How to Simplify Your Kitchen (2019)
I know exactly how difficult it can be to keep the kitchen functional and organized.
This is why, in today’s article, I’ll show you how you can apply The Three C’s method to simplify your kitchen:
Step #1: Clear the clutter
Step #2: Clean the space
Step #3: Create an organizational system
Let’s get started.
Clear the clutter from your kitchen
The kitchen is an easy target for clutter build-up because it’s a high traffic area. It’s where you make food, hangout, and often collect mail. It’s also usually close to an entrance to the house, which means all kinds of crap piles up between entering and exiting the home.
This being said, if you can’t fit your kitchen stuff in the kitchen, it’s not because you have too little space. It’s because you have too much stuff. That’s why the first step to simplifying your kitchen is to clear the clutter.
The kitchen is actually a great place to start your decluttering adventure (if you haven’t already) because the results are immediately noticeable and extremely satisfying. Decluttering is an important step in the simplification process because it’s so much easier to clean and organize a decluttered space, which we’ll get to in steps two and three.
But before we start decluttering, there’s something important I have to say:
Do NOT start by decluttering the junk drawer
I repeat, do NOT start by decluttering the junk drawer.
Our advice for decluttering, especially if you are new to decluttering, is to start small. Believe it or not, starting with the infamous junk drawer is NOT starting small. While it may look like a small job, the drawer holds hundreds of little things each of which need to be evaluated for their usefulness. It also often involves running things from the drawer to other places in the house, which may distract you from your current decluttering mission.
Now that’s out of the way, let’s get started with the decluttering.
P.S.: If you get stuck along the way, just ask yourself these 11 mindful decluttering questions to make sure you don’t get rid of too much (or too little).
Throw out expired products from the fridge and pantry
The fridge and pantry are easy spaces to start decluttering because everything has an expiration date. Remove rotten or otherwise expired food items. Also, consider all the food in your kitchen and evaluate honestly whether you will be able to eat everything before they turn. If you have too much, give some away to friends and family or donate to a food shelf. Don’t let food go to waste.
Downsize your dish ware to what you use
You probably have more plates and bowls than you actually need, but you feel pressured to keep them because… why not? Just remember, the more stuff you have lying around, the more you have to organize, so take some time now to try to reduce your dish ware. Let go of the mismatched, broken, or unused items. Think realistically about your lifestyle. How many plates, bowls, and serving ware do you actually need – and what do you actually use?
Reduce your cutlery down to one matching set
Sort through your knives, forks, spoons, and serving utensils. Weed out the mismatched extras that snuck into your set. If you only have odds and ends of utensils you’ve collected through the years, either try to make a complete set with what you have or donate everything and replace it with a full set.
Donate cooking and baking supplies you don’t use
Even those of us who use our kitchens regularly know we have our favorite pots and pans. We all have our go-to items that we use over and over again ignoring the plethora of other pots, pans, baking sheets, and muffin tins we could be using. If you haven’t used something within the past few months, donate it or sell it. Chances are, there is someone else out there who’ll find use of it.
Give away your unused cookbooks
Cookbooks are fun to have, but are you using them? Don’t let useless cookbooks clutter up your kitchen unless you actually have somewhere to put them. Pick out the ones you use regularly and let the rest go. If you need a recipe, there are millions of them on the internet free of charge.
Recycle old food storage containers
Time to face your tupperware collection. Get rid of the mismatched pieces (those that do not nest neatly with the others) and incomplete sets. You can try donating old food containers to local artists or art programs. You never know what they may be looking for.
If you end up tossing all or most of your plastic food storage containers, I recommend starting over with glass containers that nest together, are oven safe, and don’t leak.
Deal with disposable utensils, napkins, dishware, and sauce packets
Maybe you have a stash leftover from a party or a collection accumulated through take-out and deliveries. Wherever the source, now is the time to be real with yourself: Do you ever use these? If you decide to keep them, make a pointed effort to use them, otherwise they are just cluttering your drawers.
You can try donating these items to a local artist or soup kitchen. In the future, you can avoid this particular type of clutter build-up by asking restaurants to leave disposable utensils and extra items out of your take out bags. You can also stop buying them in the first place.
Remove anything else that does not add value to your life
Appliances you don’t use, oven mitts, placemats, table clothes, dish towels, and so forth… if you don’t use them, you don’t need them. If they are duplicates or extras, let them go too.
Box-up the give-away pile for donation, gifting, or a garage sale. Leave the items you’re keeping out until you’ve cleaned the space.
Declutter the junk drawer
And finally, go through the infamous junk drawer.
Remember, it’s called ‘junk’ for a reason.
Let’s move on to the next step.
Clean Your Kitchen
Before returning items to their little homes in your shelves and drawers, it’s important to use this opportunity to really clean the space. This way, you can start with a fresh slate before continuing to the organization step.
It’s easy to allow areas with dust and dirt to become cluttered and disorganized because it feels as though the space is already messy. That’s why the second step to simplifying your kitchen is to clean it.
And I mean, deep clean it. Don’t just wipe things down and call it good. Really take the time to scrub at dried food stains and other buildup around the kitchen.
