Inside: Use these tips to streamline your kitchen and maximize its efficiency so you can better utilize the space.
A guest post by Allie Cooper
Let’s face it, it’s impossible to have an impeccably tidy home 24/7. Between kids, work, and everything else, some clutter is inevitable.
This is especially evident in the kitchen where most families and even guests prefer to hang out. Given the amount of foot traffic kitchens get, it isn’t very surprising that food containers, ingredients, gadgets, and more accumulate fast.
But just because stuff piles up quickly doesn’t mean you should just live with it. Over a third of Americans say they are overwhelmed by clutter but just don’t know how to address it.
Aside from the obvious fact that messy kitchens are an eyesore, why else should you roll up your sleeves and start decluttering ASAP? And more importantly, how can you do it?
Let’s take a look at why you may want to streamline your kitchen and how doing so can maximize your efficiency in the space. Once the excess stuff in your kitchen is removed, you’ll more easily be able to organize the tools that you actually use.
Why Streamline Your Kitchen?
Here are three good reasons why you may want to streamline your kitchen.
Increases productivity & efficiency
For starters, a messy room overstimulates your brain causing the sensory responses to dampen. When your brain is flooded with crazy stimuli, your cognitive functions will take longer to respond.
The Princeton University Neuroscience Institute has even reported National Institute of Health even mentioned that clutter can make decision-making, focus, and slow cognitive function.
When your environment is streamlined and cleaner, you’re more present and able to complete tasks properly. This could mean the difference between a nasty accident and a delicious home-cooked meal.
Serenity is in the eye of the beholder. In a 2010 study, couples living in cluttered spaces registered significantly higher cortisol levels than normal.
Cortisol in excess can cause anxiety and high blood pressure. Streamlining your home doesn’t guarantee quiet, but it does promote harmony.
Decluttering can be an act of love for yourself and your family as it helps keep the tone of your home relaxed and manageable.
Decreases unnecessary spending
Ironically, the more we have, the more we still spend. When bills and items are lost or misplaced, the next step is to buy a replacement. Over time, buying duplicates can add up to a significant amount of money.
In the kitchen, this happens more commonly with ingredients and tableware. From a cluttered kitchen’s perspective, buying another mug or a bag of flour doesn’t seem like a lot.
But consider that you probably didn’t need them and now you’ve spent unnecessarily AND taken up more storage space.
Things to Have Ready to Streamline Your Kitchen
Ready to strealine your kitchen? Here are four helpful things to prepare for the process.
A practical mindset
Streamlining your space can bring up a lot of emotions as you prepare to let go of the things you’re no longer using. But there is a fine line between sentimental value and hoarding.
It’s important to be realistic as you make your decisions about what stays and what goes. That tea set from your Nana that’s never used? If you truly love it, keep it. While you could store it in an attic or basement, consider actually using it instead.
Those spices you’ve been “saving for a special occasion”? It’s probably best to let them go especially if they are well past their expiration date.
Be methodical in how you do your initial sweep and immediately discard anything broken or expired. Some things like broken glassware can be recycled at your local recycling center.
A trash bag, a box for recycling, and a box for donations
As you streamline your space, you’ll come across many items that you no longer want to keep in your space.
For food items that are past expiration, toss them in the trash. Recycle what you are able to.
If you have unwanted food that is still good, set them aside and see if friends, family, or neighbors could make use of it.
When you come across kitchen utensils or gadgets you no longer want, set them in a box for donating.
If you haven’t gotten into labels yet, here’s the best excuse. Whether you have a label maker or just some tape and a marker, labels will make it so much easier to organize and identify your things.
This is especially important if you’re planning on changing how your items are stored. If you live in a multi-person household, this will ensure that everyone knows where everything goes.
If you’ve ever thought you were getting sugar, but got salt instead, you know why it’s important to have things properly labeled.
Rags and multi-purpose cleaners
A streamlined kitchen is a more easily cleaned kitchen. After eliminating the excess stuff is the perfect opportunity to clean the room.
For this, it’s better to use cloth rags rather than paper towels. They’re better for the environment and your budget since they’re reusable.
Try to have at least four rags ready. One each for the fridge, shelves, tableware, and pantry items. If you’ve got any surface cleansers or cleaning solutions, now is the time to use them.
This is also a good way to use up any leftover products. However, if you want to go the more natural route, you can.
