How to declutter kitchen?

If you’ve searched endlessly for the right tupperware lid, bought double the ingredients because you couldn’t find it in your pantry or struggle to keep the kitchen looking even somewhat clean, then it might be time to give your kitchen some attention. Contrary to what a lot of people think, you don’t need an enormous space to have a functional kitchen – it’s more about how you organize the space you do have!

You also don’t need a major overhaul to banish clutter and become organized – just a few handy tips and tricks to get you started. Here’s what we suggest to optimize your space and get a functional kitchen space you actually enjoy being in!

Pull it Out and Purge

To start, it’s important to literally see every item in your kitchen and start from a blank slate. So pull it all out and assess the damage!

Think about each item: is it necessary? Does it work? Do I love it?

This step can be really hard but consider the goals – to have a functional space, to have as clear a counter as possible, and to actually enjoy being in the kitchen. Once you’ve gone through your items, you should have a keep section, a toss section and a donate section.

Source: Cortney Bishop

Do a Deep Clean

Because you have everything out of your cabinets and drawers, this is the perfect time to give everything a good wipe down. You’d be surprised how great that will feel, especially when you go to put everything back in its place.

Source: I Heart Organizing

Define Your Zones

Before you start to put anything back, assess your entire kitchen and group cabinets and drawers into zones. The easiest way to do this is to have a notepad and pen and write it down, including which items belong in which zones. Here’s an example of what that would look like:

  • Zone 1: Everyday (easiest to access, close to dishwasher if possible)
    plates, bowls, basic glassware, cups, serveware, cutlery
  • Zone 3: Pantry
    dry goods, spices, larger kitchen gadgets, etc.
  • Zone 5: Coffee and Bar
    coffee cups, pods, coffee accessories, coffee pot or keurig, barware such as wine glasses, shot glasses, other glassware, bar accessories, etc.
  • Zone 6: Under the Sink
    cleaning supplies, extra hand soap, garbage bags, recycling etc.
  • The 7th zone could be your special items, like serveware that you typically only use when hosting or special pottery/keepsakes. Our advice though would be to try and keep items you only genuinely use and if it’s not often, then perhaps storing in another area of the house like the dining room or garage would serve you better.

The same rules apply to your fridge – group items together and determine the best layout for your shelving inside!

READ: 5 Pricey Kitchen Gadgets That Are Totally Worth It

Source: @patticakewagner

Position Correctly

Now that you know which items go where, think about how you position them. Keep items you use the most at eye level and the pieces that see a little less use further away or up higher. If you can’t easily see or access something, the less likely you are to use it.

Same goes for the pantry! Consider unloading cereals, baking goods, pasta and rice for instance, into clear containers. You’ll have more room, they will keep better and you’ll actually be able to see everything! Position things you use the most, like cereal, where it’s easiest to access.

Source: Lonny

Get Creative

Want to take it a step further? Start to get creative with your organization and determine which hacks will work best in each zone.

For example:

  • Install a hanging rack for pots and pans to free up cupboard space
  • Mount a rack for spices and actually alphabetize it
  • Have a tall pantry door? Hang a clear shoe organizer to make use of that space
  • Make use of drawer organizers and dividers to keep everything super accessible
  • Use standing dividers for things like baking sheets and cutting boards
  • Wire shelving or pull out units are mega handy – especially under the sink
  • Utilize wall space (magnetic knife holders, fresh hanging herbs, hooks for hanging almost anything!)
  • Install a cork board on the inside of your cupboard doors to hang small items or display your most used recipes

READ: 10 Easy Weekend Projects for a Better Kitchen (Renter’s Edition)

Source: Design Sponge

Keep On It

After a month, take a moment to reflect on how the organization is going. Define any problem areas and reevaluate. Try to stay on top of the pantry and make it a yearly goal to do a declutter.

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Hey guys! I am back from an amazing few days in Salt Lake City for SNAP and ready to get back to some blogging around here!

If you follow me on Instagram, I’m sure you know that we just finished a kitchen remodel {you can see our kitchen before shots here}. I promise that I will have lots of after photos for you, but today we are going to be starting on the inside with some tips on how to organize kitchen cabinets. Ready to get going?

