Kitchen Organization Made Easy

Springtime is the perfect time to do a little kitchen organization! You would not believe how much extra room you will discover in your cabinets, drawers, refrigerator, freezer and pantry! It not only frees up more space, it feels really good to do a bit of kitchen organization. Actually, it would be great to organize the whole house but let’s just start with the kitchen! It will take a little time but don’t feel like you have to do it all in one day. I spread mine over three or four days. That way it doesn’t take all day and won’t seem so overwhelming.

Begin with your food cabinets and/or pantry. Take everything off the shelves and look for the expiration date on the products. If it’s expired, toss it. Don’t fret over not using it. You didn’t, so just get rid of it and let that one go. It’s kind of like that sweater you bought on sale and haven’t worn it in a year…or ever! Same thing applies here.

I suggest using a Sharpie marker and writing the expiration date in large print on all of the things that haven’t expired. Then group all common items together. Pastas, beans, rice, cereals, crackers, baking goods, canned goods, oils, dressings, etc. Organize them in order of oldest in front and newest in back. That way you’ll use them in order and not run into the situation mentioned in the paragraph above.

Since I bake a lot, I bought some stackable containers in which I put my different flours. I also used them for white sugar, brown sugar and powdered sugar. I made labels, then put the date I bought it, opened it and the expiration date that was on the actual package. You can also just cut out the expiration date on the package and throw it in the container.

Before you put anything back into the cabinets or pantry, take a clean, damp cloth and wipe out the interior shelves. You’ll be surprised at how much dust can gather inside a cabinet. Your kitchen organization is under way!

Look through your herbs and spices the same way. These items tend to get overlooked and we forget they have expiration dates, too. If you don’t see one, it’s probably old! I buy most of mine at a farmer’s market where they package their own. They are a fraction of the cost of the little jars in the grocery store. I also take my Sharpie and write what the herb or spice is in big letters on the side of the container. It makes it more visible and easier to access. I put them in alphabetical order so I know which stack to choose from. Because the cost is so inexpensive, I replace them every year.

Empty out your refrigerator and toss any expired dressings, condiments, olives, cheeses and other food in general. Fill your sink with warm, soapy water and wash all the shelves and interior sides. Take out the drawers, wash and wipe down the area under the drawers. Dry all drawers before putting back into the refrigerator, then put your items back in.

Clean out your freezer in the same fashion. If you find meat but don’t remember when you bought it, chances are it’s pretty old. If you make bread or soup to freeze, or lasagna for example, cover it with aluminum foil. Use your Sharpie to label what it is, the date you made it, the date you put it in the freezer and any baking directions. Then wrap the whole pan in plastic wrap. This is a great idea if you give it to someone or in case you’re out of pocket and someone else is helping out.

Move on to your utensil drawers and empty them out. I had duplicates of many things so I weeded through them. I kept the ones I use regularly, seasonally or other items that I use infrequently but need on occasion. I now have cookware that requires non-abrasive utensils so I stored most of the hard metal spoons and spatulas. Group common items together. For instance, put all knives together in one drawer. The size and length of the utensil may depend on what drawer you use. I have a long, narrow drawer so I put all grilling utensils there. Putting all baking utensils and tools together will save time looking through several drawers.

As far as other cabinets go, rifle through glasses, mugs, plates, pots, pans, cookware and bakeware. Do the same thing with plastic containers with lids. If you haven’t used something in the last year, you can either donate to a charity or store it in your house just in case you do need it one day.

Before putting everything back, wipe out the drawers and cabinets with a clean, damp cloth.

If you do these things, you will have more room in your kitchen. You’ll be able to cook and bake faster because you don’t have to spend so much time searching for something. Now is the time for kitchen organization in your life!

Marilee Johnson’s mission is to help others feel confident in the kitchen and provide easy to understand tips, techniques and recipes.

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