Monday, September 8, 2014

25 Tips for an Organized Kitchen

When my children were growing up, I  loved reading all of Emilie Barne's books.  I would read them every year; adding new habits and inspiration to my homemaking routine as the years went by. She inspired in me a desire to be organized.  I wouldn't say that I am an ultra organized person, but since those days I have implemented many tips, ideas and habits that have helped me become more efficient as a homemaker. Some of those tips I learned from the older women in my life, some of those tips I learned from books such as Emily's and some just the common sense that works its way into your life the more you put on a desire to learn.  I have been working on a little series that I will be sharing with you about Organizing and Home Management, which will include: kitchen tips, household cleaning and organizing tips.  I would love to hear from all of you about the things that you do that makes your life and your homes run smoothly and how you keep things in order.

Efficiency in the kitchen doesn't come naturally to most of us.   Even if you love to cook and turn out lovely meals, you can have disaster all around you, and chaos running rampant through the house.  Believe me, I have had those moments.   My Mom  was my best example in that department.  She was a wonderful cook, but not a great housekeeper.  She had the gourmet touch, and taught me to have great enthusiasm to try all kinds of food, and all kinds of cooking, but the kitchen that was left behind in the aftermath, was not a pretty sight. 

Lets face it, mess happens.  To try to pretend that mess only belongs to some people and not to others, is silly; but some people have better instinct for cleaning than others.  Some people have a better love for tidiness and order than others.  For me, clear thinking and peace are found in an orderly home and an orderly kitchen.  I feel at ease, cozy and content when everything is clean and in order, then nothing is nagging me at the back of my mind.  When I was a teenager and would come home from school to the messy kitchen, it made me annoyed and uncomfortable.  I felt unable to settle into my homework. So I became the one who cleaned the kitchen, because it was my way of establishing a cozy and  inspiring atmosphere. I have heard stories from other friends of mine, whose mother's were clean fanatics, and made life miserable for their families by their excessive perfectionism.  One of those friends raised six kids and has determined to be more lax in her idea of keeping the house clean, and yet, she still maintains a nice house.

Wisdom has taught me that as homemakers, we need to find a balanced way to run our homes and teach our children  how to take care of what they have. It is important to teach them to pitch in to help clean so that they can be responsible adults.  We need to guard against both the perfectionist extreme and the "Anything goes" extreme.  A well balanced approach to home making, will establish good habits and routines, but not to the point producing a feeling of intolerant  perfectionism.  There is a time to leave the mess alone, and sit down to read a book with the children you treasure; then there is a time to get up, roll up your sleeves and get to work.  Perhaps these tips will help.

