Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Kitchen Organization

I am definitely not an organizational wizard.  If you could see my desk right now, you would agree.  I know.  I could post a photo of it, but I’d rather not.  From reading How to Organize Your Life books, I’ve come to the conclusion that my cluttered house and disorganization is a result of my desire for perfectionism and efficiency.  I know, it sounds oxymoronic, but hear me out.  If I can’t finish an organization project in one sitting, I feel like it would be a waste of time to start it.  Consequently, I am very organized with small spaces since they can be tackled in very little time.  For example, Robbie’s underwear and sock drawer is always in order—boxers folded on the right, socks paired on the left.  My silverware drawer has all the salad forks facing one way and the dinner forks facing the other (they used to be perfectly stacked and nested until I received a few more place settings and they no longer really fit in my silverware organizer).

An example of that perfectionism--all the mug handles point the same direction.

But despite my overall lack of organizational abilities, I have a very organized kitchen.  I’m not saying it is always clean and clutter-free, for that is hardly the case.  My husband is always worried that I’m going to trip over the parking lot full of toy cars the boys have built in front of the stove, and somehow one of the counters always ends up collecting miscellaneous papers.  Not to mention the dirty dishes I can’t get to until the kids are in bed.  But when we moved into our house, I was very intentional about where I put things.

I have a very nice layout that is conducive to a well-organized kitchen.  But I understand that a lot of people have to work with what they have.  Our first kitchen was a small galley-style apartment kitchen.  We then moved to a house with a U-shaped kitchen.  Neither of those were ideal for organization and I ended up storing things in the linen closets and on bookshelves.  If you have a kitchen like this, organization is all the more important so you can maximize the space and work efficiently.  Kimiko will talk about how she stays organized in her small kitchen in a future post.

For now I want to share some simple basics, then next week I will show you how my kitchen is organized.

First, think logically.  Whenever other people are using my kitchen and looking for things, I tell them to ask themselves, “Where would I use that?” then look there.  You’ll see what I mean in my next post.

Second, think of your kitchen in terms of zones.  You need the following zones:  cooking, food prep, cleaning, food storage, and serving/staging/storing.  Some kitchens have a nice area for a business zone (phone, phone books, stationary, etc.), but mine does not.  If your kitchen does not have a specific place designed for these items, try to keep them in the office or on the desk to maximize your usable kitchen space.

The cooking zone will be centered around your stove and oven.  This is where you would want to keep pots, pans, baking dishes, cooking utensils, spices, and pot holders.

For some of you, your food prep zone and your cooking zone will blend together.  In my kitchen, I do not have enough counter space next to the stove, so my food prep zone is on another counter.  This is where I keep rubber spatulas, measuring cups, mixing bowls, knives, cutting boards, and all the other tools and utensils that I don’t use at the stove.

The cleaning zone will be at the sink (and dishwasher if you have one).  Obviously, this is where you would find dish soap, sponges, dish cloths, steel wool, cleaning solutions, etc.  Food products should be kept separate from these items to prevent contamination.

If you have a pantry, that’s the food storage zone (in addition to the fridge/freezer).  If not, this one is a little tricky.  You can use some of the cupboards in other zones to store food.  Try to keep all your food in cupboards that are clustered together.  Having to walk from cupboard to cupboard to gather ingredients wastes time.  Another option is to use a free-standing cabinet or bookshelf in an adjacent room.  This is how Kimiko stores food in her pantryless kitchen--keep an eye out for that post.

If you have limited space, the serving/staging/storing zone is most likely the one that will have to be put in another zone.  This is the area where I plate food, transfer food to serving dishes, put leftovers from those serving dishes into plastic containers, and put the food out when serving buffet style.  The cupboards and drawers in this zone contain my dishes, serving dishes, cutlery, and plastic containers.

You won't find one of these
in my kitchen.
Third, when organizing your kitchen, be willing to get rid of things.  I recently got rid of all the random mugs we’ve collected over the years.  Our dinnerware set came with mugs that match and we have plenty of them.  Also consider getting rid of kitchen gadgets and tools that are limited in their uses or perform a task that can be done with another tool.  For example, I’ve seen avocado slicers at the store.  A knife and spoon will do just fine without adding extra clutter to the drawers.

Lastly, step back and evaluate your kitchen’s organization every couple of years.  As you get rid of, lose, or break things and get new items, you may find that your once organized kitchen is now in need of an overhaul.  Over the last few years I’ve gotten more place settings of my dinnerware so we could host both families for holidays and everyone could have a plate.  Consequently, I needed to rearrange my cupboards to accommodate the extra plates, bowls, and cups.

Be sure to check back next week when I share specifically how I set up the zones in my kitchen.


Steve and Evie Wesner said...
This is Moody's midday connection. They are featuring an "organizing your life" thing every other week.

Their Guest is Marcia Ramsland from

I really enjoy your blog! And love when you post gf things (I have celiacs disease.

Just thought I'd leave a comment:-)
Evie Wesner

Sumiko said...

Thanks, for the links, Evie! We'll try to include more gluten-free!!

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