Kitchen Organization: How to organize your kitchen and simplify meal prep

Clear countertops make our hearts sing, but kitchen organization runs much deeper than that.

In the grand scheme of life, shiny countertops may seem like a superficial concern, but anyone who’s ever owned a kitchen knows that it’s actually an inevitable reflection of the kind of day, week, or month we’re facing. An uncluttered, polished stretch of quartz is a clear indication that we are energetic, enthusiastic, work to schedule, and generally kill it in life. Sticky, dusty and crumb-strewn countertops interspersed with empty coffee cups and small piles of mail tell a very different story.

The power of kitchen organization doesn’t end at the countertops, either: When your kitchen is a bit messy, that can easily carry over into other areas of your life, from your morning routine to what you eat—and therefore how you feel—how much quality time you spend with your partner or your family in the evening. If you don’t make your bed or fold your jackets for a few days (or years), your life will not fall apart; If you stop hoarding dishes or hoarding your inventory, that kind of will.

However, kitchen organization can also be a lot more intimidating than, say, renovating a closet or garage shelves. For starters, you’re dealing with a really limited amount of space. You want to keep several items close at hand, but you have to work with the cupboard space and kitchen drawers you have available. (Unlike other rooms, where you can usually squeeze in a few storage boxes somewhereit can be trickier here to get extra storage space – especially if you have a small kitchen.) Plus you’re dealing with a massive amount of everyday-use items that need to be easy to access but also have very specific storage needs: delicate glassware , bulky utensils, heavy cookware, huge baking sheets, huge cutting boards, and an always-on set of cookware and silverware.

With all of this in mind—and in order to start the new year in the most sensible way possible—we asked some of our favorite professional organizers to come up with some of their best kitchen organization ideas and hacks. Start folding those towels and sorting through that junk drawer, because your transformative kitchen organization change begins now.

Divide your kitchen into zones.

First things first: Pause and really think about the raw features your kitchen has and what you need to get out of it. Do you currently have things set up to flow logically and easily, or maybe there is a better big picture way to use the space? Are your dishes, utensils, and utensils stored near the area where you will use them? “When it comes to kitchen organization, you really want to think about what items you have, what space each item will fit best in, and where you’re using it in the kitchen,” says professional organizer Corinne Monahan of Grid & Glam. “It helps to think of your kitchen in terms of zones. For example, you might have an everyday dish area, a baking area, a cooking area, and a dry food/pantry area. Create a system that works for you and your lifestyle.”

Get rid of non-everyday things.

Another good starting point for rethinking your kitchen organization: Incorporate a backup storage system for items you don’t use for your weekly meal prep, if you don’t already have one. “We often recommend our customers designate an area where they can store their least-used kitchen items,” says professional organizer Jordan Marks of It’s Organized. “For example, holiday items should be trashed with decorations and taken out only for the season. This will free up space in your kitchen cabinets and drawers for items you use all the time.” If you know you’re only using Cuisinart before hosting Thanksgiving, there’s no need to take up prime real estate. under your kitchen island; Let her hide in the basement storage closet instead. Likewise for the giant paella tub you use maybe twice a year.

Find hidden storage.

Unless you’re a really simple person – or even never cook – you could probably use some extra kitchen storage. Fortunately, you have plenty of options. For example, consider if you have space to add a utility cart, a rolling butcher block, or a moveable kitchen island—this one features its own pot holder—that will give you prime prep space. And storage space. Look at your walls, too: You’ll likely find a nice place to press into a pegboard, perfect for keeping pans and cookware within easy reach (and nice to look at, too). An over-the-door organizer is an easier way to take advantage of vertical space in the kitchen; One with clear pockets works perfectly as a pantry door hanging spice rack. Introducing smaller, custom storage solutions inside your existing cabinets and drawers can be a huge game-changer — things like drawer dividers for cutlery, adjustable drawer organizers for neatly sorting food prep, and some lazy Susans for placing vinegar bottles and the like (so you don’t knock them around looking for them). for ingredients in the middle of a fry), and a knife holder to free up drawer space and keep knives sharp (and your hands safe). To make better use of the ample space under the kitchen sink, add a container (or three) for cleaning supplies, so you can grab everything and no Drop 67 bottles. You can also install specially designed pull-out shelves to spruce up this clutter-prone area.

