Question: Can you offer any advice for my kitchen? I want to be able to cook for my family, but the kitchen is always a mess and I am often overwhelmed and not sure where to start.
Answer: Before starting, take a long look at your current kitchen set up. What is bothering you? Are your counters crowded? Are your spices a jumble? Are some often used items hard to reach? Create a vision of how you would like your kitchen to look and feel by the end of this month. Make a brainstorm list of all that needs to happen to make this vision come true.
Some items on your list might include:
- De-clutter your surfaces – what items are not used daily?
- Purge your cabinets – how many plastic containers or saucepans do you really need?
- Organize for convenience – are your often used items easy to reach?
- Set up zones – do you have a clear food preparation zone, cooking zone, dish zone, storage zone and serving zone?
Now tackle the project. Divide your kitchen into 4 zones and tackle just one zone a week. This will keep the job from being overwhelming.
- Week 1 – Cooking Zone – Clean the stove, oven and microwave. Organize pots, pans, cooking utensils and bake-ware. If your space is crowded, consider giving away pots that are rarely used. If you have special cookware that is used only for a specific holiday, store that ware with the holiday decorations.
- Week 2 – Food Preparation Zone – Clean out the refrigerator as well as organize cutting boards, knives, mixing bowls, spices, mixers, blenders, measuring cups and spoons. Get rid of duplicates. Toss foods and spices that are past their prime.
- Week 3 – Dish Zone – Clean your sink area and dishwasher. Organize your dishware, mugs, glasses and flatware. Discard items you don’t need or those that are broken.
- Week 4 – Food Serving Zone and Food Storage Zone – Look over placemats, napkins, trivets, large serving pieces, and any groups of items you have not already organized. When you go through your pantry, pull out any cans that you have been holding on to and are reaching expiration. Donate these to a food pantry. When you replace the food in your pantry, group the foods by type – all soups together, all pasta, all fruits, etc.