Monday, January 12, 2015

Week Two - Organizing the Kitchen

Welcome to week two! I hope you were able to get your main living areas under control during week one.  If you missed that post you can see it here.  We are diving right in to one of the most difficult rooms in our homes to keep organized - the kitchen! The kitchen is where all the crazy happens!  Those kids need to eat EVERY.SINGLE.DAY - it's exhausting really. :) 
 When we first bought our home, our kitchen was so tiny.  There was so little counter space I used the stove top to do most of our meal preps.  It had an eat in dining room area that had a small round table.  We decided to remove the table and instead install a long kitchen island that has a bar with seating for  the three kids at the end. 

At the seating area at the end of the island, I like to keep a tray with a napkin holder.  The kids always land right there for breakfast, lunch, snacks, homework - just constantly throughout the day.  Having the napkins right there comes in really handy.  Plus that tray usually ends up with lots of odds and ends throughout the day, but at least it's on a tray and not scattered all over the counter - am I right? 
 One of my more recent favorite organizing projects was my spice drawer right next to the stove.   I found these little Libby spice jars on Amazon.  They are a perfect fit for my drawer and are so handy to have right by my stove.  I used to keep all my spices in a cabinet and I would spend so. much. time. hunting through all the spices trying to find what I was looking for.  This is a HUGE time saver, and I also can know at a glance what I am running low on.  This was a small investment, I think I treated myself to these around Mother's Day so that I could justify it- haha!  Don't mock my alphabetizing, it's a sickness really. 

 We installed these Ikea cabinets all on our own - it was a great way to transform our kitchen to suit our needs on a very small budget.  They have held up very well.  You can see our entire kitchen renovation by clicking HERE,  HERE, HERE and HERE to see how we painted our cabinets.  These deep pull out drawers are perfect for storing all my mixing bowls and bakeware that I use right at the kitchen island for all my meal prep.  Think about where you most use your items and have them located close by.
 I keep my pots and pans right across from the stove.  If you have pots that you just never use - get rid of them!! As you go through your entire kitchen this week, cabinet by cabinet, don't be hesitant to get rid of duplicates or never used items.  Have a garage sale in the spring or donate them to Goodwill. Do you really need three hand held can openers, four sets of measuring cups or five vegetable peelers?  Only keep what you really need and use.  It will make your kitchen so much more functional and fun to cook in.  Think about areas in your kitchen that are "prime real estate".  Are they just holding a bunch of stuff that doesn't get used?? Use that prime real estate for your every day items instead.  For the past year, as I come across things I no longer need or use, I keep a large storage bin in our basement to add them into for when our oldest college student is ready to begin her first apartment.  Old sets of dishes or other kitchen essentials will be so welcome to a young adult starting out on her own.  Plus - they will remind her of home and her own childhood.  These things we no longer want can be sentimental for our kids, so hang on to them if you need to, but don't let them clutter up your kitchen! 
 This drawer knife block from Target saves so much counter space and keeps them nice and close to your workspace. 
 Using smaller containers within your drawers also helps to keep small items corralled instead of floating all throughout the drawer and making them difficult to find.  I also like to line my drawers and cabinets with these liners that I found from Ikea. They keep things from sliding around and are easier to keep clean. 

 If you have little people in your home (that are big enough to help themselves), having cups, plates and bowls within their reach is helpful.  No more climbing up on the counters to get what they need. 
 I remember in our first apartment when we didn't even have ONE drawer in our kitchen.  I have never forgotten how much I wanted to be able to store my foil and plastic wrap in a simple drawer.  I think of that often as I enjoy them all fitting nicely into a drawer now!  Keeping plastic forks right here is also handy for packing school lunches when they are grabbing a baggy.
 I like to keep the front of my fridge clean of any magnets, papers, etc.  It's such a visual clutter and makes a huge difference in how calm and peaceful your kitchen feels.  I do keep these magnetic organizers on the side of the fridge though.   One is for todays mail to keep the piles off the counter tops, and also important papers like permission slips or other things that need immediate attention. Having a weekly menu is super helpful (when I actually make one!) and it's nice to have it written down where the whole family can see it.  This helps alleviate mom answering four to five times a day "what's for dinner?".  Having a weekly menu plan is also a huge money saver when it comes to buying groceries.  I spend so much less at the store when I have an actual PLAN! 
We all love our hot tea first thing in the morning, so having it all in a basket right beside our Keurig  is so nice. I have a jar labeled "white sugar" for the kids and "coconut sugar" for me. :)   Keeping the mugs just above it saves some sleepy steps first thing in the morning too.  Banana likes to take her hot tea to go to drink on the way to school so I keep a stock of disposable cups with lids for her. 

