If you cook then I know you’ve been wondering how to stay organized in the kitchen. Being a mom and a food blogger means I cook all the time, be it for my own family or developing and testing recipes for you. My kitchen is always running. While preparing food for others does bring joy, there is a big part of it that has nothing to do with joy or fun. You’ve guessed it, it’s kitchen cleanup and organization.
Don’t get me wrong, I am by no means a neat and clean cook. Sometimes not a very organized one either. But the more I cook and use my kitchen, the more I learn how to stay organized and make cleanup easier, especially when you have little ones.
3 Reasons why you should declutter your kitchen
Decluttering a kitchen is the first step towards an organized kitchen. I am not talking about pantry jars that haven’t been used in months or a container of humus at the back of the fridge that looks funky. Here we talk about kitchen tools, dishes, utensils, gadgets, and small appliances that haven’t been used in months (or ever!). I’ve learned that the more I cook the more it becomes obvious that I need fewer and fewer fancy tools. Well, maybe downsizing and having a smaller kitchen may have something to do with this, too. But seriously, do I really need six chopping boards?
- An organized and declutter kitchen is easier to keep clean. A clean kitchen is usually organized. Do you notice a dependency here? I know you’ve noticed that it is so much easier to keep your kitchen clean if it’s well organized and every spoon and gadget has its own spot. On days when I cook and work on three or four recipes, my kitchen tends to look like a tornado just hit it. Keeping the kitchen decluttered helps with cleanup.
- By having less stuff, you will use what you have more often. I’ve noticed that when you have five spatulas, you’ll use all five to make a breakfast. When you have one, you wash it right away after stirring scrambled eggs and then use it to stir oatmeal. You still make that breakfast and have less dishes to wash afterwards. (See my clean as you go tip below)
- A clutter-free kitchen looks nicer. A kitchen that looks nice makes you feel good. Do I need to say more? Well yes, if you’re anything like me, you probably want to dive in baking and cooking when you spot a clean kitchen.
My 3 favorite things to keep kitchens organized
No matter how big your kitchen is, these three simple and inexpensive helpers will make it feel better organized and more specious.
[easyazon_link identifier=“B00H7LOLT6” locale=“US” tag=“fosmmo-20” cloak=“n”]Expandable bamboo utensil drawer organizer[/easyazon_link] – this drawer organizer is genius! I use it to organize both my utensils drawer and my lovely “junk” drawer. In my previous home, I had a large kitchen island with one of those wide drawers, this organizer worked great in there. When we relocated and downsized, I kept it regardless of losing the kitchen island. It’s adjustable so it fits into my regular-size drawers.
[easyazon_image align=”center” cloak=”n” height=”563″ identifier=”B00H7LOLT6″ locale=”US” src=”http://www.foodsmartmom.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/51lP8B48AYL.jpg” tag=”fosmmo-20″ width=”680″]
[easyazon_link identifier=“B002ZNJHZE” locale=“US” tag=“fosmmo-20” cloak=“n”]Expandable kitchen cabinet shelves[/easyazon_link] – if you’re not using these to organize a cabinet or two, this is where you should start because they almost double your space. I find that most shelves in cabinets and pantries are simply too tall. Therefore, they waste quite a bit of vertical space. Add your own shelves
[easyazon_link identifier=“B000MM8WNI” locale=“US” tag=“fosmmo-20” cloak=“n”]Bamboo over-the-sink shelf[/easyazon_link] – Just like cabinet and pantry shelves, under the cabinet space on the counter often can be doubles. I use this bamboo shelf on a cabinet. The shelf is a home to our cellphones and small items that need a temporary home such as a loose button, notes, bills that need immediate attention, etc. Fruit baskets fit perfectly under it. Doubled space!
Clean as you go to stay organized in the kitchen
A while back I visited a large manufacturing factory with thousands of workers running their work benches and tables with lots of small parts and a number of tools. You’d expect a place like this to be a huge mess but quite the contrary, it was really neat and organized. And clean! Unlike anything I envisioned in my mind.
While walking around I noticed that each work station had a custom sign that said, “Clean As You Go”. It got me thinking. If shift workers can clean as they go, I should be able to as well. While I don’t always succeed at this, I did discover that when I do, it does help me stay organized in the kitchen. Below are my 3 tips that help me clean as I go.
3 Tips to make cooking cleanup easier
- Empty your dishwasher before you start cooking. Use it to load used dishes that do not require pre cleaning or soaking (see tip #3). It will be a breeze to turn it on to do your dishes and a relief to see your sink empty.
- Keep a larger bowl handy to catch all scraps, wraps, peels, etc. They won’t stretch across your counters and all you’ll have to do when done prepping and cooking is to dump it in the trash can.
- Have a large bowl of warm soapy water ready to soak used utensils and smaller dishes. By soaking knives, spatulas, whisks, small bowls or spoons right after you’re done with them, you won’t have to prewash them to remove hardened batter or grease. Plus, they will be in one spot, not scattered around your kitchen.
Make cooking easier and more enjoyable
There is one single tip that helps me stay organized and streamline my time in the kitchen. It also helps me make sure I don’t miss an ingredient or step in a recipe. If you’ve ever forgot to salt your dinner, you know what I mean. A while back I missed to add salt to Italian Borlotti Beans and Potato Soup. Not a proud moment!
Be prepared. In the culinary community, this step and process is known as mise en place. It’s a French term that means “everything in place.” Basically, it refers to preparing all the tools, pots, and pans you’ll need. It also means that all ingredients are measured, washed, peeled, chopped, diced, sliced, grated, etc, before you start cooking to have them ready to go.
Get used to prepping food and work place ahead of time
Until you get used to mise en place, it may sound a bit much. However, by preparing everything ahead of time, not only do you stay more organized in the kitchen but you also become more efficient. In order to prepare everything, you’ll have to read a recipe ahead of time. This simple step of reading the recipe before you start cooking can save you time, frustration, delays, and even unplanned take outs. Because, let’s be honest, how may times did you go to make something just to realize you’re out of a required ingredient half way through?
By preparing and measuring everything before you get busy cooking, you’ll avoid grabbing a jar of spice with greasy hands. Grabbing a jar with greasy hands means more mess and more cleanup. More cleanup means more time in the kitchen. Can you spot the dependency here?
Finally, since you’ve be good at keeping your kitchen organized with all these tips, I got something special for you! Enter below.
Mom’s Pampering Gift Pack Giveaway!
More Ideas for the Busy Holiday Season:
- Delicious Meets Healthy: Easy, Healthy Winter Meals
- Food Smart Mom: Stay Organized in the Kitchen
- Vitamin Sunshine: Gingerbread Loaf + Planning Ahead for Holiday Meals
- BUB Society: Take a Break, Mom
- The Gingered Whisk: Healthy Meals for the Holiday Season
- Pulling Curls: Holiday Traditions for the Busy Family
- Jennifer Powter