What’s cooking in your kitchen?

No, this is not a secret recipe for some delicious dish. It is the ingredients for an organized kitchen that will make all your cooking taste great!

THE SPACES:
Counters – Keep these surfaces clutter free, so you have more room to work and enjoy your kitchen. The only items that should be on the counter are ones you use every day. Store items used weekly in cabinets or drawers close by, and put seldom-used items, like holiday or special occasion supplies, in storage spaces outside the kitchen. If you have appliances you use infrequently, tuck these away in a cabinet or the pantry. If you have utensils, dishes, pots/pans or appliances that you don’t use, consider donating them or giving them to a friend who would enjoy them. Remember someone else might benefit greatly from your extras.
Cabinets – Make the best use of your enclosed spaces. Many cabinets today have adjustable shelf heights, so move the shelving to make the best use of the space. You may also find it useful to add a freestanding shelf to hold smaller items. Don’t be afraid to use bins to group similar items, like gathering all the bags of nuts or all the types of pasta into labeled containers.
Drawers – Keep like items together and stored close to where they will be used. Silverware should be kept close to the table and the dishwasher; cooking utensils should be placed by the stove. Dividers or small containers are a great way to create and maintain order in drawers. As you sort through your utensils, check their condition. Get rid of old and brittle spatulas, sharpen dull knives, and eliminate cracked measuring spoon.

THE CONTENTS:
Gadgets – Eliminate any that you haven’t used in the past year. Just because a gadget is cool doesn’t mean it meets your needs and deserves valuable space in your kitchen.
Food storage containers – Gather the containers from all areas of the kitchen, sort through them, and get rid of ones that are damaged or missing their lids. Re-evaluate how many you really need. In most kitchens, food storage containers tend to multiply without you realizing it.
Spices – Add racks to organize spices close to where you will use them. There are a variety of great racks and tiered shelving that fit inside cabinets and drawers. Use racks that allow you to store your spices in their original containers rather than having to take the time to transfer them to specific jars. Remember to keep the spices away from any heat source.
Recipes – Keep only the cookbooks you have used in the past year. To conserve space, you may also consider copying the few favorite recipes you use from each individual book and then letting go of the cookbook. Put all recipe clippings in a binder with clear slip sleeves to keep the loose sheets in one organized place. For the tech-savvy, you can take advantage of web-based cooking magazines or websites, store your favorite recipes electronically, and only print the ones you really need on paper.
Refrigerator magnets and notes – Resist the urge to attach every magnet, note or picture to the refrigerator. The visual clutter will set the tone for disorganization in the whole kitchen. If you want to keep some items close by, use a small bulletin or magnet board to hold just a few well-arranged items. The small size of the board will dictate the few items you can display and encourage a visual perception of organization in your kitchen.

Whether you love cooking or just endure it, following these tips will enable you to work in a space that is both efficient and comfortable. Bon Appétit!
© Beth Giles

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