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As seen in Anderson County Visions Magazine
From Betsy Peterson, "Getting Organized"

What’s in your cupboard?

Do you wish you had more cupboard space? While in the process of pushing things around, trying to find a place to put the several cans of tomatoes you just bought, you discover several cans of tomatoes. Do you crave more counter space? You really don’t cook very much, but for some reason your counters are piled high with stuff. Does it seem like you spend a lot of time looking for things? You know for certain that you have two cake tins, but for some reason you can only find one. You don’t have time to search for ingredients, so you just buy what you need instead. These are just a few of the many frustrations that my clients face due to a disorganized kitchen, so I thought I’d share a few simple suggestions that may save you some time and money, as well as more space in your kitchen.

Start with the countertops. There never seems to be enough. Be honest about what really needs to be there. If you have appliances out on the counter that you rarely use, remove them. If it is an appliance that has collected a lot of dust, you may want to consider giving it away. If it is an appliance that you use once a week or less, consider putting it on the top shelf or in the back of the cupboard. If your family has a tendency to pile papers on the counter tops, designate an area that is to be the info center (You may even want to get a box or basket to keep it all in one place.) Decide what you want your counter space to be used for and those are the only items that you need to have there. Think about what you cook and decide what you need to have at your finger-tips to make that food prep quick and easy.

When you evaluate your kitchen and space, consider how you use your kitchen and what you really need to have in your cupboards. Dividing the kitchen up into what is called "zones" or work centers can make a huge difference. These are areas where the activities in your kitchen are carried out, such as: food prep, serving, baking, non-cooking activities, clean-up, and (of course) eating. If the spring-form pan (still in the box) is in the cupboard right next to the stove, you may want to consider keeping it in the closet in the hallway and use the cupboard next to the stove for the salt, oil, etc. Keep the glasses and dishes that you use on a regular basis close to the dishwasher (to speed up the process of emptying the dishwasher) or close to the sink or frig (where you get a drink).

Categorize. Things that you use for a certain activity in the kitchen should be put together. The coffee maker can be in the same side of the kitchen close to the sink, with filters and coffee in a cupboard near by. The mixer can be in the cupboard near the baking supplies. The cookware that you actively use should be kept near the stove or "food prep" area. Open up your cupboards and start to categorize, putting like items together. For example, put your canned goods together separated by fruits, vegetables, soups, etc. The breakfast foods and snacks can be categorized and kept together as well. This process of categories helps you know what you have in your cupboard so you avoid duplication, you know when you are running out, and it can speed up the process of putting groceries away.

For those of you that buy in bulk, that’s exactly what it is, so you should consider keeping just a few like items in the actual kitchen cupboard and storing the extras in another location. A kitchen overflow area can be a shelf in the garage or the front hall closet. Box up the seldom used items like the Thanksgiving turkey platter and stow it away in another location like the guest room closet. (Label the boxes so you remember where they are.) There are many wonderful products available to help organize and maximize space. With some evaluation and categorizing, you can find more space, create a kitchen that works for you and hopefully avoid accidentally buying more than a year’s worth of canned tomatoes.

About the author

Betsy Peterson, owner of Space and Time, LLC. is a local professional organizer and a Certified Relocation and Transition Specialist (CRTS) She is a member of the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO) and the National Association of Senior Move Managers (NASMM). Betsy offers organizing services for the home and office, assisting older adults with all aspects of relocation and downsizing, and staging your home for sale. She can be reached for questions at 207-7295 or by e-mail at bpeterson@space-and-time.com.

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