Step 1 – Purge

The kitchen can be a hard place to organize – there is just SO much stuff and we all love our kitchen gadgets! I have been through the kitchen a few times and thought that I actually had things quite organized. Once I actually pulled everything out of the cabinets though, I realized how much stuff I still had that I really didn’t need.
You can go through the cupboards one at a time to save on time and mess; however, if you have a lot to organize, I would recommend taking everything out of the kitchen cabinets and starting from scratch. This really allows you to see how much stuff you have and gives you a good opportunity to re-arrange what you are putting back into each cabinet. {WARNING: This may have taken me over a week to actually get everything back into the kitchen so give yourself some time!}

Now I know that it can sometimes be hard to get rid of things, but you really do need to be ruthless when you purge. Obviously, anything that is broken or you no longer love or use needs to go. As a rough rule of thumb, donate or sell non-seasonal items that have not been used in the past 6 months or seasonal items that were not used during the past season. For items that you use only once or twice per year, think if you could just borrow a similar one from a friend or family member rather than keep it around your own home. If you are not sure if you should keep it or not, set the item aside until the very end and see if there is even space left. For me, seeing how nice my organized cupboards look is enough motivation to part with those so-so items that are left. 😉

Step 2 – Make things accessible

When you are organizing your cupboard space, there are a few things that you need to consider. Unless you really want to get down and dirty, you are probably not going to be changing around your cupboard sizes. You will need to pick cupboards that fit what you are needing to store and make sure that you are optimizing all of the space while still keeping your items easily accessible. I try to make sure that everything in the cupboard can be removed {and put back!} by removing only one other item {or block of items} at most. If you have to take out 4 or 5 items to take out what you want, chances are that you are either not going to use it or that it will not get put back properly.

Place items that you rarely use on higher shelves or towards the back of cupboards so that frequently used items can be grabbed easily. For smaller items on top shelves, I love these fold down units. {I purchased mine at Walmart}

If you have kiddos, you might also want to have a kids’ cupboard so that they can easily reach all of their own kitchen items. Ours holds the kids’ plastic dishes, bowls, cups, lunch bags, and lunch containers.

Using slide out bins or drawers also helps to be able to reach items in the back and keeps smaller items contained. This was an old drawer that I had been using underneath our kitchen sink but was too tall once the new {deeper!} sink was installed.

Step 3 – Arrange items by Zones

Try to group all similar items together and closest to the area that you will be using them. Keep dishes, glasses, and silverware close to the dishwasher for a quick and easy put away.

Group cooking items and baking items together and keep these located close to the stove. I have all of our cooking items {other than the larger kitchen appliances} located in the cupboards on either side of the stove and most of the cookbooks stored in the cabinet overhead.

I used removeable Command hooks to hold some file folders from Staples to the inside of the cupboard doors above the stove to hold loose recipes that I want to try. If you are short on space, the inside of cabinets is a great way to gain a little extra storage!
My favorite little zone is the tea zone by the breakfast bar. I don’t actually like drinking coffee but love steamed and frothed milk and various teas. This cupboard space was freed up following my kitchen purge and gave me room to create a little fun area of my own.

All of our different teas are stored in these cute jars from Michaels and then placed in a bin for easy access.

Step 4 – Come up with ways to use poorly designed spaces

I think that it is safe to say that most of us have at least one space in the kitchen that just seems like useless space. The side cupboard in our corner cupboard unit is such an awkward size for storage and its location makes it difficult to reach items. Using the plastic corner bins that are designed for showers, I turned it into a medicine cabinet so that we just need to pull out the bin to find what we are looking for.
For small or uncommon drawer sizes, you can purchase interchangeable drawer dividers to organize smaller items. This one was purchased at Bed, Bath, and Beyond and I know Ikea has similar options.
In order to utilize all of the vertical space in our cabinets, I purchased some adjustable metal shelves last year. When I re-arranged the cabinets this year, I realized that the shelves could actually be stacked on each other {I have no idea why I did not figure this out sooner!} which ended up doubling my storage space.

Step 5 – Have a junk drawer

The kitchen always seems to have a ton of miscellaneous little items that don’t really seem to fit anywhere. We created an organized “junk drawer” for these using small office dividers and it is probably one of the most used drawers in the kitchen. Just make sure it is useful junk! 🙂
Hopefully, these tips will help to bring a little organization to your own kitchen!
If you are looking for more kitchen cleaning and organizing ideas, be sure to check out this post…
I shared this post at The Crafted Sparrow, Lil Luna, Design Dining and Diapers, Tidy Mom, Tip Junkie and A Bowl Full of Lemons.

