Virtual Organizing Party in the Kitchen

Put on your party hats and toot that party horn, our virtual organization party is on!

As promised, I’m starting organizing in the kitchen of Our Little House and there is a cool giveaway, so keep reading.

It can seem a little overwhelming, even in a small kitchen, when looking at all of the cabinets and trying to decide how to best organize.

For the kitchen, I have four goals:

  1. Clear out all of the food stuffs that is about to expire or has expired.
  2. Make more room so that when I organize the basement in The Belle Writer’s Studio, I can bring more of the kitchen stuff from there over here.
  3. Make better use of the storage containers we purchased after a pantry moth infestation.

My friend and fellow writer, Brette Sember, wrote “The Organized Kitchen,” so I turned to her book for a little help.

She says there are two principles to kitchen organization:

  1. First, it’s necessary to employ a program of ongoing maintenance so that the kitchen cleanup occurs while mess is still in the minimal – not mountainous – stage.
  2. Second, it’s important to take an inventory of your organization and storage strategies from time to time to ensure they’re still meeting your current needs and lifestyle.

Good, I’m already on the right track. The first thing I did was create a list of cabinets I need to go over:

  1. Food
  2. Dishes
  3. Pots and pans
  4. Cookie sheet cabinet

And the drawers:

  1. Towels, linens
  2. Junk drawer
  3. Spice drawer

(I’m not including refrigerator, as that was already cleaned out and washed thoroughly the disaster of the day when the cleaning lady visited or the freezer, as this has been cleaned twice recently when Dale put soda in there and forgot about it…yes, pop!).

Like many people, I have limited time, so I’m scheduling one cabinet and one drawer per day between now and next week.

When I go through the cabinets and assess what food is still edible, I’m going to put it on a list and plan the following week’s meals around that food. This should not only use up food we need to eat, but will also save us money on groceries, probably for a couple of weeks.

I’ll report on the progress and (hopefully) show photos next week of my organized cabinets. This is how I plan on staying accountable.

What needs to be done in your kitchen to organize? Do you have any tips for the rest of us?


Now, for the giveaway. Brette Sember has graciously offered to provide one copy of her book, “The Organized Kitchen.” All you have to do is enter by commenting on THIS post between now and 4 p.m. CST on Monday, August 6. I will draw one lucky winner and announce that winner in the blog post on Tuesday. If you win, you will need to respond to that post immediately by sending your name and snail mail address. Sorry, international readers, this one is only open to U.S. residents.
Good luck!

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31 Responses

  1. Kris Hefflinger says:

    Good post. In my opinion and experience of being a swimmer in college, I can say the best way to make up motivated and the only thing you need in my opinion is to go to bed motivated. It’s never good to go to bed with the mindset of not wanting to wake up. We should never want to sleep because there is so much to do. My freshman year I hated setting my alarm clock for 5:30am to go swim, especially in the winter. As a consequence, I woke up tired and without a smile. The day follows the morning. My last three years in college were different because I couldn’t wait to get in the pool at 6am! My life changed.

  2. Jane Boursaw says:

    My pantry is such a mess right now. Which is making the fruit flies happy, but me not so much. Thanks for the motivation to clean it!

  3. Kim says:

    Um… I tore off the 1960’s paneling in my kitchen over a year ago and haven’t yet finished doing the rest or doing the tilework that’s going up in its place.

    That’s not an organizing problem, though.

    Our biggest struggle is letting too much stuff live on the counters. If my Kitchenaid mixer didn’t weigh a hundred pounds I’d move it, as we only use it infrequently… but much of the rest of it should live elsewhere.

    You’ve inspired me. I’m off to go clean up the dinner mess and clear those countertops!

  4. Cathy Geary says:

    We did a complete kitchen remodel almost 8 years ago and found out that when finished we had LESS cabinet space, what a shocker! The old cabinets had been plywood, hand made, and were deeper and taller than traditional. So, even though more linear feet of new cabinets, they wouldn’t hold as much. I put an old nursing home wardrobe in my utility room and keep the large, not too often used pots and pans out there. That hasn’t solved ALL my problems but it has helped

  5. I’m blessed with a large kitchen with heaps of cabinet space, so that stays okay. However, I don’t have many drawers at all and they are rather sad, I gotta admit.

