Those shiny new appliances you received as holiday gifts need spots in your kitchen, so it’s time to organize. Here are three tactics to get you started, without being overwhelmed by the task.
Declutter, then donate
Decluttering can be daunting, especially if your entire household’s stuff ends up in the kitchen. So focus on tossing out extras of the following items; you’ll be energized by the fact that you will have a couple of bags to donate in no time.
- Matching dishes – Two plates, two bowls, two glasses for each family member. Use disposable when you need extra for a party.
- Silverware – Again, two spoons, forks, and knives for everyone. They can wash dishes, right?
- Reusable water bottles – Each family member needs only one. Done.
- Kitchen utensils – Toss anything cracked. Nasty bacteria builds up in tattered spatulas. If it pains you to part with that cool doohickey from your dear neighbor, think how much joy someone else will have from finding it at the resale shop.
- Plastic food containers – They should all have lids, and all fit neatly inside each other. Toss the misfits.
- Pots and pans – You don’t need six sauté pans. Here’s the pots you do need and how to organize them.
Condiment and spice reorg
If you haven’t used that bottle of special sauce in six months, you can probably get by without it for another six. Check the corners of your fridge and your pantry. Purge those little packets of restaurant soy sauce and parmesan too; they’re loaded with salt anyway.
For spices, designate a whole drawer to your freshest favorites and alphabetize them. Not sure if a spice is fresh? Do the sniff test. If pricey jars don’t smell, they can still be saved if crushing the spice between your fingers produces aroma; just use it up quickly.
Savvy freezer storage
To avoid pale, freezer-burned zombie food – and food waste – one of the best ways to keep your small or large freezer organized is to keep an inventory. First, take everything out of the freezer, toss items which are older than six to eight months, and make a quick list of all remaining food. Then place everything back inside in an organized fashion; make separate spots for: 1) fruits and vegetables, 2) meats, 3) packaged foods, 4) leftovers.
Now, take your list of foods and use it to start a freezer inventory (fancy templates can be found online.) But the basics are simple. On the inventory sheet, note the type of frozen food and date. Cross the food out when used and don’t forget to add new food to the inventory. Keep the inventory list on a clipboard near the freezer. For freezer-friendly food tips, see The Basics of Freezing Food.
Serena Ball, MS, RD is a registered dietitian nutritionist. She blogs at TeaspoonOfSpice.com sharing tips and tricks to help families find healthy living shortcuts. Follow her @TspCurry on Twitter and Snapchat.