If “declutter and organize kitchen” is on your to do list, you’re in luck. I’m sharing my best tips to take the guesswork and overwhelm out of such a big job. Not to mention simplifying your kitchen will help you be more present for all those special moments that happen in the heart of the home.
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Tips to Declutter and Organize Your Kitchen
The idea of decluttering and organizing a kitchen can seem overwhelming. Rightfully so. The kitchen is one of the largest and hardest to organize spaces in anyone’s home. With that in mind, I recommend setting aside a block of uninterrupted time and break the project down into one area at a time.
How to Simplify Your Kitchen
Before you start decluttering, answer these questions:
- Who does the cooking?
- Is that person left or right handed?
- How do you primarily use the kitchen?
- What’s functioning well and what isn’t?
- What are your goals for the kitchen?
Use your answers as a filter to help you decide what to keep or get rid of as you sort and declutter.
What to Declutter
Pantry – Empty everything out of the pantry. Throw away expired food, spices, and flours. Sort everything that’s left into categories. Some common categories are:
- Canned food
- Breakfast foods
- Snack items
- Baking Ingredients
- Extra inventory
- Dinner items
- Vinegars and Oils
- Pasta and Grains
- Kid food/Baby food
Pick and choose the categories that make the most sense for how you and your family use the pantry.
Countertops – Clear everything off the counters. As you sort through what to put back, consider creating what I call convenience zones. These are the spaces for items that get regular use throughout the day. I recommend leaving space for:
- Cooking utensils
- Hot beverage station
- Cookbooks or tablet
- Olive oil
- Salt & Pepper
I don’t bake or even use flour or sugar so those aren’t on my countertop. I share that to say keep in mind what you use and reach for on a daily basis.
Drawers – You can empty on one drawer at a time or declutter them all at once. It can be really difficult to edit kitchen tools. Keep your goals in mind as you consider what gadgets, measuring cups, and utensils to keep. Donate or toss anything you don’t actually use.
Cabinets – Tackle a cabinet a day or spend an afternoon going through all the cabinets. Whichever method works for you, get rid of:
- any chipped glasses
- broken dishes
- incomplete dish sets (if that matters to you)
- inherited pieces you don’t want
- tupperware without lids and lids without tupperware
- excess mugs
- worn out pots and pans
- Serving pieces you never use (Keep the items you use once or twice a year.)
Here’s a guide to help you decide how many plates and glasses you need. It’s just a guide. Base your final number on how many you use.
Kitchen Storage Solutions
Now that everything is sorted and grouped, it’s time to consider what storage solutions will best suit your needs. Be sure to measure the height, depth and width of your shelves before buying containers.
Top Kitchen Organization Products
You really don’t need to buy a lot of containers to organize your kitchen. Over time, I’ve discovered the kitchen organizers that do the job well and can serve many uses.
Lazy susans – There are two types of lazy susans that work well in the kitchen. One is the traditional turntable and the other is taller and divided into sections. Either one works to organize oils and vinegars and condiments in the pantry. You can also use them in the refrigerator to store condiments.
I don’t typically use two tiered lazy susans only because there’s usually not enough height in a pantry or cabinet to take advantage of both tiers. They are, however, a great space saving storage solution for corner cabinets.
Plastic bins – Use plastic bins to store like items in your pantry. You can also use them to store food in the refrigerator. Clear shoe boxes from the Dollar Tree work really well for this. Use the lids to make them stackable.
Expandable Rack – Expandable racks are great for organizing spices and canned goods. They make them for drawers, too. You can use a tiered can organizer for canned food, but some of them can be flimsy. Be sure to read the reviews and check how many cans it holds before you make a purchase.
Baskets – I love using baskets to corral different categories in the pantry. For example, I use baskets to store breakfast foods, snacks, pasta and grains and for our popcorn station. From wire to wood to wicker, there are lots of styles to choose from.
Sliding Cabinet Organizer – Sliding cabinet drawers keep you from having to dig around in your cabinets for tupperware, or from moving pots and pans around to get the one you need.
Organize Racks – I use wire or metal organizing racks to organize my baking sheets, bakeware and pot lids.
Kitchen Organizing Ideas
Let’s look at some ideas that will save you space and help you to keep your kitchen organized.
Create Kitchen Zones
Simplify your kitchen, and everyday life, with kitchen zones. Create zones based on convenience and how you use the kitchen in this stage of life. Some common kitchen zones are:
- Kitchen prep – This is the zone for meal prep. Store all your measuring cups, knives, cutting boards, peelers, graters, zesters, jar openers, can opener, ramekins, mixing bowls, colanders, and anything else you regularly use to prepare meals. My prep zone is at the end of my kitchen island closest to the stove.
- Cooking Zone – The cooking zone is typically next to the stove or on on nearby kitchen island. Keep your cooking utensils, spices and oils nearby. A tray next to the stove works really well to keep everything together without cluttering your countertop.
