The kitchen is a very busy place in a typical household. Since the average person eats three meals a day, there’s a lot of food preparation and clean up going on, especially if there are a lot of mouths to feed. In order to make meal times fast, fun, and easy, having an organized kitchen is essential. Following are some steps you can take to get your kitchen functioning as effectively as possible.

Step One
Empty the contents of your cupboards, pantry and drawers. Sort everything into large clear containers or boxes, placing like items together. For example, group pots and pans together, serving bowls together, and cooking utensils together. As you’re sorting, have a donation box handy for items you no longer need, use, or want. Ask yourself, do you really need three can openers or do you really need a waffle iron you haven’t used in three years? Be ruthless! Try to pare things down as much as possible. Throw out anything that is chipped, cracked or broken. Do the same for food items. Group canned goods together, baking items together, and dry foods together. Throw out anything that is old or stale.

Step Two
Wipe down the insides of all cupboards and drawers. Install shelf liner if you’d like.

Step Three
Plan where you’d like to store items and put things back in their new locations. To make your kitchen run most efficiently (to avoid having to run from one end to the other), store like items with like items and store them in places that make the most sense to you. For example, store sharp knives near the ‘food prep’ area and store all coffee mugs near the ‘coffee prep’ area. Also, if you use a dishwasher, store frequently used dishes like plates and bowls near the dishwasher for easy unloading.

Keep in mind the weight of items. Store heavier items in lower cabinets and store lighter items in higher cabinets. Also, think about the height of items in relation to the height of the cupboards. Move adjustable shelving, as needed. The goal is to utilize as much cupboard space as possible, especially if you’re limited on storage.

Store seasonings in a dark place away from heat and moisture. Store dry goods like flour, sugar, rice and pasta in clear containers with air-tight lids. Also, put oils and vinegars and other bulky bottles on lazy susans for easy accessibility.

Step Four
If needed (and if budget allows), purchase appropriate containers, drawer dividers, and other kitchen organizing products. Always measure cupboard and drawer space first, to make sure products will fit. Take your measurements with you when shopping. Also, look around your home for containers you already have on hand that could be used for kitchen storage.

Step Five
Install organizing products and clearly label all containers.

Step Six
Have a family meeting informing all in the household about the newly organized kitchen and your expectations of keeping it that way! Draw a simple map of where things go for easy referral and post it on the fridge or put temporary post-its on the outside of cupboards labeling where things go. Remove the post-its after a week or two, once everyone gets used to the newly organized kitchen.

Copyright © 2010. All rights reserved.

Author's Bio: 

Amy Brueske is an organizing expert and owner of Always Organizing, specializing in residential and small business organizing services, serving the San Francisco North Bay Area (Sonoma, Marin, and Napa counties).

Amy is a member of the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO), and the National Study Group on Chronic Disorganization (NSGCD). Amy has written many articles on the topic of organizing and publishes a free monthly e-newsletter offering valuable organizing tips and solutions. For more information and to sign up for her e-newsletter visit: www.AlwaysOrganizing.com