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Here are important kitchen planning considerations, some of which you might have never thought of.
Despite the increase in take-out dining, the kitchen is still the heart of the home. This space is central to the house, allowing families to gather and share special moments. A well-appointed kitchen is always a joy.
Whether getting the kitchen of your dreams, you’ve wanted for years, or just reorganizing the space to add efficiency to your days, here are some essential considerations for your kitchen space.
We don’t always pay attention to these factors when considering a kitchen revamp, but they are critical and will make your life easier, your kitchen more appealing, and support your lifestyle and health.
1. Thoroughly Declutter
There’s little you can do in a cluttered and unappealing kitchen.
So, the first thing it needs is thorough decluttering. Remove everything from drawers, cupboards, and cabinets to start.
Then, sort every single item and decide what goes and what stays. The more you let go, the simpler your life will be. For example, why keep kitchen utensils and gadgets duplicated or that you do not use or want?
2. Establish Kitchen Work Zones
Kitchen efficiency depends on the proper designation of work zones. Establish zones according to how you use the space to get the most out of your kitchen. Think about how you move around the area and what you do there to understand better where to allocate everything.
Here are some ideas for zoning your kitchen:
- Establish a clear distinction between a cooking zone, a meal prep zone, and a baking zone.
- Assign the drawer and cabinet closest to the dishwasher to flatware and dishes. It is easier to put these items away when emptying the dishwasher.
- Place baking tools and accessories together to save time and effort when baking if you bake.
- Keep most frequently used items within easy reach. For example, less frequently used appliances or seasonal serving dishes can occupy out-of-the-way places such as higher shelves or back sections of cabinets.
- Place drinking glasses and dishes in upper cabinets because that space is more accessible. Specifically, glasses should go on the upper cupboard closest to the fridge because the fridge is where beverages are.
- Dishes go on an upper cabinet above or directly across from the dishwasher to facilitate putting them away.
- The counter area by the fridge is ideal for a coffee/tea station. Thus, the drawer below that station should have all coffee/tea accessories.
3. Create Extra Storage Options
Sometimes, a proper declutter won’t create the space needed for optimal organization. In those instances, it becomes essential to create new storage space.
Over-the-door storage racks are good alternatives. These go on kitchen doors and inside cabinet doors.
A formidable storage solution is the Elfa Spice Rack (sold at The Container Store). It goes inside the pantry door to accommodate all cooking spices and condiments, creating more space for other things.
Pull-out drawers or drawer inserts in cabinets solve the never-ending problem of things getting lost in the depths of cabinets.
When the budget does not allow for a kitchen remodel, achieve the same result by using bins to organize the cabinet contents. You can pull out these bins to manage their contents, eliminating the need to bend over and reach inside the cabinet.
4. Evaluate Your Trash Situation
Few things are less exciting than trash. Whether you like to compost, recycle, sort your garbage some other way, or discard what you no longer need, you need a system that works for you.
Nothing speaks of unhealthy habits like trash and perishing food accumulated in the kitchen due to the lack of a proper disposal system.
We must consider the trash situation to maintain a clean yet great-looking kitchen.
Investing in a large, functional trashcan for the kitchen is a must. Some kitchens have a pull-out drawer that contains a space for the trashcan. If this is your case, measure that space and divide that number by two. Then, get two identical containers comfortably fitting together in that area: trash and recycling.
If your kitchen lacks cabinet space for trash, it is essential to pay attention to the style of your trashcan. Consider getting a rectangular, double-sided trashcan. Rectangular ones are easier to disguise. Budget permitting, get a trashcan with a sensor lid for a hands-free experience, which keeps the bin cleaner.
5. Clean Up Your Food Container Act
Do yourself a favor and recycle all that mismatched, old plastic stuff that overflows your cabinets. Get a set of new, BPA-free, dishwasher-safe, microwave-safe, plastic or glass containers with lids.
You need them to store leftovers and organize your fridge and freezer (more on that in the following section about systems you should have in place).
You should also get an additional but less expensive set for sharing food with others (avoiding resenting them for stealing your best containers or growing old waiting for them to return them).
