No need for a major renovation; a few simple, time and space-saving tips are all you need to revamp the busiest room in the house.
Step 1: Get clean and organized.
Begin by taking everything off shelves in the cabinets and fridge, and wiping down surfaces. Get rid of unused and expired foods, and move seasonal and seldom used items to an out-of-the-way space. Keep frequently used items accessible, grouping by category (for example, in the pantry: oils and vinegars, pasta and grains, canned goods; in the fridge: deli meats and cheeses, sauces and condiments, fresh produce).
Step 2: Make things more accessible.
An organized kitchen is an accessible kitchen. Label cabinet shelves or use clear containers to easily find the items you need. Avoid overcrowding cabinets and drawers, and consider space-saving organizers, like shelf risers, hanging door shelves, hooks, or a utensil holder by the stove. To save space in the freezer, portion food in labeled, resealable bags and stack vertically or horizontally like books on a shelf.
Step 3: Reorder the refrigerator.
Believe it or not, the arrangement of your fridge’s contents can have a big impact on food waste. To maximize the longevity of meat and dairy products, store them on the bottom shelf toward the back, where it’s coldest. To preserve fruits and veggies, use the crisper drawers, which offer the dual benefits of higher humidity and air vents to slow wilting. Reserve door shelves, the warmest part of the fridge, for less perishable items like butter and condiments. For added space-saving (and easy pouring), line door shelves with the bottom of an egg carton and store bottles topside down.
Step 4: Less gadgets = more space.
Did you know one glass jar can replace multiple gadgets in the kitchen? Mason jars make an excellent, airtight, Earth-friendly storage container for dry goods like grains, nuts, and pasta. The metal ring also works as a cutter for cookies and biscuits. Or use jars to hit the road with leak-free storage for drinks, sauces, and more. Extend the life of fresh herbs by storing them bouquet-style in jars with water. Or make and shake your way to easy, oil-based salad dressings and whipped cream by combining and shaking ingredients vigorously in a sealed jar.
Step 5: Rebuild your pantry with essentials.
With an array of shelf-stable, go-to ingredients on hand, delicious homemade meals are never far away. Keep a reserve of versatile dry goods that can be mixed and matched, like pastas, grains, and beans; canned tomatoes, tuna, and broth; and jarred sauces and salsas. Replace items regularly, and take advantage of sales to stock up on frequently used favorites.
Step 6: Make the most of your freezer.
The freezer can help save fridge space, money, and effort in the kitchen by extending the life of leftovers and grocery items, like meat, dairy products, and bread. Pre-portion leftover meals into individual or family-sized servings using resealable freezer bags labeled with a name and date. Press bags as flat as possible to freeze, then stack vertically or horizontally like books on a shelf to maximize space. Look for value-packs of meat and poultry, which are often less expensive per pound, and store in the freezer for protein-packed meals anytime.
Step 7: Fill your kitchen with life and light.
Add a pop of color and life with easy-to-care-for potted plants, like fresh herbs. The greenery will make your kitchen more inviting with the added benefit of fresh-picked flavor for recipes, year-round. Let in extra sunshine during the day and use warm-toned lights at night to keep your kitchen a happy, relaxing space.
A clean, organized, and well-stocked kitchen not only makes cooking faster and easier, it also makes it more fun! Cheers, to a bountiful kitchen and a simply delicious new year.