How to organize your kitchen cabinets
The kitchen and bathroom are the most functional rooms in your house. To maximize that function efficiently, you need to ensure that everything is easily accessible and smartly stashed. Today, let’s look at how to organize your kitchen cabinets (since there are a lot more of those than in your bathroom!).
Step #1: Start with nothing.
Empty out all of your kitchen cabinets, so you’re starting with a clean slate. While you’re going through this potentially time-consuming activity, dispose of any food items that have passed their expiration date. If you have opened boxes of cookies, crackers, cereal, or other edibles that might be stale, either toss them out or bravely taste-test them to see what’s still acceptable.
If you have unexpired non-perishables that you are likely not going to consume, set them aside to donate to a local food bank.
Check the dishes, pots, pans, and utensils as you remove them from your cabinet. Discard the chipped, cracked, dented, rusted, hopelessly tarnished, or otherwise damaged pieces. Donate to a thrift shop anything in good condition that you’re not using.
Discard any cleaning products that are old or almost empty. You probably have duplicates.
And, by all means, empty the junk drawer!
Step #2: Clean and prep.
Clean your empty cabinets. Wipe out the crumbs. Scrub the surfaces. Diluted white vinegar works well, and if you need a little extra scouring power, use baking soda. While you’re in cleaning mode, also scrub the exterior of the cabinets and drawers, including the hardware. You’d be surprised (or maybe not) at the build-up that occurs there.
Line the drawers and cabinets. Cork liners are excellent because they absorb some of the shock and create a more forgiving surface.
Step #3: Create a traffic plan.
Think about how you function in your kitchen. For example, if you have a coffee maker on your counter, where do you keep the mugs? When you’re cooking on the stove, do you have to search for pots and the matching lids? Are certain items not being used because they’re not easy to reach?
Break your kitchen space into zones, like food prep, cooking, baking, serving, and clean-up. Then separate the tools you need for each type of task and allocate them to the appropriate zone. Perhaps you’ve been keeping all the cooking utensils in one place—e.g., next to the stove—but you mix up batter and dough in a different area.
Step #4: Re-assign the space.
Now that you have a better understanding of how you function in your kitchen, it’s time to rethink where you store the food and tools. Your kitchen will be more efficient when you can easily get what you need without wandering from one corner of the room to another.
Differentiate your baking utensils (spatulas, whisk, wooden spoons) from the cooking utensils you use with your skillets and pots.
Match every lid to a pot or skillet, so you know whether or not you have sets.
Organize everything by function: cleaners, paper products, eating, cooking, drinking, cutting.
Organize the non-perishables according to who and how they’re used. If the kids need to reach the cereal, put all of it in the same place where it’s accessible. Gather all of your staples in one place (flour, sugar, spices), and do the same with other categories, like canned goods, snack foods, condiments, and beverages (tea, hot chocolate, powdered mixes).
Step #5: Shop.
Go online or visit your local home stores to find space-saving, clever ways to store your kitchen stash. Utilize storage pieces that can be attached to the inside cabinet doors—like spice racks and pot lid holders—or under shelves. Attachments that can slide in and out are very useful additions. Get drawer organizers for your utensils, silverware, and junk drawer contents.
Install a pull-out drawer under your kitchen sink, where products often are pushed to the back.
Step #6. Restock.
For anything you use frequently, be sure to store it in the front of the kitchen cabinet. Put the non-perishable items in front that have the soonest expiration date, so you use them first. Put the taller containers in the back.
instead of piling up skillets, baking sheets, and other long cookware, store them vertically in a rack so you don’t have to hoist a heavy pile to get to the bottom piece, but rather just slide them out when needed.
Attach any pairs—salad tongs, mixer blades, serving pieces—with a plastic tie, rubber band, or even a clean hair scrunchie. This step avoids the hassle of digging around for the matching piece when it’s time to use it.
On the inside door of a cabinet you’re using for food storage, attach a notepad, dry erase board, or chalkboard to create a grocery list. When something is getting low, ask the user to note it on the list.
Inside another cabinet, mount a piece of corkboard where you can post notes, schedules, reminders, and coupons. This doesn’t have to be an unsightly mess on your fridge!
Step #7. Maintain.
Now that you’ve gone to the trouble of organizing your kitchen cabinets, be sure that you and the other members of your household stick to this new system!