Money Crashers

If you’re like most people, you spend the majority of your time at home in the kitchen. The kitchen is the heart of the home, and it’s where everyone gathers to talk about the day, cook meals, do homework, share stories, and eat.

The kitchen acts as a center stage for our lives, which is why it’s often the most cluttered room in the house. And this clutter affects us in many different ways. It can cause us to overeat, make impulse purchases, and experience feelings of stress and anxiety.

What can you do about it? A lot. Let’s look at how clutter hurts you, why it’s worth your time to simplify, and how to declutter your kitchen in five easy steps.

How Clutter Affects Us

If the kitchen is one of the messiest rooms in your house, that clutter could be causing you to snack more.

A study published in the journal Environment and Behavior found that people in cluttered, chaotic kitchens consumed twice as many calories as those in neat, tidy kitchens. While the mess is partly to blame, mindset also plays a role. People who feel chaotic and out of control – which a messy environment can exacerbate – have the tendency to eat more food, especially junk food, than those who feel in control.

A study published in the journal Comprehensive Psychiatry found that people with high acquisitive behaviors – in other words, people who like to shop or get things for free – experience lower quality of life, and lower work functioning, than those who don’t exhibit such behaviors. As you might imagine, people who exhibit these behaviors have more cluttered homes than those who don’t.

Another study, published in the International Journal of Cognitive Therapy, found a strong correlation between hoarding and acquisitive behavior and stress. Generally, the more objects in your home, the greater the levels of stress you experience.

How Decluttering Can Save You Money

A clean, organized kitchen can save you money in several ways.

First, you might find that you snack less on junk food and make healthier choices in a tidy kitchen. The healthier you eat, the fewer medical expenses you’re likely to have, which can save you hundreds or even thousands of dollars each year. You’ll also find that you have more energy, and might even have a more positive outlook, when you eat healthy on a consistent basis.

A cluttered kitchen can also cause you to waste money on unnecessary purchases. If you can’t find a particular kitchen tool or appliance, you might end up buying one to replace it when, in truth, the original is buried somewhere in the mess.

Once you declutter and organize your kitchen, you’ll want it to stay that way, which means you’ll probably steer clear of cluttering it up with new purchases from stores like Bed Bath & Beyond and TJ Maxx that sell an endless variety of single-purpose kitchen tools you don’t need.

Cleaning and organizing your kitchen could also be the impetus you need to cook more at home. There are plenty of ways to eat healthy on a budget, but cooking at home is one of the best. Cooking with kids is also a great way to build their confidence in the kitchen and get them started on the path to healthy eating.

Last, a simplified kitchen is a cleaner kitchen. When you have to move mountains of clutter to wipe off the countertops, you clean less often. As a result, the kitchen can become a breeding ground for germs and bacteria, increasing the likelihood that you and your family will get sick. A clean, organized kitchen might just keep you out of the doctor’s office.

How to Declutter & Simplify Your Kitchen

Take a look at your kitchen. It’s probably where you and your family dump mail, backpacks, and briefcases. The countertops may be crammed with appliances, fruit that still needs to be eaten, and electronics that need to be charged.

The kitchen gets crammed with stuff, and this can make decluttering and organizing the space feel like a huge task. But, I promise, it’s so worth the effort. So, put on your favorite music, and let’s get going.

Step 1: Set a Timer

Unless you’re really driven, decluttering your kitchen probably can’t happen in one afternoon. It’s best to work in half-hour increments. Breaking up the task over several days will help keep your energy up and prevent decision fatigue, which can quickly set in when you’re sorting through a large number of items.

Before you begin, gather several boxes to store items to donate, items to sell, and items to relocate. You’ll also need some garbage and recycling bags to sort the rest for disposal. Set your timer for 30 minutes and focus intently while the clock is ticking.

Can you go longer? Of course. But if you look at your kitchen and feel overwhelmed by how much there is to do, start with 30 minutes.

Step 2: Focus On One Area at a Time

It’s easy to start randomly opening cabinets and grabbing stuff, but this will quickly create even more chaos and clutter.

A better strategy is to start with one drawer or one cabinet. Go through each item in there and decide whether it should stay or go. If it will stay in the kitchen, is this the best place for it? Keep going until you’ve processed every single item in that drawer or cabinet.

