Easy and stress-free kitchen + pantry organization
A new year is the perfect time to reflect on the year behind us and how we want to spend the year ahead. So, when Kristen told me about One Table’s plan to focus more on living with less in the new year, I was thrilled at the opportunity to contribute. If there is one thing I’ve learned as a professional organizer, it’s that for many (including me), living with less is a whole lot easier said than done. However, what I can tell you, because I’ve seen it time and time again, is that the benefits of living with less are life changing. Sounds dramatic, I know, but I stand by my words, totally life changing.
Let me ask you a question; what if I told you getting organized in your kitchen would give you more time in your day (which will reduce stress), save you money and lead to healthier food choices? Sound too good to be true? I promise it’s not!
Think about your dinner time routine. If your kitchen utensil drawer is overflowing or pots are not easily accessible or you can’t remember where you put that one pan you use for that one dish, the amount of time you waste searching quickly adds up. Dinner prep that could take you 15 or 20 minutes has suddenly taken more than 30 minutes. And when you are rushing to eat and make it to someone’s soccer practice or dance class, 15 minutes is a lot. It can be the difference between you driving peacefully to practice and you yelling at the kids the whole way because you are running late and stressed out.
A quick test to see how efficient a kitchen you have; open each cabinet and each drawer one at a time. If you cannot easily see everything you have in that space, you probably have too much. If attacking the entire kitchen solo sounds overwhelming, pick 2 sections of cabinets at a time (preferably where like items are stored) and pull out what you have in them. I bet you will be able to fill a box for goodwill in no time. Concerned about having enough pans or serving dishes for when you host the holidays? Box up the items that are only used a few times year and put them in the attic so that they don’t take up precious square footage in the kitchen.
Now, let’s take a peek in your pantry and fridge. Same concept as the kitchen – can you easily see what you have and what you are low on? If the answer is no, then meal planning and penning the grocery list are taking up more of your time than they should. Just like the kitchen, an organized pantry and fridge will save you time, but the biggest impact will be to your wallet. Disorganized pantries and refrigerators lead to food waste (oops I didn’t know that loaf of bread, now moldy, was under the bag of chips) and to overbuying (the green beans were on sale so you stocked up only to come home and find a stockpile already exists). Trust me, I’m just as guilty of this as the next person, but the more organized my pantry and fridge are at any given point, the less often it happens.
So how do I do it? Containers are critical – wire baskets are one of my favorites in a pantry. I also love bins with handles that can easily be pulled out and put away and clear containers make it easy to see what you have or don’t have on hand. Containers not only keep things neat and tidy, they make it easier to maintain consistent homes for the food you buy regularly.
Last, but not least, let’s consider how organization in the kitchen may affect the food choices we make. If you purchase healthy food, but no one can find it quickly, no one will eat it. Remember that the freshest foods don’t last as long as their less healthy, processed, counterparts, so try not to overbuy produce on any given grocery trip. Placement is key here as well. Keep the healthiest snacks in bins toward the front of the fridge and low if you have kids. Using a big basket in your pantry filled with parent approved snack options is another great way to help family members make good choices.
I know it takes a lot of work to get organized and maintain all that order. I also know it can be really difficult to part with sentimental items like that serving dish your favorite aunt gave you for your wedding, but if something is taking up space in your home and you don’t use it, love it or need it, you are better off without it. Making the space to see and access the items that you use every day (or would use if you could see them) will create a sense of peace and calm that is way more gratifying than buying more of what you already own…..except for shoes, shoes are always an exception. ;-)
Owner, Your Life Well Organized
all images from Pinterest