- Cleaning Zone – The most convenient spot for this zone is near the sink and dishwasher. Store dish rags and kitchen cleaning supplies in this area.
- Baking – Choose an area that provides enough room to mix, stir, and roll. Keep your mixing stand, mixing bowls, cookie sheets, baking pans and other baking items in this zone.
- Lunch Prep Zone – If you have kids in school, this is a good zone to consider having. Stock it with lunch boxes or lunch sacks, snack baggies, sand baggies, thermoses, napkins, straws, plastic ware, a notepad and pen (for those little love notes you put in their lunch boxes)
- Food Storage Zone – Keep baggies, foil, Tupperware, freezer bags, food labels, a marker, butcher paper, and other food storage containers in the food storage zone.
- Hot Beverage Zone – If your family drinks hot tea or coffee, create a station that holds tea bags, k-cups, stir spoons or stir sticks, sweeteners, and mugs and tea cups.
- Breakfast Zone – Some families keep cereal, fruit, and breakfast bars handy on the kitchen counter.
Tips for Organizing Kitchen Cabinets and Drawers
- Use drawer organizers to group kitchen gadgets and utensils by category.
- Store commonly used items like dishes and drinking glasses on the lower shelves. Use upper shelves for one-time use items, China, and long-term storage.
- Use shelf mug organizers and stacking shelves to save space in your kitchen cabinets
- Save money by using plastic bins as slide out drawers in lower cabinets.
- I’ve found the best way to organize Tupperware is to stack it by shape and size and store the matching lids in a basket. I actually use a Dollar Tree shoe bin to corral my lids.
- Use deep drawers as storage for larger items like mixing bowls, small appliances or pots and pans.
What Goes Where in Kitchen Cabinets?
- If you’re right handed, use the lower cabinet to the right of the stove for spices, pots and pans, and cooking utensils. My favorite way to arrange pots and pans is to stack them by type. Store the lids in a lid organizer. You can use the upper cabinet for your spices, cooking oils and cookbooks.
- Store everyday dishes in the cabinets closest to the dishwasher for easy loading and unloading.
- If you have an island, use the cabinets for storing items in your prep zone like mixing bowls.
- Cabinets to the left of the stove can be used to store casserole dishes, Tupperware or small appliances. Or if you’re left handed, use that space for your pots and pans.
- Store kitchen cleaners, trash bags, dish washer detergent and dish soap under the kitchen sink.
What to Put in Kitchen Drawers
- Store everyday silverware in a drawer next to the dishwasher.
- Put kitchen linens in a drawer near the sink.
- Keep pot holders and utensils in a drawer next to the stove. Utensils could also be stored in a crock next to the stove.
- Store plastic wrap, foil and baggies in a drawer or cabinet near the fridge.
- Store ramekins, measuring cups and spoons, and kitchen prep gadgets in drawers in the kitchen prep zone. Somewhere near the stove would be ideal.
- Use a drawer in your hot beverage center to store tea bags and k-cups if they’re not stored in a cabinet.
Small Appliance Storage Ideas
When it comes to storing small appliances you have options. Use counter space for appliances your family uses every day. Otherwise, use a lower cabinet in your kitchen prep zone, or store them in the pantry.
Less frequently used appliances can be stored on top shelves of cabinets or the pantry. For example, I only use our coffee pot when entertaining, so I store it on the top shelf of my pantry.
Ideas for Organizing Your Kitchen Pantry
Whether you’re using a cabinet or a pantry, these tips will maximize food storage.
- Organize by category.
- Put commonly used items at eye level.
- Set up a self serve area for the kids on an easy-to-reach shelf.
- Store heavy items like bottled water and sodas on the floor.
- Save space by emptying cereal, flour, baking ingredients, nuts, cookies, etc. into clear airtight storage containers.
- Label items that look similar, like salt and sugar, to avoid mix ups.
- Store cooking directions from empty food packages in your cookbook or tape them to the storage container.
- Use smaller, stackable airtight containers for things like baking soda, baking powder and other low volume pantry items.
- Use stacking shelves or stacking bins to take advantage of tall shelves
- If you have deep shelves, store back stock items like cereal or flour behind the storage container. If you don’t have deep shelves, store them on an upper shelf.
- Use wall space to hang hooks for aprons.
How to Keep Your Kitchen Organized
Organizing in a way that makes sense and suits your lifestyle will really help you stay on track. But, even the best organizing systems require maintenance.
When you notice things getting disorganized, take some time to think about why. Things to consider:
- Does everyone in the family know where everything goes?
- Are bins and containers labeled?
- Would this item make more sense in a different drawer or cabinet?
- Am I collecting or buying items I don’t need?
- Does this item fit into our current lifestyle?
If you get overwhelmed during the decluttering and organizing process, refer back to your goals to remind yourself why you’re organizing your kitchen. And keep in mind, improving your kitchen storage will make your everyday life simpler, cut down on time in the kitchen, and ensure your kitchen is ready for special occasions, holidays and entertaining.
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