  6. Our trouble spot is right under the stairs, which serves as our pantry area. (Our stairs are in the kitchen, a little weird I know) We currently have a 5 tier plastic shelf under the stairs serving as pantry space. That area could be so much better organized and hold so much more stuff if we built shelving in…so that is the plan! We are still waffling on whether or not to put backers on the stairs as it is an open staircase, which means dust and dog hair get nudged off the back of the stairs and into my can goods…not delicious. So anyhoo, that will be our winter organizing project when outside projects have come to a hault : )

  7. Kerry Dexter says:

    interesting — the parts of the kitchen we use for cooking, food storage, and the cabinets and related areas are quite organized, not cluttered, and stay that way.
    so that’s to the good.

    there are, however, two bookshelves and things that have collected in, on, and around them — nothing to do with kitchen work, rather a response to space needed from other areas. these could use attention…

  8. mat says:

    The kitchen has been under renovation–a little something every year–since we bought it…7 years ago. We took it from a disgraceful, dark, dank hole and turned it into a bright, stylish, USEFUL space. We did that by getting the color scheme right (mixing maple cabinets with bolder colors), replacing the cabinets with lightly used, freestanding Ikea units (ironic because my wife WORKS for a cabinet manufacturing company), and getting the countertops clear.
    The last one is the most important, as we have literally, two base cabinets. One is a 5′ long stainless-topped sink cabinet that butts against the range and the other is a 6′ “island” across from it. The only thing that’s permanently sitting on the counter is the knife block…and we could probably get rid of that too. We store our dish drainer under the sink (though I’d LOVE to get one that attaches to our rail system). We bought a microwave cabinet that goes over the island. We also have a magnetic knife rail right there and we put our most commonly-used knives on it. We also employ a rail system that we have many s-hooks on for commonly-used utensils. We also bought canisters that hook on to the rail for the less-used cooking utensils. We have a pot lid rack hung on the wall like artwork and we nest all of our pots, colanders, baking tins, salad spinner, etc. in that giant island.

    • Kerri says:

      Your kitchen sounds amazing, Mat. Maybe you can share some photos with us on FB?

      • mat says:

        Let me see what I can find–I know I have before, after, after, and after again photos somewhere.
        We started by painting the existing cabinets, then replaced them when the budget allowed.
        We replaced the floor, patched, painted, painted, and painted.

  9. Sheryl M says:

    What about all the duplicate spatulas and potato mashers? Most of the duplicates arrived here at the cabin when we had a big meal planned and couldn’t remember how many of “what” we had, so we got one “just in case”. I guess we now have extra dishes so I can load the dishwasher over the week and run it once at the end (LOL! – or something like that.)
    This will be fun reading on Thursdays.

  10. Irene says:

    So hard to make oneself declutter. I always think I’m going to get rid of something I will someday need. Thanks for the reminder.

  11. Connie says:

    I have a love of vintage kitchen stuff….but REALLY do I need all this? For me facing this question is a difficult part of decluttering– loving stuff but not really needing or using it.

    • Kerri says:

      Connie, I use the same theory in the kitchen as everywhere else. Everything there has to be something that is loved AND that is useful. I have vintage cooking utensils that I love, but they are also useful. No meaningless collections of anything.

  12. Carol says:

    Started with my cooking stuff drawer. Wow, do I really need two rolling pins, 3 sets of measuring spoons, 6 pastry brushes, 24 corn cob holders? I’m amazed at the extra stuff I have in that drawer. It looks so much better now that I’ve taken out the extras (really, 3 wine openers?). Now, on to the two flatware drawers. Do two people really need two sets of flatware, for 8? I think not. Thanks for the inspiration to get started.

    • Kerri says:

      Wow, Carol, good for you! I haven’t gotten to the drawers yet, but I know this is what I will find too. We had two of some things when we moved here and really, it’s just not necessary. Keep going!

  13. Janice Doty says:

    We’ve had an ongoing ‘clean the kitchen/pantry’…and its getting better….but we have way too much stuff! ANY help is much appreciated!

    Love the blogs–always look forward to them! ~Janice
    (aka FB/No Place Like Home)

  14. Theresa says:

    Oh, boy! Here we go! I’m trying to not get too caught up in planning, to the neglect of actual DOING. This week has been a little busy for doing much during the week, but hope to get more busy by tomorrow, and definitely the weekend. Hate to use the weekend for house cleaning, but hopefully with one big “crisis clean” organizing session, the maintenance will be easier.

  15. Jenn Mercurio says:

    We need to get organized! Thanks for this post and the heads up about the book!

  16. Catherine Carter says:

    Oh boy do I need to organize my kitchen! I have a secret (maybe not so secret) love of dishes and cookware, etc. I love to cook, but seriously do I really need all this “stuff” to cook delicious food? 🙂 Being divorced in the last 2 years I really don’t cook big dishes these days, just smaller versions of my favorites, so my 10-gallon stock pot could really be used as a planter I suppose. But, I need to part with some of my beloved things. I truly don’t need a service for 12 anymore. 🙂 Thanks for listening and have a Fabulous day!

    • Kerri says:

      I’m glad you’re with us, Catherine. You’ve brought up an excellent point about what we need vs. what we have. I can comfortably fit 4 people at our dinner table, so why do I need a set of 8 at the ready? No reason and it just takes up space. Now, I do use the large pot in the winter to cook large batches of soup and chili (I freeze the leftovers). But, why do we have 3 skillets in the pantry? I will not get rid of these items, but I can box them and put them in storage for when we do need them.