These 16 Kitchen Organization Tips will make sure that you start the New Year out in an orderly way.
New Year – New Order. That is my motto every January. I live in a small house and space is really at a premium. But I also belong to a wholesale club and buy things in bulk, so it really becomes necessary for me to go through every part of my kitchen to actually find out what I have lurking in all the nooks and crannies. Any of you who have a space problem probably do the same thing. I thought it would be a good idea to give you my favorite kitchen organization tips and tell you why I do them. There may be some you have not considered doing.There are a lot of ways to organize your home that do not involve getting expensive organizational modules. For me, it’s more of a de-cluttering program. This is easy for me, but not so much for my husband who hates to throw anything away. He always tells me that he knows “exactly where everything is” under the pile of what I call clutter.
But he has sort of seen the light in the last year or so. We really do have boxes and bins of UNUSED things that have been around since we moved to N.C. over 20 years ago. Enough is enough!
For now, I am making a project of my kitchen. It’s sort of my domain, so I can pretty much do as I wish with he, but he knows other things are coming later in the year and he is pretty much on board with it now. So, let’s get organizing. Here are my favorite organization tips to get the most out of your small kitchen, and also the reasons why I organize it as I do.
1. Take your Time. If you try to do the whole kitchen in one go, you will end up hating the job and will rush through it and end up with a kitchen sort of organized but still not functional. I gave myself a few days to do the whole job and spent about an hour at a time. I actually enjoyed the project. I know, I know…what kind of woman enjoys a project like this? But I did…True story!
2. Good Will Boxes. I have long thought that if you have something that has not been used for a few years, then it is time to give it a new home. I keep good will boxes going all the time and just put the things that I don’t use in them. So before I even start on the organizing part of the kitchen, I gather up a few sturdy boxes and get them ready to hold the things I no longer (and in some cases never did) use. I’ll donate them to the local Good Will organization. I’m sure someone else will love the things that I don’t use, but that are in good shape still. I found 5 cat bowls lurking in one cupboard and we have not had a cat in over 10 years!
3. Drawer organization. I don’t know about you, but my kitchen drawers have become a catch all for anything and everything that is narrow. There is no real thought to each drawer and what goes into it. If it fits, it sits was sort of my motto. The only drawer that had a function was the one that holds the silverware. So, I started at one end of the kitchen and made my way through the drawers, one at a time. My intent was to give each drawer a designated use and arranged my small kitchen items into logical spots. Since I only have five drawers, I decided that I had to be ruthless in going through them to make room for things I use a lot.
4. Long Items. One drawer now holds items that are long in shape many of which I don’t use that often, like bamboo skewers, my rolling pin and a turkey baster. I put this on the far left side of my kitchen.
5. Small Gadgets and Wine Stoppers. On the other side of my kitchen is another drawer for corn cobettes, taco shell holders, some chalk, metal bamboo skewers and wine stoppers. This sits right next to the fridge, so it is handy to the wine but the other items that are smaller and not often used are still out of the way.
6. Oven Gadget organization. Now it was time to move in towards the center of the kitchen and closer to the stove and oven. The drawer to the left of the stove now holds cooking thermometers, hand mixer beaters, a pizza cutter and a few other medium sized items that I use somewhat often. Knives that don’t get a lot of use, I keep in sleeves instead of on my counter knife rack.
7. Stove Right Side. The two drawers to the right side of my stove are what I consider primo drawers. One holds my everyday silverware and the other holds cooking items that I use all the time. Measuring spoons and cups, silicone basting brushes, a meat tenderizer and some scoops. I bought some white plastic adjustable drawer dividers and love them to keep things organized. When you do this drawer take everything out and go through it. How one ends up with the amount of odd, unmatched knives, forks and spoons is beyond me! Into the Good Will box they go, so the drawers are not so crowded. Throw out any gadget you have not used in two years, not matter how neat it seems to be. We are de-cluttering here, remember?
8. Organization tips for your pantry. Twice a year, I take EVERYTHING out of my pantry and reorganize it. Mine is the size of a closet and I am the kind of cook who has two of everything. One for now and one so I don’t run out later. Just moving things around won’t cut it, folks. Take everything out and take stock of what you have. I found that I had unopened four bags of Spenda which is something I rarely use now. I made a separate box for food items that will go to a soup kitchen. Taking all the canned and boxed goods out also shows me what is actually IN the pantry Since my pantry is not one that I can walk around in, things get lost in there. When I put the items back, I gave each shelf a designated use, just like I did for the drawers. The below eye level shelf holds baking supplies, nuts and marinades. The floor shelf holds boxed cereals and dog food. Just above eye level is a shelf that holds can goods, onions and bread crumbs and things I want to get to easily. Another holds general cooking items at eye level that I use every few days as well as pasta boxes, and the top shelf holds extra supplies of flour, sugar and my cooking oils sit in front of these.
