By Imogen @ The Little Organising Company

Are your cupboards overflowing?
Can you find everything you need?
Here is how your kitchen can work better for you and your family

Includes each area of the kitchen with a guide & checklists

1. The Kitchen
2.The Fridge
3. The Freezer
4. Kitchen Cupboards

5. Worktops & Kitchen
6. Pots, Pans & Plastic Boxes
7. The ‘Junk’ Drawer

8. Under The Sink
9. Cook Books
10. By The Back Door
11. Meal Planning & Guides

1. The Kitchen

Our kitchens are important places for us in our homes. Before the lockdown we and our families were likely to be spending up to 3 hours a day in our kitchens and 4-5 hours a day at weekends. We use it for cooking or preparing breakfast, lunch, dinner and the clear-up afterwards of course. Our kitchens have always been areas we’ve used for study, work and socialising but now in lockdown we are spending so much more time in here, maybe for most of the day. This can present challenges as clutter builds up as each activity ends and another one begins. Multiple people using a space can be tough too, with different members of the family putting a different level of importance or effort on keeping the space workable and clear.

Photo by Dmitry Zvolskiy on Pexels.com

This is why kitchens are a great place to start and focus your decluttering and organising energy. Once you start to make progress here you’ll really get to appreciate what you’ve done and see everyday the impact of living a more organised life. Once a kitchen has been decluttered and organised it’s easier to keep it that way long-term.

Consider involving all members of the household to some degree in this process:-

  1. If everyone can agree or see where things live then everyone can be involved in putting things back there.
  2. If there is an understanding of what each member of the family needs close to hand regularly, this can be taken into account organising where things should live, this makes putting things back easier for every family member, e.g. whoever walks the dog most, it would help if their wellies live near an exterior door or if someone uses the juicer to make their breakfast everyday it needs to be accessible.
  3. This is about getting everyone to be responsible for maintaining an organised space and putting away items which naturally build up in daily life, which is more sustainable long term.

2. The Fridge

Photo by Daria Shevtsova from Pexels
Photo by Daria Shevtsova from Pexels

The Fridge Declutter

1. Remove all of the contents
2. Throw away expired food and condiments
3. Clean and recycle jars, plastic & tins
4. If you find something you know you’re never going to use, give it to a new home
5. Wipe down and clean with mild soap and water, including shelves and drawers

Organising Your Fridge

Containers can be a helpful way to keep your fridge organised once the decluttering is done.

Photo from popsugar.com.au
  • Use clear containers so its easy to see whats in them e.g condiment jars
  • Label containers and drawers so everyone knows where to find what they are looking for
  • Put items you use most in easy reach e.g children’s yogurts / cheese
  • Put items you use less often like sauces or unusual spreads at the top of fridge but in long thin containers you can pull out to be able to access the items at the back
  • Taller items should go at the back or along each side of the fridge

I’ve read some interesting things about where we should keep certain foods in each area of the fridge to keep them better for longer. For more information https://www.consumerreports.org/refrigerators/how-to-organize-a-refrigerator/

3. The Freezer

The same process applies for decluttering your freezer as well as your fridge, see above.

In terms of organising it very much depends on what style of freezer you have. If you have a freezer with open shelves or chest freezer then you can use labelled containers to keep the same things together. If like me you have a freezer with drawers then I don’t find containers work so well. I try where I can to allocate certain items to each drawer and label it such as, all meats in one drawer, vegetables or frozen fruit in another and breads/wraps.

Making a list of what you have in the freezer is also a good idea. Keep it on the front of your freezer. Cross off what you use and when you use it. Add on items to your list after shopping. That way you can get inspiration of what to use without having to open the freezer.

Use clear containers and label them where it’s not obvious what it is such as homemade stock or garlic – I freeze garlic pieces in tubs which works really well.

To learn more about what food you can freeze and for how long – see NHS link https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/eat-well/how-to-store-food-and-leftovers/

For possible fridge & freezer storage have a look at https://www.containerstore.com/welcome.htm & https://www.aplaceforeverything.co.uk/ I don’t get any income for this, I just like what they have.

