Today, I digress from my usually recipe posting to venture into another of my favorite past times – organizing! My kitchen has been driving me up the walls! It has been in need of a MAJOR overhaul!
When we moved into our house, my older son was three weeks old. I had just had a c-section and could lift minimally. I just basically shoved things into cupboards in order to have our boxes unpacked and cookware accessible. As time went on, many items found homes in different inconvienent spaces because I needed to keep them away from curious toddlers.
I finally hit the wall when I came home from Trader Joe’s a few weeks ago with several items I already had in my pantry but didn’t know about because there was no organization to it! I mean, really, does one need the empty box for their child’s nebulizer next to the apple peeler/corer/slicer next to the tomato soup in the pantry? Does that really make sense? Should my cake pans, dinner plates, measuring cups, and serving bowls all be shoved into the same cupboard? Why can’t I ever find any lids for my tupperware containers – is it because they are scattered in the deep recesses of the pantry shelf my tupperware lives on? My kitchen was driving me bananas!
Here are a few pictures of my sad pantry and spice cabinet… I didn’t snap pics of all our cupboards… just a few to expose my shove and shut the door method of organizing (with fingers crossed that nothing falls out the next time I open the door)! This obviously wasn’t working!
So, I arranged for the boys to be neatly tucked away at Grandma and Grandpa’s for the day, did a little shopping ahead of time at Bed, Bath, and Beyond to get some great kitchen organization tools, and did a little research on my new favorite blog obsession www.iheartorganizing.blogspot.com, and a few other websites for kitchen organization tips.
And, finally, today was the day for all the fun to begin!!! All the various websites I looked at suggested that in order to truly get yourself organized, you really need to start from scratch. Meaning, empty your cupboards completely and then reload in an organized manor. So that is exactly what I did.
I started emptying a few cupboard before dropping the boys off at Grandma and Grandpa’s. My three year old (seen below) thought it was pretty cool seeing Mom destroy the kitchen!
It must get worse before it can get better…
Ok, at this point, I had my doubts… Would it all fit back into our kitchen? Could I get this done in one day? Would I have the energy to get it all done and do it properly without just giving up after a few hours and starting to shove everything back in where ever it fit just to get it done?
I put on some great music, drank a little more of my pumpkin latte from Caribou I picked up after dropping off the boys, and dove back in.
I worked for probably between 9 and 10 hours from empty to organize but the results are outstanding!!! Here are a few of the after shots!!!
Baking Supplies and Spices Cabinet
I have a LOT of spices so in addition to my lazy susan I was already using I added a step shelf so the spices were not just stacked three deep but can be seen. I also bought canisters for my sugars and flours so they are neatly stored rather than in bags that spill all over all the time.
My favorite little trick I found on the web was using these little 3M hooks to hang your measuring cups and spoons right on the inside of the door of your cabinet so they are readily accessible for baking without taking up shelf space. LOVE it!!!
The other thing that I did that seems really helpful was to get a clear bin to put all my various nuts in. That way when a recipe calls for pine nuts, macademia nuts, pecans, walnuts, etc., I can just pull out that container and see what I have rather than shuffle through bags of nuts on the shelf. So much easier! (Prettier labels yet to come… just needed something for the moment!) 🙂
Dishes and cookware were organized by use/category – daily use, baking, food prep, etc. Each cabinet and drawer has a more focused purpose now. And, the location is more appropriate too with daily use items in cabinets near the sink and dishwasher, food prep items in the cabinet under our kitchen island, etc. All of this in an effort to make cooking more streamlined! It’s so lovely and organized and I am such a nerd!
And, finally, the pantry… which needed the most help! Remember? It had the empty box from my son’s nebulizer in it, next to the apple peeler/corer/slicer I use once a year, next to the 6 boxes of tomato soup I bought in bulk at Costco, next to the paper plates and cups from Halloween and birthday parties… And, now… lovely organization!!!!!!
In here, the main objective was to keep it mainly food related (with the exceptions being food storage – baggies, tin foil, plastic wrap, paper towels) and for each shelf to have a category. My main categories included pastas, grains, canned goods, and quick grab lunch food (soup, mac-n-cheese, etc.). By creating categories, my hope is that when it comes to grocery list making time, I can more easily glance quickly at the shelf to see what is needed rather than hunt through three cabinets to see where all the different locations of canned goods are and see what I have.
The other piece that I think is helpful is to condense all the smaller bags of various grains and rice into a large bin. They, like the nuts mentioned above, tend to scatter all over a shelf and be hard to locate and keep neat. By putting them all into one bin, I can easily grab the bin out when I am cooking and get the quinoa, rice, or barley I need to cook! Yay for great organization!
(Oh, and another tip I saw online often was clear bins, as you can see I used. It is easier to quickly glance at what you have rather than having to dig through as you would with wicker baskets or opaque baskets.)
Last but not least, our former “junk” cabinet… the one where we put all the bills to be paid, the mail coming in and out of the house, the pens, pencils, scissors, etc. Now, one shelf holds such items and the top shelves are my cookbooks and extra party supplies (crepe paper, cups, napkins, plastic silverware, plates).
And, I used an old silverware organizer that we no longer needed to organize the “junk” drawer below the junk cabinet! Not bad!
After all was said and done, I was left with one empty drawer and a few empty shelves in two cabinets. I love that I have room to grow. Yes, I did throw out about 3 bags of trash as well as donate to charity one large box of items we no longer use. However, considering the massive piles that I saw this morning and the daunting nature of the task, I think it went rather well!!!
Here are my highlights for you if you want to do a little kitchen reorganize yourself:
Start by completely emptying the space you want to reorganize
Sort your items into categories – daily use, baking, food prep, etc.
Use clear bins to hold smaller like items such as nuts, grains, rice, etc. (and label your bins!!!)
Utilize hanging spaces such as hanging measuring spoons and cups on backs of cabinets