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Kitchen organization
Dishes in the cabinet, food in the pantry, pot and pans under the stove. Okay, now where do you put everything else in your kitchen? Small appliances, flatware, cooking utensils and all of those little gadgets need a home too! Question is, where do you put them all in order to make the most of the space you have.

The first thing you want to do is go thru EVERYTHING! (Yeah, I know. You thought this was about organization. Bear with me here!) Start with your flatware. Do you really need 6 sets of steak knives? And since your youngest is now five years old, I don’t think they are using those baby spoons anymore. This is also a good time to see if you actually need more silverware. In my house the small spoon seems to disappear, so I picked up a few extra at a local dollar store. Next, on to the utensils. Who actually uses 3 hand can openers? Get rid of duplicates, broken and unused items. If it is something you one need once a year (like a turkey baster) then box it up and clearly label it for future use. But get it out of the kitchen. Move to the pantry next. Have a box ready for items you can donate to a local food bank or give to someone who will actually use them. It’s amazing what can hide in the back. Check the expiration dates and pitch anything past its’ prime. Cans that are bulging need to be tossed, as does anything you can’t identify. Get rid of open packages, stale crackers, whatever. If you haven’t used it by now, chances are you aren’t going to. Now, the job you have been waiting for – the plastics cabinet! Butter bowls – out they go! No lids – toss’em! Cracked, dented, melted – Out, out, out!

Time to move down. Yes, we need to clean out under the sink! (Thought I forgot that, didn’t you?) Since this is where most people keep their cleaning supplies, it is especially important to keep this area clear of clutter. Items that you haven’t used in 6 months can be thrown out, since you obviously aren’t using them. And if it is more than 1 year old it needs to go. The chemicals in cleaning solutions can change over time. Not only will they not work as well, but they can break down – completely changing their chemical composition, which can be dangerous.

After you have finished cleaning out ALL of the cabinet in the kitchen, look at what is left. You will probably be surprised at the amount of room you now have. But, like most, I am sure it still needs to be organized.

First, let’s look at the area nearest the stove. Since this is where you do most of you cooking, the items you use the most here should be close for easy access. And unless you have an abundance of cabinets and drawers, it can be a little tricky to make this space workable. Start by making sure your utensils are within easy reach. Do this by placing them in a drawer next to or close to the stove. They also make racks for hanging utensils. Hanging spice racks are also an option. I have one that hangs directly over the stove. If you have room, you can also find racks for hanging your cookware. Not only do all of these racks make it easy to cook, they also free up valuable drawer, cabinet and counter space. And if you have a small kitchen, these are all probably at a premium. Decorative crocks are also handy for placing regularly used items. These can be placed right next to the work area and still look nice.

Unless you plan out either eating out for the rest of you life (sounds nice, but not very practical) or eating off of paper plates, your dishes need a home. There is not a lot you can do here except stack them. But remember not to stack so many that it is difficult to get what you need out of the cabinet. I actually have 2 stacks of everything on 2 separate shelves – the most frequently used items being on the bottom for easy access. Cooking and mixing bowls should be in a separate cabinet, if you have the room.

Small appliances. Where to put them? Many small appliances can now be mounted under your cabinets. This frees up counter space, yet leaves them handy to get to. If you can spare the counter space, put them out. But if you are like most people, you need the space and hate the cluttered look. Find a place to put them when not in use. I rarely use my electric can opened, preferring my hand opener. So the electric went into a box to be stored. You can also hang paper towels and paper plates from cabinets, saving space and keeping these items close by. And don’t forget about that extra space we cleaned out under the sink. This can be used to store infrequently used items, like roasting pans or serving platters.

There is not much you can do with the pantry, but I have a few ideas to make it easier to find thing. Simply cleaning it out will help a lot. Make sure like items are together. Boxed items on one shelf, cans on another. Consider purchasing stackable containers for regularly used foods like cereal, flour and sugar. While the initial investment can be a bit costly, in the long run these items will pay for themselves by making it easier to find thing. Plus, they seems to last forever. I have a set of Tupperware canisters that are over 20 years old and going strong! Ugly, but functional, they stay in the pantry. Another option is an over the door hanger to place smaller items. I bought one at local discount store for $15. It has been a lifesaver. I use it for spices we don’t use a lot, baking supplies and odds and ends. I liked it so much I bought another one for my laundry room (but that’s another article!).

Now look to see if you have any usable space left. I lived in my current home for almost a year before I realized I could use the hidden corners by my sink. By purchasing 2 L-bracket plant hangers and some hanging baskets, I now have a great place to store kitchen towels. They are close to the sink for easy access, decorative, free up much needed drawer space and, most importantly, are out of the way.

Organizing your kitchen can be challenging, but it is necessary to make things flow more smoothly. Don’t be afraid to put things in unusual places (like my kitchen towels). Besides, if you don’t like it, you can always move it back. Most of all, make your kitchen a place you like to be. Well, at least make it place you don’t hate!