4. Kitchen Cupboards

Food Storage

Photo from Containers.com

The Cupboard Declutter

1. Remove all of the contents
2. Throw away expired food and condiments
3. Clean and recycle jars, plastic & tins
4. If you find something you know you’re never going to use, give it to a new home
5. Wipe down and clean

Organising food items

As always you’ll find items when you declutter you forgot you had. So the next step is keeping everything visible so you see it is there before buying a new one or it goes out of date. To ensure this I suggest working to the the basic principles of putting all the same items together, keeping things you use often to the front of cupboards and keeping items easy to see in labelled jars & containers. Try these suggestions:

Non-food Storage

Photo by Amina Journal Kitchen

The Cupboard Declutter

1. Remove all of the contents
2. Throw away chipped, broken items
3. If you find something you know you’re never going to use, give it to a new home
4. Wipe down and clean

Organising non-food items

As always ask yourself how many of each items you need? That’s why getting all items out at the same time is so useful. You might be surprised how many of one thing you have. Consider your current situation and what you and your family actually use now. Don’t hold on to something or lots of the same thing based on what you used to do or might in the future. If you are going through the declutter process, you probably recognise something is not working for you, hold that thought as you consider keeping each item. Maybe you don’t do large group dinners but instead eat out for celebrations now or perhaps your children are older and don’t use sippy cups so much so decide only to keep what you really need.

Some ways to maximise space and keep organised in your cupboards:

For possible storage solutions have a look at https://www.containerstore.com/welcome.htm https://www.aplaceforeverything.co.uk/, Ikea and Pinterest. I don’t get any income for this, I just like what they have.

5. Worktops & Kitchen Equipment

Photo by Dane Deaner on Unsplash

What and how much you keep on your worktops or counters is a very personal choice. We might typically keep daily use items here like fruit bowls, kettles, toasters, tea/coffee canisters, upright kitchen roll holders or food waste caddys. We might also keep any number of kitchen gadgets like a food mixer, blender, juicer etc. Along with the supposedly temporary items like post, catalogues, magazines, phone chargers & opened cook books.

Because of all of these items worktops can easily become crowded places, which can be frustrating when you want to use this for actual food preparation or want a kitchen to feel open and tidy. Look at everything you have on the worktops now and ask yourself do you still need it? If so, why is it on the worktop? Can you find a better home for it in a cupboard? My friend kept her baking food mixer on her worktop because she likes baking. This is a great reason to keep the mixer but she actually only uses it every couple of months. Now she’s found a home for it in a cupboard freeing up valuable worktop space.

I suggest if items have found a home on the worktop, because you don’t have any remaining space in your cupboards, then think about doing a cupboard declutter. Do items in there need to be sold or given away?

If I use an item infrequently I ask myself, do I need to have this in my home? Could I borrow or buy a second-hand one if circumstances change in the future? Would someone else be getting better use out of it than me? This frees me up to let go of items for the ‘if only’ scenario.

Photo by Le Creuset Pintrest

As always when decluttering ask yourself the questions:

Is what I have in my kitchen working for me at this present time?

When did I last use this item?

How often do I use it? Could it live in a cupboard?

For those temporary items like post or catalogues have a basket or open container before you deal with them. Not to be put in a drawer and forgotten about, tidy yet visible to remind us to read and action sooner rather than later.

6. Pots, Pans & Plastic Boxes

The Declutter

1. Remove all of the items the storage area
2. Match each item with its lid
3. Throw away if it does not have a pair or is damaged (recycle where possible)
4. Consider how many of each item you actually use
5. Donate or re-home what you no longer need

Some lid-less containers can be used to organise other areas of the kitchen, like your cutlery drawer or food cupboard. Keep what you actually use, don’t keep ‘just in case’.

Organising pots, pans & plastic boxes

These items can take up lots of space in a cupboard so once you’ve decluttered think carefully about how to maximise your space.

Here are some organising suggestions:

7. Under The Sink

This is an area of the kitchen which can get cluttered and disorganised easily. Maybe you have a utility cupboard or room but the same thing often happens here. This is because so many different items end up here, everything from dishwaster tablets, shoe cleaning brushes, scouring cloths, stain remover, pegs, dust pans, bin bags and any number of cleaning products. Tackle it as any other area of the kitchen and declutter, but take your time to organise it properly, as this will make it easier to find what you want and also and keep it that way long-term.

Photo on Pintrest by Etsy

The Declutter

1. Remove all of the items
2. Throw away out of date or used
products (recycle where possible)
3. If you find something you know you’re never going to use, give it to a new home
4. Wipe down and clean

Best ways to organise under the sink or utility area:-

  • Add storage to cupboard doors
  • Use clear labelled containers to keep the same items together e.g cloths
  • Utilise tall storage between the sink pipes
  • Add cord or pole to hang spray bottles
  • Put items you use most at the front
  • Take smaller items out of big packaging and put a clear container e.g dishwasher tablets
  • Maybe consider buying adjustable storage which fits your cupboard to maxamize the use of space
Photo on Pintrest by Holly Taylor Atchison

For possible storage solutions have a look at https://www.containerstore.com/welcome.htm https://www.aplaceforeverything.co.uk/, Amazon, Ebay, Etsy and Pinterest. I don’t get any income for this, I just like what they have.