There are many DIY home cleaners you can whip up. A simple kitchen cleaner and deodorizer just needs one-quart of water with four tablespoons of baking soda.
Step-by-Step Guide to Streamline Your Kitchen
Here are the main areas to focus on as you streamline your kitchen.
Out of sight, out of mind. Lots of things get overlooked in the kerfuffle of the fridge. Begin by throwing out food you don’t plan to consume or those that have gone bad.
You can’t donate perishable items, so compost them or put them in the biodegradable bin. Then arrange your items from tallest to shortest first.
Then if you have kids, you can assign lower shelves for snacks and drinks they like. You can also assign a “leftovers shelf” where all extra food goes.
Lastly, don’t overstuff your shelves. Try to keep them two-thirds full so nothing gets smushed or hidden.
Pantry & Countertops
These are the two areas that gather clutter fastest. Start by removing expired food items and trash. You may be surprised how many empty things you have.
Then begin setting aside items that don’t belong there. For example, that bottle of mustard on the counter shouldn’t be there. Neither should that vacuum be in the pantry.
Countertops and pantries are often subject to bulky items. Clear up your countertop by removing big decorative pieces and choosing smaller accents instead. The more clear space you have to work, the more efficiently you’ll be able to work in your streamlined kitchen.
For the pantry, check for duplicates and merge them into one container instead. Arrange your items in both areas by frequency of use and then by expiration date. Let go of any foods that you know your family won’t eat.
Having an organized pantry will make finding ingredients so much simpler. You’ll know what you already have and what you need to pick up next time you go to the store which will save you time.
Cookware & Tableware
You don’t really need two dozen mugs and six saucepans. If you don’t use it at least once a week, maybe it’s time to give it away. You can donate cookware and tableware to shelters or secondhand stores.
Specialty products that you don’t even use often (like a cheese knife or fondue pot) are just taking space. When arranging these, place the most used items in the forefront.
If you can, rather than storing your cookware and tableware in cabinets, try keeping them in open shelving instead. That way, you can easily see what you have. Plus, if it’s more accessible, you’re more likely to use it.
If you don’t like the aesthetic of open shelving, no problem. Just make sure to make the most often used items easily accessible to further streamline your kitchen.
How to Maintain Your Streamlined Kitchen
Now that you’ve spend the time to free up some extra space in your streamlined kitchen, let’s look at how to maintain it.
Opt for multi-use items
To maintain the order of your kitchen, invest in versatile pieces. This goes for cookware, ingredients, and decor. Focus on the kitchen essentials and skip the single use gadgets.
Instead of a steamer, find a rice cooker that can cook rice, steam, and simmer. Instead of a cheese board, get a beautiful high-quality wood chopping board instead.
The more functions an item has the more your family will use it, too. This means fewer chances of buying unnecessary products.
Clean up after every use
Clutter builds up over time. But you can avoid it by remaining proactive about cleaning and organizing your kitchen.
After every cooking and experimenting session, put everything back where it was. Restock your pantry items and keep your storage spaces arranged.
Adopt these golden rules to maintain a clutter-free kitchen.
Get your kids involved
There are a lot of good habits that we can teach our kids. One of them is how to help clean up.
Kids who learn to do chores and regularly help out around the house will be better prepared for being on their own as an adult.
Assign kids age appropriate chores and have them help to keep the kitchen cleaned up. Empower them to be part of the food preparation and clean up process as they’re able.
It can be helpful to include a visual reminder of their tasks so that they know what’s expected of them.
Ready to Streamline Your Kitchen?
Whether you’re cooking for the holidays or simply every day, having a streamlined kitchen will make cooking a more enjoyable and efficient process that will save you time and frustration.
If you feel like the excess stuff in your kitchen is causing you grief—you’re not alone! But the good news is, you can change it. With this guide, you’ll see that streamlining your kitchen to increase efficiency is an empowering experience that you will benefit from.
Allie Cooper is a happily married mother of 2 toddlers and 3 rescued pit bulls from North Carolina. Aside from writing, Allie also keeps busy as a yogi and coffee enthusiast.
Sign up on the form below to get weekly decluttering tips and inspirations sent straight to your inbox. You’ll also get the free 5 Areas to Declutter in 10 Minutes Checklist to help you get started decluttering today.