Clearing Kitchen Cupboards and Drawers

"The value of an idea lies in the using of it."  ~Thomas Edison

Ready for the next step toward an organized kitchen? Let's get started...

Once the visible areas (counter, stove top and refrigerator door) are clutter-free, it is time to tackled the interior areas -- cupboards and drawers. This may take a bit of time as you purge, sort and organize each area according to function. Life management skills: always group like items together and place near area of use.

Here are tips to help you organized the kitchen by function:

  • First thing to remember as you go through each area, is to purge the broken, worn and unused items-- donate or toss. This goes for outgrown kids' dishes, cleaning supplies, old canned goods, duplicate peelers, expired coupons, unused recipes...  Purging will instantly provide you with more storage space.
  • Depending on the size of your kitchen and available cabinets, shelving in the basement or garage makes a convenient area for items occasionally used -- small appliances, seasonal dishes and extra canned goods and staples. This allows more space in the kitchen for everyday items.
  • Remember the idea of keeping like items together? Section off your pantry area for baking supplies, cereals (hot and cold), grains/pasta, canned items (fruits, vegetables, soups, meats/fish), condiments, snacks, beverage area, pet supplies and cleaning items. Maybe you have more categories, but these will suffice for now.
  • Food preparation and cooking supplies need to be placed in cupboards near the stove. (Remember to always place items closest to the area of most frequent use.) Finding a home for these items inside the cabinets frees counter space; when there is a convenient home spot it is easier to put things away after use.
  • Canisters with the standard flour, sugar, coffee and tea do not necessarily need to be on the counter even if they look nice. They take up space and add to the clutter making it difficult to keep surface areas clear and clean.
  • If you live in an area prone to ants and other insect infestations, transfer grain products from boxes and bags to tightly sealed containers.
  • Place a small lamp in a hard-to-reach corner or use an automatic sensor nightlight to provide a dim illumination for dark areas.
  • Mugs do not need to be stored with glasses and dishes. Put them in a cupboard near the coffee maker along with needed supplies - sugar, powdered milk, cinnamon...
  • Dishes, silverware and glasses stored within the proximity of the dishwasher makes it convenient to put clean items away.

    Extra deep, non-slip and expandable with locking mechanism utensil drawer organizer Size: 17 x 12.5 x 2.75
  • All drawers need dividers to prevent a chaotic, jumbled mess. There are a variety of dividers at Amazon. Remember that dividers can be used for other purposes throughout the house -- bathroom, bedroom, garage, tool shed, office drawers, etc.
  • Organize recipes and restaurant reviews into 3-ring binders to be stored on a shelf or into a cabinet. Better yet, use electronics to eliminate the paper copies.
  • Coupons can be housed in a small box or folder and stored in a convenient drawer with notepads and extra pens.
  • Group all barbecue supplies in one area, in a drawer, on a pantry shelf or hanging in the garage.
  • To prevent buildup of dust and grease, spice jars should be stored behind a closed door on a tiered shelf for easy visibility and access.
  • With children, breakfast and snack food items can be placed in lower cabinets to make them accessible and easy to grab without climbing on chairs or asking a taller person to obtain it for them.
  • As you peruse kitchen drawers, you may come across duplicates such as scissors, tape, elastic bands, timers, finger nail clippers... Decision-making time: Many duplicate items are useful in other household area. Place the extras where they are needed to save time and frustration.
  • Prime storage spaces (shelves at eye level and top drawers) are the most visible and easiest place to retrieve items. Staying organized means that those items you use most often are within the prime storage area.

As you consciously evaluate the importance of every kitchen item, you will be able to let go of those things that do not serve a purpose in your life at this time. It is always uplifting to pass on unused and unloved items to someone who really needs them. A funny thing happens in the process: you discover space! Yup, more space for the treasures of your life without the clutter, chaos and confusion of unwanted, unused, unloved items.

Neat does not equal Organized

Being neat is not the same as being organized. Spice jars arranged alphabetically is not organized if you cannot access the one you want when you want it. It is how you use something, not its relative position in the alphabet, that matters the most. So before you start moving things around, think about how you plan to access and use the items.

Another Life Management Skill: By polishing the kitchen sink every night before heading to bed, you set the stage for an organized kitchen as it was intended to be.

For the next few weeks, use your 15-minutes of organizing time to tackle one drawer, one cabinet, one area at a time. It is the step-by-step approach. At the end of the month, you will be amazed at how well your kitchen works for you.


February Challenge – Order in the Kitchen

"Time is a created thing.

To say ‘I don’t have time’ is to say ‘I don’t want to." ~Lao Tzu


Many people say that the kitchen is the heart of the home. Mine is! Is yours?

The kitchen is certainly the most important room in my house. The entire family utilizes this space. Therefore, it must be set up in a way that is safe and clean for everyone. If your kitchen is the heart of your home, then pay attention to how disorder in this room affects every aspect of your life. An organized kitchen sets the tone for the rest of the house.

