Spring Cleaning, Organizing Edition: Your Kitchen!

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This week's blog will be a continuation of the Spring Cleaning, Organizing Edition series- this time, we'll be focusing on organizing your kitchen! 

The thing with kitchens is that they contain, well, a lot of STUFF. I mean, there's silverware, dry food, cans of food, spices, pots and pans, snacks...you name it. This makes organizing kitchens (and pantries in kitchens) particularly tricky. However, give these tips a try and you'll be organized in no time. ;)

Your Fridge

Your fridge is something that you can organize once for good, but will definitely need to be kept up with weekly. If you're starting off with a really messy fridge, here are some tips we recommend...

  1. Empty it out! Clear out your fridge of any excess items, particularly expired items. Fridges can be HUGE, and food can get lost in the deep, dark depths...where it likely starts to rot (we've all found a gross, slimy vegetable at the bottom of our veggie drawer before...right?). So firstly, empty all of it out. Throw out the expired and old food. 
  2. Once the old food is gone, aim for keeping specific foods in specific sections of your fridge. I like the idea of one drawer dedicated to fruits or cold cuts/cheeses and one dedicated to vegetables. I personally keep all other dairy products in one section (items like yogurts, cottage cheese, milk, etc), all leftover packaged foods in one section, all beverages in one section...and so on. This helps me keep an eye on what I do and don't have. Having sections dedicated to specific items in your fridge is a REAL money saver, because you won't find yourself buying doubles (or triples...or quadruples...) of any foods! You can even use fridge organizers to help keep everything extra organized. If you find you tend to spill food onto the surfaces of your fridge a lot, fridge mats (basically place-mats...for your fridge) can help make the cleanup process much easier. 
  3. Extra tip: wipe the bottoms of those dressing/sauce bottles. They tend to leak and leave dirty, sticky round marks underneath them- to prevent them from dirtying your fridge surfaces, wipe them off each time you use them, just to be sure.
  4. For your freezer, repeat the same process as you did with your fridge- purge expired items, and put like items together.
  5. To keep your frozen, bagged foods from spilling in your fridge, use large binder clips! These are particularly useful due to how you can reuse them as many times as you want, and they prevent any and all spills. 
  6. Lastly, keep this up weekly- don't buy doubles if you don't need to, continue to chuck expired items, and keep that fridge clutter free. :P 

Counters

Your counters are a space where you should have room to prepare meals, and to only display necessary, larger items (such as a coffeemaker, a toaster, etc). Otherwise, your counter should always be completely free from clutter! Removing this clutter looks cleaner and lessens visual clutter. Lessening visual clutter is actually also beneficial to your mental state- researchers at The Princeton University Neuroscience Institute found that, when you're in a cluttered environment, many things happen: your ability to focus decreases, you "can't process information as well" the way you can in a less cluttered environment, and you feel more distracted and stressed! All the more reason to clear that clutter from your counter (and everywhere else, honestly!).

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  1. One tip we recommend for your counters is to create "zones"- a coffee zone, for example, would include your coffeemaker, a jar of sugar, filters, and possibly a few small coffee cups.
  2. For your zones, like the coffee zone, you can install small wall hooks to hang your mugs from! Similarly, try storing them on a mug rack.

This counter section is short because the only thing you need to do here is remove clutter from the counters (throw out ANYTHING that is not needed or ever used!)- rehoming those items is going to be discussed below!

Cabinets

As with the counters, as intimidating as this may sound...clear out those cabinets! Create like-piles on the floor or on a cleared off table. Creating piles with similar items together is helpful because you can determine how many items are in each section (baking, cooking, oils, spices, cups, bowls, plates, etc) based on how large each pile is. This helps in determining where each item should go in your kitchen cabinets.

