When my family and I started on this journey of eating healthier, I had to take a good look at how my kitchen was set up to make it as streamlined and efficient as possible. Too often I would arrive at dinner time with a (kinda) healthy dinner planned but my kitchen was a mess, my cabinets and drawers were cluttered, I couldn’t find what I needed to use so I just gave up. Those nights ended in ordering take-out or settling on an easy but not healthy pre-made option. And look, there’s no shame in the take-out game. Some nights you just have to do it. But if you want to make meal times less stressful and more successful, then keep reading, mama!
I interviewed my girl Linda, owner of Leave it for Linda and professional home organizer, and asked for her best tips on setting your kitchen up for success. This stuff is gold, people, and her tips are practical! Linda has personally inspired me to not only get my kitchen in order but my whole house. In the last six months we’ve donated over 30 bags of STUFF, just stuff. Stuff that was in the way of our house flowing properly. Her advice has made a huge difference in my life! Be sure to follow her Facebook page for her latest home organizing advice.
What are some practical reasons why you should set your kitchen up for success (get it organized)?
- You can save time cleaning up and putting dishes away
- You can save money when it’s time to shop for food because you won’t be overbuying or buying items you already have
- Having an organized kitchen makes it easier to meal plan, so meal prepping and cooking becomes less stressful
What are your best tips for organizing your counters, cabinets, and drawers?
- Keep items where you use them (e.g., cooking utensils by the stove, glasses by the fridge, mugs by the coffee maker).
- Use drawer dividers to separate into categories or sizes (This makes it easier to find what you need when you need it)
- Clear counters each night before you go to bed!
What are your best tips for making your pantry as functional as possible?
- Create zones for like items: Use baskets, bins, and jars with clear labels to contain your items by category (e.g., pasta, rice, snacks)
- Utilize vertical space and back of the door space
- Store your bulk items in the back and your most used items at eye level
What are your best tips for cleaning out and reorganizing the fridge and freezer?
- Create a schedule for when you will do these tasks
- Clean your fridge weekly. It’s best to do this right before you go food shopping!
- Clean your freezer every few months.
- Use dry erase labels on leftover containers to make it easier to know what is inside and when the food item should be disposed of. (This has helped my family prevent food waste!)
- Create zones in both the fridge and freezer so you can clearly see what you have and nothing gets hidden (e.g., all meat on one shelf, breakfast freezer food on another)
Can you explain the importance of a command center and how it can make your time in the kitchen more successful?
- A command center can be whatever you need it to be for your family and your situation!
- It is the main communication center for the family
- A command center can make your time easier in the kitchen by allowing you to organize your week in terms of what meals need to be prepared ahead of time due to busy schedules, when you have time to run errands/food shop, what time dinner needs to be served by, special events at school that might mean packing different lunches, etc…
(For some command center ideas, check out this blog!)
Are there any other tips you can give?
- Always start with decluttering! Empty the space (e.g., a drawer or a cabinet), sort by like items, purge what you don’t need or love.
- Organize items into the space keeping in mind your valuable spaces (those that you can easily access) and to store items where you use them.
- Seasonally used items (e.g., extra serving ware) are best stored in higher cabinets or in your storage room.
- Small appliances! If you can create a hub for these items (I.e., a place where they are all stored), such as a cabinet or a shelf in a storage closet/your pantry), it will help keep your counter tops clear.
- This one is a biggie: Reusable items! Using reusable items instead of disposable typically takes up less space and cost less money over time. And the obvious, it’s way better for the environment. Disposable items just create more clutter that you have to manage, keep inventory of, and remember to purchase.
Here are some practical reusable items that you can purchase to replace the disposable items in your house:
- Metal Straws or Silicone Straws
- Silicone Food Storage Bags that you can put in the dishwasher, microwave, freezer, and even oven!
- Reusable coffee filters (or this one for cone shaped filters)
- Reusable Beeswax food wrap instead of plastic wrap