We are a family of six living in a very modest 1600 square foot home. When we moved into our fixer-upper three years ago, I gained the smallest kitchen I have ever had to use. It's been a slow process to remodel and the only almost complete area is our pantry.
I thrive on staying organized, living with what we need and making small space work perfectly for our family. Our kitchen is small and humble but I love working in this space and creating delicious meals for our family.
Take Inventory of What You Need and Use
There is a gadget for every possible kitchen need that you could ever imagine. Those gadgets or what is known as small appliances take up a lot of space. Blenders, counter grills, toasters, can openers, mixers, waffle irons, crock-pots, ice cream makers, coffee pots are just a few of the many items that you can find in most kitchens.
I cook from scratch a lot and I find that I rarely use any of the small appliances that I own. Go through your small appliances and take note of what you own and how often you use that item. Is it worth storing? If not, then find a place to donate it.
In our home, we have the basics, a toaster, a waffle iron, crock-pot, mixer, and a cheese grater, The only item that gets the honor of sitting on the counter is the coffee pot because well let's face it, coffee feels like a morning necessity!
Keeping small appliances on shelves makes them easy to grab when we need to use them and we aren't overwhelmed with digging through a cabinet to find what we need. So first things first, purge those small appliances.
Organize the Pantry and Cabinets
I don't know how many times in the past I have gone through my pantry in search of something to only find that I was out or that something had possibly spoiled, like an onion or potatoes. It's frustrating when that happens, take the time to organize your cabinets or pantry.
Dry goods can be stored in jars and not only does this look pretty but I can very quickly see what I need to add to my grocery list. If the jar is near empty then I know it is time to purchase that item. Assess your pantry on a weekly basis and take note of the items that need to be purchased on your next shopping trip. Knowing what is your pantry makes mealtime preparation much more simple.
Minimize the Kitchen Dishes
Keep dishes to a minimum. We are a family of six and all of our dishes fit into our island cabinet with the exception of my favorite vintage glass drinking jars, wooden ware utensils and a few other small items that sit on a shelf.
Think about what your family really needs. For us, we have plates, bowls for soup and cereal, small bowls for snacks, glass drinking jars, glass serving bowls, a set of mixing bowls and several coffee cups. We have no plastic serving ware in our home. Keeping all of our dishes in one color helps to keep the kitchen looking organized and pretty.
Keeping dishes to a minimum means that we have to wash dishes after every meal and that leads to always having a clean kitchen. If we don't do dishes after every meal then we will more than likely not have enough clean dishes for the next meal. When you're putting your dishes away take the time to stack them or line them up neatly. It is amazing how having everything in a certain place will make your life in the kitchen easier. You will spend less time looking for what you need if you know exactly where it is located.
Choose one day of the week to make a meal plan for the week. I know that meal planning doesn't work for everyone, but I have found that if I have a plan then I feel much more organized and prepared for the week.
Make a list of the items you need and spend one day shopping for all your groceries. This will cut down on those last minute trips to town because you forgot something.
I would highly encourage everyone to learn to cook whole foods from scratch. They taste better, are healthier for the body and save money. There was a time that I hated to cook and I really only knew how to use pre-packaged foods but I started reading and learning new recipes. I also realized the health benefits of choosing to eat healthy foods.
Create a Beautiful Space to Work In
I believe in creating a beautiful space to work in but I also believe that it should have a purpose and function especially in the kitchen.
I have a huge love for collecting wooden ware and I will probably never downsize my collection. Displaying my wooden utensils is one of the ways that I create a little beauty in our kitchen and yet I use them on a daily basis as well.
I love using small crocks to hold my tea strainer, measuring spoons, herb scissors, and other useful small kitchen utensils. I like to call it beauty meets function.
I hope these are some tips that can encourage you to take inventory of what you have in your kitchen. It's easy to let the clutter fill up your space and to become overwhelmed with the thought of even cooking in your own kitchen.
Take a day to pull everything out, think about what you really need, what you don't need and then donate those items you no longer use. Wipe down the shelves, organize what you choose to keep, put it all back away in an organized way and in the process create a space with a little beauty with pieces you love.