Two of the most common goals we tend to set for ourselves at the new year are to get organized at home and to lose weight. If you’ve set an intention to get your home and body healthy in 2017 start first with some basics strategies to get your kitchen organized for nutritional success.
Try these tips, also shared earlier this year with Reader’s Digest for their article 18 Subtle Organizing Mistakes That Make Your Kitchen Look Sloppy, and let us know how it goes!
The quickest way to get a jump on kitchen organization is to go to your refrigerator and ‘toss five’. Open the door and look for five items that are old or expired and let them go. Easy targets are ‘just a drop left’ condiments (like ketchup or jam) or ‘haven’t used that in ages’ bottles or cans (like salad dressing or sauce). If you’ve committed to a healthier diet, you might want to let go of sugary drinks or foods as well. Start with five, and if you feel inspired, do five more.
Next, move to your cabinets and drawers. Kitchens tend to accumulate items that don’t belong, such as light bulbs, batteries and tools. So take a look around your kitchen to see if any non-kitchen items have accumulated in your kitchen. If so, collect and remove them from the kitchen, and place them back in their proper homes.
Leave The Store Behind
While we are good about removing tags from clothing we aren’t so good about removing them from everyday household products. Price and product tags appear everywhere from supermarket food to decorative home purchases. A label or tag on an item forever says, ‘I came from a store’ and the item is never fully welcomed home. So remove it and invite the item to live in your home, as if it were a valued family member. Doing so will help you to connect with the items in your kitchen, making it easier to stay on top of your weight loss goals.
If a tag is giving you a hard time, soak it in soapy water and gently wipe it off using small circular motions, or try nail polish remover. Cut the cord and leave all mention of the cost of an item at the store, where it belongs.
Group According To You
Take a close look at the items in your kitchen cabinets and shelves. What are the items telling you about what you eat, and how you live your life? Where and how you place items is important to supporting your organized kitchen and healthy eating goals.
Start with any shelf, then hold one item in your hands at time. Ask yourself, ‘what is this?’ Be honest about the story behind the item. Then place it a pile according to its use. Do this for all the items on your shelves making a list as you go along, until you have a better sense of the types of categories in your kitchen, such as ‘morning breakfast foods’, ‘quick snacks for the kids’, or ‘baking supplies I keep meaning to use but never get to’. Once done, begin to put items back according to their group. Group the items used regularly on the nearest shelves, the ones that are easiest to access.
Having trouble? Think like a grocery store. Do you want to group all canned goods together, regardless of their use? Or, think more like a speciality store and group healthy, low calorie soups on one shelf and stock and beans for heavy winter soups on another.
Maximize Your Shelves
Don’t let shelf height define how you use your kitchen. Take a close look at your cabinet and pantry shelves. How far apart are they spaced? Most kitchen items are small, so on average most cabinet or pantry shelves can be between 9-12 inches, but you do want at least one shelf that is tall, for tubs or appliances or cereal boxes.
If your shelves are adjustable, go ahead and move them around, according to your needs. And if not, introduce shelf dividers to split one shelf into two. Plate dividers are ideal for both storing and stacking small items, like cans or spices. There’s no installation required, and they quickly and easily double shelf space, also allowing you to comfortably stack items more than ‘two cans tall’ (like these rust resistant cabinet shelves from Bed Bath & Beyond).
It’s difficult to maintain a healthy eating and cooking lifestyle when our kitchen items are clumped, stacked or shoved together, so adjusting shelves is an easy way to support your nutritional goals. When we allow our kitchen items to breathe it becomes easier and more welcoming to find what we need, when we need it.
Use Trays & Baskets
We recommend using trays or baskets to make the most of your kitchen and pantry shelving. Trays or baskets are ideal for keeping like things together. For example, store all baking supplies together on one shelf grouped by a tray that lives underneath, or inside a basket. Not only will all your baking supplies be together but you can also remove them all at once for quick and easy baking. Same goes for nutritional supplements, specialty coffees and teas, anything you wish to conveniently store together. Trays quickly slide off the shelf, and baskets are easy to carry to other parts of the kitchen, or to your dining room table.
Trays are also great on countertops and on open kitchen shelves. They help people prone to dumping stuff down as they provide a target. It’s okay to let things hang loose when they’re contained inside a tray’s tiny walls. As we shared with Good Housekeeping, trays are one of the organizational tools we swear by.
Use Inner Storage
Sometimes a drawer just isn’t enough. If you find that your drawers are getting out of hand, try some organization inside the drawer as well. Small dishes from your home, ice cube trays, drawer dividers or sturdy wooden boxes from the store help to keep track of and maintain the insides of larger drawers. Like trays and baskets, inner storage is an ideal solution for keeping like things together.
Do you have a junk drawer in your kitchen? Junk drawers greatly benefit from inner storage too. Despite their name, junk drawers need to be intentional. They’re intended to be for quickly grabbing things we need access to, but if something is not used or wrongly placed in the kitchen, it literally becomes junk and consumes valuable room. Review your junk drawer and remove anything you don’t use regularly, or that does not support your kitchen needs or healthy lifestyle goals.
Clear The Countertop
It’s common to leave out a lot of appliances on our countertops, such as coffee makers, electric can openers, toasters, mixers, juicers and speciality items like waffles makers or indoor grills. It’s rewarding to have these out in the open if they are in use everyday, but if they are special occasion items only, store them in a closed cabinet and keep your countertops clean.
No one likes to have to put appliances away, but it’s far better than having them take up precious countertop space on a daily basis. Weigh the convenience of having the items out against being able to chop more vegetables or have a cleaner space, and decide from there.
And don’t make the mistake of keeping blenders, mixers and shake blenders out on your counter just because it’s part of your healthy eating plan. Keeping a blender on the counter doesn’t mean you’ll use it. So unless it’s actively in use, tuck it away. When you are ready to commit to using it daily, it can live on the countertop again.
Embrace Your Style
It’s important for us to store things in our kitchen with style, as we tend to be drawn to things that positively engage our senses. And things that don’t engage us we tend not to use, or forget they are there.
As you explore your kitchen, think about how you can personalize the room. Can you introduce a theme color, perhaps in your choice of dishes or a color on the wall? When it comes to designing your kitchen, embrace colors and textures that you love, and build a space that’s appealing for you. We recommend going with your gut, but if you are looking for an assist, science has shown that we are hardwired for certain hues, so you can try these proven kitchen colors, like a calming blue, an energy boosting orange, or a relaxing green. And don’t be afraid to mix and match, it’s ok to have a few.
Not every kitchen item needs to be functional. Try placing artwork or a vacation treasure into your kitchen to draw out feelings of well being and calm. A welcoming kitchen is one that reflects your personality, so showcase what you love and embrace who you are.
Create A Drop Zone
Finally, the kitchen is one of the first places we go when we enter our homes, and if we aren’t careful, all the stuff of life that comes in the door tends to accumulates in the kitchen. To keep your kitchen from becoming a catchall for carry-ins set up a ‘drop zone’ by your front door so you can set those things aside as you’re walking in. Make it a permanent home for your wallet and keys, and a temporary place to drop your workout gear while you’re putting away groceries so these items don’t make it into your kitchen, and never leave.
You can also choose to set up a ‘drop zone’ in your kitchen, a staging spot to place groceries before you put them away. This can be the kitchen table, or a countertop, or if you are short on space, one of your kitchen chairs. Aim to place groceries down in this same spot regularly, as doing so will help to reinforce healthy kitchen routines. Every step you take to create systems in your kitchen will help set you up for healthy eating and healthy living success.
Do you have a kitchen organization tip to share? Tell us in the comments below.