9. Fridge Organization. No article on kitchen organization tips would be complete without mentioning the Fridge. Before I tackled the cupboards, I decided to organize the fridge. I bought a three door stainless steel fridge a few months ago which I am still in love with. It was fairly tidy but needed a general cleaning and some inspection to see what is lurking in those covered containers. When I bought the fridge, I saw that it didn’t have a narrow meat drawer. Instead it has two very deep crisper drawers that I love. To fix this lack of a drawer that I used a lot in my old fridge, I bought a three drawer plastic shelving unit.My husband refashioned it to hold only two drawers. I keep cheese in one section and cold sandwich meat, ginger and lemons in the other. It fits perfectly and makes my fridge exactly what I want for my own particular use.
10. Go through your Spices. Spices have a fairly short shelf life. This is especially true for me, since I grow fresh herbs during most of the year. I went through them all and organized them on Lazy Susans, again by those used a lot and those rarely used. I discovered three jars (count ’em) of paprika. Who needs that much? Not me. Into the box for the soup kitchen they go!
11. Tupperware Organization. Of all my organization tips, this one will also appeal to you no matter the size of your kitchen! I have a theory that Tupperware lids are the long lost cousins of all those single socks that come out of the dryer. Where do they all go to anyway? I swear that I organize my plastic containers several times a year and I always end up with more lids than containers. So match them up and toss the containers that have no lids. You will be glad you did and your cupboards will love the room to breath. I stack my containers and use a large plastic bin to hold all the lids on their sides. It’s easy to see what I have when I need a lid and they keep quite tidy this way.
12. Minimize your cupboards. I seem to attract coffee cups. I had one cupboard that had them stacked so high there was no room for them all in there. Sure, they are all cute, but how many do you really need? Into the Goodwill box they go except for your favorites and be done with it, woman! The same goes for oddball plates and saucers. ( I do have more dishes than this but they were in the dishwasher.) But they all fit nicely now and the waifs and strays have a new home at the Good Will.
13. Organization tips for Lower Cupboards. This is the part that I was dreading. There are kitchen appliances and serving dishes in my lower cupboards that have not see the light of day in 20 years. I have a corner cabinet that I know is full of stuff that will get donated but it has no corner lazy Susan unit in it, and I knew I was going to have to get down on my hands and knees for this part of the job. My only advice it to get ruthless. If it has been stored in a place that you can’t get to, why even keep it? Give it to someone who has a bigger kitchen! I have three and 1/2 double cupboard units. This is how I have them organized now:
- Baking trays, casserole dishes, wire racks and extra beer in far left cabinet.
- Serving dishes for parties and hand made container for plastic wraps, foils etc in corner cabinet
- Two single cabinets hold small kitchen appliances – crock pot, rice cooker, food processor, etc. I’d like to have them out on the counter but don’t have the room
- Under sink cabinets hold cleaning items, potatoes, watering can
14. Organize your counters. This is the most important of my organization tips. If you have a small kitchen, you will know that counter space is at a premium. If it were up to me, I’d have a huge kitchen which would allow me to have all my appliances out so they are easy to use when I want to. Alas, that is not the case for me in my tiny kitchen. I have ONLY the appliances on my counter tops that I use daily or 3-4 times a week. If they are something that gets used rarely, it is stored in my under cabinets BEHIND those that are more often used but not a weekly thing. Every single inch of space that you can claim back on your counter top will allow you more room when you need some space there. My fruit bowl does double duty by having abanana holder built into it to save space on the counter and keeps my bananas from getting ripe too quickly too.
15. Make Use of Window Space. We added a single shelf above my sink area by nailing two small shelf holders to the sides of the cabinets. This extra space gives me room for some herbs, a few plants and my canisters, which would take a lot of room if I had them on the counters. It was just a question of thinking outside the box.
16. Think outside the box. I keep lots of dry goods in white Oxo containers. I love their push button tops and sleek lines. But they are BIG and take too much room in my pantry. In order to still be able to use them and save space, I had my husband install a long shelf above the pantry door and lined it with the containers. The containers are out of the way. They look great in the kitchen and all I need when I want to get the items down, is one step on a child’s step stoolthat I keep on top of the containers for my dog food.
This is truly the most organized my kitchen has been in FOREVER. I have gotten rid of the stuff I really never used anyway and I actually have space in the cupboards and drawers now. Take it from me. If you feel crowded in a too small kitchen, then getting rid of the clutter is the way to go. You will be so glad you did!
What kitchen organization tips do you have for a small kitchen? Can you think of things that make your kitchen space more usable? Please share them in the comments below.
Looking for some more organization tips to make your kitchen more functional? See these neat ideas.
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