The Simple Kitchen Part 2: Simple Organization

Stilleben mit Küchenutensilien (Still Life with Cooking Utensils) by Martin Dichtl (c.1639–1710)

I’m kind of a neat freak.

I say kind of because I’m only obsessively organized about some things…like my pots and pans, my drinking glasses, my plates, my silverware…

Pretty much, my kitchen.

When someone else puts the clean dishes up and they put the glass on the wrong side of the cupboard or stack the kettle on the wrong pot, I get a little edgy when I go to retrieve those items. Don’t get me wrong, I am SO thankful for the help, and I’m more than willing to rearrange the items the way they go. But, until I do, I get a little frustrated.

I am not an expert on organization. Not by any stretch of the imagination. Once I lost an important slip of paper that I had to have in a few days. I rearranged my entire bedroom and cleaned out every nook and cranny possible, but I still didn’t find it…until months later when I didn’t need it any more. So, why am I writing a post on simple organization? Am I getting uppity?

No. At least I hope not!

Organization is imperative to efficiency and success, especially in the kitchen. If you’re one of those people who thrives in a messy environment, I. Am. Amazed. I once had a friend like that. Her living quarters were a wreck, and being a neat freak, it kind of bugged me…I even offered to help her clean, but she said she couldn’t find anything when she cleaned. What?! That’s oxymoronic? I thought. Nope, that’s just the way God made some of us.

So, if you’re one of those people, God bless you. Please share your secret to ignoring chaos with me in the comments section.

“This jar was not in its proper place!”

This past winter, I had more free time than I usually do, so I spent probably about a month whipping my home into shape. And the kitchen was an interesting challenge to tackle. 

Cleaning out my cabinets, I came across stuff I didn’t even know I had. Like a cast iron skillet that I had just recently decided I wanted (Is that a God thing or what?). Going through my pots and pans, I tried to maximize the ease with which I could access my most frequent go-to items, like my large skillet and cutting board. Piece of cake; just takes a little planning in advance, and you’ll save yourself a headache and a lot of annoying clatter from askew pots and pans in the future.

One problem I am still facing is food storage. When I find staple grocery items cheap – like pasta, flour, legumes, etc. – I stock up and save them (In addition to being a touch OCD, I’m also an unapologetic cheapskate shopper). Right now, I think I have about 5 boxes of tea sitting in the floor of my pantry, which will probably last me over half a year. BUT, while stocking up is a good thing, running out of space to stock up is not…especially when organization is like a second best friend. The base of my pantry gets a little messy since we keep other items we use a lot there, which means my food stock also gets messed up. So, nobody’s perfect, and I would appreciate any tips on how to simplify that aspect of my kitchen organization.

Far be it from me to think I know all the answers, but I’d like to share a few of my favorite organization tips for keeping my kitchen somewhat neatly arranged.

1. If it doesn’t work for you, change it!

For months, I stacked a baking-cooling rack on top of my cookie sheets. I used the cookie sheets on a regular basis, but the cooling rack? Almost never. So, every time I got out a cookie sheet, I had to grope around trying to lift the rack off. In cases like this, I’ve learned it’s worth taking ten minutes of time to find a new location for that obnoxious piece in order to avoid frustration in the future.

2. If you don’t need it, donate it.

It never ceases to amaze me the gazillion different kitchen gadgets out there. Just stroll through a Bed, Bath, and Beyond, and you’ll know what I’m talking about. While some of those gadgets are great (I love my salad spinner!), others are just bulky pieces of plastic that we keep because someone gave them to us as a house warming gift (if you don’t know what I’m talking about, stay up late tonight and watch infomercials on TV. They’re notorious for selling random junk you’ll never use.) Save your sanity and your time and donate those items. Your cabinet space is precious, and if you can’t find your blender because you have to dig through four feet of junk to get to it, it’s time to say good-bye to those gadgets “no one can live without.”

3. Perform a weekly organization check.

In order to prevent having an annual day of kitchen organization overhauling, take five or ten minutes each week to straighten up your storage space. A good time to do this is after you go to the grocery store, so you can arrange your food appropriately. By straightening cans and separating forks and spoons once a week, you’ll not only save time in the long run, but, again, you will avoid frustration when you go to make dinner that night.

Got any favorite kitchen organization strategies? I’m always in the mood to hear them!

~The Vintage Book Lady

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