Thanks to Jana from the Empty Kitchen for this guest post on organization. I’ll be announcing the winner of the book giveaway a little later tonight but for now: organizing the kitchen.
We spend a great deal of time organizing our bedrooms, desks, closets, money and schedules to accommodate all we have to do. But how many of us actually take the time to organize our kitchens? I know that up until recently, I never really paid much attention to how my kitchen is organized. Considering I love to cook and bake, I was surprised at how little I cared about the organizational stylings of my kitchen. Sure my pantry is organized in a method that makes sense only to me and my freezer is arranged so that a hungry husband can see the contents easily but most everything else in my kitchen is an organizational disaster.
So I took a step back and evaluated what’s going on, not only in my kitchen but in almost every kitchen I have ever been in. I tried to see where people were succeeding and where people were failing. Although my kitchen fails in numerous areas, I identified 3 common areas where we all could improve:
1. Spices—this is my most epic organizational failure. Really, it’s just a shelf in one cabinet and it’s a big jumbled mess. It takes me about 5 minutes to find what I’m looking for because somehow the spice that I want is always shoved in the back corner. There is absolutely no method to how spices are tossed into the cabinet. If you suffer from this same problem, your organization could be improved by purchasing a spice rack or installing a shelf large enough to accommodate all your spices.
2. The non-silverware utensil drawer—this is also a big jumbled mess. This is where large, sometimes-used utensils are kept. This is akin to the junk drawer of utensils. Serving forks? Throw ‘em in. Skewers? Add those, too. Meat thermometer? Sure and please make sure that the pointy side is always up so a stabbing can occur. Not only is it a hodgepodge of utensils but they’re usually stuck together in a big tangled web. To organize this, one of those handy in-drawer utensil organizers would be helpful or, if there’s enough space, separate them in different drawers by category: serving, barbeque and cooking.
3. The crispers in the fridge—the crispers are both a blessing and a curse. While I’m glad that they exist to keep the fruit, vegetables, cheese and tortilla shells separate, it is really easy for cheese or a cucumber to get buried at the bottom and turn into something that is not really recognizable as food (and have you ever had to touch a liquefied cucumber? It’s disgusting). To keep this organized, go through the crispers every week prior to grocery shopping and do a cleanse. Also, if you have lunch meat or cheese in a crisper, keeping a list of expiration dates is extremely beneficial.
There are some organizational tools that I do implement. I have a big jar on my counter next to the stove where I keep my spatulas, tongs and spoons. My silverware drawer has one of those organizer things (I love this). My pantry is organized in a manner that rivals Kelly’s. My cookbooks are stored with bookends on top of my fridge. And I have a basket on my pass-through ledge that holds pens, scissors, my camera and battery charger and my daughter’s reward stickers.
Being organized saves time and money, two things I really love to save. By knowing what’s in my pantry or my fridge, I won’t spend money on those items and I also don’t run the risk of looking like a potential candidate for Hoarders. That money that I’ve saved can be used to by another item I need or want, or I can roll that money into the next week’s grocery budget. By having my pantry, fridge and freezer organized it’s easy for me to find all the ingredients (spices not included) I need for a recipe and I can more efficiently use the precious 46 minutes I get each night to cook dinner (46 minutes is exactly the duration of 2 episodes of Dora the Explorer). It makes the task of cooking that much more enjoyable.
Organizing doesn’t have to be expensive. You can look around your house and see if there’s anything that can be repurposed. You can hit the dollar store for simple plastic bins or drawer organizers. If money isn’t an issue but you’re unsure of how to start, Good Housekeeping has tons of articles on how to get started organizing your kitchen. This is one that I particularly enjoyed.
I’m busy. You’re busy. Kelly is really, really busy. Busy is just a fact of life. And for most of us, so is eating. Let’s try to save some time by having an organized kitchen!
Note from Kelly: Kelly is so busy she threw away a liquefied cucumber today from the bottom crisper drawer. It was, in fact, disgusting.