you can’t find a date and don’t recall when you bought it, toss it out. Check expiration dates on everything, from baking staples, canned goods, prepackaged sides and meals to salad dressings, mayo, and sour cream. Don’t buy replacements unless you have an immediate need for an item. If your food suffers freezer burn, toss it out because it’s unlikely to be salvageable no matter how long you cook it in the crock pot or pressure cooker. Add to your shopping list of only those things you have an immediate need to replace.
Once your kitchen items have been sorted, focus storage and organization on the ease of cleaning and putting away, not on the ease of finding it (although they can be the same). Before you put anything back into your cabinets, reevaluate where the best location is for each item. Typically, heavy plates and bowls go near the dishwasher for ease in both unloading and setting the table. Pots and pans can logically go near the stovetop if there’s room; if not, again, think of where it’s easiest to put away all of them in one general area. If you don’t bake on a regular basis, maybe your baking pans and mixers can go in the cabinet above the refrigerator or a similar out of the way spot.
You’ve got the idea: keep like things together and put them away in a spot that maximizes your effective use of limited storage space and ease of putting them away. This makes maintaining an organized kitchen easier for everyone. Not that there’s any perfect system. I’ve tried to keep the toaster near the breakfast and coffee station, but somehow, it’s usually left out on the counter when breakfast is over. Take your wins where you can!
Your final step is to rehome, reuse, donate, or discard the surplus items that didn’t make the cut. Don’t let them set out in boxes for a week, get them out of your home as soon as possible. That way you – or other family members – won’t be tempted to take back a tacky mug, and you’ll begin to enjoy your freshly tidied kitchen even sooner. And you’ll know exactly what you have so you don’t purchase duplicates in anticipation of the coming holidays.
I have confidence that by following these steps, you can achieve the organized kitchen of your dreams! If, however, you would like assistance in tackling your kitchen project, don’t hesitate to contact me at 605-929-1493 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Reluctant Enthusiast LLC, doing business as Designed 2 Stick, is owned and operated by Mrg Simon, Glen Rose, TX. All images and content are copyrighted, and the property of Mrg Simon and The Reluctant Enthusiast LLC, unless otherwise stated. All header/banner photos are courtesy of Unsplash. The Reluctant Enthusiast claims no right in the registered marks of third parties, including KMI Media and Marie Kondo.. Mrg Simon and The Reluctant Enthusiast LLC are not acting or speaking on behalf of Marie Kondo, KonMari Media Inc., nor are they authorized to do so.
*Designed 2 Stick and Mrg Simon do not offer legal services. Mrs. Simon does not accept legal clients or provide legal advice.