How to Organize A Small Kitchen
One of the challenges of living in a small home is having a small kitchen. Our little galley kitchen is no exception.
In order to make the most of it, we have to regularly reevaluate what to keep and what to let go of.
Just because something made sense six months ago, it might not make sense now – especially if you have made significant changes to your diet or have young kids who are moving through the stages of bottles, sippy cups, etc. If you are ready to make your kitchen more functional, here are some tips for getting it done, plus a round up of items that can help you make the most of your small space.
The Basic Steps
As in just about every other decluttering & organizing task, these are the basic steps:
Empty everything out.
Group similar items together.
Edit each category: Do you use it? Do you love it? Do you need it?
Return the keepers.
Don’t Let that Melon Baller Lie to You
The kitchen is a prime hiding spot for well-intentioned impulse purchases. If you are like me, cooking can seem like a chore and buying things that promise to make that task more exciting, faster or fun almost always seems like a no brainer.
As you pull things out of your drawers & cabinets, you will likely find unused kitchen gadgets. When you do, they are really good at two things:
Reminding you of the good times you used to have together, even if this was in the distant past.
Promising that they can still bring you health, happiness and impressive dishes for your Instagram feed.
Yes, you might use it. But have you? When? Remember, we define ourselves by what we DO – not what we own. A useful thing that is not being used is wasted. Add it to the donation pile and pass it along to someone who will use it.
Think In Stations
In his book Unstuff Your Life!, Andrew Mellen talks about organizing your kitchen into stations – specific areas for specific tasks – as done in restaurant kitchens.
This means keeping things with their teammates: your knives near your cutting boards, your measuring cups & spoons near your mixer, your coffee grinder near your coffee pot.
One of my favorite things in our kitchen is the utensil crock we keep on the countertop next to our stove. All of our regular cooking tools – tongs, spatulas, ladle, slotted spoon, etc. – are right there within easy reach when we need them.
The first step is checking expiration dates. If you find something that is still good, but you know you won’t use before it expires, consider donating it to your local food bank.
Once you have done this step, use bins to group similar items together. Label them (“Snacks”, “Baking”, etc.) to make finding things and putting groceries away easier.
Get rid of unnecessary packaging. For example, take the individually wrapped granola bars out of the box. Not only will you have a better idea of what you have on hand, it’s usually a lot less bulky. If you have kids who are old enough to get their own snacks, this also makes it easier for them to grab what they want without digging through all the options.
Consider using a turntable, expandable risers or additional shelving to keep everything visible and accessible.
Respect the Countertop
One of the main complaints about small kitchens is a lack of prep space.
If you want to make the most of your kitchen, you need to respect the countertop. By this, I mean: Keep It Clear.
Don’t let paper clutter or other random items take up residence. Consider putting rarely used appliances in a cupboard and taking them out only when you use them. A tip from our home? Use a magazine file to hold your paper “to do’s” and incoming mail.
Consider getting a tiered, hanging or wall mounted basket to hold produce that needs to be kept outside the fridge.
A nice clean and empty countertop is a beautiful thing – whether you are using it to prep food or just walking into the kitchen to get a glass of water.
The Round Up
Once you have edited your kitchen items down to the things you ACTUALLY use, here are some storage solutions to help you make the most of your available space. As always, you may find that you might not actually need any of these items or can repurpose something you already own to do the work.
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