The prospect of setting up a home is immensely appealing because you are finally able to buy things you have liked but your parents never allowed you to buy, and also keep them in the manner that appeals to you, since this is the first place that is truly your home. In sharp contrast is the daunting task of setting up the kitchen.
Used to the comfort and convenience of working in your mother’s kitchen, where you could also find so much amiss, when you make a new home, you do not even know where and how to start. All that is there, is a vague idea of what you require for you to go and buy. Here are a few tips for the setting up process, so that you can get a kitchen that is fully functional, convenient and can be easily kept clean and organized.
First, a few basic rules for a good kitchen:
Bright and well lit- The ideal kitchen should have access to ample sunlight, or be well lit artificially. This is because visibility is important for cooking.
Ample storage- The kitchen must have ample storage irrespective of its size. A small kitchen can have storage cupboards right up to the ceiling, and needs better space management than a larger kitchen. Wastage of space must be avoided in kitchens of all sizes.
Adequate counter tops for working space- Functioning in a kitchen would be impossible without adequate working space to cut, clean, and cook. So ensure that counter tops or parts of the shelf tops are kept clear.
The “Golden Triangle” layout- Kitchens, whether they are L-shaped, U-shaped or with islands in the center, need to follow the triangle pattern, that is, the refrigerator, the sink and the cooking gas, must be placed in a triangular position so that you can move from one to the other with ease.
Accessibility of gadgets- Smaller kitchens impose space constraints and it is often tempting to stash away even essential gadgets and blenders into cupboards. But this can be so inconvenient and would involve so much of wasted time in getting them out, using them and placing them back, or else end up with a messy kitchen with things lying around. It is important to keep accessibility in mind when putting things in the kitchen at the time the kitchen is set up the first time.
Visibility factor of daily requirements- It is preferable to place things required everyday in places where they are visible and easy to pick up for use. For example, tea bags, coffee and sugar must not be stashed away into cupboards, since they are used everyday multiple times, and it is waste of time to take them out each time and then put them back.
Simple necessities- These include things like a waste bin that must go into an inconspicuous corner where it is not noticed easily. The exhaust fan is also important to get rid of the heat and the odors of food being cooked. This is generally fitted on a window.
Time saving arrangement of things- Everything in the kitchen must be placed in a manner that it is easy to get instead of wasting time extracting it from behind other things.
Put labels- When relatively new to the world of cooking, it is not a bad idea to attach labels to similar looking herbs and spices to avoid confusion. This adds to the order in the kitchen.
Easy to clean- Everything in the kitchen must be arranged in a manner that makes cleaning easy. This becomes possible by putting away things not needed everyday no matter how beautiful they look when displayed. The kitchen is an area where convenience of work becomes more important than visual appeal.
Storage jars- these are essential to store all the foodstuff that comes in packets. When starting out for the first time to set up the kitchen, make sure that you buy matching or similar jars. Buying multicolored and different shaped ones gives a chaotic look to the cupboard they are stored in and they would also occupy more space. For instance, if the preferred boxes are round shaped, then they can be stacked one on top of the other, which may not always be possible if one is circular and the others are squares or rectangular.
Hooks and pegs- These help to use wall space with convenient things like gloves, towels, dusters and even a pen and notepad to make a note of something or compiling a shopping list.
With these rules in place, the next thing is to get down to arranging the kitchen. A lot needs to be stored and the list of things going into the kitchen is rather long. But it is important to divide them into groups of:
Daily use- These would be cutlery, crockery like plates, bowls and glasses for the immediate family eating everyday. All these must be placed in easily accessible shelves or cupboards. Ideally they would be within the line of vision where you do not have to stretch your arms to reach or bend too low to pick up. Cooking utensils like pots and pans that are used everyday also fall into this category.
Frequent use- Many bowls, plates and glasses are not used every single day but often enough. These must be next in line, that is, they must be placed in the next shelf but must be accessible as well, since they may be needed often enough.
