Do you have spices in your kitchen that are so old they could have gone down with the Titanic?
Does it feel as though you have enough plastic container lids for every home in America, yet you don’t have a single matching bottom?
Does it take you twice as long to prepare a meal as it should, because you spend all of your time trying to find ingredients and cooking implements?
If you answered yes to any of the above, then it’s time to declutter and bring order back to your kitchen.
Whether It’s sentiment or habit that has kept you from tossing or replacing that non-stick pan with scratches on it or the cutting board with a crack in it, the time has come to get rid of anything that is in disrepair or has outlived its usefulness, as they only add to your kitchen’s clutter problems.
So grab a garbage bag and a box for things to donate and follow these quick tips for getting your kitchen organized:
1. Make the most of your cabinet space:
Pull everything out of the cabinets to get a look at what you have to work with. The most frequently used dishes should be placed on the bottom shelves of a cabinet that is convenient to you. Creative rearranging, like storing stemware glasses by placing every other glass upside down, allows you to get the most mileage out of your cabinets. Extra dishes? Figure out how much you actually use when you host a gathering and donate the rest.
2. Evaluate your appliances:
When was the last time you used that food processor, bread machine or juicer? Reserve precious countertop space for appliances you use daily or a minimum of a few times a week. For those appliances used only a couple of times a year, find a storage spot that isn’t the countertop. If you haven’t used an appliance in over a year, find it a new home.
3. Purge the pantry:
Start with the obvious and throw away all expired food or anything that has not been sealed properly and is now stale. As a general rule of thumb, spices should be replaced every 6-to-12 months, so say goodbye to any older than a year. Scan your canned goods for extras that you could donate to a local food pantry. To increase storage, consider a “lazy susan” or an over-the-door shelf for spices and sauces. Organize foods by category or the time of day (breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack) and using storage-friendly containers that are clearly labeled.
4. Clean out the fridge:
Keep your refrigerator from becoming a giant petri dish of food-borne illnesses by cleaning it out every one-to-two weeks. Start at the top shelf and work your way down, tossing out any expired food and leftovers. Foods labeled with a “sell by” date should be consumed within five days of that date — when in doubt, throw it out. Once the inside has gotten a good wipe-down, organize foods by type, placing the most frequently used in the front.
5. Sort your plastic containers:
Do you believe, like many, that the socks disappear from the dryer and reemerge as plastic container lids leaving you with cabinets and drawers full of useless plastic? Well, it’s time to declare a moratorium on this container chaos and throw out the mismatched components. Invest in something like Gladware containers with interlocking lids — different-sized lids snap together, and each container nests inside another, maximizing cabinet space.