Keeping the Kitchen Organized

As they say, the kitchen is the heart of the home. The place where family and friends always seem to end up sharing meals, stories and memories. October is national kitchen and bath month. Since not too many people congregate in the bathroom, we are going to focus on helping you get your best kitchen.

The refrigerator can easily become one of those “out of sight, out of mind” places. But opening it is another story. Are there Thanksgiving leftovers in January because they were in a random container, tucked behind everything else? Here are some simple remedies to keep your refrigerator fresh and organized.

  • Eggs absorb odor so you want to keep them toward the middle in the coldest part of the refrigerator, and not on the door.
  • If you have two drawers, keep one for fruits and vegetables and the other for meat. In case there is leakage, use the bottom drawer for meat.
  • To avoid your leftovers from becoming a science experiment, use clear glass containers and label them with a date! Do the same for meals you put in the freezer. Don’t assume you will remember what that brown casserole is once it is frozen.
  • Lazy Susan’s keep you from having to pull everything out to get to that back corner. Put those rarely used items in the back, and when you need them, just give it a spin.
  • Mason jars are a great way to store prepared salads for the week.
  • Eat me first! Don’t you just hate it when the fresh fruit is eaten before the older? Have a special container to corral the food that is on it’s way out! Do you have two containers of the same thing? Store the new one upside down, and this lets everyone know to finish the opened first.
  • Lastly, this is one of my favorites. Snap a quick photo of your refrigerator and pantry before you go shopping. If you are unsure if you are out of something, check the picture!

Refrigerator

Want to open your PANTRY with a smile? Categorize, contain and label.

  • Get all your “likes” together, contain them in one area and label what they are.
  • Use a basket or plastic container to hold all your grains, pasta, snacks, etc. 
  • If you have deep cabinets, use containers with handles so it is easy to pull out the front layer and reach to the back. Much better than moving one can at a time!
  • Putting your cereal in an airtight container will help with freshness.
  • Label your containers! Do you have a family with different tastes? Most cereal looks the same, but does not taste the same. Label the container: Sweet, Non-Sweet, Gluten Free, etc. 
  • Not using a container for food?  Be sure to tighten and fasten the bag and add it to a clear resealable bag to keep items fresh and avoid spillage. 
  • Are you a stickler for things in their place? Label your shelves. This also helps insure the family can find what they want, and ever better, put it away!
  • Lazy Susan to the rescue again. Use one in those hard to reach corners.
  • No Pantry, but deep drawers? Use multi purpose bins or hanging file folders to store your “likes”.
  • Corral items together for ease: hand mixer in a basket with the blades included.

To avoid a drawer full of mismatched plastic, glass, and colored containers; I suggest using the same brand of food storage containers. This way the lids will always fit, and they will stack and fit nicely in place.

Spice up your life and keep it organized! First of all, check for expiration dates. This is the one kitchen item that gets neglected the most. Once you have fresh spices at hand, they are best kept in a cool, dark space. To find the one you want easily, either alphabetize or group them according to use. You can buy tiered spice racks for ease in reading the labels, use a Lazy Susan, handled baskets, or lie them flat in a drawer.

RECIPES, RECIPES, RECIPES. What to do with recipes? Is your recipe box overflowing and you keep adding more? Stop and ask yourself these questions.

  • Does the recipe fit with my eating habits? Pecan pie and I have a nut allergy…toss it.
  • Are there a lot of ingredients or utensils I don’t have? If it is likely you will not go buy a bunch of new stuff you may never use for a new recipe…toss it.
  • Does it take a long time to prepare and will I really do it? Choose to eat that meal at a restaurant…toss it.
  • Two of the same recipe? Make a point to try each one, keep your favorite and…toss it.
  • How long have I had this recipe and have I ever tried it? Pick a few new recipes a week. Try them out. If you like it, it goes back in the box. If not…toss it.
  • Digital recipe organization is easier than ever!

Do you have a lot of cookbooks, and maybe only use a few in each book, but you have a hard time getting rid of them? Take a look at this app Eat Your Books  

Add your cookbooks and a recipe index is created just for you. Search your collection by recipe, ingredient, ethnicity and more.

TOWELS, TOWELS and more TOWELS.

Take a moment to sort and put those old tired towels to rest. But don’t throw them out, old towels make the best cleaning rags!

I like to store towels in a drawer with the rolled method. This takes up less room, you don’t have to worry about piles falling over, and you can see what you are looking for. In our house we have two types. Colored towels are used for drying the counters, stove, etc; and white towels are for drying dishes. Color coding seems to help keep us from drying a dish that has just been used to wipe the counter.

Finally, dish towels make great souvenirs from your travels. They are light, easy to pack and every time you are in the kitchen you are reminded of a favorite vacation or destination.

So pick a spot and start. Because before you know it company is coming, and no doubt they will end up in your kitchen!

Cheryl Allsbrook is a professional organizer who helps families get their homes organized so more time can be spent on the HAPPY THINGS. The company name is the mission…Monkey See Monkey Do Organizing…once you SEE how it is done, you will learn how to DO it.  Learn more at  MonkeyDoOrganizing.com

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