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.
  • 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.


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