Years ago, when I was a young food scientist working in product development for Kellogg, the company introduced a ‘clean desk’ policy.
I hated it.
Before the new policy I was happy to be the most messy person in the department. Life was good except I could never find what I was looking for.
After the new policy, my boss started to ‘remind’ me constantly to change my ways. It’s never a good idea to have your boss on your case, so I chose the lesser of two evils and started putting away my things at the end of every day.
You probably know where this is heading.
I ended up loving having a clean desk. It made coming to work much more pleasant. It helped me think clearer. And I could find things quickly when I needed them.
It took a while but over time this policy spread into other areas of my life. Including of course my kitchen!
So here they are…
6 ‘Golden Rules’ of an Organized Kitchen
If I was only going to give you one rule this would be it. I can’t stress enough how having less equipment in your cupboards and less ingredients in your fridge and pantry makes is so much easier to feel organized.
So how do you simplify?
This is a huge topic on its own but the first place to start is just being mindful of what you bring into the kitchen.
‘Do I really need this?‘
The next step is to clear out and review what you have. Any out-of-date ingredients or equipment you haven’t used in months should go.
If you’re struggling with letting things go, do what I do and create a ‘things to donate to charity box’. Keep this in your garage (or shed).
Having this step makes it easier because you can change your mind if you find you are actually missing that hot dog warmer or popcorn maker.
2. Keep like things together.
I find it best to keep similar items together. For example I have one cupboard for plates, another for mugs, another for pots, another for cleaning supplies etc.
3. Keep things where you use them most.
Easy access makes being in the kitchen a smoother experience so you’ll want to spend more time there!
For example, I keep salt and pepper on our dining table so they’re always there when we eat. And I have salt and pepper in the pantry for seasoning when I’m cooking.
Other examples are keeping a jar with utensils next to the stove so they’re easy to grab when I’m cooking. And I have my knives on a rack on the wall in the middle of the kitchen so they’re within arms reach.
4. Clean as you go.
One of the worst feelings is walking into a dirty kitchen and having to spend precious time cleaning before you can even start cooking.
I’m afraid that apart from getting a cleaning robot or a live-in maid, the only way to avoid this is to have a personal rule to clean on an ongoing basis.
If you find yourself with a minute to spare, ask yourself ‘what can I clean now?’ It can take a while to build this habit but you’ll never regret it.
5. Do it now.
This is a trick I picked up from Gretchen Reuben in her brilliant book ‘The Happiness Project’.
Whenever you see something that could be put away or cleaned, say to yourself ‘do it now’ and follow through. This really worked for me so now I automatically pick things up and put them away.
6. Build habits.
I’ve saved this for last because after golden rule No. 1, simplify, habits are the next biggest game changer.
By building habits you put being organized on autopilot. It becomes automatic – something you don’t have to think about.
This is HUGE because you get the benefits of feeling in control and ‘on top of it’ without having to think or try too hard.
Some of the habits that make my life so much easier (and more organized) include:
- shopping on a regular basis
- keeping a running shopping list on my phone
- doing things ‘now’ as I mentioned above
- putting my groceries away as soon as I get home
- really looking in the fridge every day so I know what needs eating up
- prepping ingredients on the weekend or whenever I can (usually when I’m already in the kitchen).
There you have it!
My 6 ‘golden rules’ which really help me be organized in the kitchen (and other areas of life).
Want to be more organized in the kitchen?
The Organized Cook, a 4-week online training program that shows you my simple system to get on top of cooking at home, eating more vegetables and pulling meals together quickly without the ‘last minute’ stress…
To see if the Organized Cook can help you go to:
“The Organized Cook means less last-minute stress, more relaxed cooking. I would recommend it because it reduces stress when it comes to cooking and shopping”
Anke, The Organized Cook Student.
Bacon & Avocado Salad
I’ve really been getting into flavour pairings lately inspired by a fab book, The Flavour Thesaurus by Nikki Segnet. It’s hard to go past salty crispy bacon and cool creamy avocado as an match made in heaven. I love this salad because the bacon and avo make it nice and filling yet it’s still fresh and bright. Perfect for lunches or brunches.
Enough for 2
Takes: 15 minutes
4-6 slices bacon, chopped
1 tablespoon sherry or red wine vinegar
3-4 handfuls lettuce leaves
large handful semi dried tomatoes
1. Heat a little oil in a frying pan and cook bacon on a medium high heat until crispy.
2. Combine vinegar with 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil in a large bowl. Season.
3. Toss leaves in the dressing. Sprinkle over chunks of avocado, tomatoes and the hot crunchy bacon before serving.
vegan – replace bacon with sliced grilled or roast mushrooms.
vegetarian – skip the bacon and serve with a poached or boiled egg on top.
more substantial / carb-lovers – toss in a drained can of white beans such as cannellini or butter beans to warm up in the bacon fat and add to the salad. You could also just toss in torn sourdough.
no semi dried tomatoes? – replace with halved fresh cherry tomatoes instead.
more veg – add chopped raw veg like snowpeas to the salad.
ps. Stay tuned for the next installment of my 6 part series on Kitchen Organization where we’ll go deeper into the Art of Ingredient Prep – one of my key personal habits!