Last week, we gave you some ideas for tackling your bedroom chaos to create a fresh, newly organized space for the new year. This week, we tackle one of the most challenging spaces in a home: the kitchen. For most people, this is the last place we choose to deal with due to the depth of the task. Much of the work is behind the scenes and involves cleaning. It can feel like an overwhelming task, and the results aren’t easily seen – so we avoid it. But for many families, the kitchen is where we all come together. It’s shared meals and holiday gatherings, game nights and dinner parties. It’s really the core space of many homes, and shouldn’t be ignored.
Our advice: start small. Don’t tackle the kitchen in its entirety – break the project in to chunks, which helps you see your progress as well. After you’ve tamed the current chaos in your kitchen, you can move on to the more fun kitchen redecorating projects!
Step 1: Make friends with your fridge
Are you a little afraid to open your fridge? Wilted vegetables, containers with unidentifiable contents, sauce stains, the pretty much empty mustard bottle – it’s understandable why we put off cleaning our fridge. However, there is no better friend to your New Year healthy eating promise than a clean and colorful, fully stocked fridge.
- Empty your fridge fully, including all of the racks and drawers.
- Wash these and the interior of your fridge fully. To deodorize your fridge, use a solution of 1 part white vinegar and 1 part water.
- Toss any questionable or empty items.
- As you put your items back in your now sparkling fridge, be sure to group items together in a way that makes sense and is easy for you to use. This will help you maintain your organization.
- When you buy fruits and vegetables, try to buy only what you know you will use. If you go a little overboard, cut up the excess and store in a freezer-safe container for future use.
Step 2: De-clutter your cupboards
Do you have elastic bands on your cupboard doors to stop the avalanche of pasta and rice packages? Do you have your pizza place on speed dial because you just can’t face trying to find ‘that’ dish to cook your planned nice dinner? If so, we are here to help!
- Once again, take everything out of your cupboards. Give yourself a clean slate to work with.
- Wipe down the insides of the cupboards.
- Forget about how you have organized them in the past. Think about how you use the items and assign places that make your job in the kitchen easier. Put all of the eating and cooking dishes you normally use at the front of their cupboards, so you have easy access. All others can go in the back or on higher shelves for special occasions. Organizing by usage means that you spend less time getting frustrated looking for what you use often.
- Next, do the same thing with food. Organize according to type and then by usage. Put your spices in baskets and line up the ones you use most at the front. Put the sticky stuff on a lazy Susan or a tray to contain the mess and make it easy to see what you have. Take the time when you grocery shop to make sure the things you will use most often are at the forefront of your cupboards and you will find that cooking is not only much easier but more enjoyable.
Step 3: Tackle your Tupperware
One of the most frustrating morning traditions is the hunt for the right container lid for our carefully prepared lunch. Not only is it likely that we will try many different variations to get to the right lid but it is entirely possible that we will never find a match at all. Plastic lids seem to be hiding out somewhere with the odd sock from the dryer we can never find. Take control of your storage containers!
- Take out all of your lids and containers and put them on a large table.
- Pair each container with the correct lid. Call it a game and get your kids involved.
- Get rid of any containers or lids that do not have a match. Be ruthless!
- Then, separate out the lids and put them in a basket or drawer where you can see their shapes and sizes. The hunt in the mornings won’t be perfect, but you will at least only have one place to look.