Store your plates, bowls and cups in the cupboard near the dishwasher to make it easy to do the dishes and unload the dishwasher. Homebuilders usually place the dishwasher near the sink to make doing dishes easier, so storing your glasses and cups in the triangle between the dishwasher and sink will also make it quicker to grab a drink of water.
If you don’t have a separate pantry, then store your food in the upper cabinets, not in the lower cabinets. The lower cabinets are deeper than your upper cabinets, so any food that gets stored down below runs the risk of getting lost and forgotten about. Reserve your lower cabinets for your large cookware, appliances and pots and pans.
You don’t need to decant all of your food into matching glass containers in order to have an organized pantry. Decanting food into jars is a big time commitment and requires a lot of effort after each trip to the grocery store. We find that merely organizing food in categories on shelves is enough to create a tidy, orderly pantry. Think of each pantry shelf as an aisle at the grocery store, and separate your food accordingly.
If you run out of room in the drawers for storing utensils, then store your most commonly used ones in a wide-mouth container on the counter. We don’t recommend storing utensils in a pitcher because pitchers tend to have too narrow of a mouth to hold very much. Instead, we like big glass jars or even glazed pottery to hold utensils.
Be sure to take full advantage of your adjustable shelves. If you see that you have 4+” of empty space between your shelves, consider getting enough shelf to make the most of your space. It’s really easy to take an existing shelf into Lowe’s and have them cut another shelf to match.
The secret to organizing your Gladware, Snapware or other leftover containers is to stick to ONE product line so they will all nest together. Having two or more different kinds of containers makes it that much harder to find the missing lid. We like to next the empty containers together and then line up the lids on their side in another container.
We are big fans of using stair-step risers to make the most of deep pantry shelves. They also work great to organize spices in an upper cabinet. Get the expandable type without a lip on Amazon.
Rename the kitchen junk drawer the “kitchen utility drawer” and be really judicious about what lives in there. Organizer trick: Is the junk drawer super cluttered with 100+ tiny things in it? Consider dumping the drawer’s contents into a brown paper bag, put a date on the bag 6 months from today’s date and stash it out in the garage (put a reminder on your phone’s calendar to check this in 6 months). If you haven’t retrieved anything out of the bag by the time 6 months rolls around, toss the entire bag. I typically find that there is nothing stored in junk drawers worth more than $5, and it’s so much easier to start fresh with an utility drawer than to sort through hundreds of mostly worthless items.
Most Portlanders need multiple bins to sort their recycling. We recommend clients use stackable plastic bins and place them in a corner of the kitchen (maybe tucked under a counter). We find that 5 bins seem to be the right amount.
It’s fine to save empty paper bags and plastic bags. Just set a limit so they don’t get out of control. We recommend saving only as many paper bags as will fit neatly into one open paper bag. And only as many plastic bags as will fit into an empty Kleenex box. Go ahead and recycle the bags that don’t fit.
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