Saturday, March 31, 2012

Saturday's with Nichole: Kitchen Organization (Week 1)

Welcome to my first edition of Saturday's with Nichole!

If you haven't figured it out yet, I'm Nichole. A couple of weeks ago, I asked for your help on what you would like to see and none of you responded. Since I can see how many page views each post gets, I decided that you're all just shy, not that you don't need any tips, tricks or suggestions in the kitchen. 
So what is Saturday's with Nichole? Each Saturday there will be a post with something I think could be helpful to you. It can be anything from a tip or trick I've learned, a product review, suggestions on how to use leftovers or anything in between. Sound good?

This first week I'm going to tackle one of my favorite things ever...ORGANIZATION! I'm an organized person. Okay, fine, I'm overly organized. If it was completely acceptable to alphabetize or color code absolutely everything, I would. 

Organization in the kitchen is a necessity. Knowing where everything is and having a clean workspace is really key for me. Chef Anne Burrell teaches the Worst Cooks in America about mis en place. It simply means having everything prepared and in place before you begin to cook. Nothing is worse than getting half way through a recipe only to find that you're missing a key ingredient because you didn't read through it first. Or that you should have chopped the carrot instead of shredded it. Or that you need two cups of cooked rice, not uncooked.

While I'm all for mis en place, there is one part of it that I leave out. While I'll chop my ingredients ahead of time or I'll place all of them on the counter, I'm not going to separate them out into their own bowls. Why? Well, because Food Network doesn't pay my water bill. I hate washing dishes by hand and I see absolutely no reason to add additional dishes to my dishwasher. 

Recently I decided to purchase some extra organizational items for the kitchen. The following items are from The Container Store who did not ask me, beg me, pay me or offer me anything for blogging about their products. So, opinions are my own and they have nothing to do with this. 

Lids. Obviously its necessary to have lids for your pots and pans but oh boy are they one of the worst things to store! If you just stack them up in your cabinet, they constantly fall over making a ridiculous clatter. Or they aren't able to be stacked because of the knobs. Or you just have too many damn lids and not nearly enough space. 
This is the solution to your problem! First, its only $5 and second, it holds up to 8 lids. You can easily stack them from smallest to largest making them incredibly easy to access. Depending on what style of dinner plates you have, you could also use this to stand them up instead of having them lie on top of each other. It'd be great for people who have cabinets without much depth. 

Plastic Wrap/Aluminum Foil/Baggies/Etc. I used to have one drawer in my kitchen dedicated to holding these items which I quickly realized was not the best utilization of space. I also have a habit of buying different sized baggies in bulk and the larger boxes are too big to fit inside the drawer or buying the super long box of foil which can only fit into the drawer on an angle, taking up much more space than it actually needs.
So why not purchase this? It's just over $5 and can be mounted inside a cabinet door or inside your pantry. Personally, I chose the pantry option. Now my parchment paper, wax paper, foil, plastic wrap, sandwich sized bags and quart sized bags all have a nice, easily-accessible home. I'm tempted to purchase another one of these to hold my extras instead of sitting them on the floor of the pantry.

Spices. Spices are one of the hardest things to organize, I think. They aren't all the same size and shape and when you stick that one spice in the back of the cabinet its always the one you end up needing to randomly use, right? I have a pretty neat spice rack from BB&B (more on it later) but the rest of my spices take up the whole bottom shelf of a cabinet. And I still spend half of my time pushing them back and forth and to the sides trying to find the one I'm looking for.

So I bought a small Lazy Susan. I can put the spices I use most frequently on the outside of the circle and the ones I use less often in the inside of the circle. And the fact that it spins means I never have to remove 3/4 of the spices in the cabinet to find the one I am looking for. 

If Lazy Susan's aren't your thing or you don't have enough space in your cabinet to have something that spins, I'd definitely suggest going with something like this:
I'm thinking about picking one up after we move and I can see what the dimensions of my new cabinets are. This would also be a great addition in any pantry. Wouldn't it be so much easier if you could stagger your canned goods so you could see them all?

Dividers. I have A LOT of baking items. As in 4-5 baking sheets, two cupcake pans, a muffin pan, a mini doughnut pan, two 9x13 baking dishes, an 8x8 baking dish, 3 different sized springform pans, two 8" cake pans and two 9" cake pans. I also have the color coded cutting boards as well as a plastic one, bamboo one and super large wooden one.
These dividers saved a ton of space and cut down on the noise factor. Every time I needed one of the above mentioned items, there was a huge clatter while I moved everything around getting to the item I needed.
 
Here are a few other things I'm hoping to purchase after we move and I get a better sense of the layout of my new kitchen.
(Above) I think an organizer like this would be great to hold my baking utensils. The spatulas and measuring cups could go in the largest section, the measuring spoons, toothpicks, pastry tips, etc. all in the smaller section. 
I really hope that I have enough cabinet space to install one of these hanging shelves. Currently my dish towels and oven mitts take up an entire drawer. I'd love to free up some extra drawer space by having my kitchen towels nicely hidden away like this.

I said that I would get back to my spice rack from BB&B. Well, I found that they no longer sell it. This is the most similar one. Mine doesn't spin but holds twenty spices in 5 different rows of 4 each. I alphabetized mine, which really came in handy because somehow my spices on the bottom rack had the names wipe off, but since they're in alphabetical order, I know the Rosemary is followed by Sage, then Sesame Seeds, then Thyme. I really do need to purchase a label maker so I can resolve this issue! :)

If you have the counter space, I think have a separate utensil holder for the ones you use most frequently is a great idea. Not only does it allow you to not overcrowd any other utensils you have in a drawer, but if you're able to keep the holder next to the stove, you have super-quick access to any utensils that you need. 

Personally, I don't think you need anything fancy for this. Mine is a round open-metal one that came from Walmart and was less than $10. 

While I could go on and on about organization, I think I've provided you with enough information to get started. Hopefully, once we move I'll have just as much, if not more space so I can take pictures of how my kitchen is set up and what else I do to keep my items organized. 

Have a great weekend and stay organized!

8 comments:

  1. Nichole, I think this is a great theme post! I look forward to reading your tips every Saturday!

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  2. Never been to your page before but I am in search of kitchen organization assistance for my new waaaaayyy to small kitchen and appreciate your ideas.. Headed to the hardware store in the am to pick up a hanging shelf for dish towels to start.

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    1. Thanks! I hope you can find everything you need.

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  3. Great ideas, Thanks for taking the time to post this:)

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  4. I really like the rack on the door for your foil and wax paper. What brand is it/where did you get it?

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  5. It's from The Container Store, although I'm sure you could find it or something similar at a Target/Walmart.

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