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Happy-Gourmand

Raise your kitchen game

 

How many times a day do you get reminded about being more organized? I bet you have at least a couple of apps on your phone to help keep you on track. Your work station might be exactly what you need to be at your most efficient. But how organized is your kitchen? This week I’m going to offer a bunch of hacks for you, making your kitchen set-up better, and in some cases, even more cool.

Let’s start with the easiest spots, the sort that we mostly assume are going to be a mess. Our little hideaways often end up being places we continue to fill up, always thinking that we will sort through all those “good things” at some later date. We just never manage to get around to it, so we keep closing the door. Here are some steps to rectify that. Let’s pare down that stuff.

Under the kitchen sink – The key here is simple: reduce the number of cleaners, scrubbers, brushes, etc., to one kind per purpose. Pick your favourite disinfectant, cleaner, spray – anything you use on a regular basis. If you need to have more than one brand in the house, find a storage space somewhere else for it (the laundry room, perhaps). Then maximize the space by hanging baskets on the doors, using the pipes or a tension rod to hang spray bottles, and corral similar items or things for a certain task in one area or container.    

The junk drawer – let’s face it, the best start here is to start over: empty the drawer. Using the corral theory will work here too; boxes or plastic containers that have lost their lids will work well (stick to square edges to maximize space). Ice cube trays work great for small items. When you put things back in, think again about having too many of something. Keep only what will be used regularly. 

Now that you are in the swing of things, carry the theme throughout the kitchen space. Simple tips to remember when you corral your items:

Maximize space – use stackable storage that you can see through. Use vertical space with hanging baskets for bags of snacks and produce. Don’t over-purchase, rather keep only what you will use between shopping trips.

Label everything – leftovers have a better chance of being used if you remember what they are, and jars of spice or powders can be easily mixed up. Containers in the freezer should be dated as well, so you can use them in a timely manner.

Combine overstock bags in a bin or box – bulk items like grains, nuts, dried fruit can be put together in a bigger (labelled) bin in your pantry. This keeps them from breaking and spilling and keeps handy stock in a reasonable sized container.

Other ways to maximize and organize your space involve thinking outside the lines:

Try dividing a drawer on the diagonal to hold extra-long utensils and shorter ones in the same drawer without tangling. Storing baking trays and muffin tins on their sides is more efficient too; add a tension rod in a cupboard if needed to divide the space.

Use a non-slip mat if you don’t want to divide a drawer but don’t want to fight through a sliding dangerous mess. They work wonders to avoid chips when stacking platters and bowls too.

Don’t be afraid to move things. Maybe those oven mitts could hang on a hook at the side of the oven or a cupboard drawer instead of being in a drawer? Wine glasses could hang under an upper cabinet instead of being inside it, knives could be on a magnetic strip on the wall instead of in a knife block… keep your mind open to new ideas.

In the spirit of keeping things handy, you can think of rotating seasonal items too, if you have extra storage space somewhere. BBQ accessories can be put away in the winter, and Christmas cookie cutters can be brought out only when needed. 

Organizing is also about planning, so think ahead to stay ahead of the mess. Look in the fridge before you shop to make sure you don’t buy that extra cucumber or lemon if you don’t need it. Plan on how you will use leftovers too – for lunch or turned into something else a few nights later? (Then they don’t go fuzzy in a back corner.)

Just like chefs prepare their “mise en place” when cooking a dish, having your kitchen space prepared for use makes it easier for you to perform at your best. You might even want to take on cooking a more challenging recipe. At the very least, you won’t curse every time you open that junk drawer overflowing with bits of everything. 



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About the Author

Kristin Peturson-Laprise is a customer experience specialist by trade, which means she is someone passionate about people having a good time. 

Her company, Wow Service Mentor, helps businesses enhance their customer experience through hands-on training, service programs, and special event coordination.

Kristin enjoys her own experiences too, and that is what she writes about in this column. She and her husband Martin Laprise (also known as Chef Martin, of The Chef Instead) love to share their passion for food and entertaining.  

Kristin says:

"Wikipedia lists a gourmand as a person who takes great pleasure in food. I have taken the concept of gourmandise, or enjoying something to the fullest, in all parts of my life. I love to grow and cook food, and I loved wine enough to become a Sommelier. I call a meal a success when I can convey that 'sense of place' from where the food has come . . . the French call that terroir, but I just call it the full experience. It might mean tasting the flavours of my own garden, or transporting everyone at the table to a faraway place, reminiscent of travels or dreams we have had."

 

E-mail Kristin at:  [email protected]

Check out her website here:  www.wowservicementor.com

 



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The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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