4 Tips & Tools to Help Better Organize Your Kitchen

In most homes, the kitchen is the true soul of the home. From preparing birthday and holiday celebrations to hanging out at the kitchen table gabbing with family over late-night bowls of ice cream, the kitchen is more than a place to prepare food — it is a nurturing and relaxing space where memories are created.

To honor the kitchen for its role as heart of the home, make sure it is functioning as efficiently as possible. In addition to staying on top of the dishes and cleaning out the science experiments from the back of the fridge, make sure the kitchen and its tools and appliances are well organized. With that in mind, check out these tips:

Use space to the fullest

Many kitchens have at least one cupboard devoted to pots and pans. As Good Housekeeping notes, instead of constantly schlepping to the cupboard to drag heavy utensils over to the stove, consider storing them in the often blank area above your stovetop. You can either hang them from heavy duty hooks or place them on open shelving.

This way, you are not only taking advantage of unused space—and possibly freeing up a cupboard in the process—you are also placing your most-used tools right where you actually use them.

Tame those plastic grocery bags

Every time you go shopping, you probably come home with a small mountain of plastic grocery bags. While they are handy as lunch carriers or small trash bags, they are unsightly and hard to store.

The next time you empty a box of tissues, don’t toss the box in the recycle can. Instead, stuff as many plastic bags as you can into the box. You can easily pull out the bags as you need them, but they will be stored in a much more compact and organized way.

Rethink the way you load your dishwasher

Most of us simply load the plates, spoons and coffee mugs into our dishwashers, add some detergent and let the appliance do its thing. But according to an article on Martha Stewart’s website, the way we load our dishes can really affect how well they are cleaned and how long our stuff will last.

First, note where the water supply comes from and if there are one or two distributors. This will prevent you from unwittingly blocking water flow by placing a cookie sheet in front of the distributor.

Also, place heavy items such as pots and pans and sturdy dishes on the bottom rack, where the water pressure and heat are more intense, and put the glasses and mugs on the top rack in between the prongs. When loading silverware, try to keep silver and stainless steel separate, as the metals can interact and stain the pieces during the cycle.

It is also important to make sure your dishwasher is in good working order; the last thing you want is to have it conk out mid-cycle. It’s worth looking into a comprehensive home warranty from a reputable company such as TotalProtect. The warranty will cover inevitable repair and replacement costs of not only the dishwasher, but also the fridge, range and other important appliances and home systems that keep the kitchen running smoothly.

Organize your spices

If you do a lot of cooking, you probably spend a lot of time searching for the garlic powder and oregano. While some people love organizing their spice bottles on a lazy Susan, another idea is to use a free-standing spice drawer that can hang out on your counter.

For example, Jet.com sells nifty three-drawer spice organizer that will hold 30 full size or 60 half-size spice bottles. When you need parsley, simply pull down the tilt-down shelf and easily spot the bottle you need. You might find that it’s easier to read labels when the bottles are lying flat than when they are spinning on a lazy Susan.

Organize your kitchen for the holidays

This year’s holiday season is about to hit overdrive. Before you know it, you will accept invitations to cookie swaps and volunteer to make some sides for or even host a big dinner or two. This week organize your kitchen for the upcoming festivities.

  1. Have you taken a good look at your kitchen cabinets and pantry yet? Sometimes items have been lingering in the shadows far too long and have gone bad or become host to unwelcome pests but sometimes they’ve been used up without your knowledge. Take inventory of your herbs and spices, canned goods, box mixes and baking supplies. Move the ones you’ll be using to the front of your shelves, get rid of the ones you know you won’t use anytime soon.
  2. Baking and cooking supplies are less expensive, not to mention a lot more abundant earlier on. The earlier you get your holiday plans set, the sooner you can take advantage of sales. Plan your menus and write a shopping list. And check out these apps for help with recipes, meal planning, and “how to” videos.
  3. Aside from the food you’ll be cooking and eating in the next few days and weeks, keep the big picture in mind. These are the days that you’ll be catching up with friends and family over coffee and offering your spare room to guests. Stock up on dry goods like coffee, tea, pasta and soup for quick and easy sustenance for all ages.
  4. You’ll likely be having guests over or bringing edible items to other folks’ home or even giving them as gifts. Take out your linens and survey your serving dishes and transport containers. Do you need some extras?

