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Tag Archive: Ask the Organizer

Ask the Organizer: Tips for Keeping Your Kitchen Clutter-Free

Earlier this month, I started a new series called “Ask the Organizer”. I posed the question, “What Is Your Biggest Clutter Hot Spot” and the overwhelming response was the kitchen! Many of you expressed your desire to have a more organized kitchen, dining room, table, or counter.

So today, I’m excited to hear what Andrea of Simple Organized Living has to say about the best ways to organize different areas of the kitchen!

The kitchen is the center of the home and even if you aren’t a great chef, I’m assuming you still spend a fair amount of time in your kitchen/dining room every day.

In my opinion, if I’m spending a lot of time in one particular space, I want it to be clean, organized, uncluttered, peaceful, calm, and inviting.

Do those adjectives describe your kitchen?

If not, here are a few simple ways you can transform your kitchen from a cluttered mess to organized bliss!

Counter Tops / Table:

I think all flat kitchen surfaces must be covered with glue because it seems like everything that gets placed on them sticks around for a long time!

Take note of what is currently on your kitchen counter tops and your kitchen table — if it’s like most kitchens, the flat surfaces are probably cluttered with junk mail, expired coupons, newspapers, homework assignments, to-do lists, bills, small appliances, photos, craft supplies, office supplies, recyclables, a variety of food items, and so much more.

And while I don’t think it’s completely realistic to have nothing sitting out on your kitchen counters, I know that I personally enjoy being in my kitchen when it is clean and clutter-free… so I try to keep it that way!

I manage to keep our kitchen and dining room relatively clutter-free by implementing a few simple tips:

Keep trash and recycling bins close by. We store our recycling in the laundry room — which is right off the kitchen, so we can quickly and easily deposit cans, paper, etc. right away. This means it doesn’t hang around on the counters for days and weeks until we finally bring it to the basement or garage.

Use a junk drawer. Yes, I’m telling you that it’s a good  idea to have a junk drawer — mainly because every house needs at least one drawer where you can stash stuff you don’t have a home for {like extra batteries, twist ties, paper, pens, glue, coins, etc.} Just make sure you don’t let it get out of control!

Implement a system for papers. Papers are a huge source of kitchen clutter, and if you don’t have a system for dealing with them, they will pile up quickly — I promise! Toss junk mail, fliers, ads, and subscriptions you don’t want to read before you get into your home; that way the can’t get buried at the bottom of a pile. Have designated “in” and “out” piles for bills, homework, to-do’s, RSVP’s, and other time-sensitive information.

Create zones. If you regularly do crafts, office work, puzzles, play games, or sew in your kitchen/dinning room, then create zones for those different activities. Have a plastic tub for your craft/sewing supplies and store it in a bottom cabinet; designate one shelf for games and puzzles; use a rolling cart to store extra office supplies. By creating a home for all of these items, you’ll eliminate the mad rush to clear off the counters and table when company arrives!

Practice daily maintenance. Keeping your kitchen organized and clutter-free will require a bit of maintenance every day in order to really stay on top of it. I like using a medium size basket as a “dumping ground” for anything that doesn’t belong in the kitchen. Then, at the end of the day, I’ll take the basket and empty the contents to their proper homes around our house.

Cabinets / Drawers:

Probably the #1 complaint I get from people is that their kitchen doesn’t have enough storage space. And while I too have voiced this complaint on occasion, the only solutions are to either create more storage space or get rid of some of your stuff!

My husband and I are gearing up for an exciting kitchen renovation this summer, and we will definitely be creating lots more cabinet and drawer space; but for the time being, I’ve been forced to simply do without and get very creative with the space I do have.

If your cabinet space is limited, here are a few tips that might help:

You can save a ton of space by using dishes, glasses, pots, bowls, and storage containers that stack nicely inside each other. If you have items that don’t stack well, consider getting rid of them or storing them in the basement/garage for the time being.

Also, make sure you toss any containers that don’t have lids, any lids that don’t have containers, and anything that is cracked, rusty, melted, or broken — you shouldn’t waste valuable storage space on these items!

Get creative and find organizing containers you might already have around the house. I love using plastic shoe boxes for holding small kitchen items, lazy-susans for storing canned goods, and shelf dividers/extenders to maximize the storage space I do have.

Remember to think about how you use the items in your kitchen — and then store them accordingly. For example, if you only use certain serving pieces during the holiday season, store them in your basement or garage. However, if you use a specific appliance or tool every single day, you should either leave it out on the counter or store it in a very convenient place.

Refrigerator / Pantry:

You might be surprised at some of the items lurking in the back corners of your refrigerator, freezer, and pantry!

If you haven’t taken the time to go through and organize these areas of your kitchen, there’s a pretty good chance you’re not only wasting time searching for ingredients you need, but also wasting money throwing away food that’s expired or buying more of something you already have in the house.

To better organize these areas, start by pulling out all your food. Yes, I know this sounds overwhelming, but it’s honestly the best way to get started because you can see everything you have.

Once you can see what you’re starting with, quickly toss anything that’s expired or past its prime. Then group like items together {canned fruits, canned veggies, meats, cheeses, dairy, pasta, cereals, chips, etc.}

When I’m putting my food away, I like to create ‘food zones’ — like a lunch packing zone {a basket with snacks, chips, fruit leathers, juice boxes, etc}, a pasta zone {all different pastas, canned sauces, canned tomatoes, Italian seasonings, etc}

I use lots of shoe boxes and small plastic organizers as a frugal way to keep my fridge, freezer, and pantry organized {yes, I have shoe boxes in my fridge and freezer!}

Once these areas are organized and all the food is put away, make sure you get in the habit of putting any new food behind the older food so you don’t end up with expired food hidden way in the back again.

I also challenge myself every couple of months to take a week off from grocery shopping and simply eat from our pantry and freezer.  Not only do I save a bunch of money by not buying groceries that week, I’m also able to clean out our pantry, fridge, and freezer {and I just love getting creative with our menu plan that week!}

Like I mentioned earlier, the kitchen is the heart of your home; and I guarantee you’ll enjoy the time you spend in your kitchen so much more if you keep it clean, organized, and clutter-free!

How do you keep your kitchen clutter-free?

Andrea Dekker is a professional organizer, motivational speaker, and the founder of Simple Organized Living. Her goal is to motivate and encourage others to “create their best life” through simplicity and organization.

What is your biggest clutter hot spot?

Many, many of you have written in or commented in the last few months that you are really struggling with home organization. So I’m excited to let you know that I’ve teamed up with Andrea Dekker from Simple Organized Living to bring you a brand-new monthly feature called called “Ask the Organizer“.

Each month, we’ll feature one organizing question and let you weigh in your thoughts, answers, and opinions. Then later in the month, Andrea will pick one or two of the most popular responses and share her tips, ideas, and suggestions for dealing with those issues!

So, to start things off, this month’s question is:

What is your biggest clutter hot spot?

Leave your answers below and then check back in a couple weeks for Andrea’s expert organizing advice!