Thursday, October 2, 2008

MoFo Day 2: Kitchen Organization will Set You Free!

Or: Why Being a Little OCD Pays Off

From Veg*ns are Friends, Not Food
Friends who come over often comment at how I "whip up" things to eat with little notice.  I do this more with baked goods than dinner items, since dinner is usually a more involved endeavor, but this principle applies to all types of cooking. Being organized will make you a better cook.  I can throw together a last minute dessert or a quick appetizer because I keep a well stocked kitchen and, more importantly, I know where everything is.  

I have cooked in a variety of different sized kitchens, and while I love my current kitchen, and have more room than I have a right to complain about, it is not perfect. I utilize several strategies to maximize the space I have to work with. Regardless of the size of your kitchen, you can benefit from organization.

My Baking Station
Drawer dividers are invaluable in large drawers.  It is also important that you give each thing a place and put it back in the same spot every time.  If you know where your tools are you'll be a lot more likely to use them.

Because I cook and bake frequently I have two sets of those items which I use most often.  This includes measuring cups and spoons.  Having doubles of my most often used tools is a huge time saver, since I don't have to stop to wash and dry a dirty utensil when I find myself needing it again in the middle of a recipe.

Counter Top Storage
Don't underestimate the value of a couple of well placed crocks.  While I prefer to keep my counters as clutter-free as possible, I couldn't do with out these.  You can place these exactly where you need them and they are easy to move in order to clean.  This is my baking crock.

This one is next to the stove.

Right next to the stove crock are all my cooking tools.  This is the stuff that I most frequently use when I'm cooking on that side of the kitchen.

Pantry Organization
Equally important as organizing your tools is organizing your pantry.  This accomplishes two things: one, you will always know what you have on had and where to find it.  Secondly, properly stored food will keep much longer.  The picture above is my baking shelf; I also have a shelf with all my canned goods and ethnic ingredients, one with dried fruit, chocolate, and preserves, and one with oils, cereals, and miscellaneous, plus the one below.

This shelf holds all my legumes and cooking grains.  Notice that everything is in airtight glass containers (the best choice for keeping out bugs and moisture) and clearly labeled.  I chose quart mason jars for most of my storage (and pint sized for a few smaller items) because they are inexpensive (about $10 for a dozen), clear for easy viewing, and very durable.  

Spending a weekend or a few evenings cleaning and organizing your kitchen will pay off in huge time savings in the future. It's also a money saver since your food will stay fresher longer and you'll be less likely to buy multiples of items because you can't find what you could have sworn you had. Furthermore, with designated containers you can purchase your essentials from the bulk section of your favorite store which is nearly always less expensive and more environmentally friendly than buying the same item prepackaged. It is so much easier and more enjoyable to cook in a well organized, well stocked kitchen. Find a system that works for you and implement it, it is time well spent.


Jen Treehugger said...

You're a girl after my own heart!
Organised kitchens RULE!

Anonymous said...

I am inspired by this post! Once we finish our kitchen remodel (we actually have to begin it first!), I'm going to use some of your tips.

Great work!

Sheree' said...

I would feel right at home in your kitchen. We have the same measuring spoons and cup stored the same why, crocks too! I was thinking I was looking at my kitchen and then the cupboard! Mason jars here too even down to the labels, but mine are hanging on over the door racks. It all about storage design, organization, and OCD.. There is a little in all of us. :o)

B.A.D. said...

I am in awe of your kitchen. I aspire to have an organized kitchen someday, this post is truely inspiring.

Bex said...

I agree, kitchen organization helps to cook and bake faster and also helps with cleanup faster as everything has it's place, no shoving things in random spots to be forgotten where they are the next time you need them.

Anonymous said...

Your kitchen looks fantastic. I really like your use of mason jars for storing dry goods. Not only do they look great, they keep everything so fresh and bug free. I am going to have to get some of these tomorrow since I know they will look so pretty behind the glass doors are on my kitchen cabinets.