I recommend following a top-to-bottom approach to ensure you catch all the dirt and dust by the end:
• Wipe down the top of the fridge, cabinets, light fixtures, and anything else that’s high up
• Scrub away smudges and gunk from your fridge with an all-purpose cleaner
• Wipe down your cabinets, drawers, and other surface areas
• Scrub the oven with baking soda and steel wool to remove baked-on stains
• Run the dishwasher with vinegar and baking soda to clean and freshen it
• Scrub the faucet and sink with baking soda
• Clean the out-of-sight places (such as under the fridge and behind the oven) with a scrubbing cleaner
• And finally, sweep and mop the floor for a sparkling finish
Once you’ve finished, it’s time to move on to the final step.
Create an Organizational System
Now that the clutter has been cleared away and the space made squeaky clean, it’s time to put things back. However, before you do that, we’re going to design an organizational system for your kitchen that makes sense and is easy to maintain over time.
Here’s how you do it.
#1 Categorize your kitchen items based on their function
Keep like items together. Group kitchen items into categories based on their function, such as silverware, bowls, pots and pans, coffee brewing equipment, baking supplies, food storage… you get the idea.
This will help you estimate the size of each of your categories so you can start thinking about where you will be able to fit everything.
#2 Put each kitchen category where it’s most practical
Next, look at each category and ask yourself where it would be most practical to store the items. The more frequently you use something, the more accessible you should make it. Things should be kept close to where they will be used. For example:
• Keep cooking utensils close to the stove
• Keep every day dishes close to the dishwasher so it’s easy to put them away
• Keep glasses close to the sink and fridge for easy access to beverages
• Keep spices and oils close to the stove
• Keep oven mitts close to oven
Start putting things away in the spaces you believe to be the most practical for each category based on their frequency of use and distance from where they’ll be used.
#3 Organize each kitchen category by size and type
And finally, organize each of the categories based on their size and type. For example, if you have a variety of drinking glasses in your kitchen cabinet, organize them by type (wine, beer, water, etc), and size (from small to large). The same goes for cups, plates, bowls, pots and pans, and everything else you can think of. This type of organization optimizes the space utilization. It also helps your kitchen look cleaner and more organized overall.
#4 Bonus: Storage tips to get the most out of your kitchen
Here are some tips and tricks to help you make the most out of your space, to reduce food waste, and to truly simplify your kitchen…
1. Make your leftovers visible and easily accessible
This increases the likelihood that they will be eaten before going bad. Keep your leftovers a visual and central spot in the fridge when you put them away. Also, mark them with the date they were prepared to track how long they have been in the fridge.
2. Use fridge drawer organizers to create more storage space
Fridge drawer organizers are perfect for decluttering your fridge because they use hanging space to store small items that would otherwise be loose in the fridge. I also recommend using boxes and containers to divide the space and contain food items in their respective categories.
3. Optimize your pantry space by installing sliding drawer organizers
Sliding drawer organizers transform every shelf and cabinet space into multi-level drawer storage. They are ideal for storing canned and dry goods.
4. Keep treats and snack foods on the highest shelf
Store temping and unhealthy foods in high-up, or otherwise difficult-to-reach, places to discourage yourself from mindless snacking.
5. Use shelf organizers to create more shelves in your cabinets
Shelf organizers make dishes more accessible by breaking up the stack as opposed to keeping everything in one column (if what we want is at the bottom of the stack, it’s a hassle to get it). This way, we can stack dishes in order of size and make sure the items we use most frequently are easily accessible.
6. Store glasses by alternating orientation
In other words, alternate between putting them right-side-up and upside down (if this makes sense for their shape). This will help you conserve space and make your cabinets look neater and more organized.
7. Organize your pots and pans in a pot organizer
Pot organizers, like shelf organizers, imitate nesting and stacking without sacrificing accessibility (when the pan you need is at the bottom of the stack). This solution is also perfect for small cabinets and storage space.
9. Nest and box baking supplies to save space to stay organized
Nest mixing bowls, measuring cups and spoons, and as many pans as you can. I like keeping small baking equipment like cups, spoons, spatulas, and appliance accessories in a drawer or box to keep them contained.
I like to organize my consumable baking supplies with large items on one shelf and smaller items on another. This way, I never lose track of small jars of sprinkles or powders amongst large bags of flour or sugar. Cabinet shelf organizers are also ideal for baking cabinets because they create more shelving space for keeping small jars and containers.
10. Put your spaces on a spice rack
Spice racks drastically improve the look of a spice cabinet or storage space and increase visibility to all your spices. No more lost bottles.
11. Get a utensil organizer for your cutlery
Utensil organizers are perfect for keeping your cutlery neat and organized. Only keep one type and size of utensil per slot. Store cutlery facing the same direction to keep them looking tidy.
Use extra space to store oddly shaped items such as veggie peelers, can-openers, slotted spoons, etc.
12. Keep the area under the sink clean
No one likes reaching into a cesspool every time they want to clean something. This space is great for storing extra cleaning supplies and even a small trash can. The best way to use this space is to create multiple levels. You can do this by installing sliding drawers to store cleaning supplies, or other shelves to create more shelf space under the sink. The key is to get things off the ground and organized into categories and bins.
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