Is Your Kitchen a Dream or a Nightmare?

Organized kitchenThe kitchen is the heart of the home. It’s where we cook, we eat and we connect with our loved ones. Special occasions will find friends and family gathering there too. Shouldn’t it be an organized, peaceful place?

Working from home over the past 18 months and having to make 3 meals a day, has had me in the kitchen much more often. How about you?

Do you feel like your kitchen is organized and functional or do you hate to cook because of all the work it takes to find things? Are things easy to grab or do you need to move other things that you rarely use in order to reach them?

  • Is this set up working for me?
  • Am I using all the appliances and gadgets that are stored here?
  • Can I quickly find what I need?
  • Do I have enough space to work?
  • How often do I use that roasting pan and why is it taking up valuable space?

Here are 5 things you can do to make your kitchen more functional and less of a nightmare:

  1. Remove those things that are only used for holidays and special occasions. Move them somewhere else that you can still get to easily but out of the kitchen.
  2. Reduce the number of mismatched dishes, mugs, and glasses down to what you really need. Clear out all the old tupperware and saved plastic containers – they are not healthy to use. Save enough dishes, etc. to not have to wash them daily. Dishtowels, cleansers and cooking utensils, what’s reasonable?
  3. Clear the countertops- less is better. What do you really use daily or at least weekly? Coffee makers and large kitchenaid mixers can probably stay but canisters, appliances you rarely use can be stored off of the counters.
  4. Create a “work zone”. Where do you usually prep for cooking? Make sure you have what you’ll need within arm’s reach such as knives, cutting boards, spices and utensils. Creating zones for serving and cooking can also be helpful.
  5. Organize cabinets and drawers so things are easy to reach and you don’t need to move A to get to B. Racks, hooks and pull out shelves are easy to install. Group spices, oils and vinegars together near your cooking zone. Group food together too.    Organized kitchen cabinet

By making your kitchen more functional, you may find you enjoy being in it more and that meal prep is less stressful. Having a meal plan can help and regular cleaning routines so that dishes don’t pile up can make a big difference in how you feel when you walk into the kitchen.


Spring into Action!


Spring is officially here according to the calendar. Seeing the flowers start to peek out of the ground gives me the urge to finish up my winter projects so that I can get outside as soon as Mother Nature allows. One of my least favorite activities is “spring cleaning.”

As soon as the calendar said it was spring, I can remember my grandmother would start her spring cleaning. I don’t know how long she spent spring cleaning but she did things like washing walls, windows, and curtains, as well as, polishing the woodwork and furniture.

Spring cleaning dates back to the time when heating systems used coal and were not as efficient as today’s systems. The black soot that covered everything made it necessary to clean things each spring to get rid of it. I am sure that is when my grandmother started her little ritual. I happen to have a different idea of how to “spring clean.”

Now, if you’ve been following me for a while you know I often use the term “baby steps” because I believe that even baby steps in the right direction will still get you where you want to go. So in keeping with that theme, we are about to launch a month long action plan that will provide ideas for simple organizing projects that can be done in 20 minutes or less. Each week we’ll tackle a room together in short bursts. Check out my facebook page for extra tricks and tips during the week.

Organize your kitchenThe kitchen is often the busiest room in the house so we will start there. Take a look around. Is your kitchen a calm, organized gathering place, or is it a chaotic, cluttered mess? No matter what the state with a few helpful hints you can get it under control. Some common kitchen dilemmas are things either do not have a place or are not stored in a logical place. For example, do you have the things you use for cooking near the stove or do you need to walk across the kitchen to get them? Countertops are valuable “real estate” and should be occupied by things you use daily. Other less frequently used things such as the waffle iron, breadmaker or mixer should be stored in a cabinet or area away from the things used daily.  Dishes and glasses should be stored close to the dishwasher so that you can quickly unload them directly into the cabinets.

This week’s 20 minute action step is to clean out the refrigerator. Depending on the size of your family, clearing out the shelves in the refrigerator may take longer. Set a timer and work for the 20 minutes, if you choose to continue, fine. If not, no guilt. You did your 20 minutes. Check expiration dates and the state of condiments you don’t use very often. This is great to do the night before your trash day (just in case there is food that needs to go out). Wash down each shelf and then the sides and bottom of the refrigerator. Try to group things together when you put them back in. Make an area for the drinks, the condiments and the leftovers. If you are losing things in the back of the fridge there are plastic bins that will contain things and are easy to pull out.  Change the box of baking soda or whatever you use to keep it smelling fresh and you are done. There’s a short video on organizing your fridge at the Container Store. Check it out. Then join the conversation, what would you like to tackle this spring? Use the comment box below.






Get Organized Plan Week 4: Whip your kitchen into shape

KitchenNow that we’ve handled the papers that invade our lives and our space (see January blogs), it’s time to organize those spaces that we use the most. The kitchen pops into mind for several reasons. If it’s hard to cook or we can’t find what we’re looking for, what are the chances that we’ll put in the time and effort to cook something healthy? The kitchen is often a favorite gathering place and a great place to strengthen relationships. Being able to quickly find things and pull together meals takes the hassle out of dinner and that helps lower the stress level in the whole household.

Start with a menu plan. No one wants to think about what to cook for dinner after a day at work. Do yourself a favor and either plan a week or a month of meals. Then each week shop for the ingredients you will need for the upcoming week and you’ll have everything you need for each night’s dinner. Remember to check what after school activities or late afternoon meetings are scheduled and plan accordingly.

Here are the things that I think make my kitchen work. I hope you can benefit from these tips and make your kitchen a haven.

  • Set up your zones so you’re saving yourself steps. Keep the most used items within the closest proximity to where they are used. For example, keep the pans near the stove along with the spatulas and stirring spoons.
  • Drawer dividers in all drawers. Why hassle trying to find a utensil in a drawer filled with them? Divide the drawer and group like with like into each section. Makes finding things quick and easy.
  • I use several tools very frequently. I like to have two of them so that if one is in the dishwasher, I can quickly grab the other one. I have two pairing knives and two vegetable peelers for instance.
  • Add a level. Take a look in your cabinets, is there empty space over your stack of dishes? Then add a wire rack and use the available space to store other often used dishes.
  • Use pull-out shelves on rollers in lower cabinets so that you can see and reach everything stored under there. These are easy to install and can be purchased at most Home Improvement stores.
  • Avoid having to search your refrigerator and set up zones in there too. Keep all the condiments together, have a space for leftovers so you can find them and eat them before they become a science experiment. It makes finding things easy and you can tell when you are out of something.

Take a look at your kitchen and see if any of these ideas will help make your kitchen more “user friendly.” Add to that a general decluttering of the things you don’t use or that are broken and need replacing and your kitchen will soon be an organized, stressfree zone. Let me know how you do.