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Organize Your Kitchen and Streamline Meal Prep



Clear countertops make our hearts sing, but kitchen organization is a lot deeper than that.

Within the grand scheme of life, shiny countertops may appear to be a superficial concern, but anyone with a kitchen knows that they’re actually a really unavoidable reflection of what form of day, week, or month we’re having. An expanse of decluttered, polished quartz is a transparent indicator that we’re energetic, motivated, running on schedule, and just generally killing it in life. Cluttered, crumb-dusted, sticky countertops punctuated by empty coffee mugs and little piles of mail tell a completely different story.

The ability of kitchen organization doesn’t end on the countertops, either: When your kitchen is even a bit of dysfunctional, that may easily carry over to other areas of your life, out of your morning routine to what you eat—and thus how you’re feeling—to how much quality time you spend along with your partner or family within the evening. If you happen to don’t make your bed or fold your sweaters for a couple of days (or years), your life won’t collapse; for those who stop putting away dishes or taking stock of your pantry, it actually form of will.

That said, kitchen organization will also be way more intimidating than, say, revamping a closet or your garage shelves. For starters, you’re coping with a really finite amount of space. You must keep many items inside close reach, but you could have to work with the cupboard space and kitchen drawers that you could have. (Unlike in other rooms, where you may often squeeze a couple of storage bins somewhere, it may possibly be trickier here to carve out additional space for storing—especially if you could have a small kitchen.) Plus, you’re coping with a large quantity of daily-use items that have to be easy-access but that even have very specific storage needs: delicate glassware, bulky gadgets, heavy cookware, clanky baking sheets, bulky cutting boards, and an all the time unruly hodgepodge of cooking utensils and silverware.

With all of this in mind—and within the interest of starting the brand new yr off in essentially the most sane way possible—we asked a few of our favourite skilled organizers to serve up a few of their best kitchen-organization ideas and hacks. Start file-folding those dishtowels and sorting through that junk drawer, because your transformative kitchen-organization makeover starts now.

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Block your kitchen into zones.

First things first: Pause and really take into consideration what raw features your kitchen has and what it is advisable get out of it. Do you currently have things set as much as flow logically and simply, or might there be a greater big-picture method to use the space? Are your dishes and pots and tools stowed near the realm where you’ll use them? “With regards to kitchen organization, you really need to think concerning the items you could have, the space each item would best slot in, and where within the kitchen you utilize it,” says skilled organizer Corinne Monahan of Grid & Glam. “It helps to take into consideration your kitchen by way of zones. For instance, you could have an on a regular basis dishware zone, a baking zone, a cooking zone, and a dry food/pantry zone. Arrange a system that works for you and your lifestyle.”

Stow away the non-everyday.

One other good start line for rethinking your kitchen organization: Introduce a backup storage system for items you don’t use to your weekly meal prep, for those who don’t have already got one. “We frequently recommend our clients designate an area where they will store less ceaselessly used kitchen items,” says skilled organizer Jordan Marks of It’s Organized. “For instance, holiday-specific items ought to be binned with decorations and only brought out for that season. This may unlock space in your kitchen cabinets and drawers for items you utilize on a regular basis.” If you happen to know you utilize your Cuisinart only before hosting Thanksgiving, there’s no reason it should occupy prime real estate under your kitchen island; let it hide out in your basement storage closet as a substitute. Likewise for that enormous paella pan you utilize perhaps twice a yr.

Find hidden storage.

Unless you’re a real minimalist—and even never cook—you most likely could use some extra kitchen space for storing. Luckily, you could have loads of options. For instance, consider whether you could have room so as to add a utility cart, a rolling butcher block, or a movable kitchen island—this one even features its own pot rack—which gives you prime prep space and space for storing. Look to your partitions too: You’ll be able to likely find spot to squeeze in a pegboard, perfect for putting pans and cooking tools close by (and cute to have a look at too). An over-the-door organizer is an excellent easier method to capitalize on vertical space within the kitchen; one with clear pockets works perfectly as a dangling spice rack on a pantry door. Introducing smaller custom storage solutions inside your existing cabinets and drawers will be just as big a game changer—things like drawer dividers for cutlery and adjustable drawer organizers to neatly sort food-prep tools, a couple of lazy Susans to corral bottles of vinegar and the like (so that you’re not knocking them over searching for ingredients mid-stir-fry), and a knife block to clear up drawer space and keep knives sharp (and your hands protected). To make higher use of ample room under your kitchen sink, add a caddy (or three) for cleansing supplies, so you may just grab the entire thing and never topple 67 bottles. You may also install pull-out shelving designed specifically to smarten up this clutter-prone zone.

Control clutter.

