Professional chefs and home cooks have another thing in common other than the passion for cooking. Both come with organizational skills that can systematize and simplify the different processes in the kitchen. For these guys and gals, there’s a place for every pot, pan, utensil, and what have you. So when it is time to concoct some magical stuff to titillate the nostrils and satisfy the palate, they know where to find the tools of the trade. Newbie homemakers may not have that much luck, unfortunately. However, all is not lost since one can always learn how to be and stay organized in the kitchen. One’s best assets are the kitchen cabinets and drawers. Here’s how you can organize kitchen furniture to your advantage.
Empty Your Kitchen Cabinets, Shelves, and Drawers
The very first part of any “organizational shakeup” is to remove everything so you will have an idea of what you already have. Empty the contents of all the cabinets, shelves, and drawers in your kitchen all in one go. Place everything in one area. Depending on the volume of items that you have, the dining table should be sufficient. If not, remove the table and chairs and place everything you have on the floor.
An alternative is to empty one cabinet at a time. This is advisable for homemakers who may not have that much space to work within the kitchen. Since you will be removing items from one cabinet at a time, you can place these items on the countertop or on your dining table. Use whichever is more convenient for you.
Sort Through Your Stuff and Decide Which Ones to Keep and Which Ones to Let Go
Emptying the kitchen cabinet of all its content is the first part of this “reorganization”. What is more important, however, is to begin the decluttering process. This is going to be quite tedious as you will have to go through each item one by one.
Decide if you want to keep the item or to let it go. A good rule of thumb is to keep the things that you cannot do without every day. For example, knives, spatulas, spoons, ladles, and the like are a must-have in any kitchen. However, it is also important to take a look at the condition of these items. Are they still functioning? Is it broken or is there any sign of damage? If there are, then it may not be wise to keep them around.
There are also kitchen items that you seldom use. Decide if you want to keep these or not. And if you do choose to let go of them, then decide whether to repurpose the stuff, donate it to someone else, or sell it on Craigslist or eBay.
Also, watch out for food items that are already near or beyond their expiration date. You don’t need these stuff anymore.
Give Your Kitchen Cabinet a Thorough Cleaning
If you’re like some homeowners, the last time you’ve cleaned the kitchen cabinet was when you first used it. We are talking about a real deep and thorough cleaning here and not a simple wiping of the surfaces. With empty shelves and drawers, cleaning the cabinet is so much easier.
Wash all surfaces using a solution of water and mild soap. If you want to be extra-cautious, adding a drop or two of a disinfectant solution can help kill the microorganisms lurking on the surfaces. Give it a very thorough rinse and allow it to dry well. It makes no sense cleaning the kitchen cabinet only to invite mold, mildew, and bacteria to thrive in it.
At this stage, you start considering putting in a liner at the bottom of each drawer. If you’ve been using drawer liners already, discard the old ones and place new liners. For open kitchen cabinets, consider installing another shelf or two to maximize your storage options.
Group Items According to Use
In professional kitchens, efficiency is observed in everything that is done. As mentioned, there’s a place or area for everything and anything. It is for this reason that your kitchen should also have individual zones or work sections that allow you to perform specific tasks.
There’s an area for washing kitchen items and ingredients. There’s also an area where you prepare the ingredients for the dish. A functional zone for cooking is also important. The cooking area depends on what cooking appliances you have. If you have a stovetop or oven, then you need to separate these.
Once you’ve identified the functional zones in your kitchen, it’s time to look at your kitchen items again. Group them according to their use and where they belong in your functional zones. As such, your spatulas, ladles, and tongs would fall under your cooking zone. Your knives and chopping boards will be in the food prep section.
Next, look at your pantry stuff. Determine how you want to group these items. For example, grouping flour, baking soda, and cornstarch together is best as these are the items you need for baking. You can also classify items for cooking as well as for breakfast or snacks. Another way you can organize your pantry stuff is by grouping canned goods, bottled food items, and items that come in boxes and foil packs. It is up to you how you wish to group these items. Pick a technique that suits your lifestyle.
Place the Items in Their “Functional Zones”
Once you’re done grouping your items, you’re ready to restock your kitchen cabinets, shelves, and drawers. There is one simple rule to follow: place all items that you use for a certain kitchen function. What this means is that all items that you need for washing should be within the “washing area” of your kitchen. Hence, things like dish soap, scrubbers, brushes, and other cleaning and washing items are best organized in this area.
