In the Kitchen
An organized kitchen follows two basic rules for effective
storage: (1) store items close to where they will be used, and (2) keep
frequently used items in the most convenient storage areas.
Look around your kitchen. Think about the tasks that you do there and
apply the two basic rules.
Cooking: Pots and pans and cooking utensils that you use regularly
should be kept close to the range. Pots that you use rarely can
go in hard-to-reach corner cabinets, under the often-used pots,
or even in the basement.
- Eating and clean-up: Everyday plates, cereal bowls, glasses,
and silverware should be close to the sink (or dishwasher), and/or
close to where you eat, in easy-to reach shelves of upper cabinets.
Special-occasion dishes can be kept on top shelves that are harder
to reach, or in the dining room where you tend to serve fancier
- Microwave heating: Dishes or containers that you use in the microwave
should be stored close to the microwave or close to the counter
area where you fill the dishes to be heated.
- Making coffee: Locate the coffee, creamer, sugar, and the coffee
maker in the same area.
- Food storage: In the cabinet or pantry where you keep canned
goods and other staples, put those that you use most frequently
on the most accessible shelves. If you stock up on, say, spaghetti
sauce when it’s on sale, and space in the kitchen is tight,
you might store the excess in another closet or in the basement.
- Lunch preparation: If you or your child take a bagged lunch to
work or school, you’ll want to keep those items together:
plastic bags for snacks, plastic wrap or containers for sandwiches,
plastic forks and spoons, single-serve microwavable containers,
or any other items you use in preparing those meals.
- You probably also do some tasks in the kitchen that aren’t
food related such as making phone calls or paying the bills. Decide
what tools you need for those tasks, and assign a space to keep
Less frequently used items should go in the less convenient storage
areas, such as deep corner cabinets, uppermost shelves that are hard
to reach, or even outside the kitchen.
Some additional tips may help you organize some of your kitchen challenges:
- Plastic containers: Whether you have purchased plastic storage
containers or if you re-use containers that prepared foods came
in, the key to organizing them is to limit the number and type
that you keep, so that they take up minimal space and you can find
lids and bottoms that match. You might choose to keep just one
set of round containers of various sizes that nest, or keep only
the containers that one kind of margarine, whipped topping, or
other purchased item comes in. Then, keep lids in a clear glass
baking dish that you seldom use, or even in a clear plastic bag—anything
to keep them together where you can see them.
- Heavier items should be kept in bottom cabinets.
- Some easy modifications can make your kitchen storage more usable.
- Using dividers in drawers for kitchen utensils, knives, and
- Moving some storage to the countertop (kitchen utensils in
- Placing flatware in a multi-compartment basket or container.
- Hanging pots from a rack or hooks on a peg board on the wall.
What kind of recipe-keeper are you? How many do you have? Corral like
items together, then see what kind of storage you need.
For example, you may want to sort recipes by whether you’ve used
- “Tried and true” recipes that you’re likely
to use again: a recipe box with dividers might be the ideal container
for these, or a photo album that will let you slide the recipe
into a plastic sleeve.
- Recipes you plan to try: grouped by type of dish (main dish,
salad, dessert) or by main ingredient (beef, lamb, cheese), and
each group placed in a labeled plastic page protector, or plastic
zipper bag, or box, depending on the volume you have.
When you save a recipe, try to use the same approach recommended under
the section on magazines—labeling the recipe with the category
where you will file it, and perhaps highlighting the ingredient or
feature that caught your attention.
If your recipe box is overflowing or has papers sticking up out
of it, your box may just be too small. If you're using a box that
holds 3x5 cards, consider switching to a 4x6 box. Four by six cards
are large enough that you can usually tape a magazine clipping directly
onto the card, without ragged ends sticking up out of the box. You
can even tape your 3x5 cards onto the new 4x6 cards to avoid rewriting
If you simply have too many recipes to fit in the box, you may want
to cull out some. Alternatively, look for a box that holds more cards,
or divide your recipes into two boxes. You might put desserts, snacks,
and foods for entertaining in one box, and regular meat, poultry,
vegetable, and casserole recipes in the other.