So first and foremost, I must apologize for my recent absence from the blog over the past month. I was consumed by apartment hunting, packing, moving and unpacking, which was then followed by more packing for a trip back home to Portland for my cousin’s wedding and to visit family. So, now I’m finally back in San Diego and ready to share more recipes and kitchen tips with you all!
While moving into the new apartment, I realized that there were a lot of problems with how I had organized my previous kitchen. For instance, I had stored the majority of my spices in a high cupboard above the stove. This time I figured that I would put a lot more thought into the organization. Living in a smaller apartment usually means less kitchen cupboard and counter space and fewer drawers, but these general tips to organize the kitchen can certainly be applied to larger kitchens. I’ll start by breaking up the kitchen into five main areas.
Sky-High Cupboard Shelves
These are the shelves that only the Jolly Green Giant would access with ease. Most people will need to stand on tippy toes or grab a step stool to reach these cupboards. This is the space for those lighter dishes and appliances that you do not use as frequently. This minimizes the amount of time that you are spent reaching up high or searching for a step stool. It also decreases the chance of an accidental fall. In my kitchen, the sky-high shelves are used for pitchers, extra coffee mugs and lighter appliances like my deep-fryer, crockpot and Kitchen-Aid stand mixer attachments.
Cupboard Shelves & Drawers Within Reach
Because these shelves and drawers are so easy to access, this is where you want to keep dishes, spices, and kitchen gadgets that you use more frequently or even a day-to-day basis. Try to keep these close to the area of the kitchen that they will be used the most. Spices are best kept near the stove or areas of food preparation. You will also want to keep kitchen gadgets and dishes for food preparation like mixing bowls, peelers, zesters and graters in drawers and cupboards within reach. Cups and dishes can be kept close to where plating will occur. In my kitchen, plastic cups are kept in a cupboard next to the refrigerator for those instances you need a quick glass of water.
Counter tops are a tricky subject, because it is the most visible part of your kitchen, creating a dichotomy between visual appeal and function. Some of you may desire a very clean minimalist counter top, but if you want to do a great deal of cooking, this will require more drawer and cupboard space and a little more effort on your part to bring out appliances and utensils when cooking. But at the other end of the spectrum, it is possible to have so much on your counter that it begins to decrease the function of your counter space. Therefore the key is all about finding a functional and comfortable place in the spectrum between minimalism and clutter. This depends heavily on how much counter space you have available. I have just enough space for my Kitchen-Aid stand mixer, Cuisinart food processor, knives, toaster, rice cooker, blender, coffee maker and two canisters with wire whisks & spatulas and cooking utensils, respectively. Placement on the counter top is similar to that of the drawers and cupboards that are within reach; keep them close to where you will be working. For instance, try keeping the blender close to the refrigerator to easily get ice from the freezer or juices from the refrigerator. I keep cooking utensils right next to the stove for easy access. I also have a large area of counter space left open for rolling dough for pizza and cinnamon rolls. When ruminating on how to organize your counter top, take a moment to think about the kind of cooking that you will be doing and how much space will be required and remember, if it’s something that you won’t do frequently, you can always make counter space available.
Low Cupboard Shelves & Drawers
Lower cupboard and drawer space is the perfect place to put those infrequently used dishes, pots and pans that are heavier, so as to enable you to lift better with your knees, preventing injury. This is also a good location to put food that is hard to store in higher cupboards. Lower drawers are also a good location to put small kitchen appliances like hand mixers or immersion blenders. Again, as is the theme throughout every level of storage, keep these near the area of the kitchen that you will be most likely to use them. I keep pots and pans in a cupboard right near the stove and casserole dishes and baking sheets near the oven. One of my lower drawers is set aside for baking materials, such as unsweetened chocolate, shortening, brown sugar and chocolate chips.
The function of your pantry will likely be determined mostly on its location. Growing up, our pantry was in the basement, so it is where we kept a lot (and I do mean a lot!) of extra non-perishables to replenish the items that were used frequently upstairs. My current apartment did not come with any pantry space, so my roommate and I created an open pantry. Here we keep most of our non-perishable items. If your pantry is outside of your kitchen, try to keep those non-perishables that you cook with most frequently on hand and use the pantry to store extra that will be used to replenish your kitchen storage.
I hope that these kitchen organization tips will serve you well in either reorganizing your current kitchen or moving into a new home.