5 Tips to Organize Your Kitchen

By Shane Irving

Did you resolve to improve your family’s diet in this year? Have you made much progress? It’s a good idea to supplement talk about healthful eating with a kitchen makeover. Food preparation is easier for gung-ho chefs as well as reluctant servers if the kitchen is designed for efficiency. Here are some tips to help you dish up good meals and snacks.

• Clear the counters if you are serious about food preparation. You can’t make much headway if your work areas have been hijacked by mail, schoolwork, newspapers and tote bags. Find other areas in the house for your executive work or restrict papers to just one place in the kitchen. Remove knick- knacks and other decorations from your cooking space, too.

• Kitchen cabinets benefit from reorganization. Keep frequently used items up front. Move seasonal items (the punch bowl, perhaps) to the back of a cabinet or elsewhere in the house. Keep heavy items below the counters. Put food preparation items·measuring cups and spoons, cutting boards, mixing bowls, mixers·within easy reach. Make storage easier by using turntables, pull-out shelves or drawer dividers, which can be as informal as dollar store trays. Adjustable shelves allow you to maximize space.

• Police the pantry by eliminating outdated foods. Donate unexpired food if it fits the list of items wanted by a chari- table organization. If you have multiple open boxes, mark the one currently in use so your family knows to use it first. Group the foods by frequency of use (breakfast cereals) or into centers of activity (baking). Put up signs to help your family know where to put items away. Store small, loose items (gravy packets, spices, birthday candles), in clear plastic or wire baskets so they are visible.

• Rescue the refrigerator from disorganization by grouping related foods. Use the vegetable, fruit, meat and cheese bins. Keep condiments, sauces and dressings on the door shelves. Some folks like to keep leftovers together in one area. Label the leftovers and include a date.

• Spare the spices and herbs from the effects of heat and moisture by moving them away from the range top. Try to fit the most frequently used of them into a drawer or on a turntable inside a cabinet.

Planning saves time and yields better meals, so after the kitchen has been restructured for more efficiency, plan some simple menus, check the pantry for the needed ingredients and create your shopping list. Having your spatula handy means you’re ready to cook up the nutritious meals your family needs!

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