Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Not About Food >
Mar 28, 2013 03:46 PM

Kitchen organization tips

How have you organized things in your kitchen that really helps?
OR what simple thing do you do that makes you more efficient in your particular kitchen?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I have a lot of room in my current kitchen, but I didn't always. I think one of the biggest things I've always done is have smaller items/tools "contained". So, using boxes, trays etc to corral small items so they don't end up all over the place. Also, not having too much of one thing. Like, how many spatulas does one really need? I also don't have hardly any "uni-taskers".

    I also got rid of mismatched plastic storage ware, and bought an entire set of matching ones. The bases stack and nest neatly inside each other, and the lids stack nicely next to them. And, fortunately, when I moved with my SO he had the exact same set, so we were able to integrate them :) I do still have a few random plastic bowls from Tupperware that my mom gave me but otherwise it's all from the same set. Now, my entire plastic storage collection is contained to 2 shelves in a cabinet and I never have an issue getting what I need out and finding it's lid.

    For spices, I bought one of these: and it's great! I never have a hard time finding what I need since nothing gets lost in the back.

    One other tip, store your flat items (baking sheets, trays, cutting boards etc) vertically. That way you never have to lift up a bunch to get what you want. I took the shelves out of a lower cabinet and put in two of these:

    15 Replies
    1. re: juliejulez

      Oh! I'm going to move my flat things from a big bottom drawer to a cabinet! Thx

      1. re: juliejulez

        Also, not having too much of one thing. Like, how many spatulas does one really need? I also don't have hardly any "uni-taskers".


        Amen. My kitchen drawers are relatively bare because really, how many big spoons, spatulas, chef knives does one need to prepare a meal? Most times, you are doing dishes after each meal so one or maybe two of anything is enough. I purged all speciality items.

        Same goes for things like baking sheets, who needs more that two for a single meal? Same goes for mixing bowls, roasting pans, baking dishes, etc,

        It was really hard for me to give up the extras but it has made cooking and clean up so much easier.

        1. re: cleobeach

          I often cook with groups of friends or family members, so like to have enough tools that people can be gainfully engaged, and avoid cross-contamination. Makes me crazy when someone uses the same spoon or spatula to stir a meat dish AND a vegetable dish. Ditto with cutting boards.

          1. re: KarenDW

            I could see if you had a kitchen big enough that multiple people could be working on their own dish at the same time then you would probably have the storage space for 6 or 8 cooking spoons.

            I am brutal about purging storage containers. If the lid goes missing or gets mangled, the lid AND bottom go in the trash. Mismatched storage contains are nothing but trouble when you have limited storage space.

            1. re: cleobeach

              LOL cleo, getting my mom to throw out containers was like asking her to give away one of her children. I was organizing her kitchen as a gift and she saw the big pile of plastic ware that I was going to toss (mostly stuff that was messed up, or didn't have a matching lid), and she freaked out. Finally my stepdad intervened and I got to throw out most of it :)

              1. re: cleobeach

                Kitchen is 10 ft. from back of stove to the other side of the island, and 12 ft. from backsplash to the hall. We're lucky to have an open-plan layout in our apartment. So, theoretically, there could be 2 people at the stove, 2 working on the island, one using a mixer at the kitchen table, and someone washing dishes. We'd be in pretty close quarters, but not stepping on each others' toes :) much.
                But back OT: we keep cutting boards, platters and baking sheets vertically, in the cupboard above the fridge. And the "venting" space, between the fridge and said cupboard, is the perfect place for the stovetop grill pan.

                1. re: KarenDW

                  We have a small apartment kitchen. Someone had a computer desk out on the curb to give away, so I rolled it home down the street. My dad helped me chop it up a little, and we ended up with an "island" something like this: http://newyongsheng.en.made-in-china....

                  Except it's better because the main shelf comes out farther, under the pull-out keyboard tray (which we use to stash stuff on while we cook) is a two-sided drawer, (utensils) and the top shelf goes all the way across and is deeper (that's where we keep vinegar, oils, worcestershire, etc.). We moved the little shelf up from the bottom so it's on top of the main shelf, put a nice big chopping block on the main shelf, and put plastic drawers underneath. Bent wire hangers and stuck them in leftover assembly holes in the metal to hold pot holders and onion goggles. I felt so clever and it has made a huge difference! It's still crowded for two to work in there, but the extra storage- and work-space really help.

              2. re: KarenDW

                I have a big ceramic jar right next to the stove that holds at least a dozen wooden spoons plus half a dozen sets of tongs. It would drive me crazy to have to look for them in the drawer. Same goes for the spatulas, graters and specialty spoons that hang from hooks on the stainless steel rods that make up my open shelving next to the stove for every day pots and serving bowls.

