With summer over and crisp weather here, it’s a time I like to call “baking season.” Whether you bake or not, between all the holidays, dinner parties, and family gatherings, the kitchen typically ends up being the central hangout during all of the hustle and bustle. This can either be a lot of fun or a big headache. I can’t control the number of folks in your kitchen, but I can help you minimize chaos and maximize efficiency (and counter space!) through proper storage.
The classic kitchen configuration consists of a work triangle, defined by the sink, range, and refrigerator. No matter where they are located in your kitchen, this is the space where you’ll be spending your time preparing, cooking, and storing food. And in that space, you’ll likely have many gadgets that make cooking easier (think apple peeler/corer/slicers, food processors, etc.) but add more stuff to your kitchen. Maintaining efficiency with all these gadgets, pans, cutting boards, ingredients—and people—can be a challenge.
To preserve optimal productivity during this season takes an organization plan. This plan should complement the classic work triangle by keeping items close to where you use them and maximizing space. Try my plan or riff off my ideas to best fit your needs and your kitchen.
- Use vertical space. Hang pots and pans above the stove or island using a hanging rack or on the wall using a wall rack. If you’re storing pots and pans in a cabinet, make sure the cabinet is close to the stove. Prevent scratches by padding between the pots and pans if you’re stacking them in each other. Keep lids close to the pots and pans—nested inside them, hung on the pot rack with them, or hung on the cabinet door.
- Combine and corral. Transfer items, such as baking supplies, from their original containers into clear plastic airtight containers to maximize the vertical space in a kitchen and keep pests out of the food. Decant flour and sugar into tall canisters, which stack and stand up better than an opened package, and label the canister with product name and expiration date. Combine multiples of little items such as snack bars and spice packets in plastic baskets to keep them from running free-range on the shelf.
- Clear your counters. Make food preparation less of a chore by clearing your counters of extraneous items that don’t belong in the kitchen. Say goodbye to old school permission slips, file household paperwork away, and remove any miscellaneous items that aren’t kitchen-related. During the “baking season” of November and December, you may also need to clear more counter space and remove things like pitchers, candles, and the fish tank.