When it comes to taking the stress out of meal preparation, nothing beats a well-organized kitchen. It can take between five to 10 hours to completely organize your kitchen depending on its size and how much you need to declutter, but the hours you will save once the job is done makes it so worthwhile.
Here’s how to break the job up into manageable steps and get closer to your goal. Before you start your kitchen organization project, take a quick sweep and declutter cupboards of items that don’t belong in the kitchen. Then you can begin!
1. Make a date with your kitchen
Make an appointment with yourself and don’t cancel it. If you leave this task until you have time it will never get completed.
2. Set Your Goals
Whether it’s getting rid of what you no longer need or being able to find what you have more easily, set a goal. You might want to be able to find things more easily, so things need to be put in zones. You might want to have a better flow to your kitchen so people aren’t bumping into each other during meal prep and to solve this problem, you might need to rearrange where things are located. Decide what your goals are for your project and write them down.
3. Declutter Your Counters
Find a home for things that are piled on the counter, decide if you need them to be stored in the kitchen, can be tossed or donated or if you can store them elsewhere for items you use less frequently. Once your counters are clear it helps you (psychologically), to keep going because you can see progress. Also, it gives you space for the next steps in kitchen organization.
4. Declutter Your Cupboards
This step 4, 5 and 6 will need a large amount of time. Make sure to set a day and time for this task. Take everything out of all the cupboards. Group items that have a like use or purpose together. Food preparation items, baking items, dishes and glasses, appliances, food, spices etc.
5. Part With Items You Don’t Need, Love or Use
For this step you need some boxes or bags.
- One container is for things you can donate.
- A second container is for things that can go to another room. Perhaps you can keep some items in your garage or basement.
- A third box might be for things to return to other people.
- A fourth box might be for undecided items. You can make up your mind right now and you don’t want to get stalled on deciding about the item. Leave that decision for later.
Look at how many things you have in each group and decide if you need, love and use them. What can you get rid of?
6. Organize Your Kitchen Into Zones
Divide your kitchen into zones/centres that are appropriate for your family. Here are some suggestions.
- The meal preparation centre is the home of items needed to prepare and cook food – cutting board, knives, bowls, graters, pots, pans, casserole dishes, strainer, etc… See Tool Blog on Utensil Carousel (A carousel for your kitchen )
- The drink centre contains coffee, tea, hot chocolate, drink mixes, cups, glasses, sugar/sweetener, coffee maker, kettle, tea pot, etc.
- The dish centre contains dishes and cutlery and should be near the dishwasher for fast and easy unloading. Aim to store items at an age-appropriate height so children can participate without needing assistance. See Tool Blog drawer organizer (How to build a drawer organizer)
- The baking centre contains food items and utensils specifically for baking – spices, flour, nuts, chocolate chips, spatulas, cookie sheets, casserole dishes, pie plates, cake pans, rolling pin, shifter etc… and get organized with small bins. Establish a recycling/garbage centre for easy collection.
- The desk/paperwork centre, located near the telephone or computer, holds recipe books, notepaper, and a white board or bulletin board. See Tool Blog Magazine Holders (Magazine File Holders Book Organizer)
- The linen center contains small cloth items you use regularly, pot holders, tea towel, dishcloths
- The paper products center holds plastic wrap, tin foil, parchment paper, napkins, plastic bags
- The children’s zone contains dishes and snacks so children can get their own things with less help.
- The cleaning center, with cleaning products, should be located so it is out of reach of small children and pets.
Decide where to locate each of these zones in your kitchen. Write down your zones and where each one is located. Plan it out and work your plan.
From step 5 you can take each of your groups of items and place them in the correct zone in the kitchen.
7. The Miscellaneous Drawer
Every kitchen needs one miscellaneous drawer. It contains small tools and items to which you need quick access in the kitchen – screwdriver, tape, twist ties, scissors, pen, marker, etc. Don’t let it become the dumping ground for items you don’t want to organize or two or three drawers. It would also help for you to put extra small items like paper clips and safety pins into Ziploc bags. It helps if you have younger children who might hurt themselves if they reach directly into a drawer filled with sharp objects.
8. Organize Your Fridge
First, empty your fridge entirely. Wipe it down with whatever cleaner you usually use, and then add a deodorizer. Baking soda is a great deodorizer. You can buy fridge packs from the brand Arm & Hammer, or you could get packs that stick to the wall. The next step is to divide your fridge into zones. Have a place for fruit, vegetables, drinks, cheese, meat, bottles, condiments and leftovers. If you have zones it is easier to prepare your shopping list. Make a “priority food” box for food that’s about to expire. It is also easier to see what food needs to be used before it goes bad. Save yourself money by organizing your fridge and reducing food waste.
9. Give Your New Kitchen a Try
If needed, rearrange items so that they are easy to get at and use. Don’t get stuck thinking you can’t change things to a better place.
Any food you no longer need can be donated to your local food bank. Make sure it is not expired. Donate any kitchen items you no longer need to a local charity.
Need more help with kitchen organization?
There are three ways I can assist you.
- Book a virtual kitchen organization appointment and we can do it together. I’ll be in your kitchen with you watching you through your computer, phone or tablet and helping you with the process.
- If you’re having trouble making changes to your kitchen book a coaching appointment to discuss how to reduce your fears with making changes.
- If you live in the Niagara Region of Ontario, Canada book an in-person session to work together on a kitchen organization project.