8. The Junk Drawer

When it comes to junk drawer everyone has in their kitchen, in fact it might be a stack of drawers, it’s time to get ruthless and then organised. This area can take the most time to declutter due to the variety of smaller items. It is where things often get shoved when you don’t know what to do with it and it doesn’t have a home. As always though, if it’s worth taking up your precious kitchen space then find a proper place for it to live or give it away.

Photo by Organization Obsessed.com

The Declutter

1. Remove all of the contents
2. Throw away damaged, broken items
3. Ask yourself, should this be living in the kitchen?
3. If you find something you know you’re never going to use, give it to a new home
5. Wipe down and clean

Organising the Junk Drawer

Containers are really helpful here. You can use small baskets and tubs you already have them or washed food containers like yogurt pots or jars. With pens, keep them in a jar or together with a elastic band. Also use elastic bands to store rolled up food sandwich bags. If you have take away menus, check if you can access online and recycle if so. If you have a medical kit in here it’s time to check use by dates and that it is complete. Put rechargeable batteries indifferent pots labelled ‘charged’ ‘to charge’ and ‘to recycle’.

9. Cook Books

It’s the one item people have most of but seem to use least. Even if people are keen cooks I find people only really use a few of their favourites regularly. Particuarly with so many recipies and food inspiration available online. Yet we all seem to find it hard to let go of them. Like everything you keep in your home it is only a problem when it it becomes a problem. So when you have run out of storage space in your kitchen or it is feeling too cluttered make sure you review your cook books which are taking up space too. Ask yourself with each book – What is it about a book makes you want to keep it?

Photo by Britstrawbridge.com

The Declutter

1. Put all the cook books together
2. Decide how many you have space for
3. Review one at a time

4. When did you last use it?
5. Can you find it online? Would a photo of particular recipe work instead?

Keep only those which you love

Ideas to organise cook books:

10. By the Back Door

Tips to organise

You might not have door to the outside from your kitchen but the same suggestions can be used in flats or apartments for front doors. Only keep items here if you use them everyday and make a home for it in a container, hook or rack. Use walls storage as much as much as possible to keep the path clear. For smaller items like keys and sunglasses have a space for these together, which is close at hand, like a wall organiser. If you have space have labelled containers or hooks for different members of family, so everyone knows clearly where their stuff lives. This can save time and help everyone take responsibility for their own belongings. Shoes, school bags, hats, gloves, sunglasses, keys & wallets can all be sorted by the owner’s name.

11. Meal Planning

Photo from Pinterest

Why do it?

Planning ahead for weekly meals can – Save you time, adds more variety, helps you make the best of the food you have, avoids waste, allows others to prep food too, taking pressure off you and keeps up healthy eating, since quick food can sometimes be more processed with more salt & sugar.

We are making more meals at home than ever at the moment. Here are my top tips for organising the weekly food preparation, collected from my friends and family:

  • Plan your meals before you go shopping & make a shopping list
  • Sit down on a regular day to plan meals 7 days ahead included lunch & dinner
  • Keep breakfast easy with cereals and fruit but have a few fun options for weekends like pancakes
  • Be flexible, have a quick meal option in your plan you can fall back on if you want
  • Ask others in your house for ideas and preferences, this will keep up variety
  • Don’t do same base food 2 nights in a row, like pasta or rice
  • Do use the same ingredients in multiple meals e.g cheese or peas, to make the most of groceries you have in
  • Do some meals with set meal & some with help yourself options, e.g. toasted sandwiches vs bread, cheese, ham on table. Adds variety and save prep time
  • See instagram photos of lunch baskets laid out in the morning for each child – with allocated snacks, fruit & sandwiches. Allowing kids to help themselves to what they normally eat
  • Mix up who makes the meals or snacks, get kids baking safely
  • If some makes a meal they don’t tidy away after – others do that

Recipes – www.bbgoodfood.com
Quick family meal ideas – www.justhethreeofus.co.uk & www.daisyandpie.co.uk
Food Planner – www.kaitlynmoorehead.com
Family meal planning (inc fussy eaters) –https://www.facebook.com/feedthebrood
How to food plan – Declutter hub podcast – Episode 54

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