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How to Organize Your Kitchen for Less Overwhelm

By Heidi Baldwin, MS, Holistic Health Coach

Many of us have spring cleaning fever as we shift seasons and feel the energy returning to our bodies, and the Earth. Let’s focus on getting our kitchens in tip-top shape so that we are ready to nourish our bodies properly as we move into the spring season!

How often have you felt like a pantry staple you swore you just bought somehow vanished into thin air? You may even have a few condiments in your fridge that expired ages ago. The next time you're hunting for your Tupperware lids and feeling frustrated with the disarray, make the commitment to do a kitchen detox to get things in order.

While it can look like a daunting task, these tips will undoubtedly help you get your kitchen looking superb, and in functional shape in no time.

1. Get rid of nonessentials.

Do you have a toaster oven you never use? Dishes that are chipped? Seasonings you've never tried? Seasonings you bought for one dish you made 5 years ago and have not touched since? For the things you may use once in a blue moon, such as just during the holidays, store them elsewhere (garage, attic, or basement). The items that you don't ever use anymore can be donated. Give yourself permission to just toss out anything beyond its lifespan! You will be amazed at how much space this frees up.

2. Scrub it down.

After going through every cabinet and your fridge, scrub it all down. It will feel like a whole new home when you do. You can break this task up over a week or two to make it less overwhelming. For example, on Monday, you can wipe down all of your cabinets. On Tuesday, tackle the refrigerator shelves. Save bigger tasks for the weekend, such as emptying the silverware or cooking utensil drawer so you can wipe out all the crumbs and dust. Create a schedule that's doable for you so you won't procrastinate.

3. Make a plan for your kitchen storage.

Now that it's all clean, don't just shove everything back the way it was. Make a plan and define your kitchen zones. This way, you'll know where everything goes. For example, make the items you use the most frequently stay in an easily-accessible place. It would help if you organized cookware near your oven, and pantry goods should go into the pantry. Pot holders are more handy when they are in a drawer adjacent to the stove, or hanging in an easily accessible location. Glasses, if possible, should be stored near your sink or where you pour drinks. Plates and bowls are best in cupboards closest to the stove or where you are serving food. Of course, these are only suggestions, so make a plan of what works for you and your kitchen and stick to it. The key is to store items to make work in the kitchen as easy as possible for you so that you can enjoy food prep!

4. Work with the space you've got

Some of you might have a massive kitchen with tons of space. Organizing this will be far easier. But if you're in tight quarters like me (I essentially have a galley kitchen with an island separating the living rooms from the kitchen making it look slightly more spacious), you'll have to get a bit more creative. For this reason, make sure that things you don't use daily aren't in the way of what you use more often. Making your space functional will create ease in the kitchen.

5. Invest in storage items

We've all gone into the pantry and pawed around to find an old box of crackers that we forgot about, or a bag of granola that slid down behind everything. Many find they make life easier by getting clear, stackable containers for these types of things. You'll be able to see things easier, organize them more functionally, and as a bonus, it will extend the shelf-life drastically by keeping things fresh.

6. Think outside the box

There are so many ways to get creative with the space you have in your kitchen, and get it organized in a beautiful and functional way. Pots and pans take up loads of space, but if you can install a hanging rack, you can display them and keep them out of the way. If you don’t have the ability to install a hanging rack, find ways to store smaller pots inside larger ones, or nest all of your skillets inside one another so they take up less space.

If you spend too much time fumbling for spices, mount a spice rack to the inside of your cabinet doors and organize it alphabetically. Corkboards, drawer organizers, dividers, and even over-the-door compartment racks can all be utilized to help you organize with ease and make your kitchen look great.

7. Be open to change

Sometimes, your organizational tactics might not go as planned. If things are still getting messy, be open to changing it up again for another method. And even if it's going well, make a plan to do a deep clean and decluttering once per year to keep everything in top shape in your kitchen!

Happy Spring Cleaning of your kitchen!

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