As you walk in to your kitchen to prepare the next meal, do you feel like running right out, and ordering a pizza instead? Does the overcrowded, cluttered mess make you wonder that this was not the way you had started your kitchen only five years ago? What went wrong, and why did it turn out this way? The answer lies in being in a hurry with so much to do, and something called procrastination-this means putting off till tomorrow what you can do today. It is not unusual to think of the present and put off clearing for another day or secretly hope that someone else will do it for you? Well, if you have maids and domestic help, it might just get done, but if you don’t, then whether you do it today or double the work tomorrow, it amounts to the same thing. The important thing is to get your organizing act together before it gets too late and chaos in the home and the kitchen leads to a series of other problems related to it.
The kitchen is increasingly becoming the hub of family activity in modern homes, and the concept of open kitchens makes it almost a part of the dining area. A mess in the kitchen is visible to everyone who enters the home, and quite an embarrassment.
Benefits of an Organized Kitchen
An organized kitchen is a real time saver since nothing has to be cleared or removed before starting the job of cooking.
An orderly kitchen increases efficiency since all kitchen activities can be accomplished faster, and multiple jobs can be completed simultaneously. For example, while rice is boiling on one stove, the other burner can be used for cooking the main dish of chicken, fish or vegetables. This is possible only if everything is placed in an orderly manner, the pans are washed and ready for use, the chopping board handy and also the ladles and spoons. The prospect of hunting for the right ladle, a large enough pan in a chaotic, disheveled kitchen can be rather exasperating, and though you yourself are responsible for it, you will wish things were different.
You are equipped to prepare better meals for the family if the kitchen is organized, since the resources are there in front of you, and finding all the ingredients you need is not difficult.
An organized kitchen provides with greater visual access to all the ingredients and meal options. When things are so easily seen, the task of cooking becomes a lot easier.
Being organized in the kitchen prevents wastage and buying things already in store. It is often noticed that because you are unable to find an ingredient in the mess and clutter, you go and buy another one. Buying duplicates is a sheer waste.
Being organized is a better way of life. It reflects an orderly mind, the good habit of being neat and orderly, and what better place than the kitchen where a lot of the housework is carried out. It reveals a person’s skills and efficiency at coping with simple jobs.
A kitchen in order promotes a hygienic, cleaner, neater and healthier environment. Cleaning becomes easy, there is never a mess that will take long to clear and this prevents infections and germs from festering under unmoved, uncleared boxes and utensils.
Optimum use of space is possible especially in small kitchens only if things are kept in an organized manner. A clutter will only lead to kitchenwares spilling into the dining area and beyond.
An unorganized kitchen will inevitably have overcrowded countertops spilling over with jars and boxes, pots and pans. This is a clear sign that disorder must end and time to bring in order in the kitchen.
When everything is mixed up, and finding cereal means looking through all the cupboards, or not being able to find the large non-stick pan, are all signs that reorganizing is desperately required.
This explains how important it is to have an organized kitchen. It may well have been systematic and everything methodically placed when you set up the kitchen. At that time you could never have imagined that the same kitchen would one day become a chaotic mess. However, it is never too late to start and a few tips will set you on the track of organization your kitchen and bring joy coupled with relief.
The most important thing is to change your mind set. You have to train your mind to see a mess and spontaneously decide to clear it up. The mind is powerful and quick to learn when inclined to do so. Use it while you are in the kitchen to constantly remind you to create order.
Learn to put back whatever you pick up. For instance, a bottle of Italian herbs used for pasta, must go back into the shelf in exactly the same slot from where it was picked up, as soon as the herb has been added to the food. The split second needed for this will not burn the pasta, so do not panic. The same goes for washed pots and pans, plates and glasses. They can be dried and placed in respective shelves before leaving the kitchen.
Clean up, clear up, side by side. Instead of standing and waiting for your noodles to boil, clan the counter top, wash the dishes in the sink, lay the table, empty your shopping bag, and straighten out your refrigerator in case you had dumped things on its shelves in the morning.
Never be lazy and postpone. After a long day at work, it is natural to want to take things easy and while cooking cannot be postponed due to hunger pangs, you do get lazy when it comes to clearing up. Perhaps it is better to rest a little and then enter the kitchen, and do both jobs of cooking and clearing simultaneously.
Big or small, try and make sure that you have storage space for all your things. In case the kitchen is small, do not buy more than what you can store, try and use vertical space, that is, make cupboards and shelves even till the ceiling, so that things used rarely can go to the top shelves while the frequently used things stay on lower shelves.
