5 essential rules for a streamlined kitchen

Our guest today, Rivka Caroline, is a mom of 7 and a self confessed time- and space-management junkie living in Florida. Without a lot of time or space to spare, Rivka is obsessed with new ways to save both; she won’t stop blogging till moms work smarter not harder and take the time to nurture themselves.

I asked her to share a few tips for getting my kitchen under control. And, of course, yours.

Time in the kitchen is seldom the Martha Stewart moment we envisioned. We are often under a time crunch, marinating ourselves in doubt over the protein choices and organic indecision we all face. Who has the time or strength for a kitchen makeover? Follow these simple, timeless rules towards a calmer culinary experience.

The dream: full-on kitchen makeover (by ecohome)
The reality: lil helpers, messy food, clutter (by tempophage)

1. Location. Location. Location.
Yes, the laws of Real Estate apply in the kitchen just as much as they do on Madison Avenue. Assess the prime real estate and make sure you using your square footage wisely. The top dollar locations are those within easy reach, the lower rent goes to the cupboards and drawers out of reach and the super cheap rent is for the spaces that you need a ladder to get to. Move the key items to a better location.

Often, we establish routines that have nothing to do with efficiency. You might be going through a smoothie faze, so why are you climbing on the stool each morning to reach the blender on the 3rd shelf ? Evict the waffle maker from prime real estate and voila – you save 3 minutes each morning. And besides, we all know that waffle makers should not be within easy reach.

2. Put Like With Like
Kitchens do well when they are set up in mini work stations. Depending on your family’s needs you might have any number of work stations, such as:

  • A hot drink station (tea, coffee, filters)
  • Snack station with non perishable snacks in transparent containers and Ziploc bags
  • Cookie station kitted out with supplies for basic cookie dough, cookie cutters and aprons.

Many of us have our kitchen set up with half-filled stations. Check yourself the next time you work on a specific task to see how efficient that particular work station is.

Super tidy cookie cutters (photo by Amy McTigue)

3. Put Dislike With Dislike… get it out of the kitchen
Kitchens are where we cook up nurturing food for our families, not where we hoard clutter. Many of us have items we don’t like or use in our kitchens. How absurd. Get rid of that clutter right away.

Not using the avocado wedger that you bought at an exaggerated price when they first came out? Send it to your aunt in Florida who eats avocados far more frequently. Don’t use all 7 of the heavy iron cake tins? Give some to friends and neighbors who will. You’ll stand a greater chance of getting a slice. [Heather note to self: I think she also means that the piles of junk mail and light bulbs ought to find another home!]

Just say NO to junk mail in the kitchen (photo by loop_oh)

4. Evolve
Your kitchen will evolve as fast as your children’s needs (AKA fads, see rule 3). Be creative and come up with a sensible storage place for them and evolve as the fad ends and a new one begins. New ideas are always welcome, new clutter is not.

5. Think Before You Bulk
Many of us clog up valuable kitchen space with bulk items such as 8 packs of kitchen paper, gigantic canisters of rice and big bags of snacks.

Firstly, for food items make sure you use those items and consider putting them in smaller containers. For the paper goods, think like a restaurant and keep one or two current items in the kitchen and have a storage space for the rest. Next time you go shopping make sure you can visualize where the 12 pack of terra chips are going before you check out.

Way too much Tabasco (photo by pixelthing)

Thanks a heap to Rivka for sharing her advice (for getting rid of our heaps!). Want more from Rivka? Find her at SoBeOrganized.com, her blog by the same name, and twitter!