Again, try to resist the urge to “graze” your way through the kitchen, decluttering at random. It’s easy to get discouraged fast if you do this.

Step 3: Question Each Item You Pick Up

As you go through the items in your kitchen, ask yourself the following questions.

  • Do I use this? Not “Will I use this someday?”, but “Do I use this now?” We all have appliances we’d like to use, but often, our real life doesn’t match our dream life. Those tools and appliances you’re holding on to for “someday” are likely only taking up space and adding clutter to your kitchen. Let them go to someone else who will use them, and make more room for the life you’re living right now.
  • How many do I have? We often accumulate “extras” of certain things, especially wooden spoons, mixing bowls, coffee cups, plastic food containers, and baking sheets. How many of these do you use on a regular basis? Keep your favorites and donate the rest.
  • Would I buy this today? Our decorating styles, and cooking styles, change over time. Look at each item and ask yourself, “Would I buy this today?” If the answer is no, sell or donate it.

You might experience stress or anxiety about getting rid of some of the items in your kitchen. For example, what do you do with that expensive bread machine you bought last year? It cost hundreds of dollars, and truthfully, you’ve only used it a couple of times. Are you really going to kiss that money goodbye by getting rid of it?

The answer is yes. Yes, you are.

Often, we have good intentions when we purchase something. But if you’re not using a tool or appliance on a regular basis, it doesn’t need to be in the kitchen. It has no real value now; the money you spent is gone, and it’s not helping make your life easier. And you do have some options for recouping a portion of what you spent. You can sell items on eBay or Craigslist, organize a garage sale, or donate items for a tax deduction.

Step 4: Remove Things That Don’t Belong

There are probably plenty of things in your kitchen that don’t belong there at all. One quick glance at my own kitchen countertops revealed three Matchbox cars, two coloring books, one unread magazine, a stack of mail I still haven’t opened, one toothbrush, a can of tick repellent, and five rubber bands. In the spirit of full disclosure, there was more, but we’ll stop here.

The point is that clutter attracts clutter, and kitchen countertops are infamous for being the primary dumping ground for everyone in the house.

Put everything that doesn’t belong in the kitchen into a box to relocate after you’re done decluttering. Don’t waste time right now on relocation; that’s a task that’s easier done once the decluttering is finished. Better yet, delegate the relocation task to a spouse, partner, child, or organizing buddy.

Step 5: Set Yourself Up for Success

Even the most sparkling, simplified kitchen won’t stay that way without daily maintenance. That’s why it’s so important to have systems in place to catch clutter as it comes – and it will come.

Start by looking at what you and your family do in the kitchen. Yes, you cook and eat here. But what else? You might also use the kitchen to pay bills and look up recipes. Your kids might do homework there while you cook. Your systems need to accommodate the tasks you do in this room.

For example, if you pay bills in the kitchen, dedicate a bin, basket, or wall-mounted pocket to store mail until you can sort it yourself.

If your kids do homework or play in the kitchen while you cook, set up a dedicated space for them to do that. Keep pencils, pens, notebooks, and other related tools in a drawer or cabinet they can reach easily.

Do what you can to corral the items you need for various other activities in the kitchen.

More Organizing Tips for a Simplified Kitchen

  • Make Use of Your Cabinets. Decluttering will give you more room in your kitchen cabinets. When possible, move items that are not used daily off the countertops and into cabinets. Clear, organized countertops will transform the way your kitchen looks and feels. If you have space in your kitchen you could build a kitchen island like the one found here. This will help give you a little extra storage space.
  • Downsize Your Cleaning Products. You probably have more cleaners than you need. Sort through them all and only keep what you use most (which is likely only two or three products). The rest should be discarded or brought to your community’s hazardous waste drop-off site. Consider using natural cleaning products like baking soda, vinegar, and lemon to simplify even further.
  • Hang Items Under the Sink. Use a spring-loaded curtain rod to hang up spray bottles under the kitchen sink. The handles fit perfectly over the rod. This will free up space under your sink for other items you want to keep on hand. You can also hang a large coffee cup from the rod to store extra sponges; just put the rod through the handle.
  • Pare Down on Party Supplies. If you’re keeping a lot of extra plates and wine glasses for a “someday” party, pare down to what you actually use daily. If you do host a large dinner in the future, you can ask friends and neighbors if you can borrow some dishes or rely on a borrowing site like Peerby for whatever you don’t have.
  • Hang Up Cooking Utensils. Use 3M adhesive hooks to hang up cooking utensils on the insides of cabinets. For example, measuring spoons and cups can be hung up by tying a piece of string to their handles; this frees up drawer space and makes it easier to find what you need.
  • Hang Up Backpacks. Give your kids’ backpacks a home with hooks hung at their level. This will keep the bags off the floor and make it easy for your kids to access books and assignments when they do homework.

