Organized in the New Year

by Laura on January 16, 2014

in Blog, Food, Planning, Tools

We’re two weeks into the new year and I am slowly making my way through a resolution to be more organized in many aspects of my life. And, a big part of that has to do with what goes on in my kitchen. Sometimes I’m organized and calm. Other times I just can’t seem to get ahead. My goal is to be more of the former, and less of the latter.

One of my problems is that when I make my lists of things to do, my list ends up being too long and too overwhelming. So, in the interest of being brief, I’ve made this list short. Here are Five ways of making life in the kitchen more organized. Some I’ve put into action, others I am working on accomplishing. Hopefully they’ll provide a bit of inspiration for you as well.

WhatsForDinner5001. Organize your Meals

I have been planning my weekly meals for years. But, from time to time I falter. I find myself without a plan, and scrambling to keep up with the ‘What’s for Breakfast/lunch/snack/dinner?’ questions.

That’s why I feel it is essential to slow down and make it a priority to Plan. Planning is a key Pillar of our Four Pillars concept (Planning, Purchasing, Preparing and Partaking), because without planning, it’s hard to get things done – without a lot of stress.

Start out by making it a priority to plan your meals for the week. At first, don’t worry about all the meals (i.e. breakfast, lunch and dinner, along with snacks). Instead, plan one meal – such as dinner – for throughout the week.

Post your meals on a board near the kitchen (expo markers, chalk or bulletin board), so that you and your family can quickly check to see what’s planned for dinner. In the morning, check in with your weekly menu and pull out anything you will need to have defrosted.

To further help with the planning, create a shopping list to ensure you have all the ingredients on hand for the week. Then shop on one day to cut down on those “quick trips” to the store throughout the week. You’ll be amazed at how much time and money you’ll save, and your stress level will definitely go down.

 

Cupboards4002. Organize the Food in your Cabinets

Do you find yourself buying rice, cereal or beans, only to find out that you’ve already have some buried deep in your cabinets? Do you open your cabinets (or pantry) and find a mess of half-eaten bags of stale crackers, or worse yet, can’t determine what it actually in the pantry? And, how easily can you maneuver once you’re search the cabinets?

Organization in your cabinets is essential. You know what you have, what you need to purchase, and also cut down on waste. We buy a lot of bulk items, and store them in OXO POP Containers for everything from cereal to rice to pasta, crackers, and grains. Each container is labeled and easily accessible when searching for ingredients. I also find them very handy when I am creating my shopping list, as I can easily determine if I need more of something. Even if I don’t buy something in bulk – for example, pretzels or crackers – when I get home from the grocery, I remove them from their boxed packaging, and put them in a container. This is extremely helpful in helping keep these items fresh (much more than hoping the kids properly close a box of crackers after digging into them). And, because the kids can easily see what’s in the container, they are often enticed to eat things they might not otherwise choose – such as dried fruit, or nuts.

 

JosephJosephCleanStore4003. Organize your Kitchen Cleaning

If you’re like me, you dislike opening the counter under the sink. Mine is jammed with rags, half-used cleaning supplies, rubber gloves, sponges, and bags of unknown entities. Every time I open the cabinet, something ususally falls out. But, I reach under the sink on a daily basis – for a rag, counter cleaner, sponge . . .

That’s why I need quick access to my supplies. Not having much room under the counter, I really like my newly acquired Joseph Joseph Clean & Store has a space saving design. The unit is rectangular, which allows it to easily tuck away under the sink, and its removable storage caddy (with space for a variety of cleaning paraphernalia) fits neatly inside a large cleaning bucket.

The caddy has a carry handle and twin cloth-holders that allow me to carry around the house. The bucket comes with easy pour rounded corners, and a handy helper handle on the base for controlled pouring. I like the Clean & Store so much that I almost like cleaning the kitchen. Almost.

Cookbooks4004. Organize Your Recipes

My recipes are scattered throughout the house. Some are in cookbooks on a shelf near my desk, others I use more frequently are copied and in a pile closer to the kitchen. Still others are shoved in my Joy of Cooking that sits on the counter. If I can’t find what I want, I turn to the computer. When in search of a recipe, I seem to bounce from one recipe stash to another. Which is why I have resolved to find a better way to organize my recipes this year.

Real Simple Magazine offers up 8 simple ways to organize your recipes – some of which I use, and are very helpful. If you prefer to organize your recipes online, try Cook’n and BigOven. Both feature downloadable software that can help alleviate clutter in your kitchen.

 

Spices4005. Get Rid of the Old

Don’t wait for springtime to get cleaning. Go through your pantry and discard the things you’ve had forever. (You can do this with your fridge as well). How long have you had some of your spices? 15 years??

Go ahead an be cutthroat in your efforts to get rid of the old and make way for the fresh. Throw away decades-old spices, smell your oils and vinegars to see if they’ve gone rancid, and chuck that opened jar of sweet red peppers that has been sitting in the fridge for the past year. Remember to get rid of stale crackers, wipe up crumbs, and check for those pesky moths that can live in your cabinets.

Once you clean out the old and stale foods, take stock of what you have a create a list of what is needed the next time you shop.

Happy Organized New Year.

 

 

Good luck with organizing – Send us your favorite ways to organize your life in the kitchen.

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