Chaos control.

Speaking of which: cleaning the kitchen can feel like a never-ending chore. Before you could find homes for all those stray receipts, cookbooks, and bills, incoming pieces of mail and outerwear took over the island. However, stepping back is key to maintaining the sanity of this room. “The kitchen is the hub of the home, the central gathering area for socializing and eating as well as food preparation, so keeping it clutter-free can be very challenging,” says professional organizer Dorothy Brenninger, also known as Dorothy the Organizer. Her favorite hacks for clutter-prone areas include designating a “drop zone” on countertops separate from the food prep counter space, i.e. no homework or shopping bags allowed on the island, just the corner desk area. Then select a specific time of day when you’ll clear that drop zone and return the items to their homes (or recycling bin).

Get your cabinets in shape.

When it comes to organizing your cabinet, focus on rearranging things according to how often you use them; Everyday use items should be easy to grab and close at hand, while infrequently used items can just go up and stow away in the back (or ideally, into your spare storage area, as mentioned above).

Preparing an uncomplicated meal.

You may want to view it as “European”, but going to the grocery store every day isn’t necessarily efficient – if you don’t shop carefully, you can easily buy things you don’t really need (or want to eat), duplicate foods you already have, and not use items. already in the refrigerator. As daunting as the term may sound, meal planning doesn’t have to be a very complicated process. One simple and fun way to get started, especially if you have a family: Make a rotating theme list—meatless Mondays, taco Tuesdays, pasta Wednesdays, and so on. “That way, the wheel doesn’t have to be reinvented every night,” professional organizer Kate Pawlowski tells Done + Done Home. “It doesn’t have to be boring either.” the third. Preparing food will be easier because the menu will be set and the time spent coming up with meal ideas will be minimal.” You will reduce your shopping time because many ingredients will be repeated from week to week, which means you will know how much to buy and where in the store you can even get to the store Bulk for stocking frequently used items—beans, rice, pasta, frozen meatballs—to whittle down your weekly shopping list.An additional tactic for de-cluttering your fridge: Consider some easy lunches that use leftovers in your rotation.For the meal-planning process, focus on what’s easiest for you. (One professional app organizer we recommend: Paprika.) says professional organizer Rachel Rosenthal of Rachel & Co. “And remember, easy dinners and dining out count as meal planning, too. It’s easy to hear “meal planning” and visualizing meals made from scratch are picture-perfect simmering on the stove, but—let’s be real—we don’t do it every day of the week. Use items that make your life easier, like a packaged meal prep service or takeaway, but put them in your weekly meal plan so you know they’re coming.”

Upgrade your food storage containers.

Other time-saving professional organizers swear by: Prepare ingredients you’ll use in meals throughout the week, for example, chop onions, wash and dry vegetables, slice peppers, and marinate proteins. This is where proper storage containers come in very handy. There are few things that work as instantly in your kitchen organization game as a set of stackable glass containers: They won’t absorb odors or flavors, let you clearly see the foods you’ve prepared (or leftovers you’ve stashed), and they also just look cleaner. and elegance from a collection of mismatched plastic bowls. The same goes for pantry organization, where you can use glass or acrylic food storage containers for dry goods like cereal, cookies, pasta, and beans. “Pouring foods into clear containers helps streamline the visual presentation of your pantry or countertop and better gauge what needs to be refilled,” explains professional organizer Ashley Murphy of Neat Method. Whatever containers you use, take a half hour to dispose of the duds and make it easy to locate the components. Prepare your kitchen for successful meal preparation…And Avoid falling tower covers, says Rosenthal. “You want your kitchen to help you reach your goals, not hold you back.”

Organize your pantry by purpose.

Sometimes it makes sense to store similar items together: all your canned tomato products in one storage box, your spice reserve together in a basket. Other times it makes sense to group the items according to the time of day you’re looking for — oats and cereals in clear containers next to the turntable of morning vitamins and the honey and cinnamon you use in your yogurt. “If you categorize and label your pantry boxes with terms like ‘snacks’ or ‘prepare dinner,’ you’re more likely to stick to an organized system over time,” says Murphy.

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