25 Tips For A Clean and Organized Kitchen
  1. On Monday mornings, get your cup of coffee, your Calendar, and write down your plans for the week.  To me a small Calendar that I can write on is handier than using my computer, because it is handy at a moments notice, and I can pick it up without having to refer to my computer. Once this habit is established, you can do the same thing once a month for the months plans, and for some people once a year… which I have sometimes done in a very loosely planned sense.
  2. Learn to think ahead. Plan your meals a day, a week, or even month ahead.  This will help you sort out the things that can be done ahead of time and not put too much of a burden on you all at once.
  3. Write down your menu and your grocery list at the same time.
  4. Make meals ahead.  A day ahead can be put in the refrigerator, a week or a month ahead can be put in the freezer.
  5. Prepare ingredients ahead of time, for example:  Shred Cheese the day before. Chop surplus peppers and onions and store in ziplocks or glass jars, or freeze them first on cookie sheets and then when frozen, break apart and put in storage containers.  This will make them easy to retrieve  from the freezer without clumping. Make hashbrowns ahead for the freezer by  boiling  potatoes until slightly under done.  Cool, peel and shred.  Spray a cookie sheet with Pam spray and spread potato shreds out evenly and  then freeze.  Once frozen,  put into ziplock bags. Fry hamburger the day before, or the week before and freeze it.  Cook and de-bone a chicken a day before; use the meat to make up a couple of meals, or just to have on hand for sandwiches; then put the bones back in the pot with fresh veggies and cook some more to make stock.
  6. When making a casserole, make a double or triple and put the extras in the freezer for a ready made meal.
  7. Keep a well stocked pantry full of grains, beans, flours, sugars, nuts,  dried herbs and spices etc.
  8. Store your dried goods (beans, rice, flour, sugars etc. ) in glass jars such as canning jars and old pickle jars.  They look pretty in the pantry, they keep your ingredients fresh, and make it easy to see what  is inside of them. I have gradually worked to get all the plastic containers out of my house and exchanged for glass.  Plastics are full of synthetic phytoestrogens that are creating problems with our hormonal balance.
  9. Decorate your counter top with bowls of fresh fruit and veggies.  This keeps them handy and in your mind for menu and snack ideas and it makes a pretty "still life" type decoration for your kitchen at the same time.
  10. Have the children help, and allow them the pleasure of planning and fixing a weekly meal for the family. As time goes on they will become wonderful help in the kitchen, and will develop a love for cooking.
  11. When peeling fruits or vegetables, put newspaper, paper bag down, then when finished, you can roll everything up put right into the compost when finished.
  12. Tidy the refrigerator once a week. It is easier to keep track of what you have or what your need when you do this and helps you feel as if you know "what is what" in your fridge. If you need to use up some veggies or yogurt, you will know, and not find something green and slimy to surprise you on another day.
  13. Set aside certain days of the week for cleaning days; for example: On Mondays: Clean the refrigerator, and vacuum the floors, On Fridays: Clean bathrooms or do laundry; whatever works with your family and lifestyle.  Develop a routine, and you will find it becomes a habit that keeps you on top.
  14. Keep  white vinegar under your sink to clean the coffee pot and other items  and add to the dishwasher for extra shine (I never wash my dishes in the dishwasher without vinegar any more, otherwise they come out spotted and filmy; even if I use a rinsing agent I get spots and film.  This is probably due to our hard water.
  15. Remove hard waterspots with vinegar.  Leave a vinegar soaked washcloth on spots 5 or more minutes and then scrub or soak an item (such as the faucet head if pull it out of its base) in a cup or pot of vinegar to remove hard water blockages or buildups.
  16. Keep a glass jar of Baking soda under your sink or with your dish cleaning supplies to scrub rings from coffee or tea cups, or to scrub sink, and freshen garbage disposal. Baking soda is wonderful deodorizer, and can be used in a variety of ways to clean and deodorize.
  17. Cover the top of your refrigerator with a towel for easy periodic cleaning; simply remove the towel when you decide to clean, and place a new one down to replace it.
  18. Clean up as you go... it really helps.  Form the habit of "just do it now". It is amazing how how little time you expend dealing with something right off the bat as opposed to having to deal with it later once it has built up.
  19. Teach your family to always grab something in the coming and going from table to kitchen or vice versa and then the clearing is done quickly.  It is good that everyone in the family helps clear.  This makes dinner clean up so much easier. This is a great strategy for the car as well.. I never come into the house empty handed. Teach the kids to bring things in as well.
  20. Make your kitchen a cozy and pretty place... there is something in this little act that causes you to love to be there more; and causes you to want to take care of it.  I always think to myself "if someone were to come by, how would my kitchen look to them. " Then I go ahead and put it in order just as if they were coming by; then even if no one comes by, I have the enjoyment of a pretty kitchen.
  21. Paint an old mirror or picture frame with chalkboard paint, and hang it in the kitchen for lists, notes, scriptures or phone numbers.
  22. Think outside the box for storage ideas. Use a rack to add another shelf to your dish cabinet to double your storage space and create an easier access to the dishes.  Baskets are in constant use in my kitchen and are a pretty way to store vitamins, breads, utensils, wash cloths and towels, hot pads, dry goods and more, Think of creative ways to add shelves, such as redoing an old bookcase or armoire.  Odds and end furniture made over with paint, add pantry room and personality to your kitchen.
  23. Assign chores to your children, such as unloading/loading the dishwasher, taking out the trash, feeding the animals, setting the table, peeling the potatoes, or making a salad.  All of these little jobs add up to big jobs for one person, but reduce the load in a big way if everyone does a little.
  24. Make it a passion to keep the dishwasher unloaded.  Nothing slows the flow of clean up in the kitchen more than a full dish washer.  If you don't have a dish washer, than keep the dishes from your dish drainer put away.  Squeeze it in between cooking or brewing a pot of coffee and you'll always be glad you did.
  25. Pray to maintain a kind and gentle heart in all that you do.  It helps establish peace and good attitudes for work.  Honor establishes honor.  If you try to motivate your family's help by nagging, self pity, harsh words or sarcasm, you will reap the same attitudes from your family.  Learn to be direct with your requests, learn to be kind and gracious.  I've tried to never nag or degrade my hubby or kids; But I will be direct when I need something.  I am appreciative of their help, no matter the circumstances, and feel it is important to show that appreciation. My hubby is a great help, and even now when the children are gone, he will shoo me out of the kitchen and clean up.  He's a blessing.  Not every husband is handy or happy in the kitchen, but no doubt, with the proper communication of need, and with honor and kindness, we all learn to help each other in those places that we need each other.
Strength and dignity are her clothing,
And she smiles at the future.
 She opens her mouth in wisdom,
And the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.
 She looks well to the ways of her household,
And does not eat the bread of idleness.
Proverbs 31:25-28

