Organizing the Kitchen

One of my favorite spaces in a home is the kitchen, as I spend a lot of time there myself: it’s the heart of our home, it’s where everyone gathers and I love to cook! For that reason, one of my favorite challenges working with a client is re-engineering their kitchen: putting things in the place that makes most sense, defining high-traffic/heavy-use areas to determine best use of space and organizing cabinets and drawers to their maximum storage yet most functional potential.

In fact, it was on my own journey to becoming a professional organizer when I discovered the beauty of an organized, functional kitchen.

It all started when I wanted to use two trays, which were inconveniently stacked beneath 10 pounds of bowls and trays that I rarely ever used, that I realized, “This isn’t working for me.” So out everything came: and within an hour my entire kitchen was in the middle of my kitchen floor – every cabinet completely removed of its contents. I purged a little and reorganized a lot, moving heavily used items to more accessible cabinets, or to more accessible spaces within cabinets. I could now reach in the cabinet and pull out those two trays I wanted. It was a revelation to me that just a little organization in the kitchen worked like magic.

Which brings me to my favorite organized part of my kitchen, which gives me more pleasure than about anything else in this space, as it brings a smile to my face everyday: my ziplock/wrap drawer and my plastic storage container drawer.

My favorite secrets for organizing the ziplock bags and plastic wrap drawer

Drawer #1: Ziplock Bags / Wraps

A compactly organized drawer to hold ziplock bag boxes, clear plastic wrap, aluminum foil and parchment paper. Everything is confined to this drawer which keeps me from buying too much, too!

My favorite secrets for organizing plastic containers in the kitchen

Drawer #2: Plastic Containers

While the contents of drawer #1 are a bit easier to organize, many people are challenged with their version of drawer #2. Plastic containers require a strict organization system.

First, drawers or bins are the best way to contain these wily items: it keeps them in a confined, defined space and they won’t spill out of cabinets or fall off open shelving.

Second, if you are faced with a space issue, ask yourself how many containers you really need for you and your family. To help whittle down your collection, wean out bottoms with missing lids, and say adios to lids without matching bottoms. Then look at the condition of the containers: keep only those that you love to use and are in good condition.*

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Third, to store these containers in the smallest footprint possible, stack them. The trick is to put the shallow containers on the bottom and put the deeper containers inside. The deeper containers can now hold smaller containers, stacked in the same manner: shallow then deepest. I’m able to stack 9 Snapware containers in one 9” x 12” space and 10 Rubbermaid containers in a 12” x 12” space.

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Where & How To Set Up System

It is super helpful to store your wraps/containers nearest the place where you would be handling food on a daily basis – either putting away leftovers after a meal or making lunches.

I also find that if you can store these items near each other in the kitchen, your efficiency will skyrocket! As you put food away, you can opt to use a ziplock bag or container, depending on what the food is. Ditto for lunches, sometimes a plastic container is best (e.g. for pasta or salad) but a ziplock will do fine (and can be reused) for smaller items like Goldfish.

With these tips, I hope you can create a system to organize wraps and containers in your own kitchen. You will have a more functional food-handling operation and can revel in the beauty of your organized space.

I’d also love to hear how you organize these items in your home and if you have any clever tricks to share with others – please let us know in the comments below!

*Here’s a family secret about keeping your containers free of those red tomato, orange grease or yellow curry stains: wash container first in COLD water with soap and a scrub brush to clean the container of the food and remove the red/orange/yellow stains. Once you see that the discoloring is gone, you can then hand wash in hot water or wash in the top rack of your dishwasher. Washing your containers in hot water with the food stains on them will only lock in the stain.

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