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  1. Our favorite word...purge! Purge anything that is old or unneeded. Anything expired goes. Diminish your collection of items to a smaller collection to reduce clutter and to make the process of organizing everything into your cabinets much more simple.
  2. Create those like-piles.
  3. Start to put items into cabinets. We recommend keeping baking items near a large, clear counter space so that you can easily access them when prepping whatever you're baking. Keep oils and spices near your stove, as you'll likely be accessing these often when cooking meals. 
  4. If you don't have a pantry, we highly recommend using magnetic spice tins- these attach to your FRIDGE and are a huge space saver! (If you do have a pantry, we'll cover how to organize your pantry in the next section.) You should also use bins and lazy susans to help keep all like-items together in your cabinets. You can store spices and oils on a lazy susan, and other items (such as baking items, packets of food, etc) can go into clear bins/baskets that are labeled and easy to access. 
  5. When organizing your cabinets, make sure to keep those like-items together as we just wrote above. This applies to all areas of your cabinets, not just spices and oils! Having everything separated will prevent things from spilling all over the place and getting mixed together. Using bins with handles helps a lot when it comes to making accessing these items easier.
  6. For your plates, bowls, and other serving dishes, make sure to separate the dishes that you don't use frequently. These are often large serving dishes that are used during holidays or gatherings. These can be stored high up in the cabinets, leaving more room for everyday dishes. For your everyday dishes, make sure to keep them easily accessible on the lower cabinets (tip: try keeping them near your dishwasher/sink as well, so putting them away is easier!). Insert cabinet risers to maximize the space in your cabinets and to separate different-sized dishes. You can also do something different, such as use upright racks to store your plates!
  7. For pots and pans, there are a few different ways these can be stored. Oftentimes, your oven has a drawer at the bottom of it- utilize it! We like to store baking pans there, or all the lids to your pots and pans, so that they're separated and easy to find. You can also install hooks onto your wall where you can hand your pots and pans (and frequently used mugs...and oven mitts, too!). If you don't have any wall space, try using one of the cabinets and inserting a lid rack for the lids, and a pot/pan organizer for the pots and pans. The only issue with this is that pots and pans tend to get lost in the back of your cabinets- for this, we recommend installing a simple slide-out drawer so that you always have access to everything, even pots and pans in the back!
  8. For your under the sink cabinet that tends to home things like extra cleaning supplies, purge and minimize. Whatever is leftover can be kept in plastic bins, away from the pipes under the sink- we've experienced clients who have leaks from their sink due to the amount of clutter under there pushing on the pipes! Try to keep that area as clutter free as possible.
  9. For tupperware, we recommend separating the lids and the tupperware into separate bins after discarding any cracked, broken, or unused tupperware. Make sure every item has a matching lid, so you don't have anything you won't be using. 
  10. Lastly, for any extra appliances that you had lingering in your cabinets during the clear out process- if you don't use them often, put them up and away. You can keep these on TOP of your cabinets, or simply use a cabinet that is higher up to store these. Keep them out of the way so that you have room for your more frequently used items.
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Drawers

Kitchen drawers tend to home things like plastic bags, aluminum foil, cooking utensils, silverware, and loose menus. While these are all okay to store in your drawers, they can easily become a mess!

  1. Drawer dividers. We're obsessed with these. Use drawer dividers for your silverware especially- this will give each type of utensil a home. 
  2. Use small organizers, such as plastic bag dispensers and inside-the-cabinet-door organizers to free up drawer space! You can store anything in these- menus, extra cleaning products, sponges, etc. You can also find organizers that are magnetic and attach to your refrigerator, where you can store things like menus as well. Using up that cabinet and fridge wall space will really help to free up drawer space for yourself.
  3. With the remaining drawer space, organize things like cooking utensils into one drawer, baking utensils in another, and so on. Use drawer dividers where you feel you may need them (lookin' at you, utensils!), and if you have a "junk drawer"...use them there, too! We feel that junk drawers are unnecessary, since everything has a home...but if your junk drawer in your kitchen consists of items like batteries, notepads, pens, etc that you frequently use whilst in the kitchen, do yourself a favor and use a drawer divider! ;)

Pantry

Phew- the pantry. The biggest area and, honestly, the most satisfying area to organize.  

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  1. PURGE! You probably saw that one comin'. Get rid of anything old, expired, and unused!
  2. Use clear containers! A fantastic way to make your pantry look visually appealing and simply easier to use is by storing food into plastic containers, such as air-tight ones with lids. This also helps to keep your food fresher for longer. Foods such as nuts, flour, sugar, oats, rice, dried fruit, etc all look great when stored in these clear containers. Label them and fill 'em up! It'll make finding these items so much easier. Getting rid of the original boxes and containers that the items come in is also a space saver. Tip: use paint pens on the containers!
  3. More bins! Use clear plastic bins for anything that requires it, which is usually, well...everything. Store all like items together. Try putting baking items into one bin (but keep stuff like flour and sugar in an air tight container, as discussed above!), tea bags and coffee pods into another bin (or a coffee pod organizer), snack bars and snacks into another bin, etc. Other items can be stored in specific organizers, discussed next!
  4. The thing about pantries is we often keep oils, spices, and cans in here. What we love about organizing pantries is the ability to use specific types of organizers for these items! For spices and oils, we LOVE using lazy susans- they're space savers, keep everything together, and make finding whatever you need super simple since they just spin. An alternative to storing your spices is to use a multiple-tier spice rack! For cans, we recommend using lazy susans as well- or you can use can racks and/or multiple tier organizers so everything is easy to see, especially if you have a LOT of cans to organize.
  5. Use up that pantry door space! You can install a pantry door rack where you can keep anything you need extra room for.

...And that's a wrap! Organizing your kitchen is fantastic for a variety of reasons- it looks far better, it saves you money (no more buying multiples of each item since items can get lost and buried in a messy, cluttered kitchen), and it makes your cooking and baking a hell of a lost easier to handle. What's not to love?

Thanks for reading! Happy spring organizing!

**I would like all of our readers to be aware that Klutter Free Me is an affiliate of Amazon. We truly believe in all of the products we use and recommend, and we'd never recommend a product that we don't believe works! We feel that Amazon is one of the best sites to purchase products from due to how there are a surplus of options, and how you get them delivered to your doorstep very quickly.**