For more holiday organizing tips visit In Order to Succeed on Facebook and on Twitter.

Week in Review 2 May 2010

Home and Business Organizational news and chatter from around the globe.

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  • “Walking gets the feet moving, the blood moving, the mind moving. And movement is life” ~ Carrie Latet.
  • 8 Ways to Repurpose Your Old Electronics from Mashable.
  • “All the art of living lies in a fine mingling of letting go and holding on” ~ Henry Ellis.
  • Filing paperwork | what to keep | what to shred from Tulsa World.
  • “Storytelling reveals meaning without committing the error of defining it” ~Hannah Arendt.
  • For productivity, time management and organizing ideas -Be a Facebook fan of In Order to Succeed
  • “We may encounter many defeats but we must not be defeated” ~ Maya Angelou.
  • Need kitchen organizing tips Unclutterer has published more than 100 articles on the subject
  • Your attitude, not your aptitude, will determine your altitude” ~ Zig Ziglar.

Smart Kitchen Storage Solutions

 

3706448629_6fdecd7c66More than ever before has it become essential to be organized, as kitchens become more of a living and entertaining space, and with just about everyone getting into cooking and entertaining. In any kitchen, especially a small one, day to day living becomes more of a pleasure if you have planned your kitchen and dining areas well. In a large kitchen, it is equally important to optimize the space to realize its potential. If your kitchen is already fitted, you can rationalize and implement extra touches to your storage even more effectively. If you are putting in a new kitchen, then you have no excuse not to be really putting into practice the ‘science’ of storage. Here are my ten essential tips for smart kitchen storage:

1 ] Utilize redundant space.

This is important if you already have a fitted kitchen to add personality to bland units; a small area of shelving with your own quirky objects combined with practical kitchenware. If you are installing shelving, think laterally with your installation – you can go floor to ceiling for example. Use insides of cupboard doors for hanging, quality hooks are good if well installed, however, be ‘clever and don’t crowd’

2] Display rather than conceal.

Be creative when storing your utensils, pots and pans and ornaments and make it fun. Create open and closed storage by combining closed cupboards with open displays units, these can be bought or custom made.

3] Get rid of the fitted kitchen look.

Free up the walls, use freestanding antique dressers, [glass fronted ones let you see everything at a glance] rails for hanging, metal industrial shelving units, or bakers racks from catering suppliers – store the least used things at the top!

4] Organize drawer space.

You can get an array of different drawer dividers, my favourites are the wooden ones which add a bit of interest and don’t mark like their plastic counterparts, make sure you measure accurately before purchasing

5] Thoughtfully load your larder.

If you are lucky enough to have a larder [or pantry as it is also called] you should use the space thoughtfully, mainly for storing groceries. In our house we have shelves in the upper half, with containers at the back with less used ingredients and the good looking jars, containers, packets and tins at the front which are a display in their own right. The lower section has two wire basket trolley units which are pulled out for ease. The design of your pantry should be a bit like the inside of your fridge – with all the surfaces utilized.

6] Group items by function.

Whether it’s an interesting ceramic pot with your wooden spoons in, or bake ware in a dedicated drawer – it is always far easier to find things in logical places.

7] Circulate your gadgets.

We are all proud of our latest gadgets, but more often than not we build up a space hungry collection – too much to display all at once. So put away the sandwich toaster in the summer and get out the zinc beer cooler ready for that barbeque.

8] Get Containers for every use.

Clear plastic containers are good for cereals, but best stored in a cupboard and bought out only at breakfast, whereas tall elegant glass ones containing pastas and pulses in great shapes, textures and colours can go on display in large glass containers. Square containers are good in cupboards for space savers, although we use a collection of wooden square Cuban cigar boxes, Victorian enamel bread bins and flour containers can be found at your local bric-a-brac/antique shop and make a great authentic addition to any kitchen.

9] Be Clean and safe.

Long gone are the days when you had a plastic bin hidden under the sink unit, where dirt and germs collected – this space is now freed up for cleaning and utility product as bins and recyclers are designed to be space effective and look great. Corner bins are often practical where space is limited. Make sure you have a good range of clips, pegs and fasteners to keep food fresh and plan a cycle of storage cleaning to ensure everything hidden is kept regularly spic and span. Think of kids and pets when planning to keep certain things like cleaning product out of harms way.

