Updated: Feb 16, 2022
It's been a long day...your kids have just come home from school tracking doggy caca on their brand new shoes...your boss has you working on an uninteresting project with an unreasonable deadline...your husband is asking you if he can PLEASE play handball with his buddies tonight...and to make matters worse, your in-laws are coming for dinner and tuna fish sandwiches just won't fit the bill !! Your kitchen is scary: the counters are invisible under the piles of cookbooks, junk mail and phone messages...the cabinets are overflowing with expired condiments, nearly-empty food boxes, pots and pans you never use but love to look at, and of course ALL THAT TUPPERWARE !!!
This is about the time when you say, « If only I had more space in my kitchen ». And then I would answer, « You have enough space, you just need to use it wisely! » The kitchen is the heart of the home, and is often the room which becomes the most cluttered. The goal is to find things in the quickest possible time with the smallest amount of frustration. Don't procrastinate any longer: decluttering is the first step to freeing up space for what you really NEED in your kitchen. So dress in something comfortable, swear that you won't answer the phone ( hah!), and let's get started!
Declutter: I know, you are probably thinking « There goes Robynne again with the D word!» but it holds no purpose to take up precious cabinet space in your kitchen with that fondue set that you received as a wedding present, and which has collected dust ever since! Empty your cabinets and drawers, one by one: ask yourself if you really need those 10 wooden spoons, that perfect Tupperware container which holds the one slice of pizza which someone always eats anyway, the big box of that special kind of flour for that special recipe for that special occasion (oh, and by the way, the date on the box is 2004!!!). The next step is NOT to put what you decide to keep back in the same cabinet or drawer, because that might not be the most efficient place to store it.
Consolidate: There I go again with the C word!! Often people's cabinets are chock full with half-empty containers of food, condiments, etc. Here is an example: instead of keeping the small amount of sugar in that large 1kg container, put the remaining sugar into a small air-tight container with a label on it. If you apply this idea to all foods, spices, tea bags etc. you will be amazed at how much space is freed up!
Maximize Storage Space: Oh no, not the M word! French kitchens are generally small compared to kitchens in other countries, so you will have to come to terms with all that bulk shopping you have been accustomed to. Speaking of bulky stuff, use storage space next to, but outside of, your kitchen in order to create a pantry for overflow. To begin with, my personal favorite is the over-the-kitchen-door plastic shoe organizer for small items such as tea bags, nuts, decorations for birthday cakes, clips and twists to close bags, etc...Other items should be grouped according to how and where you use them (see below).
Create « Work Stations »: Imagine what the kitchen looks like at the «Tour d'Argent»...there is a food preparation area, a cooking area, a cleaning area, a food storage area, etc.
Food Prep area: choose the longest uninterrupted counter space, to allow room for cutting, washing, mixing (store cutting boards, knives, mixers next to this area)...
Cooking area: this area is obviously close to the oven and/or stove top (store pots, pans, oven mitts, cooking utensils next to this area)...
Cleaning area: next to the sink and dishwasher (store dishes, glassware, dishwasher liquid, rubber gloves)...
Food Storage area: don't forget to keep the least-used food and drink items in the pantry or in space just outside of the kitchen, and save the fridge and precious cabinet space next to fridge for the most frequently used items. By the way, the same principles apply to the inside of your fridge (declutter by throwing away food never eaten or past date-of-use, consolidate by grouping together same items into one container, place similar foods together, and always put away food on the same shelf inside the fridge in order to create your shopping list faster and find what you are looking for quickly!)
Spice Storage: how many of us received a spice rack or some other wacky way of storing spices, and find it to be totally impractical?! If you have room in a drawer (or find a shoebox which can fit inside a cabinet), you can store the spices that way but be sure to label the bottle tops to avoid wasting time searching for the safran!
Tupperware galore: why, oh why, do we feel the need to accumulate so many food storage containers?? When you look at your Tupperware stash, would you answer « no » to the following question: « Do you ever have enough leftovers to fill up ALL of those containers? » If so, keep a small assortment of different size containers according to the foods which you eat most often, and stack them according to shape,one inside the other. The lids should be stored in an open rectangular container or box, with the lids upright and assorted by shape as well.It goes without saying (but I'll say it anyway) that containers without lids should find another use in your home (great as drawer dividers in a desk) or be put into the recycle bin.
Taking the time to reorganize your kitchen will result in less waste of food, less stress when preparing a meal, and easier clean-up for the whole family! Many of us spend a good percentage of our day in the kitchen: isn't it worth it to make this part of your home the most pleasant and welcoming room in the house?