As a former chef, I love kitchens and food, and all the neat and fun gadgets that they require. As a Professional Organizer I know that kitchens are often full of items we’ve only used once or twice, and which are rarely organized, making it hard to find all those fun tools. So whether you are cooking dinner for yourself or hosting a party that may very well end up in the kitchen, it makes sense to keep your space simple, uncluttered and organized. This makes cooking more enjoyable and easier for everyone to get involved!
One of the first steps to an organized kitchen is taking inventory of everything. Pull everything out to see what you have. Next make three categories…keep, donate, and sell. Make the hard decisions on what you actually use, and place the rest in an appropriate bag or box to donate or sell. While decluttering, there may be items that do not belong, and need to be relocated. I only keep tools that have multiple uses or that I use preparing multiple dishes, to maximize efficiency and save space. I also recommend placing alike items together, keeping the most-used tools in the drawer, and the specialty, rarely used tools in a bin out of the way.
Like many of us, I have several pots & pans, but often find myself using only one or two consistently. I recommend storing the larger, seldom used pots in an out-of-the-way cabinet or pantry. Consider using risers to utilize the vertical space. Food storage containers should be the same type so they nest and store properly. If you don’t have space to stack containers with their lids on, use a bin to store the lids so they won’t scatter everywhere.
Have kids or kids who visit? Designate a lower cabinet that is child friendly so plastic plates, cups, and forks are accessible for them to grab when they need one. The same applies for the pantry. Also, they’ll know where Items belong when it’s cleanup time. Teaching children the valuable life skill of organizing will serve them well.
Keeping up with pantry organization is key to a well run household. If you think about it, it’s the kitchen command center. Most pantries have deep shelves. By utilizing specific organizing products such as risers, lazy Susan’s, uniform containers to decant dry goods, and smaller bins for canned goods and soft packages, you’re able to better utilize the vertical space. Store larger bins on the floor for taller items that may not fit on the shelf or in the container. Keeping the pantry organized will make grocery shopping and recipe-following easier.
Time to Cook!
First, grab your cutting board and a knife. You will also need a side kitchen towel, and sanitizer. Cleanliness is paramount. Decide what it is you’re preparing, and gather the ingredients. You should have everything you need to begin which is called Mise en place. Following the recipe, chop, slice, dice, and prepare all the ingredients before you begin cooking. Once everything has been prepped, set it aside, clean up, and sanitize. Everything should be measured, chopped and weighed at this point, and laid out in an orderly fashion. Having everything ready will make following the recipe easier and more productive. All you’ll need to do at this point is begin cooking. Follow the recipe, plate the food and enjoy!
Remember to clean as you go. When you spill & splatter, wipe the surface immediately. Wash and dry pots and pans directly after each use, and put them away. Keep the sink and counters free and clear. Following the clean as you go mantra, will make cleaning up a breeze after dinner is finished. Even the kids won’t mind doing the dishes… Yeah, right!
At Ideal Organizing + Design we’re fortunate to have trained chef and all-things-kitchen expert, Michael Gettier, leading our organizing teams! His tips help many of our clients keep their kitchens organized and running smoothly. Some nights you can find him at Foodies in Virginia Beach, neatly prepping dinner-to-go meals for the nights when you don’t have time to cook your own nutritious meals!
By Michael Gettier, Professional Organizer and Chef