Final Word

Like most families, my family spends the majority of our time in the kitchen. Although the rest of our house stays relatively uncluttered, the kitchen requires constant cleaning and upkeep, and I still don’t stay on top of it all the time. But every time I’m finished cleaning and organizing the kitchen, I feel better. And a tidy kitchen certainly makes meal prep easier.

What tips and tricks do you have for decluttering and organizing the kitchen? What are the things you struggle with most when it comes to keeping your kitchen organized?

Picture your dream kitchen. I bet it’s not filled with clutter.

There is something refreshing and life giving about a clean, uncluttered kitchen. It sets the tone and culture for the home. It communicates calm and order. It promotes opportunity and possibility. It saves time and ensures cleanliness. The kitchen truly is the heart of your home.

But it is definitely one of the more difficult places in the home to keep uncluttered. There are several reasons for this:

  • The kitchen is usually located in a high-traffic area of the home.
  • The purpose of the room almost requires messes to be made during its use.
  • The kitchen is often used as a collection area for odds and ends (such as mail).

When you think about your own kitchen, what kinds of clutter come to mind? Are you seduced by shiny gadgets or specialized tools that aren’t really necessary? Do you have several duplicates from when you got married and merged your kitchen supplies with your spouse’s? Have you accumulated an extensive cookbook collection even though you use only one or two favorite cookbooks regularly?

If your kitchen is anything like most people’s, you can get rid of a lot there.

Set Your Kitchen Goals

Start by thinking about what you want your kitchen to accomplish. Is it to enable you to cook tasty, healthy meals for your family without too much fuss? Is it to be easy to keep clean so it offers you a sense of peace and doesn’t waste your time? Is it to serve as a comfortable space for family or friends to keep you company as you cook?

Being clear about your kitchen goals is essential. Why? Because your goals become your guidelines. You use them every time you ask Do I really need this?

For example, if your goal is to cook meals without a lot of fuss, do you really need the Bluetooth-enabled food dehydrator, pasta maker with four attachments, and airbrush cake decorating kit? What about the salad scissors, banana slicer, or corn silk remover?

At this point, if you fancy yourself a chef, have spurts where cooking provides you with comfort, or just love good food, you may be nervous that minimizing your kitchen is going to ruin your workshop for culinary creation. Take heart!

Minimizing in the kitchen doesn’t take away from you—just the opposite. It is life-giving and home-enhancing.

Removing the possessions you don’t need will uncover what’s been obscured about the joy of cooking by removing the excess clutter and distractions from your kitchen work space.

But don’t take my word for it. Take it from professional chef Mark Bittman who decked out an entire kitchen for about $300, including every cooking utensil someone would need to cook like a pro. He summarized his kitchen utensil philosophy this way: “It needs only to be functional, not prestigious, lavish or expensive.”

Clear the Kitchen Clutter

Pick a time—maybe start first thing in the morning—when you have at least a couple of hours for the project. That’s what I did—on a Saturday morning when I knew I had time to finish the project.

Make a cup of coffee or turn on some music to put yourself at ease. Clear space on the counters to set out items.

Follow this six-step process to declutter your kitchen:

1. Relocate Anything That Does Not Belong in the Kitchen

Kitchens are notorious collection areas for odds and ends—mail, kids’ homework, purses, keys, and all that stuff in the infamous junk drawer. Identify a new “home” for each out-of-place item and move it there.

2. Notice Physical Boundaries

There are physical boundaries all over your kitchen—drawers and cabinets that provide defined, limited spaces for storage. Rather than shoving as much as you can inside these spaces, use their limitations as helpful guidelines on how much stuff to keep.

3. Remove Duplicates and Little-Used Items

Evaluate all the items in your kitchen by asking yourself the right question. The right question is not, Might I conceivably use it at some time? The right question is, Do I need it? If you’ve rarely or never used a tool, bowl, or storage container, then it’s probably not really necessary to keep. Also, kitchens are notorious for duplicates (spatulas, coffee mugs, spoons, pots & pans, Tupperware). Remove unneeded duplicates, keep your favorites.

