Ready for a wild and crazy weekend? Let’s organize your kitchen and tackle it in time for the holiday season!
Using a weekend gives yourself a deadline, which can help you finish a job rather than just starting and stopping it. You’ll LOVE having your entire kitchen organized and it’s definitely doable in a weekend (with a little determination *wink*). Let’s walk you through the steps to transform the center of your home.
The week leading up to the big kitchen overhaul, start gathering some basic supplies:
- Boxes & bags (for donations, sorting, & trash)
- Painter’s tape & sharpie (to label boxes and where you’ll use the label maker)
- Rags & a few cleaning supplies (to wipe down shelves, counters, and appliances)
- Optional (but highly recommended!): label maker
Organizing Your Pantry
The pantry often feels overwhelming, and that’s why it’s the best place to start. Knock off the hardest area first!
Put on some music or a show in the background and prepare for one exciting Friday night. Wahoo!
Grab the trash bags and label a box ‘donate’ for any small appliances or kitchen tools you come across that you no longer want or need.
Begin by pulling everything out of the pantry. As you go, sort into categories* such as:
- Trash: Toss anything that is expired or that you no longer use (if not expired and unopened, you can drop off at the food pantry)
- Rice & Pasta
- Canned Food
- Vinegars & Oils
- Nuts & Seeds
- Small appliances or kitchen tools
*If you need the visual, use the blue painters tape to write down the categories and sort on the counters, tables, or floor
After you’ve sorted through all the pantry items, wipe down the shelves and/or walls inside. You can also cut and lay contact paper or shelf liners to protect your shelves or add a little color. Once the empty pantry is clean, put items back away according to the categories or zones you created as you took everything out.
Pantry storage is best laid out based on the way you use the items. Keep snack items within reach of the kids and less frequently used items up higher on the shelves. Try not to place different items behind another item. For example, if possible, all corn goes in front of other corn (not beside) and so forth.
There are many bins or products that you can use in the pantry, but sometimes the easiest maintenance plan follows the less is more approach (aka, no need to create a bin labeled “hostess snacks”, another labeled “ding dongs”, etc. Just create one big labeled “snacks” and place all the snacks inside or you can do “adult snacks” “kid snacks” or if you have roommates “suzie’s snacks”). Also, depending on your pantry size, you may be limited on bin size and the number of bins that will fit, so take measurements of your depth, height, and width. Lastly, I recommend clear bins so that everyone can see inside, but matching solid colors with a beautiful label look more aesthetically pleasing.
Label as many bins or shelves as you can so that everyone in the family knows where to find items and can return things where they belong. This will help you maintain everything going forward.
Organizing Your Fridge
Friday Night or Saturday Morning
If you’re a night owl, carry on to the fridge! Or if you’re an early bird, head to bed and tackle this next stage in the morning.
Sort through all the food in the fridge and freezer just like you did in the pantry. Pull everything out, tossing expired foods, and grouping categories together (fruit, veggies, meats, cheeses, etc.). After clearing out the shelves and drawers, wipe down the shelves, walls, and drawers (inevitably, there’s always spills in a fridge that are often overlooked or covered by food). Then as you did in the pantry, return everything, keeping like items grouped together, kid items closer to the ground, and rarely used items on the lower shelves. This is a great area to use a few products that contain items as well as maximize the vertical space.
The following types of containers work well in both pantries and fridges.
Organize Your Counters
Saturday Morning, Continued
As the hub of almost every home, the kitchen frequently becomes a drop-off zone for ALL THE THINGS. To clear your counters, first label one of your boxes ‘elsewhere’ and place anything that doesn’t belong in the kitchen into this box.
Magical secret to clearing off your counters: choose one side and start working your way to the other side. Bam.
As you pick up and touch each item, ask yourself if the item should remain in the kitchen or does it belong in a different room. If it’s a different room, and you’re feeling ambitious, you can label additional boxes or piles as you find items that belong in the “dining room” “master bedroom” “child’s room”, “garage” etc. If you’re not feeling ambitious (and that’s okay), keep the one box for all items that don’t belong in the kitchen.
You may have a few small appliances on the counter that you use only a couple of times each month (electric can opener, toaster, etc.). Consider storing these items in a cupboard or if those are full, then on a shelf in the pantry or a nearby closet.
If you encounter a lot of paper or ‘elsewhere’ items, leave those for the very last action item Sunday afternoon/evening. Our focus and physical presence needs to remain in the kitchen. No time for distractions or running around the house. Although, if you have kids or a SO, you can have them do the running around for you…on Sunday!
Sort Through Your Kitchen Cupboards and Drawers
After you’ve sorted everything on the counters, it’s time to begin diving into the cupboards and drawers. I reassure all my clients that as they work, things will definitely get worse before they get better. Don’t panic when chaos ensues! This is a natural part of the process and it’s necessary in order to get the job done well. Just warn anyone walking into the work zone of the ‘landmines’ you most likely created as your separate all the gadgets and utensils into different piles.
Sort through one cupboard or one drawer at a time. As you come across duplicates or items you no longer use, place them in the donate box. Broken items can be placed in the trash or recyclable bin. And if it’s something you’ve hung onto with the intention of fixing it, ask yourself how long it’s been that way (and then let it go). This is the time to operate with a bit of tough love — asking yourself questions like:
- Would I buy this item at full price today?
- How long has it been since I’ve really used this?
- Will it impact my day-to-day life if I don’t have this item?
- Can I use something else in my kitchen to do the same job I would with this tool?
Once you’ve sorted through ALL of the cupboards and drawers, give them a quick clean. Now, it’s time to return everything and set up new systems.
Organizing Your Kitchen Cupboards and Drawers
Saturday Afternoon or evening
As an organizer, I typically move directly into the organizing/placement phase after cleaning. However, you may want to give yourself a break to eat a meal and drink some water. Depending on the size of your kitchen, this stage may not happen until Sunday, but if you can find the energy and focus inside of you, do your best to complete this stage on Saturday.
As you reassemble your kitchen cupboards, keep the following stations in mind.
- Everyday Items
- Cooking and Baking
- Storage and Specialty
- Under the sink
Keep like items together, and make sure that everyday items are accessible. Pots, pans, and other cookware can be stored together, along with bakeware if there’s room. Using simple racks like the ones pictured below can help keep items from turning into a jumbled mess. There are endless kitchen storage options, so be sure to choose something that works well for your space.
Small storage caddy’s like this one work well to hold the small items in your cupboards like salt & pepper shakers, toothpick holders, etc.
Spices & Oils
Spices can sometimes be a project by themselves! Be sure you sort through your spices just like you’ve done with everything else (fun game with the occupants in the house: before starting, write down everyone’s guess for the oldest year you’ll find on a spice container!). Then choose a storage product that works for your cupboard or drawer. A Lazy Susan can be a great option for oils, and there are many spice rack ideas (3-tiered, drawer liners, etc.). If you feel stuck, reach out and ask me for additional suggestions.
Once you have a place for everything and everything in its place, label as much as you can so that everyone in the family will remember where things go. This is the best way to keep up all the hard work you just did!
With the last little bit of energy in you, take all the “elsewhere items” to the proper room. If you have the energy, actually put it away in the proper spot. If your energy is nearly depleted, just place it in an out of the way area until you’re ready to transform that room, just like you transformed the kitchen.
You did it! You tackled one of the busiest areas in the home in one weekend — well done! Now, it’s time to celebrate by kicking up your feet up and relaxing. Treat yo-self! 😉
I’d love to hear how this went for you, so reach out and let me know! If you’re feeling inspired to continue organizing more of the house, take a look at this previous post that gives you a quick declutter plan.
All the best!