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Everything in Place: Kitchen Organization Tips

Take your kitchen from chaotic to calm with easy organizing methods, tips and tricks.

| September/October 2013

  • Set up a prep area for the cutting board, knives, and measuring cups and spoons. Consider keeping a compost pail nearby for food scraps.
    Photo By iStock
  • Take your kitchen from chaotic to calm with easy organizing methods, tips and tricks.
    Photo By Loupe
  • Having all your ingredients prepped before you begin cooking a big meal ensures you won't realize halfway through the meal that you have forgotten any ingredients.
    Photo By Loupe

There’s something very calming and satisfying about having all your ingredients prepped before you begin cooking a big meal—little bowls of measured spices, chopped produce or whatever’s on the menu, neatly lined up and ready to go. The practice is known as mise en place, a French phrase that means “everything in place.” It ensures you won’t realize halfway through the recipe that you forgot to buy x, didn’t chop y, and now z is burning. It makes cooking easier and more enjoyable, and the same can be said of a well-organized kitchen. With everything in place, the kitchen becomes a high-functioning and pleasurable place to be. Keep your cool and get your kitchen in order with the following simple solutions. 

Get in the Zone

It may seem like common sense, but storing stuff where you use it streamlines mealtime, says Stacey Platt, a professional organizer in New York City and author of What’s a Disorganized Person to Do? Keep pots, pans and cooking utensils close to the stove. If you don’t have enough cabinet space, hang a pot rack overhead. Store dishes and silverware near the dishwasher and the colander next to the sink. Set up a prep area for the cutting board, knives, and measuring cups and spoons. Consider keeping a compost pail nearby for food scraps. 

Counter Attack

Clear counters create a calm, clean atmosphere in the kitchen and give you room to spread out while you’re cooking. Put away small appliances such as blenders, stand mixers or anything else you don’t use at least once a month. Consider corralling everyday cooking items—the pepper grinder, olive oil, salt, etc.—on a small tray instead of directly on the countertop. It looks tidy, contains drips and you can move everything at once when you need to wipe down the counter.  

Dish It Out

If your cups (and other dishes) runneth over, edit down the collection with these questions in mind: Is it broken, cracked or chipped? Do you love it? How many of these do you really need? Arrange the remaining dinnerware by frequency of use—everyday dishes on easy-to-reach shelves and rarely used items up higher. Stack same-sized plates and bowls together. Use metal risers so you don’t have to move one stack to get to another.

Take Stock

Approach organizing the pantry much like you would the fridge (see “Reclaim Your Refrigerator” at right): Remove everything; toss, compost or donate food accordingly; sort what’s left into groups of like items; and assign each category a spot. When it’s time to restock, buying from the bulk bin allows you to only buy quantities you need and eliminates bulky packaging. But all those twist-tied bags can quickly become a jumbled mess. Platt recommends decanting bulk staples into large, wide-mouth glass canning jars. They’re inexpensive, have an airtight seal and you can easily buy more to maintain a uniform, matching set. Store stray bags and packets in a basket. For more pantry storage solutions, check out the article Organize Your Pantry in 5 Steps

The Joy of Cooking

Pare down cookbooks to an essential, beloved collection. Scan your favorite recipes from the castoffs and save the digital files on your smartphone, tablet or laptop. If you crave a more tangible approach, photocopy (or scan and print) recipes and place them in a binder.

2/10/2015 4:30:16 PM

I have NO drawers in my small apartment kitchen. Anyone have any idea?

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