Welcome to my new readers! I enjoyed meeting you at last weekend’s Portland Gluten-Free Food Fair. I hope you find my articles informative in organizing your life. I specialize in kitchen consulting, but write about all sorts of organizing topics from paperwork to recycling to downsizing. This month, I thought it would be helpful to review the five stations I feel are most important for an organized kitchen.
Do you have these five?
- Place your prep station by the kitchen sink. Rinsing, washing, and cleaning becomes a smooth process while you prepare your meal.
- Keep the counter space clear. Move papers off the counter and to your desk area. Put seldom-used appliances in accessible storage.
- Keep your knives nearby in a knife block, in drawers, or on a magnetic strip.
- Keep utensils such as large spoons, ladles and spatulas nearby in a crock or drawer organizers.
- Place oils nearby, but not too close to the heat source, so they maintain their freshness.
- Organize your spices in a drawer or spice rack or cabinet using turntables or shelf organizers. Put the ones you use the most in the front.
- Place cooking pans within easy reach. Utilize a pot rack or organize them by size or type in lower cabinets. Contain lids in one spot with lid organizers.
- Put hot pads in the drawer right next to the oven for quick access.
- Consider a toaster oven as an alternative to a microwave for reheating leftovers.
- Minimize the number of appliances on your counters so you have space for recipe books and for hot meals just out of the oven.
- Keep large bowls and platters nearby. Silverware, dishes, and glasses can also be in your serving area. However, they are easier to put away when stored next to the dishwasher.
- Put tablecloths, place mats, cloth napkins, and candles in a buffet or kitchen drawer closest to the table.
- Keep salt, pepper, and salad oils on a serving tray for easy mobility or on a lazy Susan on the table.
- Reduce. This important first step creates needed space. Go through and remove items you don’t need or want. Ask yourself questions, like…Does packaged food fit into my diet? How many canned foods do I eat? Can I give some away to a local food bank?
- Sort. Take what you have left and place them into groups of similar items. For examples, place baking powder with baking soda; foil with plastic wrap; olive oil with coconut oil; pasta with rice; and canned tuna with canned beans.
- Separate. Divide spices, herbs, flours, oats, and other baking items into containers and label them clearly. Try using clear containers to see at a glance when you are running low and need to refill an item.
- Organize. Put your reduced, sorted, and separated items into the storage space. Use tiered shelves or turntables for oils, spices, or baking supplies. Consider purchasing pull out drawers so you can see what’s in your pantry. Be sure and leave space for new items that you bring home from shopping.
5. Mail Center or Desk
- Designate an area for mail. If you don’t have a desk, then create a small home on your counter for paperwork with a mail sorter or desktop filing box.
- Reduce. Go through your current piles and separate recycling from “keep” papers. If you have trouble making decisions quickly, set a timer and see how fast you can sort through a paper stack.
- Categorize and file. Create files or hot boxes for “keep” papers, such as Bills to Pay, To File, Upcoming Events, etc. Colorful hanging file boxes are fun and best for viewing paperwork. Keep it simple and label them whatever makes sense to you. If you have children, you may want to create files for each child or for their school or sports activities. Remember these are current daily-access files; monthly or archive files should go somewhere else.
- Start and continue a daily mail habit. It only takes 5 minutes. As soon as you pick up your mail, stand over your recycling container and shredder and take care of junk mail. Then file your “keep” papers. Make decisions right away or as your mother used to say, “Handle it once!” (Or was that just my mother? 😉 )
These five are the most important, but I recommend you add more kitchen stations based on the needs of your family. Consider a recycling station, a lunch-packing station, and one “organized” junk drawer.
What other kitchen stations do you think are necessary or helpful? Share your comments below. Enjoy organizing your kitchen and call me if you need personalized help. After all, kitchens are my favorite space to organize!