Here’s a pro tip: Keep one set of lidded plastic food containers that nest together and discard the others.

4. Give Every Item a Proper Home

Designate drawers for silverware and utensils; cupboards for plates, containers, pots and pans, and small appliances; and closets or shelves for food and larger, less-used appliances.

5. Clear the Counters

If your counters are routinely cluttered, there’s a good chance you’re storing too many daily-use items there (toaster, coffee maker, teapot, can opener, spice rack, knife block, canister of wooden spoons, cutting board, and the like). You’ve probably reasoned that leaving such things on the counters makes them easier to grab when you need them.

This is where the convenience fallacy comes into play.

The reality is that these items spend far more time as clutter than they do as needed instruments of food preparation. For example, if you make toast for breakfast, it will take you roughly three minutes to toast your bread. After that, the toaster will sit unused for the next twenty-three hours and fifty-seven minutes.

Rather than allowing these appliances to take up counter space, find a home for them in an easily accessed part of the kitchen, such as inside a cabinet or on a shelf.

And don’t forget the kitchen sink. Put away any cleaning supplies (soap, scrubber, and so on) that currently clutter up the sink area.

6. Purge the Pantry

The whole point of a kitchen is consuming food, so it makes sense that you’ve got a lot of consumables in cabinets or a pantry. But chances are that you’ve also got lots of things in there you can remove.

  • Pull out everything and group items by kind.
  • Relocate whatever doesn’t belong in the pantry.
  • Clean the pantry.
  • Put old and expired food items in the trash or compost.
  • Put foods back into the pantry in logical groupings. Note where you need to reduce certain foods by “eating through” your supplies or by donating unopened packages to a local food pantry.
  • Organize items with bins or transparent containers so you can see at a glance what you’ve got.
  • Consider how to handle grocery shopping differently so you don’t have so much food sitting around in your pantry.

When you spend less time taking care of a cluttered kitchen, you have more time to make nutritious, delicious meals for your family and linger in conversation at the dinner table. When you make room for loved ones in your kitchen, you prioritize relationships by expanding everyone’s opportunities for giving and receiving love. That’s what makes the kitchen the heart of the home. It’s where body and soul are fed simultaneously.

Additional Resources:

The Declutter Your Home Checklist

How to Declutter Your Home: 10 Powerfully Creative Decluttering Tips

What is Minimalist Living? 8 Essential Aspects of Minimalism

A well-organized kitchen will help you cook as efficiently as possible and waste less food. Here are our top 10 tips for organizing the heart of your home.

10. Declutter Your Kitchen


Decluttering is the first step to organizing any room, and kitchens tend to have more unique kinds of clutter than other rooms: ice cream makers and other wedding-registry items, gadgets you were suckered into buying from TV infomercials, useless knife sets, and so on. Use the box method to weed out the kitchen tools you never use, reevaluate whether you really need more than the essential kitchen items in your kitchen, get rid of the bulk spices that have already expired, reboot a junk food-filled pantry, and use up food in your freezer at least twice a year. This checklist can help you decide which kitchen tools to purge or not.

9. Opt for Space-Saving, Uniform, See-Through Containers


One of the main contributors to kitchen chaos: Mountains of mismatched food storage containers. You only need a few types of food storage containers to maximize the amount of space you have in your cupboards. We prefer square or rectangular containers that stack up well, such as the Snapware Glasslock containers that can go from fridge to microwave to dinner table to dishwasher. We also recommend organizing your spices with cleanly labeled, identical containers, perhaps on a magnetic spice rack or arranged in jars in a geeky periodic table of spices system.

8. Make Use of the Back of Your Cabinet Doors


The inside of your cabinet door is wasted space. Instead of leaving that surface blank, organize your measuring cups and spoons there, store pot covers on the back with inexpensive hooks, build a knife block into the back of the door, hold cutting boards in a magazine rack on the door, and pretty much mount anything to the back for easy access. You can also just paint the inside of the doors with blackboard or whiteboard paint to keep a running grocery list and weekly meal plan.

7. Create Sections with Tension Rods


Tension rods are a surprisingly awesome organization tool throughout the kitchen. You can use it for hidden paper towel storage, organizing cleaning bottles under the sink, creating an extra shelf for spices, and creating pantry dividers or lid organizers in drawers.

