For all the cooks who clanged through their cupboards in search of roasting pans on holidays past, or the bakers who dug way back into their spice graveyards to find that elusive nutmeg for the pumpkin pie, or all the hosts and hostesses who watched their guests balance drinks while trying to nosh on a plate of appetizers – here’s your second chance.
Think of those occasions as the dry run – opportunities to discover better ways to organize your kitchen for cooking and entertaining.
These simple, common-sense strategies for making the most of your time and kitchen space are worth taking with you into the new year.
Create more space
Purge the kitchen of anything that doesn’t belong or isn’t a necessity. That includes clearing off common clutter areas such as countertops and the kitchen table. But don’t be afraid to go a little deeper, too.
“Clean out the fridge and pantry to make room for the new items that will be needed, like for baking,” said Julie Bertram, owner of The Organizing Pro, a Charlotte business that specializes in residential and commercial organization.
Look at ways to use the wall space in your kitchen instead of relying on cabinets and countertops. Shelves and hooks can easily store items such as seasonings and cooking utensils out of the way, while still keeping them within reach.
Make it easy to find
Items that work together for a certain task, such as baking sheets and mixing bowls, should be stored in the same vicinity. It makes them easier to find and saves time. Bertram recommends grouping items, like those used for cake decorating, in clear containers that can be easily seen and pulled out when needed. “The flavorings, sprinkles, icing, baking cups – all of the things that are so small they kind of get knocked over on the shelf.”
Here are a few solutions for transforming a cluttered kitchen into an efficient one:
Turn the wasted space behind any door into a storage closet with the Cabidor Storage Cabinet. Adjust the interchangeable shelving and retention rods to suit your needs. Use it to store baking ingredients or to keep your canned goods in one location. An added bonus: since it’s designed to slip into the hinges of most standard left- and right-opening doors, it’s portable, making it a great buy for renters or homeowners who might find themselves on the move. $129.99-$289.99 at www.cabidor.com.
Wish you had the spices you use most more at the ready? The See & Store Containers & Strip can hold five spices, or anything else you need in a pinch, on a magnetic strip that can be attached to a refrigerator or any other metal surface. Clear lids show what’s inside. $12.99 at www.containerstore.com.
Keep common items such as teas or crackers together with Linus Deep Drawer Binz. They’re handy in every nook of the kitchen, from drawers to cupboards to refrigerators, and they’re clear plastic to for easy viewing, with integrated handles for toting around while you work. $14.99-$16.99 at www.containerstore.com.
Along with the holidays comes baking. The 12-inch Tray Divider’s vertical storage makes it easier to work with muffin tins, cookie sheets and cake pans. Made of white, vinyl-coated wire, they’ll fit inside any standard lower cabinet. $10.99 at www.containerstore.com.
Utilize your kitchen’s wall space with IKEA’s Stenstorp Wall Shelf with Drawers. Four food-approved plastic drawers with removable lids allow you to store sugar, flour, oats, breakfast cereal or other items that need to be kept handy. Shelves above and below can store wines, cooking oils or seasonings. $69.99 at www.ikea.com.
Once the cooking and baking are finished, it’s time to entertain. Each Root Wood Appetizer Plate with Stem Holder is a one-of-a-kind, hand-carved creation that looks good while keeping your guests from fumbling their drinks and hors d’oeuvres – and preventing spills. $29.95/pair at www.wineenthusiast.com.
Having difficulty removing watermarks caused by flower vases or wine stains from a decanter? Send the Cuisipro Magnetic Spot Scrubber in to do the job. Its magnetic silicone scrubbing disk and scrubbing knob work together to clean where brushes and sponges can’t reach. $11.95 at www.surlatable.com; $10.74 at www.amazon.com.
More SmarterLiving at www.charlotteobserver.com/smarterliving
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