Contributor: Susan Weiner, MS, RDN, CDE, FAADE
In partnership with
Are you ready to organize your kitchen? No matter the size (or current state) of your kitchen, chances are you can benefit from adopting a few organizing strategies. Some kitchens are very small, and space is limited, but even in larger kitchens, space always seems to be at a premium.
Here are a few easy steps to START organizing your kitchen. Let’s do this!
S Sort! Sort through the items in your kitchen to make sure they belong there. It’s time to begin the kitchen decluttering process. You can’t start to organize until you sort through your current items. Sort your way to organizing success.
During the process, ask yourself these questions:
- Is countertop clutter a challenge?
- Do you have duplicate items in your refrigerator or pantry?
T Toss! Toss anything that is broken, chipped, expired, rusty, or missing parts. These items are huge “space robbers” and take up valuable real estate in your kitchen. Donate never-used small appliances and gadgets, gently used gifts, extra plasticware, jars, and items you no longer like, want, or need. Instant space!
A Assign! All items should be assigned a home. Your most-used items should take center stage in your kitchen and be easily accessible. Move seldom-used items such as holiday dishes or party platters to either a high, out-of-the-way shelf or other location in your home. If stored in a box, always make sure to label the outside, so you can identify what’s inside easily. In the pantry, keep items you use most regularly in your prime real estate, which is the space between your shoulders and knees.
Keep the tools you’ll use the most for healthy cooking in easy-to-reach locations. Make sure you don’t need a step stool or extra set of hands to access your most frequently used kitchen items.
Use graduated risers (like mini-steps or stairs) in pantries to hold spices and canned goods. And go behind closed doors! Hang door-mounted racks on the inside of pantry closets or cabinet doors to maximize storage space. This is a great technique for freeing up counter space. For an inexpensive and flexible option, you can hang a clear shoe bag on the inside of any kitchen door. Perfect for corralling carb-counted snacks!
R Rethink Containers! Clear is king. Use clear containers so you can see what’s inside. No need to break the bank when searching for clear containers or kitchen organizing supplies. Dollar and odd-lot type stores are a treasure trove for containers, bins, and baskets. Using clear containers eliminates the issue of “out of sight, out of mind”. You’ll see what you have on hand, which will help you avoid duplicate purchases!
Consider investing in a label maker or use masking tape and a marker to clearly label all containers. This will act as a visual check of what’s inside so you can find specific items that you need easily, and you can put them back where they belong.
T Take account! Take account of your improved organizing systems and evaluate regularly to make sure they are working for you. Have you ever come home from food shopping and simply “shoved” a jar of pickles or your favorite seasoning in the back of the pantry because that’s where it fit? If you store items in the black hole of your pantry or refrigerator, chances are it’s lost, and you won’t find it when you actually need it. Start to store items by use. Place everyday items within close reach, so you can locate them when you need them. Do you need more space for meal prep? For your collection of pots and pans? If you have to sort through a stack of trays, pots, and mixing bowls and rearrange your cupboards every time you want to get a pan out to steam some veggies, you may become frustrated and give up. The answer is to streamline your kitchen and your cooking options. Whatever system works for you, stay organized so that pots, pans, utensils, and ingredients are easy to pull out when you’re ready to toss together meals.
Susan Weiner, MS, RDN, CDE, FAADE, is the owner and clinical director of Susan Weiner Nutrition, PLLC. Susan was named the 2015 AADE Diabetes Educator of the Year and is an AADE fellow. Susan's is the "Diabetes in Real Life" columnist for Endocrine Today. She is also the co-author of "The Complete Diabetes Organizer" and "Diabetes: 365 Tips for Living Well".
Susan is a well-respected national and international speaker on a variety of topics related to nutrition, diabetes, wellness, and health, and has authored several articles in peer-reviewed journals. Susan earned her Master's Degree in Applied Physiology and Nutrition from Columbia University.