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How to Organize Your Kitchen To Be Efficient

Use these ten tips to get your kitchen organized so you can be more efficient when you're in it!

On any given day, one might find me in my kitchen, and it may look a little messy as I'm whipping up something - a little flour on the floor, the egg white that dribbled, chopped onion that won't stay on the cutting board.  As much as I have good intentions of cleaning as I cook, my kitchen can indeed get messy while I’m cooking, baking, and serving up a meal. But, messy and disorganized aren’t always the same thing.  In fact, I'm rather adamant about where everything should be kept in my kitchen.  I like to have my pantry, cupboards, and drawers organized in such a way that lends itself to efficient use. Currently my kitchen is small, so organization is especially important. 

I would like to share ten ideas on how to organize a kitchen to maximize your efficiency in it. While you may have personal preferences and different space limitations, you might just find some of the following tips helpful to streamline your kitchen and make it user-friendly.

Organizing Your Kitchen for Efficient Use

  1. Do not mix food stuffs and dishes in the same cupboard. Your dishes will remain free from spilled flour or sticky drips of honey, or from getting broken while you’re hunting for something in the back of the cupboard.  And while we're on the subject, take a moment to wipe off food containers before returning them to the cupboard - to avoid sticky messes in the first place!
  2. Maximize the use of the whole shelf and interior space. Use stacking shelves or mini stair-step shelves at the back of a cupboard to make items, like spices, more visible and accessible. Install cup hooks to hang mugs and cups from the underside of a cupboard shelf, freeing up the shelf space below for plates or shallow dishes.  My less-used dishes for entertaining make their home on the bottom shelf, and cup hooks add to my useable shelf space.Cup hooks give extra space below
  3. Another way to maximize space is to use stackable canisters, preferably square or rectangular as opposed to round, for ingredients like flour, sugar, salt, oatmeal, rice, pasta, etc. And, if you purchase bulk goods like raisins, chocolate chips, and nuts, you could keep them in Ziploc plastic bags, and then store them all together in one large, rectangular container.  Plus, it's always a good idea to measure your cupboard or drawer space before shopping for canisters, stacking shelves or drawer inserts (and then take the measuring tape with you to the store!) so you'll be sure they fit into the intended space.
  4. Group like items together, using the bottom or sturdier shelves for heavy canned goods. Keeping all your pasta together, your baking ingredients together, and soup, tinned salmon, etc. together will help you monitor when you’re getting low and need to restock. Also remember to rotate new goods toward the back, so the older items get used first.
  5. Avoid storing spices and herbs directly above or next to the stove or other heat source, as heat will shorten their shelf life and potency. A spice carousel or lazy-susan can help you to locate spices easily.
  6. Use the drawer under your oven! Clean it out, line it with a rubber mat, and use it to store shallow fry pans and lids, or baking sheets and muffin tins. (I’ve often seen this valuable storage area unused!)
  7. Consider the layout of your kitchen and eating area when deciding where to store everything. For example, keeping dishes and cutlery in a cupboard nearest your eating area will make setting the table quick. Placing dishcloths and dishtowels in a drawer next to the sink makes sense, as does storing pots and lids near the stovetop. Keep your most-used items at easy reach.
  8. The mantra "A place for everything and everything in its place" is popular for a reason: It works! By knowing where everything belongs, and putting it back when you’re finished with it, you’ll save time hunting for it and become more efficient while cooking.
  9. If your cupboard space is very limited, store some items on the counter in attractive containers. For example, I have a nice-looking ceramic spaghetti jar which, since the lid went missing, has now become my wooden spoon and spatula holder, sitting at easy reach on my counter. (I filled the bottom third of the jar with dry beans, to raise the level where the spoons rest.)  And the bonus: now my drawer isn’t over-crowded.

  1. If you've ever stored less-used items way up high, only to find that now you never use them, the solution is simple.  Keep a small, sturdy step stool nearby to help reach those awkward high spots in and above the top cupboard (that is unless you’re tall enough to reach without one!)  Many people keep the stool in the garage or closet, making it seem too much bother to go get, when they want to retrieve the canning equipment, for example.

These ten tips on organizing your kitchen for efficiency are really quite simple, and mostly just common sense.  If you take the time to find a logical, fitting home for your kitchen tools and pantry items - and then remember to put it all back - you'll be pleasantly surprised with how well things flow.  Being organized can free your time for more enjoyable things in the kitchen. . . such as making a lovely mess when dusting icing sugar over your lemon squares. . . .

© October 2011 Sharla Smith.  All content and images are those of this author.

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Comments (14)

Outstanding, I also have a small kitchen and organization is essential..voted

Excellent housekeeping ideas, Sharla.

Very smart ideas. Voted up!

Thank you all for taking the time to read, and for your votes and comments - always appreciated.

You gave new ideas in arranging kitchen wares. Nice...

Wow, this is brilliant work.

Good work.

Thanks again, friends, for all your votes and generous comments.

nice one here!

Thanks, Daniel. Glad you liked it!

I just bookmarked this article. Thank you for sharing it.

You're welcome, Beverly, and thank you too for reading and promoting.

EnajCosta

This list is fantastic - really great ideas that I know I'm gonna end up using.

One thing, though - lol, the "drawer" under the oven? That's the broiler. Every time you use your oven you're going to be heating up whatever you've put in the broiler and (depending on the quality of your cookware and the material of the liner you've used) you're gonna end up either shortening the lifespan of your cookware or even setting the house on fire (if the liner's flammable). I guess as long as you can take out whatever you keep in there when you bake you'll be okay, I just think people need to be careful when it comes to stuff they keep around their ovens.

Thanks for your comments and input, Enaj. I do believe some oven ranges are different. I grew up with one where the broiler is in the bottom (it was a gas range), but my current electric range drawer is not a broiler - it's just a drawer!

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