Speaking of which: Decluttering your kitchen really can feel just like the chore that never ends. Before you’ve found homes for all those stray receipts, cookbooks, and bills, incoming pieces of mail and outerwear have taken over the island. Yet decluttering is vital to keeping this room sane. “The kitchen is the hub of the house, the central gathering area for socializing and eating in addition to food prep, so keeping it clutter-free will be extra difficult,” says skilled organizer Dorothy Breininger, a.k.a. Dorothy the Organizer. Her favorite hacks for clutter-prone zones include designating a “drop zone” on countertops that’s separate out of your food-prep counter space, i.e., no homework or shopping bags allowed on the island, just the corner desk area. Then have a set time of day once you clear that drop zone area and return items to their homes (or the recycling bin).

Get your cabinets in shape.

With regards to cabinet organization, deal with rearranging things in keeping with how often you utilize them; daily-use items ought to be easy to grab and close by, while infrequently used items can go high up and method to the back (or, ideally, to your backup storage area, as mentioned above).

Uncomplicate meal prep.

It’s possible you’ll prefer to view it as “European,” but running to the food market each day isn’t necessarily efficient—for those who’re not shopping thoughtfully, you may easily find yourself impulse-buying belongings you don’t actually need (or need to be eating), duplicating foods you have already got, and never using up items already in your fridge. As daunting because the term can sound, meal planning doesn’t should be a super-complicated process. One easy and fun method to start, especially if you could have a family: Work out a rotating theme menu—Meatless Mondays, Taco Tuesdays, Pasta Wednesdays, etc. “That way, the wheel doesn’t should be reinvented each night, but it surely doesn’t should be boring either,” says skilled organizer Kate Pawlowski of Done + Done Home. “It could possibly be fish tacos one week, chicken the subsequent, and a taco pizza the third. Food prep might be easier since the menu might be set and time spent coming up with meal ideas might be minimal.” You’ll cut down on shopping time since many ingredients will repeat one week to the subsequent, meaning you’ll understand how much to purchase and where they’re in the shop, and you may even hit up a bulk store to top off on ceaselessly used items—beans, rice, pasta, frozen meatless meatballs—to trim your weekly shopping list. Bonus fridge-decluttering tactic: Brainstorm a couple of easy lunches that use leftovers from the meals in your rotation. As for the strategy of meal planning, deal with what feels easiest to you. “I’m a paper girl and want to jot down down our family’s meal plan on a pad each week, but there are also great apps and online options as well,” says skilled organizer Rachel Rosenthal of Rachel & Co. (One app skilled organizers recommend: Paprika.) “And keep in mind that easy dinners and dining out count inside meal planning too. It is straightforward to listen to ‘meal planning’ and envision picture-perfect, made-from-scratch meals simmering on the stove, but—let’s be real—we’re not doing that day by day of the week. Use items that make your life easier, like a boxed meal-prep service or takeout, but work them into your weekly meal plan so you recognize they’re coming.”

Upgrade your food storage containers.

One other time-saver skilled organizers swear by: Prep ingredients that you simply’ll use in meals throughout the week, e.g., dice onions, wash and dry greens, slice peppers, marinate proteins. That is where the precise storage containers are so helpful. Few things immediately up your kitchen-organization game like a set of stackable glass containers: They won’t absorb odors or flavors, they allow you to clearly see the foods you’ve prepped (or leftovers you’ve stashed), and in addition they just look a lot cleaner and sleeker than a bunch of mismatched plastic vessels. Same goes for pantry organization, where you need to use clear glass or acrylic food storage containers for dry goods like cereal, crackers, pasta, and beans. “Decanting foods into clear containers helps streamline the visual presentation of your pantry or countertop and higher gauge what must be refilled,” explains skilled organizer Ashley Murphy of Neat Method. Whatever containers you utilize, take half an hour to weed out the duds and make it easy to locate components. “Arrange your kitchen for meal-prep success…and avoid the tumbling tower of lids,” Rosenthal says. “You wish your kitchen to enable you reach your goals, not hold you back from them.”

Organize your pantry by purpose.

Sometimes it is smart to store like items together: your entire canned tomato products in a single storage bin, backup condiments together in a basket. Other times it makes more sense to group items in keeping with the time of day you’ll be searching for them—oats and cereals in clear containers next to the turntable holding morning vitamins and the honey and cinnamon you utilize in your yogurt. “If you happen to categorize and label pantry bins with terms like ‘snacks’ or ‘dinner prep,’ you’re more prone to adhere to an organized system over time,” Murphy says.

Petra Guglielmetti is a health, wellness, and wonder journalist who taps right into a broad network of experts to jot down in-depth service articles for leading publications like Glamour, Health, Real Easy, and Parents.

More kitchen organizing (and other-space organizing) ideas:

Originally Appeared on Glamour

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