If your kitchen's reached the official stage between clutter and chaos, it's time to pull it together for greater efficiency. Start by breaking out the vacuum cleaner and clearing away any cobwebs, especially with a HEPA-filtered machine that picks up the mysterious powdery stuff you don't notice until you clean. Once your floors are clean, empty drawers and cupboards so you can set up an organizing scheme you can easily maintain.
Create functional zones that keep small appliances near the drawers that hold the tools you use with them. This tactic also makes it easy to find all the tools you need for specific functions. For example, keep your stand mixer on the counter above the drawer that holds your baking tools and the cupboard that contains your pans and cookie sheets. Store oven mitts near the range so you can grab them quickly.
Use your refrigerator's door, shelf and drawer customization options to make room for the items you need to store. Label everything you put in cold storage with the date on which you bought it. Make sure the original store labels remain visible to display use-by dates on meat. If you frequently marinade or thaw meats, leave space on a refrigerator shelf so you can leave the marinating pan safely in the cold. A flexible-use drawer with multiple temperature options also works well for this purpose, if you have one. Use the memo functions of a refrigerator with a built-in touchscreen to remind yourself of items for your next shopping trip.
Set up the drawer dividers in a flexible freezer space to accommodate your meat, with the oldest items nearest the door or drawer handle and the newest farthest away. Sort meats by source, and cut and frozen vegetables by contents. Keep packaged goods separate from the items you wrap yourself.
Sort and store your cookware and tools so related items group together. You can organize by purpose, material or function, or a mixture of all three. For example, group baking, roasting, or poaching pans together. Use the capabilities of your range as a sorting guide, too. If you cluster by material, you can separate ferrous-metal cookware suitable for use on an induction cooktop or shallow glass pans that you save for a convection oven.
Set up your pantry space with stations that separate ingredients from paper products and cleaning solutions from food. Use bins and jars to package loose items so they take up less space. Place the things you use the most at eye or waist level so you don't have to stretch or bend to reach them.
Photo Credits: Angela Mayo/Demand Media
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