10] Cut out the distance.

Utensils and cutting knives are best near their place of use. There are now a diverse range of storage products for knives from work top freestanding units to wall magnets. Also consider practicality of where things are, i.e.it is good to have your large dinnerware quite close to the dishwasher to save time and effort. With a bit of planning and enthusiasm you will be able to treat kitchen storage as a creative project – not just a functional chores.

by Guest Blogger Mike Furniss, a keen cook and kitchen enthusiast.

Further Reading
Mike Furniss has worked successfully in retail and interior design in London and Europe for over 25 years. To find out more about enhancing your home kitchen and dining experience, go to; http://www.kitchendesires.com, http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Mike_Furniss
How to Successfully Organize a Kitchen (September 2009)
Image courtesy of Rubbermaid Products.

5 Green Kitchen Products We Love

These tools are beautifully designed and easy on the planet. Here are 5 of our favorite green kitchen products:

Screen-shot-2010-02-20-at-2.00.35-PM-203x3001. Charcoal Water Pitcher: The natural charcoal and stones, which come from the mountains in Kanazawa, on the Sea of Japan coast, fit into the pticher to filter and deodorize water. Design Within Reach $85 for the pitcher, $25 for the stones.

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2. Twist Sponge Blossoms: Biodegrable, dye free, and made of natural products these small space saving cards become a full size sponge when added to water. Sponge Blossoms: $5 for four at twistclean.com.

8201.103. Sigg Lunchbox: A durable, lightweight, leakproof resuable lunch box. Sigg $36

proXE_mediumRed4. Composter: Turn food waster into organic fuel for your garden with this electric composter. NatureMill $400.

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5. Stainless Steel Soap: Eliminate strong odors with this stainless steel soap. Blomus $14.

Further Reading
How to Survive a Kitchen Renovation (February 2010)
Green Kitchen with Spaghetti Scrub (January 2010)
How to Successfully Organize a Kitchen (September 2009)

Image courtesy of their respective company websites.
Useful Link: Rating Diet Plans

How to Survive Kitchen Renovations

1510062633_0ae46f3a55No matter how long your kitchen renovation takes, setting up a few systems will greatly ease the stress and chaos that construction inevitably brings.

First, box up the items in your old kitchen.  If everything is being gutted and you will not have a stove then box, tape and label all cooking implements, pots, pans, etc. Box up all glassware, silverware, and small appliances. Regarding food, box up but leave open and available any easy to cook items: soup, canned vegetables, easy cook rice, etc.  Remember to leave out:

 

 

  • Zip lock bags
  • Salt and pepper
  • Can opener
  • Plastic or glass pitchers
  • Cutting boards
  • Cleaning supplies
  • Garbage bags
  • Pet supplies

Next you will need to set up an interim kitchen. If you have an adjoining room, like a dining room, plan to use this as your temporary kitchen.  Move your refrigerator to this room—you will be incredibly happy you did so. Fresh food, fruits and vegetables will be your salvation during the chaos. Move your dining table to one wall and relocate chairs to a spare room. Cover the table and set up the microwave, coffee station, and a prep / work area.  Purchase microwave safe paper products: bowls, plates, coffee cups, regular cups, plastic silverware. Keeps these readily accessible near the prep area.

Also purchase lots of gallon bottles of water or fill pitchers and keep them nearby. You will need them for drinking, rinsing pet bowls, filling the coffee pot, etc.

Expect the worst! Keep in mind that any renovation, no matter how skillfully handled has problems. There are unexpected issues and delays that happen on every project. You are likely to be frustrated and the chaos in your home is very stressful.  Having your basic food and prep area well organized will keep everyone’s stress in check and enable you to focus on the fun and excitement a renovation brings!

by: Susan Johnson
Organizing, Design and Home Staging Consultant at In Order To Succeed

Further Reading
Green Kitchen with Spaghetti Scrub by Goodbye Detergent (January 2010)
How To Successfully Organize A Kitchen (September 2009)

Image courtesy of The Kitchen Designer’s photostream.