Discard, donate, dismantle and de-clutter. These four D’s hold the key to an organized kitchen in your home. Discard what you do not need and may not be useful for anyone else, like foodstuff with expired dates, broken crockery and appliances and so on. Donate things that you never seem to use but are too new to be thrown into the dustbin, and can easily be given to a poorer neighbor or even a friend who is likely to use. Dismantle extras placed in the kitchen, like a baby chair no longer in use, a set of racks that cannot hold much and other things, which use more space than the utility of having them in the kitchen. And finally, de-clutter is the buzzword nowadays. It is human nature to grab and hoard, but resist this urge and only buy what you need. What you have, try to use it or give it away so that there is no clutter inside or outside.
Use older stocks of food first and make place for fresher stocks at the back. Each time you bring home groceries, make sure that the old can of juice moves in front and the new one goes at the back. This prevents wastage and helps to put similar things in one place-a basic rule of organizing.
Change the way you work and stick to your new system. There is no harm in taking help from your experienced mother or a friend who seems to keep an orderly, organized kitchen. This will require some additional effort, but the easiest way is to make a list of steps to follow, and keep ticking what you have finished. This will gradually become a habit and lists will no longer be needed.
Multitasking is important to save time. If you have three burners, use each of them simultaneously, but make sure you don’t burn all the three things getting cooked. The safer thing to do is while chopping vegetables, get the pan of water to boil for the noodles, and while the main dish simmers, lay the table or wash the dirty dishes. Use the same pan to cook more than one thing and wash it thoroughly only in the end. This saves on the number of pans to be scrubbed.
Place gadgets and utensils in an easily accessible manner. Cooking becomes easy with rice cookers, blenders, microwave ovens and choppers. Make sure that they are constantly plugged in and do not have to be shifted or moved each time they have to be used. Others that are only used infrequently can be stored in cupboards, but put back after use instead of being left outside for the next time that may be after two weeks.
Check your storage space and buy accordingly. If there is less space, keep your stock of groceries limited. Do not buy doubles no matter how tempting the discount offer, and resist all special offers of lowest prices etc.
Use dead spaces in the kitchen for keeping things out of the way. For instance, the corner behind the refrigerator that is a bit difficult to access can be used to store the cartons of milk kept in store.
Use walls to hang a set of similar looking pans, or a set of ladles, cups or even hang napkins and gloves needed all the time. This will help to clear counter and shelf space.
A regular cleaning routine-every night before going to sleep make sure hat everything is in order before switching off the kitchen light. Weekends may be a bit restful, so it is not a bad idea to spend one hour on a Saturday morning thoroughly cleaning up the kitchen. It is even acceptable to clean the refrigerator one weekend, the oven and other gadgets the next, and so on, till it becomes a cycle.
All these tips would be so handy and simply carrying out all the above mentioned suggestions should find you an all new kitchen that bears no resemblance to the chaotic mess a few days ago. It is neither necessary to do it all in one go, nor should it turn out to be so tiring that you are incapable of functioning for the next day.
Take it one step at a time.
You might just look at your kitchen in its messy state and wonder where to start, since everything may be topsy-turvy. Perhaps we can help you with that too.
Where To Start
Follow the Top-to-bottom approach or the Inside-out approach. The top-to-bottom approach means starting out at the top cupboards and shelves, cleaning and clearing them, reorganizing and using their extra space to pick up infrequently used things from the counter top and placing them there. Gradually move to the lower shelves, following the same ritual. The inside-out approach is based on the same principle, starting from the innermost storage areas in the kitchen, clearing and reorganizing them, and using the space created for keeping more things lying outside at present. The previously stated rules of placing things according to the frequency of use must be maintained. Gradually the cluttered counter top will begin to clear up.
Divide all kitchen things into groups, like groceries, spices, utensils, crockery, oils and sauces, dry mixes, snacks and so on. Demarcate cupboards and drawers to each, label them if required, and stick to these divisions.
Keep the countertop clear at all times. This will happen naturally once you have allotted place to everything and you have changed your working style, to keep back whatever you use.
Never let the sink be full of unwashed dishes. Keep cleaning side by side.
The occasional mess must never be allowed to become a habit. If by any chance, you are unwell or too tired to clear tonight, make sure you do it first thing in the morning. Chances are that once you get habituated to an organized kitchen, you will not be able to rest till everything is left in order.
Follow all these tips and you will never face chaos again, and your entire home will become an organized haven.