After years of cooking in apartment-sized kitchens (secretly pining for the day when I have my own kitchen island big enough to land a plane on), and now in my small-but-cheerful galley kitchen, I've learned a great deal about organizing in this gadget-laden space. Most of which, I'll freely admit, is due to my husband's insistence on de-cluttering. Here are our tips for keeping the kitchen in order.
A clean and efficient kitchen will be more inviting, and employing Slow Home principles to help organize the space will bring even more purpose to this part of your home. Not to mention, we've found that as we've followed these tips to keep our own kitchen well-planned and organized, we've saved money (along with water, energy, and food).
1. Keep the counters clean and clutter-free. Put away lesser-used items and keep only the essentials in sight, limiting counter items to things you use every day. Feel free to leave out items that make you especially happy, or ones that evoke any good emotion and bring personality to the space, like a family heirloom piece, a special hand towel, or an inspiring cookbook.
2. Prioritize your workspaces. Regardless of what kind of cooking you like to do, be sure that you always have an available workspace. Designate one area to always remain clear and clutter-free, so that any time you need to prep food, set down groceries, or poor a glass of wine, there's space to do so.
3. Organize cabinets to maximize efficiency. Cleaning off the counters might mean that the cabinets will have to hold more. Group like items, limiting the number of each item (plates, cups, mugs), to a reasonable number for your household. Have place settings for 16 for that one holiday dinner you host each year? Store them in another room, and utilize valuable kitchen cabinet space for the things you need quick access to more often. (When making space for our dishwasher, we decided to utilize shelf space in the garage for our bread maker, canning supplies, and more, leaving only the day-to-day necessities in our limited kitchen storage area.)
To really get the most out of your kitchen, put things away where they make the most sense. Plates, cups, bowls, and other tableware should all be in close proximity so that setting the table is made easy. Baking dishes, mixing bowls, frying pans; keep like things alike, and dinner prep time can be trimmed significantly. Don't forget the space under the kitchen sink, which can be valuable for cleaning supplies!
And of course, always put things away where they belong, and do so as soon as its job is done.
4. Keep the fridge and freezer full, but organized, to maximize energy efficiency. Keep it clean inside and out, too.
5. Determine ways to save water and energy in your own kitchen. For us, this meant installing a dishwasher instead of hand-washing (not only saving us water, but also helping to keep our counters clutter-free and the kitchen cleaner). In your own kitchen, see if you can save water or keep lights off while cooking. Manage menus so that oven times are more efficient and less dishes are needed to prepare meals.
6. Eat efficiently, too. Buy food you know you'll eat, in quantities that can be easily consumed. Limit your food waste and be sure to compost food scraps if at all possible. Get in the pantry and organize it, too.
7. Utilize creative storage. Give old things new life or purpose in the kitchen with these ideas, or get inspired with small space organizational tips.
• A Guide to Slow Home Principles: The Kitchen
• Slow Home Space Planning & Organization: The Dining Room
• Slow Home Space Planning & Organization: The Office
• Slow Home Space Planning & Organization: The Bedroom
(Image: Sara One Day, via Apartment Therapy)