Have a Great Week Everyone and may your home be cozy, tidy and peaceful.


  1. Pam I loved this post. I always need to organize. Now that our kitchen is being remodeled I need that more than ever. Things are all over, here and there, as we had to empty out our kitchen and then only bring back in what is absolutely needed while John works on it. I can't wait till it's done and will refer back to your delightful list!!


  2. I LOVE Emilie Barnes... one of my all-time favorite authors.

    I will have to come back and reread this post...

    How are you feeling? Hopefully better. Been thinking of you..

  3. Great ideas my friend. Happy Homemaking! XOXO

  4. I really enjoyed reading all of your suggestions and ideas mom! I am one who gets depressed with a mess pretty easy. I always feel refreshed after a good clean and scrub but, I think I have to be careful and not let it make me stress out which seems to be my weakness when my house is a mess, which is almost every day lol. That was such a great list of ideas you gave us. LOVE YOU

  5. I am so thankful for Emilie Barnes and her wonderful books. In fact as a young wife I was so grateful I wrote to her and thanked her and she sent me a handwritten note of encouragement which I still have tucked away in one of her books. The Spirit of Loveliness is my favourite. Her 15 minute management method became a habit which I still implement today - particularly in the kitchen. I spend just 15 minutes tidying or organizing one drawer or one shelf. It's amazing the difference it makes! I think my kitchen is my favourite room and I adore my shelf with its ornate brackets and rows of jars filled with ingredients. I love having everything in easy reach, so our vintage ladder rack above the stove which holds the pots and pans not only adds character but saves me so much time. I keep oils and vinegars in a basket near the stove too and jugs of freshly cut herbs. I also have some decorative items such as vintage scales up there. I really don't like modern, clinical kitchens where everything is behind closed doors. I have resisted the temptation to paint the timber cabinets white - they are so hard to keep clean. Something to keep in mind when sighing over all those white French Provincial style kitchens on Pinterest!

  6. This was so good Mom. You are making me homesick! I love how you do everything and have such happy memories :)

    I hope you are feeling better. I love you!

  7. Good Morning, I also have always loved her books! I do not keep a list as well as I should some weeks, but I do try to keep things tidy and clean and like you said cozy!
    I did enjoy reading all the tips!
    We do function so much better when our homes have order and a much needed plan and a to do list!
    I enjoyed reading this and I hope it will inspire me to get a move on this morning!
    Blessings Always, Roxy