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Organizing Your Kitchen

As the Queen of Chaos, I'm probably not the person to ask how to keep things in order, but here are a few ideas I have found work for those who don't appreciate the grab-bag approach to life.


If you haven't used that great gadget for a year, toss it in the Give-Away box. If you've gone a whole year of holidays without making sugar cookies, that phase of your life is mercifully over and you can give away Charlie Brown, the great pumpkin, Santa, the Gingerbread Man, and all the other cookie cutters you couldn't live without. You will know the things you need by touch. If they don't have a layer of grease, dust or bread crumbs consider keeping them. Otherwise let them go. You can always shop again if you must.

In the line of food stuffs, if you can't remember when you opened the box, it's time to throw it away. It is difficult to say how long you can keep dehydrated food items like mashed potato buds and dehydrated parsley, but a good clue is if the mice won't touch them, you probably shouldn't either. Seriously, I have heard you should replace spices after a year - I think I heard it from a spice company - but I use the rule that if it doesn't smell like what it claims to be, toss it.

Dishes and glasses are a different problem. I still have the plastic bowl my daughter used for her baby cereal, and would never part with it. But the give-away box is waiting for those heavy plastic platters and picnic plates you really did wash after the party three years ago, but haven't used since. Also the baking dish with a chip out of the edge you haven't used since you got the microwave can go now. Pan lids without pans are only useful for baby to bang...if baby just graduated from college, let it go. Likewise don't keep chipped glasses or mugs or butter dishes when you only use tubbed margarine now.

Put It

OK, now that you've doubled your storage space in your kitchen, you have a chance of becoming organized. Consider your space and your needs. You want clear space near the stove to put hot dishes. You want spices where you can reach them from the pot they are going into. You want dishes close enough to the stove for serving that you don't need to put your shoes back on to go get them. And if you have the space, arrange your dishes so you don't have to move a stack to get the plates you use most often. Put the treasures in the back where they are safe, but out of the way. Packaged goods and cans belong farther away as you get them once per meal, throw or put them away when finished, and don't want them under hand. And your flatware and cooking utensils must be close by and safely organized. Yes, even I put my knives in a knife block and my little sharp goodies in a separate plastic box in the silverware drawer. (When was the last time anyone put silver in such a drawer?)

The Silverware drawer is actually one place I like organization. I have a divided flatware organizer for spoons, knives forks, and sharp knives. I have another little plastic box for can opener, peelers of several types, garlic press, and measuring spoons. And on the side of the drawer (my kitchen has only one top drawer in the whole room so a moment of silence and sympathy, please) is a large open area for spatulas, large spoons, tongs and serving utensils. I'd love to hang these by the stove if I had a place for them. This arrangement does leave everything at hand and relatively easy to locate in its place without rummaging about while the sauce boils over.

While I'm thinking about the sauce boiling over, keep your oven mitt close at hand so that you can quickly deal with hot pans. Mine sits on top of my bread maker since that's a place almost never deterred. I can grab it quickly and move a pot off the fire or grab the cookies out of the oven (OK, chicken nuggets, you already know I don't bake cookies.) The point is that if you use the hand towel that hangs on the oven door as a hot pad, you're very apt to catch the fringe on fire (All together now, "I've done that!") so use your oven mitts for handling hot things.

Label It

How much you label seems directly related to how old you are and how much vision you still have. As someone with enough vision remaining to confuse the picture of the apple on the applesauce can with the tomato on the tomato sauce can, I don't mark my canned food at all. I pull out my 10X magnifier and wedge it between nose and can to read the product name when in doubt (sometimes) (applesauce doesn't go in spaghetti)) and try to keep cans on separate shelves depending on if they are fruit or vegies. While I used to be able to remember cooking instructions, I have lost that skill with age, and now must have ways of recalling how many cups of water cook with which boxed item for how long.

If your vision doesn't leave you the luxury of making mistakes in this area, but only leaves you with a huge guessing game, there are many means of marking. I will describe labeling in terms of Low Vision as the simplest case and total blindness as the situation taking more effort and occasional sighted assistance if you can get it. I will also give ideas for those who know Braille and for those who do not. If you want help finding marking accessories, Click here to go to my shopping page, then choose BACK from your browser to return here.

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