Whether you’re planning on hosting a holiday get-together this year, or keeping things intimate and simple – you’ll likely still be spending some amount of time in your kitchen. Even if it’s just to throw the frozen casserole into the oven! You’ve probably already been spending a heck of a lot more time in your kitchen and pantry over the last 8 months. And you may be feeling overwhelmed by the dishes, and snack packaging, and all the pots and pans that keep piling up on your counter tops! Anytime is a good time for a kitchen and pantry refresh, but especially right before the holiday season. Maybe you’re not cooking as much, but you’ve still got a few new kitchen gadgets on your wishlist this year. So let’s make some room for those new beauties! It starts with clearing out the old and unused items that are just collecting dust and stressing you out.
Out with the Old
Before you start attempting any sort of organizing, take some time to really assess what you have in each cabinet, drawer and pantry shelf. And then consider if you actually still need it, use it, or care about it. So many times I see the same scenario with my clients. The stuff they never use gets shoved to the back of the cabinet, or up to the top shelf of the pantry. Which makes total sense! You want the things you use and love most to be within arm’s reach and easy to access. If you’re limited on time or patience, start in those areas. What do you have lurking in the far back corners of your cabinets? What is collecting dust and sits way out of reach at the top of your pantry or shelves? Have any of those items been replaced by something new and improved? Maybe they are broken and you thought you’d get a new part for it or try to fix it, but haven’t? Take notice of those things and be real with yourself about why you’re hesitant to let them go. We have an excellent post about getting started with decluttering that includes some mindset tips and questions to ask yourself when you can’t decide about an item! Also, don’t forget to purge the pantry of expired or stale items and ones you know you just won’t use. This alone can have a big impact on space.
Everything Needs a Home
Once you’ve decluttered as much as you can, then you can more easily move into organizing the things that remain. I often talk with clients about creating “zones” in any given space. This is especially powerful in kitchen and pantry organization. Think about where things “make sense” to be stored. For example, you likely want your spices and cooking oils to be near the stove and oven. Hot pads and oven mitts too. Dishes and glasses should be housed near the sink or dishwasher area for easier stow-away once cleaned. Coffee creamers, mugs, and tumblers are in the cabinet above the coffee pot. That way, busy mornings won’t stop you from getting your caffeine kick! Invest some time in mapping these areas out and remember that you can always go back and edit them if something isn’t working like you’d hoped! Same goes for your pantry – grouping like items and creating zones for dried goods, makes finding things a heck of a lot easier. And making your grocery list is just a snap!
Maximize Your Space
Once you have your zones worked out, you might find it difficult to fit all of that category into the one or two sections you’ve allotted. If you find yourself in this place, I highly recommend taking another run through those items and seeing if you can pare down a bit more. There are probably a couple more things you can bare to part with! 😉
There are risers, organizers and other tools to help you maximize any given space. A lot of times, these really help with accessibility too! So instead of having to reach way in the back of a deep cabinet, you can install a pull-out system. Or use a storage system for pots and pans that allows them to sit on their sides, therefore making access to the one you need much easier. And the good news is, most of these items are reasonably priced and well worth the investment! Use this same approach to make the most of your pantry space. Turntables, risers, and stackable options all help to maximize that precious storage space.
Labeling? Keep it Simple
As an organizer, I love a good label! However, I always say to keep it simple. Labels are great if you’ve got a bigger family or kids that are accessing items on their own, doing kitchen chores, etc. They definitely help to keep everyone on the same page and not constantly asking you where everything is. But if you have a small family or grown kids, you may find that labels aren’t as necessary. And that’s totally fine! My immediate family is just my husband and me (and our fur baby, Bubba), and we have a smaller kitchen and pantry space. I haven’t found that it’s necessary to add labels to things. Especially since he’s the cook for our family. He generally knows where things are, unless I get a wild hair and move things, hehe 🙂 In the pantry, you have a variety of ways you could consider labeling. Your family might like just the general categories like snacks, breakfast, dessert. Or if someone has special dietary needs, it may be a good idea to label an area just for their specific foods.
Any system is much more likely to be successful when everyone in the household has buy-in and can take ownership of their part in it. Ultimately, the less stuff you have – the less mess you have to clean up! If you have one mixing bowl, then you’ll only use that one bowl to do all of your mixing. And you can usually use that same bowl after a quick rinse if you’re cooking similar items. Same for cutting boards and pans! So be firm with yourself about what you keep, because an empty cabinet is a fresh start and an opportunity to only hold things that deserve space in your kitchen and your life. If you’re looking for some inexpensive, DIY organizing hacks for the kitchen check out our post from 2017 called The Best Kitchen Organizing Hacks in 2017. There are some really simple but outside of the box tips there!