Whether your cabinets are retro and strangely designed or modern and spaced too far apart, you can make your kitchen cabinets more efficient with a little (or a lot of) organization. Ridding your cabinets of what you don’t need is a good start, and it complements the handy organizational pieces described below.[find-an-apartment]
Max out the space you were given with these simple ways to become more organized in the kitchen.
Clean Out the Clutter
The first and most dreaded – but necessary – step in mastering the space in your cabinets is to clear out what you no longer use or is no longer good. Keep in mind that whole or ground spices and herbs lose their strength after a year, and seeds and ground roots last two years. If you haven’t used an item in a year – minus specialty foods that you know you will use in the future – throw it away. Check flour, sugar, pastas and dry goods for flour mill bugs, which show up during various times of the year, and throw away any items that have these tiny black bugs. Get rid of any expired products and jams or jellies which have crystallized.
Organize and Label Similar Items
Divide the remaining food items into the following groups: baking, canned food, pasta/grains, sauces, extracts, spices, sweeteners/syrups, boxed convenience food and other similar items. Place the like items together in the pantry or your cabinets in a way that makes sense; for example, if you rarely use your spices, place them higher on the shelf, and put things you use all the time on eye-level shelves or up front. Label them underneath so you’re encouraged to keep up the organization, using something as simple as a black marker on masking tape or as sophisticated as labels printed from your computer.
Simplify with Shelves
For canned foods and items you can stack, such as dinner plates and salad plates, choose tiered shelves with wire bottoms to help you see the contents both above and below. Also, look for racks that you can slide in lids for pots, pans and food storage containers side-by-side.
Befriend Slender Canisters
To better utilize height in the pantry, store flour, sugar, cereal, oats, coffee, dried beans, pastas and other loose items in tall, slim canisters. Either label them with what’s inside, or store them in clear containers that allow you to see their contents. These will utilize space better than the bulky, sometimes too-tall boxes these goods are originally packaged in.
Consider the Counter
If you need to replace some spices and herbs because they expired, purchase high-quality ones in small quantities next time, and put them in a spice rack on top of the counter. Is there anything else you can move to the counter, such as standing mixers, food processors, slow cookers, large pots that others can nestle into and more. You could even put a shelf on your counter to stack saucers, tea cups or juice glasses on.
Don’t Forget Underneath and Doors
Use every square inch of space by installing a paper towel rack or wine rack underneath cabinets, which frees up space inside cabinets or even on your countertop. Look for products that are specifically designed to hang on the back of a cabinet or pantry door. In the pantry, you can hang spices, sauce packets or canned goods, and on the back of a cabinet door, you can hang food storage lids, food processor blades or cleaning supplies.
Deep-Dive with Drawers
For cabinets too deep to fully make use of the space within them, add sliding drawers, which are mounted to a shelf and rest on gliders. Then, you can pull out the drawer and see items stored way in the back.
Photo Credit: iStockphoto/klosfoto