              3. re: cleobeach

                Also, not having too much of one thing. Like, how many spatulas does one really need?

                How many? Jeez. I have the peltex, the one for non-stick pan, the wide one for turning fish filets/ whole fish, stainless steel one, the wok spatula, the flat spatula for the grill top....those are the ones that come to mind immediately so at least 6.

                1. re: Bkeats

                  Just went and counted, I have 8 and I use them all for different purposes.

                  1. re: Bkeats

                    See I have one bamboo one that I use for all stove work, although I wouldn't mind having another just so I don't have to wash it after using it with raw meat, and then maybe 2 silicon ones for baking. I get by just fine! All comes down to personal style I guess.

                2. re: juliejulez

                  Not only do I store my baking sheets vertically but when I had my kitchen redone they suggested putting them in the cabinet above the fridge. I never used the cabinet above my fridge before because it always involved pulling out a step stool. Now I can easily reach the front of the sheet and pull it out. Genius!

                  1. re: dmjordan

                    Yeah, the original kitchen in this house had one good design element in the kitchen: above the double-ovens was a huge vertical organizer for sheet pans & such. We gutted & remodeled, but I kept that idea. Have rearranged often & maximize the use of that space, which is terrific.

                  2. re: juliejulez

                    I figured out the amount of plastic containers I could fit in the designated drawer--each one with its lid snapped on--and found that was enough. Not having to look for the right top is heavenly.

                  3. 1. I bought a knife block. I don't know why it took me so long to do this.

                    2. I bought a heavy cutting board which I leave in place. It leaves a gap of several inches behind it. Bottles which don't need to be refrigerated can stay out on the counter provided that they all fit in the space behind the cutting board.

                    3. I replaced my refrigerator with a shallow-depth bottom-freezer model. Now I can see what's in it so it doesn't collect old stuff in the back.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: GH1618

                      Your second answer is exactly what I have done and I love it. Neat row of oils and vinegars, corralled in front by the 31x18 cutting board. It's a pleasure for work.

                      Your first answer is exactly opposite of what I have done: I got fed up with making space for the knife block, and got a magnetic knife strip. More counter space.

                    2. One thing I did for efficiency was buy a small plastic dustbin/trashcan. It's only about 10 inches tall. I line it with plastic grocery bags, and keep it on the kitchen counter next to the sink. When I need to prep meals, I pull it forward and use it for my prep garbage -- veggie peels, plastic tear-off strips, etc. When my prep is done, I remove the filled bag, and toss it into the big kitchen trashcan, and put a new grocery bag in.

                      It saves me the trouble of walking the few feet to the big trashcan several times during prep to throw away this and that. It's a small thing but saves me a few minutes.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: boogiebaby

                        The mini trash container is a great idea. My regular one is several steps away from my prep area and when hands are wet/sticky it get gunky all the time. Much easier to have the little one nearby with a plastic liner that I imagine has a good portion of the sides covered with draped over plastic. Dripping eggs shells begone!

                        1. re: boogiebaby

                          My mother is quite the informecial and gimmick fan and has sent me two of the Rachael Ray "garbage bowls" which is exactly what you're describing and of course doesn't need to be marketed as such but it's so helpful. People often wonder "uh, can't you walk across the kitchen (my kitchen is pretty small)" but it's very useful and I use it all the time. Garlic clove skins, package wrappers, then one single dump in the trash ca.

                          1. re: fldhkybnva

                            I bought two of those bowls because we were tired of eating popcorn out of old tupperware. I keep them nested on the counter and use them for so many things; mixing bowls, trash bowls, and of course, popcorn!

                            When using them as trash bowls, if I've got a plastic produce bag or grocery bag, I use that as a liner, fill it and toss the bag. Saves washing the bowl.

                        2. I've got enough herbs & spices to stock a grocery store, and I put a couple of lazy susans in the cabinet plus one of these pull-down spice containers

                          I'd love to be more organized/efficient!

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: eepi

                            +1 for the spice stack. I have 2 in my pantry.

                            I've also tossed all my old mis-matched plastic storage and have 2 sets of Snaplock. I keep the lids in a clear storage bin in the same cabinet, vertically arranged by size. I did the same with my Glasslock glass storage.

                            Am I the only one who refuses to put any of the plastic pieces in the dishwasher or microwave?

                          2. I bought one of these lazy-susan deals years ago and wouldn't part with it. I'm not sure if they're still available. The article that went with the photo called it "vintage"! Sheesh, I haven't had it THAT long.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: grampart

                              My mother always had one of these and I bought one for my first apartment. The small tools and anything use frequently is right there.

                              1. re: grampart

                                I had one just like that years ago, it was lost in a shuffle. Have looked but never seen one like it again. I loved it, it held so much.