Select a specific cabinet, preferably a lower one, to neatly organize those containers in one single place in your kitchen.
6. Corral Cleaning Products
Store cleaning products that pertain to the kitchen under the kitchen sink. Install cabinet organization solutions in that space to easily access these products and equipment.
The under-sink cabinet is also an excellent place to store the various types of filters you might need in the kitchen (sink faucet, fridge/freezer, etc.) and your trash bags.
7. Know What That “Junk” Drawer Is and Is Not
A miscellaneous drawer in the kitchen is handy, but this space should be manageable and intentional.
Junk drawer implies accepting everything we do not want to decide on — clutter.
This utility drawer is not a substitute for the garage either. We’ve seen drills and all kinds of tools in some kitchen drawers.
The utility drawer should contain a few things that are often needed, such as a tape measure, a couple of pens, scissors, a notepad, some tape, maybe envelopes and stamps, a mini screwdriver, and the like.
Tools go in the garage. Lightbulbs and batteries should have their bins and belong in the laundry room area or utility closet. Get the idea?
8. Determine Where the Spices Go
Where do spices go? The most convenient place for spices is near the stove, where we frequently use them.
Select an upper cabinet for the spices to the right or left of the stove area. Another great area is the drawer next to the stove.
Once you decide on the spices storage area, choose among the many spice storage solutions available to make your life easier while cooking with them.
The pantry is the next best option without cabinet space or a drawer for spices.
As with any other pantry group, herbs should be together on a shelf area. Use a tiered spice rack on the shelf to better see everything without much effort.
When a pantry shelf is unavailable, the Elfa Spice Rack comes to the rescue! This clever solution goes on your pantry door, on the inside. It is a lifesaver.
9. Light Up!
Ideally, the kitchen should be well-lit and combine top light and task or functional illumination.
Lighting also impacts your mood. For example, placing light under upper kitchen cabinets offers the functional task illumination needed on counters while preparing food, but it also does wonders for the ambiance of your kitchen.
10. Clear Counters
Sometimes, people go overboard with décor on kitchen counters and islands. Although some décor items are essential, do not overload flat surfaces with stuff.
Counter space is not storage either. Keep counters as clear as possible. It makes the kitchen look much better and gives you the space needed to work.
11. Don’t Ignore The Pantry
The process of organizing the kitchen needs to include the pantry. Organizing the pantry is an excellent opportunity to clean the space and, if warranted, line or reline the shelves.
You’ll be amazed at all the duplicates and expired products in your pantry when you see it all in front of you.
To keep an organized pantry, follow these steps.
- Throw out any expired food.
- Separate the items you keep into categories and designate appropriate spaces in the pantry for these categories.
- Label the pantry areas accordingly to make it easier for everyone in the house to maintain the space organization achieved.
- Place products with a closer expiration date to the front to use these first.
- Invest in pantry containers to store rice, cereals, flour, sugars, grains, chips, cookies, crackers, etc. Square and rectangular containers utilize the space best. Containers stand and stack better than the usually opened product bags with clips we keep in the pantry, right? With these containers, products stay fresh, and you can always see what you have and how much, thus knowing when to buy more. Additionally, your pantry will have that magazine look you admire. It takes effort and discipline to keep the system as you need to transfer the products to the containers when coming home from the store, but it pays off immensely in the day-to-day kitchen operation. Oh, make sure you label these containers.
- Remove pre-packed items from their primary packing — group snacks in clear containers for easier access.
12. Befriend Your Fridge
As a principle, limiting your grocery shopping of produce and meats to smaller quantities that the family will consume weekly is best.
This practice preserves the product’s freshness and nutritional value. It also helps organize your refrigerator space efficiently and enables you to remember the items so food does not get spoiled.
An organized fridge leads to a more straightforward cooking process, more in-home cooking, money savings, and better health.
An excellent routine to achieve an organized refrigerator and freezer is to wash, cut, and repack produce and meats when coming from the store.
This process takes some time and effort but ensures that the refrigerator and freezer stay clean and organized. Opening the fridge to see plastic and paper bags, some halfway open, saluting you is not an inviting proposition.
The washing, cutting, and repacking of produce and meat before placing these in your fridge or freezer also saves significant time throughout the week during cooking.
Having the proper containers for your fridge and freezer is crucial. Invest in transparent or translucent containers that can be labeled and relabeled, BPA-free, and dishwasher safe.
Being disorganized can cost you. Think about all the food you throw away in an average month.
On average, your fridge and freezer need a thorough cleaning and disinfecting each month. Use an open pack of baking soda to eliminate odors in your fridge safely should this become a concern.
A well-kept kitchen is a process that takes time. Staying tidy requires lifestyle changes. If you’re ready for those changes and want professional assistance with your kitchen adventure, don’t hesitate to contact us at My Space Reclaimed, LLC. We will be thrilled to partner with you.
13. Adopt A Meal Planning System
Having a meal-planning routine makes your life much easier. Of course, this requires some prep work, but once that’s done, you’ll be gliding through your weekly planning, shopping, and cooking.
It starts by going through all your clippings and books full of recipes. By the way, as a bonus for following this procedure, you get a streamlined kitchen book and recipe area.
- Get all those recipes out and choose only those you like or want to try.
- Then, clip them or make photocopies of those recipes to place them individually on 4″ X 6″ index cards.
- Divide these cards into salads, main dishes, pasta, soups, desserts, beverages, protein shakes/smoothies, dressings, snacks, etc.
- Finally, get all your categories sorted into index card boxes (choose the style of boxes that makes your heart sing).
- Choose a day of the week to make your meal planning. On that day, each week, mix and match recipes to compose your weekly meals.
- For each meal, choose the main course and other dishes as desired. You’ll have all kinds of options, so choose the type and number of dishes needed per each meal you’ll be making.
- Then, group each day’s recipes and have them accessible for later cooking.
- Since each recipe includes ingredients and the amounts, you have your grocery list done! Add any other items like snacks and miscellaneous needed and go shopping.
- Coming back from the store, remove bags and packaging from every item.
- Store packaging helps you transport things home but is inappropriate for storing food items in your freezer or fridge.
- Wash all produce, meats, fish, etc. Peel, cut, divide, and season all your items as needed, and transfer them to your food storage containers.
- If you still have some energy left and want to save significant time during your week, batch-cook dishes shared by some of your recipes.
- Then, use your containers to save those dishes until you need them throughout the week.
14. Follow A Sound Dishwashing Procedure
Provided that your dishwasher is in working order, there is no need to see the accumulation of dirty dishes and things in the sink or counter.
Start every morning with a clean kitchen and an empty dishwasher.
As kitchen stuff gets used, people should rinse their items and place them inside the dishwasher instead of leaving them in the sink or the counter. All dirty stuff will be inside the dishwasher after dinner, presumably the day’s last meal.
The dishwasher runs, and at the end of the cycle or first thing in the morning, whoever is responsible for this task puts items away. The dishwasher is available for a new day every morning.
However, if the day starts with a loaded dishwasher with clean stuff, there is no chance of accumulating used equipment inside it. Therefore, dirty stuff gets all over the kitchen. It’s as simple as starting the day with an empty dishwasher. Really!
15. Clean & Maintain Appliances
Get in the habit of cleaning the refrigerator and freezer, inside and out, at least once a month.
Performing a weekly fridge cleanout before grocery shopping is always a good idea. That ensures no food gets forgotten and spoiled in the fridge, plus it makes space in the refrigerator and frees up containers for that week’s fresh groceries.
Clean your microwave weekly, inside and out. It makes no sense to warm up meals in a crusty microwave featuring food remains from weeks ago.
The dishwasher needs cleaning as well. Pay attention to the dishwasher filter. The filter must be hand-cleaned every other week for the dishwasher to do its job correctly.
So, there you have fifteen less-than-exciting considerations to make your kitchen space more efficient, whether renovating the area or just reorganizing.
These steps will make your time in the kitchen more enjoyable and productive once in place.
But if you feel this is too much to handle, contact us! We’ll gladly partner with you on your kitchen adventure.