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Productive Kitchen Zones

Hey there! I've been posting about decluttering on my Simple Steps StL facebook page. I just started this blog, so the following is a continuation of my fb posts. It seems like it starts rather abruptly, so feel free to visit my fb page to ease into this. The goal is always progress, not perfection. You've got this!

A few days ago we tackled the refrigerator and tupperware clutter. Today we are going to take a step back and look at the bigger picture of our kitchens. Kitchens run well when they have defined work zones. The fewer movements you have to make when accomplishing a task, the better. Here is a basic list of zones:

  1. Dishes: Every kitchen is different, but generally you will want to have a zone for dishes. A cabinet closest to the dishwasher makes unloading a snap. Editing your dishes may be in order. I used to think you couldn’t have too many sets of dishes and linens. I love setting a beautiful table for family gatherings. Now I have two sets of dishes, one for everyday (that I adore! Warren Kimble “Barns”) and a double set that is all white and goes with everything. Simplicity is key! I don’t own anything that can’t be thrown in the dishwasher. Life is too short!

  2. Baking/Cooking: This zone should be located near the stove. Flour and sugar canisters, spices and measuring spoons/cups should be withing easy reach. If you have a drawer next to your stove, that is a handy spot for all your large spoons, spatulas, etc. If not, a canister on the counter will suffice. Spices can be tricky. I alphabetized my spices at first. After a while, I took out my most used spices and grouped them into oft-used cooking (Mexican/Italian) and oft-used baking (cinammon, nutmeg etc.) The rest remain alphabetized, but they are my second-string spices. A variety of spice racks can be found on line.

  3. Dry Goods A cabinet for dry goods is an obvious zone. But within this cabinet, arrange your food in zones 1. canned goods (tomato products, beans, soups etc. I keep several cans of each item handy (mostly because I’m not a natural cook and substituting items is not a gift I possess. Also, Covid. Gone are the days where I simply run to the store just to pick up one or two items.) So my pantry is always pretty full and I have to be strategic in how I organize it. I stack each set of canned foods as high as I can and have rows of like items. Dressings, Vinegars, Salsa, Pastas etc. everything is grouped by like item. Toss anything that is out of date.

  4. Pots and Pans You may want to edit these, depending on the reality of how much you cook and if you truly need three large stock pots. Everyone is different, but do ask yourself if all of these are needed. If you do have occasion to use three stock pots, perhaps you could store the extra ones elsewhere when not in use. I only have one of each kind of pan and I have never needed more, and I have made HUGE meals. The only exception is the smallest skillet. We have a “his” and “hers” because he likes to cook onions and mushrooms and I found that when I made a pancake it still had the lingering odor of onions. Blech!

  5. Miscellaneous Items No, I don’t mean the “junk drawer”. I mean the other items you need in the kitchen, foil, food storage bags, dish towels, etc. I am a fan of inside-the-door racks. Whether it’s the pantry door or the doors under the sink, these are great spots for the thin racks that hold foil, zip-lock bags etc. Speaking of "under the sink", very few things belong there, in my opinion - dish soap, a roll of trash bags, and a whisk broom/dust pan. In a plumbing emergency, you will want to be able to clear this area quickly. If you can contain these in a simple Dollar Store white plastic basket, all the better. Linens? If you don’t have a drawer, under the sink would work, again, contained in a basket. I have a friend who puts her dirty/used linens in a basket under the sink. On laundry day, they are all together and ready to go. Progress! (I almost wrote "Perfect!" there, but that's not the goal, "progress" is. :)

Give yourself grace, as always. You may want to tweak your zones as you go. Instead of putting coffee mugs with the rest of your dishes, maybe you want them near your coffee maker. It's all good. Do what works for you.

I’ve given you plenty to think about for now. We’ll address counter space in our next visit. I’d love to know your thoughts. I have so many ideas about kitchen spaces. If you have any questions, you can always pm me or better yet, visit my website at www.simplestepsstl.com and leave a message. Y’all are great! Thanks for reading thus far.

Laura ~your organizing girlfriend


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