This month in the Eat Well, Spend Less series we’re going to take a look at a few things you can do to organize your kitchen to save you time and money. The ins, the outs, the ups, the downs and my own present failure. Plus more from everyone else on their food resolutions for 2012.
I have made quite the mess in the kitchen. We’re not talking an “I’ve been baking all day and have yet to clean it up” type of a mess. Anyone that knows me knows that I clean as I go, such is the Type A trait that flows in my soul. There are very rare occasions that I break from that rule, but yes, I do color outside the lines every now and again.
This type of mess that I’ve been creating is instead one of exhaustion. It starts with a bit of ingredient shopping at the store. The ingredients are usually purchased in larger amounts than needed, and then only a portion is used leaving the rest of them to sit and occupy space. Multiply this times holiday baking, book making and general family meals. It causes me to arrive home with groceries intended for this cookie or cake, that dish that needs to be made and then realizing that the cupboards are still full.
It is a mess of pushing, of finally giving up and sighing, of placing the food directly on the counter because it’s winter, it can’t go outside, and it doesn’t fit inside the limited kitchen storage space. It’s a mess that makes the Type A part of me wriggle under the thin layer of skin, screaming to get out.
Someday remind me to tell you how I suppress the Type A and let all the mess just pile, defeated. It’s called motherhood. Some days I’m more successful at that suppression than others. Some days…well, we don’t talk about those days.
The facts. I know the mess needs to go, which is actually quite a fun concept for someone who likes to organize, but I’ve gone beyond the organize into pout at this point. I want to stomp my feet, sit on the couch and proclaim, “This mess is so big and so deep and so tall, we cannot pick it up, there is no way at all.”
Still, it is my view that having a well-stocked kitchen can help you save money and eat well at the same time, and if I can’t even figure out what all this stuff I’ve been stocking is and can’t reach the half of it, I’m doomed to continually spend more money than I need to be and eating pretty poorly in the process. It’s also hampering my ability to genuinely invite people over to my house to share food, which is perhaps an equally great loss.
How Overall Organization Saves You Money
The main concept is pretty straightforward. If you know what’s in your kitchen and can assess what you have in a glance, then you won’t buy things you already have or feel like you don’t have what you need to make a certain meal.
Still, it’s more than just what food you have on hand. The way your kitchen is organized, how easy it is to reach pans and cutting boards can make you feel like every step of a recipe is insurmountable as well. If lack of organization makes you feel like cooking is a hassle, then you won’t want to cook.
What Organization in the Kitchen Looks Like to You
There are many different options for containers you can use in your kitchen to help organize things. Aimee just did a great post about this over on TidyMom where she goes through the different types of containers you can use to organize so as not to spend a ton of money. The main takeaway is use what you have first before you buy other things. Look around your house and repurpose other items to help contain the things you need organized. Baskets, tins, glass jars and bins you may have been using somewhere else but aren’t any longer can all help to separate linens, store dry goods and create drawer dividers.
Shelves, Hooks and Dividers
When we moved into our home, there was one large cabinet that must hold all our pots, pans, cutting boards, baking sheets and everything else. It was completely empty. Not a single shelf in the entire thing. Before we even moved in I went out to the store to pick up wire shelving to help separate areas so we could organize and stack things. While I was out, I picked up a few bins for the refrigerator as well to help create a cheese drawer and more areas to store small packages that belong together.
Adding shelving and dividers can help keep you organized. It separates things in larger spaces, and it can also make things more accessible. A hook on the wall to hold potholders, for example, will help them from getting lost in the drawer with the linens.
Moving Things Around
Sometimes moving things can make all the difference in the world. Simply storing spoons and spatulas next to the stove, for instance, can make a world of difference when you need one as you’re hovering over a steaming pot of soup or a sauce that needs a good whisk to keep from overflowing.
A brainstorming activity: Stand in the middle of your kitchen and consider the scene. Think about where you are when you usually reach for things. Do you always find yourself at the island wondering where the spatula is? Can you never seem to find the potholder when you need to pull a pan from the oven? Do you search for the salt and seasonings only after you cross the room? Then determine if you can make a few changes to the layout. It might be as easy as adding a salt cellar and a few commonly used spices near the stove, switching the drawers for silverware and spatulas or creating a board to hand your measuring spoons and cups on so you’re ever digging through the junk drawer when baking.
I’m a perfectionist. Oftentimes I won’t start a project unless I feel I can adequately clear my brain and focus all my efforts on the project to get to a reasonable stopping point or, even, the end of the project. I don’t like leaving things unfinished. I am this way with many things in life, the least of which are books. I will read until the book is finished. It’s a good thing I’m a fast reader.
This makes the getting started part of kitchen organization more terrifying and difficult than ever when the mess has grown so deep and so tall. For this reason, I know I need to break down my goals in more manageable pieces that I can tackle one at a time in the bits and pieces of the day I end up stealing away.
The Plan: Pick a day to do one thing. Even if it’s just reorganizing my spices, if I can focus and chop the job into small pieces, soon the entire project will start looking smaller and smaller, and I’ll get to a more manageable state.
This is the method that will work best for me, and it is a method that will have me inviting friends over for dinner again, not cringing instantly when someone shows up unannounced. It’s time I reclaimed a piece of my life that is a piece of me. My food resolution for 2012: Reclaiming my kitchen.
As always, you can check out what others are writing in the Eat Well, Spend Less series on food resolutions for 2012: