Summer's Best Potluck Dish: Three Bean Salad

For a Clean & Organized Kitchen, Adopt these 8 Simple Habits

Staring down a cluttered and grungy kitchen can make even the most enthusiastic home cook want to hang up the apron. Do these 8 things and you’ll breathe easy every time you walk into your kitchen.

But first… “Clean House”

This is step number zero – think of it as the prequel – do it once and build on your success. Take inventory of your kitchen – open your cabinets and drawers, and poke around your pantry and fridge. If it’s a gadget that you don’t use, donate it, or an ingredient that is expired, dump it. Then give those shelves and spaces a good wipe down. Going through your kitchen might seem daunting, however, a head start will provide motivation to build good habits.

1. Organize your pantry by theme

If your kitchen uses cabinets for dry storage, follow these same rules. Group like items, such as canned goods, grains, oils, seasonings, etc. I’m fortunate to have a walk-in pantry with open shelving, and utilize baskets to organize ingredients (e.g. I have a box for Asian staples, one for Mexican ingredients, another for pastas and Italian goods, and so on). If you don’t have open shelving, organizing your cabinets as if they are – this will help to thwart the clutter trap of shut-the-door-and-forget-it.

2. Invest in clear glass or plastic storage containers, and label them clearly

Decant grains, nuts, cereal, snacks and other dry goods into vessels, discarding their bulky packaging. Not only will this look sharp, you’ll also be able to see when supplies are running low.

3. Keep your kitchen counters clear of clutter

I know, this is easier said than done! When my kids get home from school, their first instinct is to drop backpacks and gear on the kitchen counter. But having to clean up before we even start to cook a meal can be discouraging. Come up with some basic rules for where things belong and try to keep mail, bags, magazines and other stuff away from your cooking surfaces.

4. Keep a kitchen caddy in your sink

This is a simple trick to help to keep a few more things off of your counter, while providing a dedicated space for sponges and dish soap. I have a metal wire basket that suctions to the side of the sink. It’s handy to help the sponge drip dry, and to get things out of my way.

5. Clear the area under your sink

Do you even know what lives in the dark hollows below the pipes? Clean it up, and if you store cleaning supplies or trash bags here, consider buying an organizer to keep it neat and tidy.

6. Wipe your cabinets down occasionally with a microfiber cloth

I happen to have very light colored cabinets, and it’s amazing how quickly they get splattered with water marks and other kitchen goop. If you have darker cabinets, you may not even realize how dirty they can get. Give your cabinets a good wipe down with a damp cloth once or twice a month to keep them clean and in good shape.

7. Treat yourself to a set of good-looking dish towels

Dish towels are the workhorse in my kitchen. They hang from ovens, cabinet handles and hooks. Add some flare and a spark of interest to your space with a set of stylish kitchen linens.

8. Keep an organized freezer

I hate to admit I’m guilty of this bad habit… sometimes my freezer is where food goes to die. Items get lost in the cold, dark corners of the ice box, then tossed when I discover they’re frosty and freezer burned. To keep this from happening, try freezing leftovers flat in clear plastic storage bags. Label them with a name and date and stack them neatly on a shelf. They’ll be front and center, and easier to remember – ready when you are for a quick thaw on a hectic night.

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