Occasional use- Formal crockery like dinner sets are needed for formal entertaining and are therefore, lower down on the priority list. These can conveniently be placed in higher shelves or cupboards further away since they will not be needed most of the time.
Hardly ever to be used- People setting up new homes often end up with things they may never use-these may be gifted to them, and are neither easy to throw right away, nor do they seem to be of immediate use. Such things can safely go into the top most shelf and forgotten for sometime, even though they may only serve the purpose of adding to the clutter.
Arranging Things of Daily Use and Those Frequently Used
The next step is to assign cupboards and shelves in the kitchen to the things needed everyday or frequently. These include crockery, cutlery, groceries and spices etc. A very simple and easy to follow method is to divide your kitchen equipment according to the specific purpose it serves. For instance, we can divide the kitchen into three work areas like:
The Sink or wash basin
1.Place glasses and mugs- that is, drinking equipment in one shelf/cupboard close to the sink, for the convenience of keeping it for washing after drinking. Needed all day, they should be easy to find.
2.Plates and bowls for eating can be next in line after the mugs and glasses.
3.Cutlery is also easy to access near plates and mugs, since spoons are required for stirring any beverage prepared and for eating to go with plates. So it makes sense to keep cutlery in a drawer near these.
4.Towels must also be in close proximity to the sink, since dripping hands would drop droplets of water on the floor, so provision needs to be made to hang a towel near the sink.
1. All types of storage boxes and containers, generally plastic ones must be placed in cupboards close to the refrigerator since foodstuff needs to be placed in them before stored in the refrigerator.
2. Hanging the stand for cling film and paper towels and foil also in close proximity would help covering open bowls before refrigerating them.
The cooking stove or cooking range is easily the most important part of the kitchen, and a number of kitchen accessories can be placed near it for convenience
1.All cooking pots and pans need to be close to the stove for ease in taking out and placing on the fire.
2.Ladles and spoons needed for stirring and tossing in the pans come next, and they must either be placed in a partitioned drawer, or if a drawer is not close by, they can even be made to stand in a broad-based tumbler to be kept on the countertop.
3.Oven gloves and napkins must also be hung within easy reach so that they can be grabbed to quickly remove a steaming hot pan from the stove. The food cooked would burn if one had to turn away and go across the length of the kitchen to get them.
Once these things have been put away, it is time unpack gadgets that are likely to be used on a daily basis.
These would include:
1.Microwave oven-to heat, defrost and even cook
2.Toaster-to toast bread everyday for breakfast
3.Electric kettle- to boil water for tea and coffee
4.Blender-to aid the grinding and blending process while cooking
5.Rice cooker-for fast and effortless cooking of rice
Other gadgets that may be purchased and needed often may not find place on counter tops, would have to be stored in shelves or cupboards, but still be accessible. These include:
1.Food processor-for making dough, whisking, cutting and grating
2.Mini chopper-for small quantities
3.Slow cooker-this is suitable for working folk who can use the timer for preparing a dish and will be ready for their meal on their return
4.Juicer-for extracting fruit and vegetable juice
5.Barbecue-is a favorite of those preferring grilled meats, but may use it only on weekends
6.Oven- needed for baking cakes and cookies. This is sometimes inbuilt with a cooking range, but if not, then it can be bought separately.
By now the initial setting up of the kitchen gets completed and your kitchen is now ready to start functioning. But before you actually start, keep the following in mind for the rest of your life:
1.Hurry and chaos go hand in hand in the kitchen. Never hurry so much as to create havoc. Keep clearing side by side and there will never be confusion in your kitchen
2.Undertake the trouble of putting things neatly and carefully in stacks and piles in cupboards and even the refrigerator to give a neat and orderly look
3.Never shove things into cupboards. It is better to leave them out and put them in when you have the time to do it well rather than quickly dump and run.
4.Throw away extras like plastic boxes, bags and wrappings that come in with every shopping trip.
The kitchen is now set and ready, so take the plunge and start cooking!