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How to: Organize Your Kitchen and Pantry

Why take time to organize your kitchen and pantry?

Because for many, the kitchen is the heart of the home. We spend a lot of time in the kitchen. It is the place where we work to nourish our bodies, feed our family, and entertain our guests. It is the place that people congregate or come together after a busy day, or first thing in the morning. Because doing so saves you time, money and stress.

Think about what you have in your kitchen and pantry. What items do you need there to achieve your goals (ie: food storage, food preparation, serving food, eating, entertaining, etc.). Some people have a small work desk in their kitchen that is a “control center” for the family’s schedule and important papers. Anything else that is currently in your kitchen or pantry that doesn’t help you achieve these goals may be misplaced or need to go.

In general, you want to be able to find what you need, when you need it. By getting rid of the things that are getting in your way of finding what you need, and by arranging things that you do use according to some basic organizing principles, you’ll save time every day when you go to prepare meals. Some basics:

  1. Clear out Clutter – toss expired food, donate appliances and/or kitchen tools and gadgets that you no longer use or that don’t work properly.  Clear counter tops of clutter by removing anything you don’t use on a daily basis (ie. blender, kitchen aid, food processor).  You will be amazed at how neat and organized your kitchen looks with clear countertops.
  2. Group Like Items Together – place all mugs together on one shelf, cups on another, etc.  Keep all baking utensils in one drawer, pots and pans in one cabinet.  This will not only help you find things quickly, but will also help you know exactly where to put things away.
  3. Keep Things Close to Where They are Used (think zones – a baking zone, a food prep zone, etc.) – If you use your coffee pot every morning, it would make sense to keep your mugs, filters and coffee grinds close to the coffee pot.
  4. Keep the Things Used Most Often the Easiest to Reach – if you use your juice glasses every morning, keep them on an easy to reach shelf.  Likewise, if you only use your chips and salsa platter for entertaining, this would be a great item to put on a higher shelf that would require you to use a step stool to reach.
  5. Use Products Where Needed to Help Contain Kitchen and Pantry Items (stay tuned for a post in the future on our favorite products for organizing the kitchen and pantry). – Small plastic bins work great to store like items together such as tea, pasta, sweets & candy, crackers, etc.  Be sure to label your bins so other family members know where to find what they are looking for. (Need a product to organize your recipes? See our post on the Recipe Nest)
  6. If the kitchen has a work desk and this is where you coordinate the family’s schedule and other important papers, set up a system for doing so. We’ll post more on this later.
  7. Establish habits to keep organized. Put things away when you are done using them. Teach children where things go so that they can do the same. When you bring something new into the kitchen, ask yourself “where is its home” and “what goes”? Schedule a day once a month to quickly go through the food items in the fridge, freezer and pantry and toss anything old or expired.

By having an organized kitchen and pantry you will be able to plan and prepare meals in a more efficient manner, save time by not searching for things you can’t find, save money by not buying duplicates, and you will feel less stressed and more at peace in your home.

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