6. Get Rid of Wasted Dead Space


Got a kitchen with awkward, unusable spaces? Yeah, me too. If you have trouble seeing or reaching items at the back of a space, such as the cabinet under the sink, the inner depths of your fridge, or the corner of your pantry, a Lazy Susan could help. For that weird space between your fridge and the wall next to it, build a roll-out pantry or a sliding spice rack (you might be able to use an IKEA shelf to create your own). If you’re desperate for more space in your kitchen, turn those false drawers in your kitchen into usable storage space. You can also create a secret toekick drawer at the bottom of a kitchen cabinet on the cheap.

5. Know Which Foods Go in the Fridge, Freezer, or Pantry


Part of having an organized kitchen is having your ingredients stored properly. It wastes less food and it makes it easier to inventory what you have before you go grocery shopping. Here are our general guidelines for storing foods so they last longer in the fridge or freezer and which foods you don’t need to refrigerate. Don’t want to memorize them? to keep track of your food inventory and also know when foods are about to expire. Likewise, this graphic illustrates how long essential pantry foods will last.

4. Store Food in the Fridge Properly


It’s not just a matter of keeping foods in or out of the fridge, however. Within the refrigerator there are ideal spots for different types of foods. Dairy, for example, is best kept on the upper shelf where the temperature is most constant, while meat should be in the bottom of the fridge, where it’s coldest and any leaks wouldn’t contaminate other foods. Check out more fridge storage guidelines here or this infographic. You might also want to organize your fridge with a first-in-first-out (FIFO) method, like grocery stores do or use an “eat me first box” in your fridge to make sure you don’t waste food. And of course there’s this stack beverages in your fridge with binder clips strategy for clever beer storage.

3. Maximize Pantry Space So You Can See and Reach Everything


Out of sight really is out of mind when it comes to food storage. In the cupboard and pantry, make sure you can see and reach everything with things like stacking shelves, Lazy Susans, and clear storage containers. You can also group items in your pantry by meal (e.g., pastas next to tomato sauces) so you remember what to cook. For hard-to-stack cans of food, create a can holder using a magazine rack or organize canned goods in your cabinet with a closet rack. The back of your pantry door is a perfect spot to hang an over-the-door shoe holder to gather snacks, seasoning mixes, and more.

2. Create Kitchen Work Zones


You’ve probably heard about the kitchen work triangle, the triangular layout between fridge, oven, and sink that makes it easy for a cook to move about the kitchen. Whether or not your kitchen conforms to this ideal, it’s helpful to think of your kitchen in terms of work zones: food storage, dishware storage, cleanup (sink and dishwasher), prep, and cooking zone. Store items according to their related zone. If you tend to have more than one person cooking the meal with you, you might create a second prep zone. Alternatively, you might want to add a baking zone or other specialty zones so everything is organized and kept in the proper places.

1. Store Items Logically


That leads us to the last and most important point: Have a place for everything and everything in its place. Julia Child’s kitchen had a place for everything, with pots and pans hung on pegboards with their outlines drawn around them so she could put everything back in its place. Items you use most often should be easiest to reach, while you can put items you hardly use (e.g., turkey carving tools) higher up in the cabinets. Group your items next to the tools you use most with them (e.g., can opener by the cupboard you store cans in, baking ingredients with the baking pans). These and a couple of other simple suggestions will help you organize your kitchen like a programmer. And here’s our geek’s guide to rebooting your kitchen.

Illustration by Nick Criscuolo. Photos by Felix, Pieter Pieterse. Tatjana Butorac (), ester.balogh (), Hypargus, Alejandra, Rubbermaid, Winning Appliances, Nikchick.


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How to organize your kitchen to eat healthier

This story is part of New Year, New You, everything you need to develop healthy habits that will last all the way through 2020 and beyond.

A well organized kitchen can help you stick to healthy eating plans.

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We’ve all been there. You open the fridge in an attempt to eat something healthy, only to discover that the bag of spinach purchased last week is limp, brown and totally unrecognizable. And even though we were trying to eat healthy last week, the fridge instead filled up with takeout pizza boxes and discarded ice cream pints — the antithesis of health.

Well, no more! Organizing your fridge, kitchen and pantry can actually make it much easier to eat healthy — guaranteeing less food waste and saving you money at the grocery store. Keep reading for the best expert-approved tips on how to organize the fridge.