 One of the most chaotic cabinets in most kitchens is the dreaded Tupperware cabinet, or plastic food storage or whatever people call it these days!  I have a confession to make here.  I absolutely can NOT stand nasty leftovers in the fridge.  My family isn't big on leftovers to begin with so I pretty much have to sneak them by them and pass them off as a freshly prepared meal.  I know - it's stupid, but it's my life.  I hate just throwing food away of course, so I always just toss the leftovers into a container and throw it in the fridge.  Of course no one will eat it (except me), so there are usually plenty of containers to go through and toss out every couple of weeks.  I'm terrible about doing that job consistently so I have transitioned over to using Gladware type of containers that are around $3 for a set.  I get the ones that are BPA free and never use them inside the microwave.  That way, when it comes time to clean out the fridge of all the nasty leftovers, I don't even hesitate to toss it out - container and all!! That's right, I chunk the whole container.  I HATE cleaning out old moldy food.  So maybe it's not the best for the planet, but I do my part in so many other ways, that I allow myself some grace on this one.   See those great stainless steel Planet lunch boxes right there?  See - I'm helping to save the planet too.  Those things are awesome! 

 There is no rule that says your counter tops need to have your toasters, mixers, and other small appliances all over them.  I keep mine tucked away in the cabinets right underneath so that I can enjoy a pretty countertop instead.  It makes a huge difference - try it!  I only takes 5 seconds to pull out the toaster and then put it away again when it's only used maybe twice a week. 
 Of course, kitchen storage can be pretty and functional at the same time. I've had these canisters for years that I found at Cracker Barrel one day and I just love them!  I keep our tea bags and sugar in them.  I'm a southern girl at heart and drink my sweet iced tea every day.  Just not too sweet. :) 

 If you have a junk drawer - get a drawer organizer! This thing makes all the difference in keeping that junk drawer organized.  Enough said.  I found mine at Target.  And yes, I need dental floss several times a day - just ask my sister - makes me crazy to be without it. 

 Have you read all about how to keep your kitchen sink clean and shiny from Fly Lady?  It's a game changer - really.   Go read it now - I will wait.  Maybe I will shine my sink a bit while you're gone.  I see some iced tea stains around the drain. 
 Do you store your cleaning supplies under your kitchen sink? A lot of people do.  I have been gradually switching over to all natural products and I keep them all contained and organized under here just by using simple baskets. 

 Two command hooks on the back of the door are perfect for holding my Norwex cloths.  Have you discovered the magic that is Norwex??? If you haven't - it is yet another game changer.  Even more so than a shiny sink, I promise.  Check it all out RIGHT HERE.  Norwex is the best, hands down.  You can clean with just water - I'm not kidding. 
 Speaking of Norwex ,  I keep all my Norwex cloths in a basket on top of my fridge.  Yes, I have so many of them now they need their own storage container.  I also keep all my dish towels handy here too. Another tip to staying organized - LABEL LABEL LABEL!! It's a little tip that can go a long way.  If other people in the house know where you want things kept, it is much easier for them to put things away. 

Having a happy little herb garden in the kitchen window during the winter is like a little ray of sunshine on gray dreary winter days.  Plus - who doesn't want a pinch of fresh mint leaves in their tea or some yummy cilantro on their freshly made guacamole?  Mmmmm.  
And in the dead of winter, pick up some fresh flowers for your kitchen while you do your grocery shopping - it's the little things in life. 

Happy Kitchen Organizing! 

Don't forget to post your before and after pictures to Instagram with the hashtag #organizeeverything You can find me on Instagram here. 

You can find other organizing posts here too!