If you are anything like me, then having a clean and organized kitchen can make you feel like you have your life together. To me, there is nothing more satisfying than opening your cabinets or pantry and seeing everything in its proper place. What’s more, is not having to check the expiration date for fear that your favorite snack may have been hiding in there a little too long. Admittedly, my kitchen is not as organized as I would like for it to be but I’m working hard to cultivate habits that help me stay on top of it. Here’s 3 simple habits that are helping me so much.
Habit 1: Clean and Purge Regularly
While my kitchen stays fairly clean most of the time, I don’t purge nearly as often as I ought to. One simple thing I am trying to be better at though is making sure I use what I have before I purchase more of something. Having five half-used bottles of ketchup in the fridge is not only infuriating, but it’s also a waste of space and money. The same is also true with kitchen tools. No one needs 4 fruit and vegetable peelers or 7 spatulas. Unless you own a home-based catering company and actually use a lot of kitchen tools on a regular basis, one or two of each will generally suffice.
To start the process of cleaning and purging, I always begin with the fridge. In my case, that’s usually the place where most expired or unnecessary food items tend to dwell. I first remove any and all items that are out of date and make a list of anything I need to re-stock. Then, while I’m in there, go ahead and wipe down the shelves with a good anti-bacterial spray. Isn’t it unreal how disgusting a refrigerator can get?! I’m always baffled by it!!!
Next, once my fridge is clean, I start to place items back in so that everything is easy to see and in a location with similar items (ex. condiments grouped together). If you joining me on this and really want to send your fridge over the top, you can also purchase clear plastic or acrylic containers to store items like eggs, soda, snack food, etc. I found a few things at the dollar store that have really helped and definitely did not break the bank.
Once I’ve finished with the fridge, I move on to the pantry. I’ve always found that the best way to organize a pantry is to remove everything, vacuum out all the crumbs, wipe down all surfaces and then sort through what I need and what I don’t. I’ve also found that storing foods like baking items, pasta, or cereal in clear containers is especially helpful. Not only does it look nice, but it also helps me know when I’m running low on certain foods so I can re-stock. If you want, you can even purchase plastic bins, lazy susans or can food organizers to make everything easy to access and help you stay organized. Obviously not everyone will organize a pantry in the same way and that is absolutely okay. Perfection is not the goal. Organization and ease is!
Last but not least, I tackle all the kitchen drawers and cabinets. I start with the ones we use most frequently as they are the most likely to be in disarray. For me, that means the silverware drawer and the cabinets that house my everyday dishes and cups. I am ruthless when it comes to decluttering my cabinets and drawers. If it isn’t used regularly, it’s gone. I just don’t have the space for extra items. Plus, I cook a lot so I really have a good handle on what I really need in my kitchen.
As for organization, one trick I have learned is that you can use inexpensive plastic bins to store items that don’t match (or are just plain ugly) so they are still easily accessible, but hidden from view when you open your cabinet doors. You can see below how I used these bins I found on clearance at Target to help conceal some of the more unsightly things in my cabinet. Another tip is to be sure the items you use on a regular basis are on the bottom shelves and easiest to access. This seems obvious, but I think it’s still worth mentioning.
Habit 2: Keep a Running Grocery List and Re-Stock Regularly
This seems so simple, but so many people don’t do it. I can’t imagine shopping without a list. It’s literally a life-saver for me! What I do to make this easy is keep a magnetic notepad on the side of my fridge of items I need to replace on my next grocery list. I’ve made it a habit of writing down the items I use them up so there is no guess work about what I have and what I don’t. I also have a small list of items that I purchase almost every week, without fail. Coffee, Milk, Bread, and Eggs are all on that list of weekly purchases. Your items may be different from mine, but I’m sure you have things you go through on a weekly basis, so be sure to replenish those each week.
Another tip I have is to stock up on items I use on a regular basis that have a longer shelf life. I do this with can food so I almost never wind up running out of things I need. As a general rule of thumb, I buy one for now and two for later. I also make it a habit of always having an extra jar peanut butter, bottle of salad dressing, olive oil, and any condiments we use regularly in addition to a few other staples. Having this extra stock makes me feel prepared if I need something at the last minute.
Habit 3: Do a Weekly Sweep of Your Kitchen
This has been a game changer. Each week, I take about 15 minutes each week to go through my cabinets, fridge, and pantry and remove anything that is empty, old, or doesn’t belong. While I’m at it, I take a couple minutes to tidy up too. Then, I quickly make a list of anything that needs to be re-stocked and put it on your grocery list. Finally, I take a damp rag and wipe down all surfaces in my kitchen from the cabinet doors to the counter tops. This way everything is clean and organized.
That’s all the tips I have for today. I hope these 3 simple habits help you as much as they have helped me.