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the haas machine: Creating Clean #2: Kitchen Organization

Friday, April 12, 2013

Creating Clean #2: Kitchen Organization

Welcome back to my little mini-series on creating clean. The first post was about preparing & planning to clean in a way that best works for you. I also shared a whole bunch of green cleaning products that you can make at home, so make sure you  check that post out here.

Before we get to cleaning, we need to talk a little bit about organizing. I get so much satisfaction from something well-organized, don't you? It really doesn’t matter what it is-- a well-organized speech, closet, grocery store, food blog, spice rack… they are all very attractive to me. Even though the average person who would walk into my kitchen would find it to be organized, lately it has been stressing me out & having a negative affect on my creativity.

The junk drawer that I vowed to do away with last year has become over the top annoying, the cooking utensil drawer has always been unruly, & if I have to search for one more missing lid or cookie cutter in my cupboard, I’m about to do away with them all & only use plastic baggies & buy cookies (I’m only partly kidding).
As if this needs explanation... this is our pre-organized junk drawer

On a particularly stressful day at home with my little one, I started making a mental note of all the things I wanted to improve in the kitchen. I mean, it’s where I spend easily 75% of my day, preparing food, cleaning up, planning, blogging, even playing with Ruby (she’s way into coloring now, but only allowed to color in the kitchen for fear that she might accidentally go crazy with her colors on the hardwood floor or even more frightening, her new play kitchen). 

After dinner that night, I snuck away & shopped (alone!) at Goodwill & Target & found almost everything I needed. It was refreshing to be able to think while shopping. I told John later that night that I’m so used to triage shopping, meaning that I have to quickly make decisions instead of thoughtfully taking time to make them because I shop with a busy 20-month old. The introvert in me hates this. Needless to say, I really enjoyed those 2 hours, even if it was spent shopping (one of my top 5 all-time least favorite things).

Here are some things that help me be more efficient in the kitchen. My number one thought when putting things in their place is, “where do I use this most often?” So when I put up all my measuring cups & spoons on hooks inside my cupboard, I put them in a place closest to where I prepare a lot of food. I have all of my baking supplies in one spot, all my hot beverage things together, etc. It just makes life easier.

Dish organization
Lid organizer: If one thing drives me crazy, it’s trying to find the right lid for our pots & pans, which are always shoved to the back of our cupboard. This little organizer will save me from yelling many curses. This organizer was $0.99 at Goodwll. 
See the lid organizer on the bottom shelf?

Wire shelves: We really are blessed with tons of cupboards in our house, but we also have lots of dishes. Every day white IKEA dishes, my 60's inspired floral dishes, my inherited red dishes... so many dishes. These shelves create a little bit more space for me to keep the lids for mixing bowls & small pyrex bowl close by & organized. These shelves were $6 each at Target, here's a link as close as I could find.
The racks are pretty small, but effective at adding a bit more space & keeping lids with bowls

Bins for lids: I hate all things plasticware, but they so have their place in the home, don’t they? I love these little bins & I got two: one for organizing the lids & another for other random things that usually float around in the cupboard (like cookie cutters). They were $6.99 each at Target.
Cute little cloth bins to keep all the lids in one spot
Now I can just pull out the bin when I need a lid

Hooks for measuring spoons & cups: This is my favorite for sure. I love that these little hooks hold all my measuring cups & spoons & that I can keep them organized at eye-level. You can definitely find these cheaper at a hardware store, but I got them at Target for $3.69.
 Please ignore my super ugly apple measuring cups- I still have to paint these!

Drawer organizers: both our junk drawer & utensil drawer needed serious help, so I found these organizers in different sizes at Target for $5 each (these aren't the exact ones, but as close as I could find online) & the other one at Goodwill for $2. 
Kitchen utensils are finally easily located

Junk drawer after organization overhaul! There's still a lot going on in this drawer, but at least now everything has a place.

Magnetic strip: We got this lovely magnetic strip for our knives at IKEA & absolutely love it. We put it up next to our new cutting block (also from IKEA). I love the idea of not having to get out a cutting board or fish through a drawer to find a knife/have a knife block on our counter, using up valuable space.
I wish I would have known how amazing these two items are sooner- I would have bought them many years ago!

Food organization
When you’re trying to get a meal out quickly or are on your way to grocery shop, you want to be able to locate food quickly. It drives me crazy to unload a cupboard just to see if we have almonds. I want to be able to see most items at a glance, so here’s our little system.
We save all of our food jars (from peanut butter, salsa, etc.) to hold things like beans, lentils, nuts, seeds, granola, etc. That way I can save my mason jars for canning & recycle all the jars we use (I especially like Smuckers Natural Peanut Butter because it’s delicious, but also because the jars are so perfect for food storage). This also makes it easier to organize your cupboards because you won’t have tons of little bags of things everywhere & the glass helps you quickly identify what’s in the container (unlike the ice cream bucket of brown rice on our shelf that constantly frightens guests).
A glance into our food cupboard

Overflow storage: I have a metal shelf in the basement for all of the bulk items (like bags of dried herbs, spices, loose leaf tea, paper towels, etc.). It’s usually cheaper to buy things in bulk & it also saves on shopping time because you don’t need to buy it so often. I make sure that I put the food that’s going to expire first near the front of the shelf (“first in, first out”) so that we’re using up the oldest products first.
Overflow storage in the basement

Our spices: These are in a drawer that's closest to where we prepare food. All of the bulk spice jars were purchased at IKEA. We went a little crafty crazy & sprayed the tops of the lids with chalkboard paint & used chalk to write the contents of each jar. Every time we're at IKEA we get a few more jars so that eventually all our spices will be in the same containers.
All of our spices

 Baking organization:
I have put most of my baking supplies in different containers so that they stack better & are easily identifiable. I especially love these pyrex dishes for baking powder, salt, nuts, & chocolate chips. I also use these containers for baking organization. See my pretty little silicone baking cups? I'm still in love!!
Small containers are easier to stack & organize than randomly-shaped baking supplies

Freezer inventory: Yes, I am that dorky. I keep this on my fridge & update it all the time. It took me maybe 20 minutes to unload my freezer one day & write everything down, but since I did that, it’s been very helpful. Now there’s no more fishing around frozen items, trying to see if you have any bacon hiding out. Just make sure that everyone in the house marks off things when they are gone.
My super high-tech pretty looking freezer inventory

And that’s the basics of getting & keeping our kitchen more organized. I find that if our kitchen is in proper working order, then I’m better at what I can accomplish. I'd love to hear how you keep your kitchens organized- please share in the comments below & stay tuned for the next post in the series: Kitchen Cleaning!

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