MAKE YOURSELF AT HOME…IN THE KITCHEN,THE HEART OF THE HOME
By: Reva Lieberman
The kitchen can be a calm and welcoming area, but usually it’s a magnet for clutter, a chaotic shamble, and a muddled mess. The kitchen is perhaps the most important room in the home. It’s here that we congregate for family meetings. It’s where we sit and schmooze. The kids do their homework and their school projects here. How many volcanoes have you had erupting in your kitchen? We relax with a cup of coffee while cooking up a storm. We find ourselves searching for midnight snacks and we put our feet up waiting for the kids to come home.
But, let’s face it. When a utility drawer becomes a repository for junk, it’s time to take action. Judging from the way this kitchen looks now, The Food Network is not going to be filming here any time soon. However, with the right preparation and setup, your kitchen can be a magical place where you create the most amazing culinary sensations.
An organized kitchen saves time, money, and most importantly, your sanity. So no more procrastinating, The time for excuses has passed. It’s time to get your act together and set the ball in motion. I promise to be at your side every step of the way should you experience any pangs of distress or indecision.
Let’s start at the very beginning:
#1: Replenish storage bins/baskets and use them to streamline the inside of your cabinets. Transparent XOX containers, stackable drawers, and Lucite shoeboxes allow for easy accessibility. Labelling offers an easy view of your inventory. You can clearly see what you have and what you need to restock.
Drawer dividers, Lazy Susans (rotating trays), and spice racks are great tools to make life in the kitchen easier. They come in all sizes, to fit all nooks and crannies. As far as spice racks are concerned, think outside the box. They store more than just spices. Use them for paper clips, thumb-tacks, safety pins, bandages, rubber bands, loose change, and other miscellaneous items.
You have all the necessary paraphernalia on hand so let’s really get going.
#2: Empty out all cabinets and drawers. Start at the top and work your way down.
Be decisive and tenacious. Be firm and resolute. Your singular mantra must be: PUT AWAY, GIVE AWAY, or THROW AWAY!
#3: Now that your cabinets and drawers are empty, consider the best way to put everything back. Arrange your tableware, cookware, flatware, and bake-ware by frequency of use. Similar items should be stored together in one area. It is advisable to group everyday glasses and dishes in one spot whereas Shabbos dishes, specialty items, and serving pieces should be stored separately.
BONUS TIP: Line drawers with plastic place mats. They are easier to install and clean than sticky contact paper.
#4: Discard containers without lids and store remaining plastic containers either with the lids on them or, if you prefer, store the lids together in a separate container. The same can be done with the lids for your pots and pans. A large clear box will hold them nicely. Another option is to store them on the inside of your cabinet doors.
BONUS TIP: Store pie pans, cookies sheets, muffin sheets, vertically with wire organizers so that you don’t have to move them all, every time you want just one.
#5: Make use of vertical space. Place hooks or pegs underneath cabinets to hold mugs above the countertop or hang a stemware rack in the same spot for wine glasses. This will free up considerable cabinet space. You can also use adhesive hooks to hang measuring cups, oven mitts, pot holders, and assorted kitchen utensils.
#6: Only those appliances that are used on a daily basis should be kept out. This includes toasters, blenders, and your coffee maker. Big appliances like crock pots, slow cookers, deep fryers, double boilers, bread makers (did you really think you were going to bake fresh bread every day…), and crème brulee caramelizers should be out of sight. When was the last time you used that shiny chrome donut maker? Exactly!
#7: Clear counter clutter. Don’t allow your counters (or your kitchen table) to become a dumping ground! Use a bulletin board to store coupons, recipes, to do lists, and take-out menus. Have a pen and notepad handy so that you can always jot down spontaneous thoughts. How many Yom Tov menus pop into your head while you are peeling potatoes on a Wednesday afternoon?
#8: Stop running a marathon around your kitchen every time you want to make a cup of coffee or brew a cup of tea. Designate a coffee/tea/cocoa station near a water source/urn that includes mugs, filters, sweeteners, and stirrers. Making a hot beverage becomes a breeze with everything you need right at hand.