The same is true in the “baking” area, if you have one. Baking trays, stand mixers, hand mixers, spatulas, wire whisks, and other stuff can stay in the cabinets, shelves, or drawers within this functional zone. In the food preparation area, you can store and organize your chopping boards, knife set, peelers, food processors, mixing bowls, blenders, and the like. As for the cooking zone, get the spatulas, ladles, stirrers, pots, pans, and other stuff within easy reach.
A good idea is to put temporary labels on these “zones” so you will know where to look for a specific item. Over time, you will already memorize their placement, so you can remove the labels.
Consider Getting Kitchen Cabinet and Drawer Organizers
There will always be instances when your kitchen cabinet has plenty of unused space. For example, if it is an open type of cabinet, you will not be able to utilize the full vertical space of the cabinet. Hence, it is wise to add an extra shelf or two to expand your storage and kitchen organization options. Here are a few other ideas for optimizing the space in your kitchen cabinets and drawers.
- Cabinet Risers
These are like additional shelves that are ready to use in your kitchen cabinet. They are freestanding cabinet shelves, so there’s no need for drilling or any complicated installations. Depending on the size of the cabinet and what you intend to store in it, you can put up to two shelf risers. This way, you can store a variety of pots and pans in a more efficient manner.
- Baskets or Plastic Bins
The cabinet in your pantry will do well with baskets or large plastic bins. Organize your baked goods, bread products, breakfast items, snacks, and pasta, among others. If you want to be fancy about it, you can choose wooden baskets or those made of rattan. Of course, for those who don’t mind using plastic bins, it’s always a good choice. Make sure to put appropriate labels on each basket or bin.
- Storage Containers and Organizers
Another way to keep your kitchen cabinets organized is by using storage containers and organizers. There are products that look like miniature cabinets, complete with several tiers of drawers. These can organize your small kitchen stuff like spices. Tall but slim storage containers also work. They’re best for powdered or grainy items. Get those that you can stack on top of each other to optimize the vertical space of your cabinet.
- Corkboards, Adhesive Hooks, and Peg Boards
These are neat ways to improve the organization in the kitchen. One of the most under-utilized parts of any kitchen cabinet is the inside of its door. The inside of the door in your bedroom can come with hooks for hanging your clothes and other items. You can do the same thing with the door of your kitchen cabinet. Mount a system of hooks along the entire width of the door. This is perfect for hanging some of your pots and pans or seldom-used kitchen utensils. The same is true with corkboards and pegboards. These are neat gadgets you can use to improve organization in the kitchen.
- Drawer Pegs
Having a deep kitchen drawer can be quite a challenge to maximize. You can place your tall and bulky kitchen appliances like blenders, food processors, and the like in such drawers. An alternative is to use wooden dowels for organizing your plates, bowls, and other stackable items. The dowels or pegs will serve as borders for your stuff so they stay where they are.
- Drawer Dividers
For shallow drawers, they make perfect storage for your cutlery and other small items. You may need dividers, though. An alternative will be to get drawer organizers to organize your fork, steak knives, and spoons or any other kitchen utensil.
- Tension Rods
These make perfect solutions for organizing lids of pans and pots. It is like creating a pocket in the inside of the drawer. Mount the opposite ends of tension rods on each inner side of the drawer. Observe enough space to place pot and pan lids.
- Pan and Dish Organizer Racks
If you don’t like tinkering with your cabinet or drawer, then getting organizer racks can be a great solution. These are ready to use. Place them where you want to expand your organization options and you’re done.
Always Put Things You Use Often at Eye Level
If you’ve ever wondered why groceries and supermarkets always put certain items at eye level and others at the bottom and the top of the shelf, it’s because they want you to get these items. Observing the same thing in your kitchen can have the same effect.
If you have multiple shelves, make sure to put those items that you often use at eye level. This way, you will have ready access to all these items. There is no need to look up and down your cabinet and scan side to side. Whenever you stare at your cabinet, you’ll immediately see the stuff that you need. Keep in mind that the key to organizing things in the kitchen is to make life easier for you.
Put Seldom-Used Things on the Top Shelf
Now that you’ve organized your kitchen cabinet, look at those items that you seldom use. From seasonal cookware to dinnerware and everything else, put these away. If you’re not ready to part with them yet, then it’s a good idea to put these things on the topmost shelf of your cabinet.
Make it a Habit to Clean and Maintain Your Kitchen Cabinets
It is important to keep your kitchen cabinet in spotless condition. If you have to reorganize because you found a more efficient way of doing things, then get ready to do it. The point here is that your kitchen cabinet and drawer organization is a work in progress. There will always be instances when you buy new stuff. Maintaining your cabinets is always a good way to find room for your new kitchen items.
Organizing kitchen cabinets and drawers like the pro isn’t that difficult. One only has to have a clear idea of what needs to be done.