For most people, the kitchen is a magnet, drawing everyone and everything to this area. It is where we migrate to socialize with family and friends. It is where we dump the incoming mail, homework, and anything else in our arms when we enter the house. It is where we prepare the meals often leaving dishes piled in the sink and pots on the stove. It is where we go to get a drink and grab a snack. It is the epicenter of our life.

Creating a sense of order in the kitchen may not seem like fun when you glance around and see the variety of items within view; however, once this challenge is complete you will be on the receiving end of an amazing, peaceful haven.

Much of my daily life takes place in the kitchen—food preparation, cooking, eating, conversing, sorting the mail, scanning a magazine or the weekly newspaper, cleaning... Yet the primary purpose of the kitchen is all about food. Food nurtures the mind, body and soul. Healthy food supports a healthy heart. The kitchen is the spot to store and prepare the food and nutrients our bodies need. Without food, we would not survive; without the kitchen, a house is not a home.

So, for the rest of February, we are going to simplify and organize the heart -- our physical heart and the heart of our home. We will tackle this task one-small-step-at-a-time to avoid becoming overwhelmed. Right now, pull out your calendar and set aside 15 minutes every day. Each day of this month will provide you with the opportunity to get the kitchen in order.

"Every day do something that will inch you closer to a better tomorrow."  ~Doug Firebaugh

For this week we will work on the visible areas—the table, chairs, counter, stove top and refrigerator door... by determining the purpose of each spot -- another life management skill.

  • The primary function of the table and chairs is for the pleasure of sitting down to eat a meal and enjoying a friendly chat with family and friends.
  • A cleared counter and stove top makes meal preparation easier, less stressful.
  • A refrigerator door free of magnets and pictures prevents knocking things on the floor every time you open the door or nudge it shut.
  • An empty sink, cleaned and polished reflects your attitude of being in control.

Do you have others areas that have a specific purpose? Be sure to write out your list and pledge to keep them strictly for their purpose.


Let's get started clearing the clutter from these visible surfaces. Here are a few steps to rid kitchen clutter. Use these ideas or start your own list. Just get started!

  1. I usually start with the kitchen sink. Getting the dishes done and put away, clears a huge area. Sometimes I let pots soak in the sink, but I always have to face that task at some point, so why not just do it (as Nike says!).
  2. Next I begin to work my way across the counter tops from the sink outward -- first to the right, then to the left. Are there items that can be stored in a cabinet or drawer? I have found that the counters are much easier to wipe down and keep clean when there is very few items on them. Find homes behind closed doors for items that you normally leave out. It will open up more space, physically and visually. Once an item has a specific home, it is easy to just put it away when you are finished using it. I will admit, my Keurig coffee maker remains on the counter, but the container with the K-cups is in a cabinet close by.
  3. It is time to take a good look at the stove top. In order to cook safely, there really should be nothing sitting around or on the stove. So, get busy and clear it off and find a home for those items. While you are near the stove, look at those little items, such as spice jars, you leave out just to make it easier to grab when you are cooking. Look closely at those jars. Are they accumulating grease from cooking spatters? I find that it is easier to set up a spice rack in a cabinet to keep the area clear of anything that will accumulate dust and grease -- a bad combination.
  4. Now tackle all those papers that found their way to the kitchen counter. What are they for? Kids school assignments, incoming mail that you have to go through, mail to go out, magazines to read, books to return to the library. Look everything over and make a specific mail sorting area, preferably near the  entry or in your home office. Papers do not fair well when they are near the food preparation area. The kitchen counter is not a place to accumulate papers or other items not pertinent for food preparation.

    Amazon magnetic chalkboard holds all your important pictures, memos and mementos keeping the refrigerator door cleared.
  5. Lastly, clear off the refrigerator door. It is not a bulletin board. If you absolutely need a place to store papers, pictures, recipes, receipts... then find a spot to hang a cork or magnetic board. A messy overloaded refrigerator door is a distraction, a eyesore and a nuisance. Clear it off!

The goal of organizing the visible surface areas first is to open up the space and provide a clean, safe work area. Take a second look around. Are there still things on the counter, next to the sink, over the stove, on the refrigerator door that can be put somewhere else? The less you have visible, the more pleasing and functional the area will be.

Final words on an organized kitchen:  Polish the kitchen sink every night as soon as you finish clearing up the dinner dishes. Having a clean, polished sink sets the stage for a beautiful, peaceful haven and makes the next morning tasks so much lighter. And, if morning rush is a difficult time for you and your family, then get prepared the night before. It will truly be a blessing when you can eliminate the hectic morning hours. Just another life management skill.

If you run into an area you just don't know what to do, fill in the comment section below and I'll help you along the way to get and stay organized.

See you soon...