Toss what you don’t need

If a diet regimen or healthy eating plan is your aim, then the first thing you should do is get rid of foods that don’t fit into your overarching strategy. “The biggest mistake people make is putting unhealthy foods anywhere at all in their fridge,” says Pat Salber, M.D., founder of “The Doctor Weighs In.” “So as painful as it is, I suggest doing a thorough fridge-cleaning and throwing away (not giving away) sodas, foods loaded with artificial ingredients (all that stuff with unpronounceable names), sugary yogurts and super-caloric foods, including those sitting on your condiment shelves. If it is not there, you can’t eat it.”

Other foods you might want to consider tossing include juice (which is loaded with sugar and lacks fiber) and commercially prepared salad dressings (which are packed with chemicals and preservatives), says Kimberly Snyder, nutritionist and New York Times best-selling author of the “Beauty Detox” book series and “Radical Beauty.”

Use the ‘out of sight, out of mind’ rule

Have a relative with a sweet tooth who refuses to live in a cookie-free home? A simple thing to do is keep unhealthy foods out of view, says registered dietitian Megan Denos, R.D.N. “One easy thing you can do now to make it easier to eat healthy is to remember ‘out of sight, out of mind.'” says Denos. “Keep the foods that you want ‘out of mind’ hidden away and in hard-to-access places.”

If you have to whip out a step stool every time you want a handful of chips, you might be less likely to do it than if they hang out on your counter.

Make a plan

Having an organized kitchen starts with knowing what you’re going to get when you go food shopping, experts say.

“The biggest mistake people make when organizing their fridge is buying food without having a plan, which usually leads to buying unnecessary items,” says Andres Ayesta, M.S., R.D., C.S.S.D., registered dietitian/nutritionist and owner of Vive Nutrition. “For example, buying five different types of vegetables without really having a plan on how you will cook them or eat them will likely cause them to stay there for a week before you toss them out.”

Bottom line? Know before you go: Plot out what you’ll use each purchase for rather than throwing random things in your cart.

Snyder recommends stocking up your fridge with staples like leafy greens, healthy veggies, organic fruits, organic free-range local eggs, avocados, raw almonds, chia seeds, unsweetened almond or coconut milk and quinoa, to start. If you need a little additional inspiration, check out these meal prep cookbooks to help give you more great ideas.

Don’t overfill it

The amount of food you buy will depend on your household and needs, but it’s important to avoid stuffing your pantry and fridge to the gills.

“The biggest mistake people make when organizing their fridge or pantry is packing it so full that they don’t even know what’s in it,” says Denos. “Let’s face it: you can’t eat food that you don’t know is there. In order to eat healthy foods, it’s important that you a) can easily see them and b) remember that they are there.”

Make both a little easier with these Amazon products to Marie Kondo your kitchen and some tools to help reduce food waste.

Keep the healthiest stuff in your eyeline

Wondering where you should keep your veggies? Not hidden away in the back of your crisper drawer!

“Don’t hide produce away in the bottom drawers,” says Denos. “It’s so easy to forget about all of your fresh fruits and vegetables when they are tucked away in the bottom drawers of your refrigerator. By keeping them out in the open (and at eye-level), you’ll remember that you have them and eat them before they go bad.”

This also goes for your pantry: if it’s at eye level, it will be top of mind. “Keep healthy foods at eye-level (probably the middle shelf of your fridge or pantry),” she says. “Since this is where your eyes will go first, choosing the healthier options will be a no brainer.”

Fruits, meanwhile, will “live happily in a basket in plain sight,” says Salber. A basket is perfect for making sure you actually see them when you’re hankering for something to eat.

Do the prep work.

Once you have your meal plan designed and your food purchased, prep work is the next step to making your life easier. “Get the tedious work out of the way,” Ayesta says. “As soon as you do your groceries, prep all your food to have it ready for cooking: pre cut your vegetables and store them in sealed containers like mason jars to preserve them longer, portion the meats you will be eating in the next two to three days in Ziploc bags. Leave foods that last longer in your drawers (usually dressings and canned products).”

By putting this leg work in early, you’ll fly through cooking the next few days. If you have special dietary concerns, check out our Paleo meal prep guide and our keto meal prep guide for more ideas. Bon appetit!

This story was written by Kelsey Butler and originally posted at Chowhound.

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.