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The Best Way to Organize a Kitchen

Updated on October 15, 2012

Efficient Kitchen Organization Techniques

Whether you are first starting out, moving from one house to another, or have simply outgrown your old kitchen, it is time to look at organizing and arranging it to make sure it is as efficient and convenient as it can be for you. While you may not have the budget to gut and remodel it, there are many ways you can make any configuration work by simply changing things around, and using a few inexpensive organizational gadgets.

A well organized kitchen will makes cooking easier because you can find all the utensils and ingredients quickly, without having to overcome any obstacles in your path. It will make you feel like cooking and will be welcoming place for people who come to visit you.

In this efficient kitchen, the counter also serves as a table.
In this efficient kitchen, the counter also serves as a table. | Source

The Best Way to Organize an Efficient Kitchen

The first and most important step is to think about how you currently use the kitchen. Instead of working around the configuration of the kitchen, you may be able to move some things around and make the kitchen more efficient by placing things closer to where you actually need them. You may have changed the way you use the kitchen, without considering changing the layout to fit your new pattern.

Many times, we place things the way our parents did, or the way we think things are supposed to be. We may have internalized some "rules" without actually realizing that we did that. For example, I always thought that pots and pans must be by the stove. While this is a perfectly good rule, it doesn't work well in my kitchen because of where my dishwasher is placed. We need to let those old rules go, and think about what makes sense for the way we use the kitchen, using the current configuration.

You want to place the most frequently used items in the most convenient and accessible place possible for the way you use them. In that way, you will make your day to day cooking easier. You don't want the turkey platter that you use once a year to take up valuable shelf space when you have to go out of your way to get to the things you use every day.

Think about each type of item in the kitchen and decide the best place to put them. I recommend coming up with a plan first, and then implementing it, since each decision will impact the other decisions.

In a small kitchen, organization becomes even more important.
In a small kitchen, organization becomes even more important. | Source

The Kitchen Triangle

Most efficiency experts will tell you that the three anchors in the kitchen are the stove, the refrigerator, and the sink. These three compose of the kitchen triangle, and are used the most when you cook. If these items are placed in a very awkward and inconvenient way, you may consider moving at least one of them.

Chances are, though, you are stuck with the current configuration. This is fine; you can still make sure you make the best of wherever they are placed. It is important that you keep the path between these items obstacle free. You shouldn't place a table that you will have to go around or a dog dish that you will trip over every time you cook.

Please note that your own needs may vary. You may use a microwave or toaster oven more often than the stove, and the dishwasher more often than the sink. You will be able to avoid some inconveniences in the kitchen by simply keeping the path between these items clear.

Where to Store Small Kitchen Appliances

There are so many small appliances that are also a part of the modern kitchen. The microwave, toaster, toaster oven, coffee maker, waffle maker, rice cooker, and the list goes on and on. If they are used less than once a week, they should be stored in a cabinet so that valuable counter space remains free for daily use. Putting them away will also keeps avoid the kitchen from looking cluttered. They can be placed in harder to reach cabinets, such as the very top shelf, to save the prime shelf space for more frequently used items. Store the infrequently used items in another room. I keep mine on a shelf in the basement.

For the appliances that will remain on the counter, think about the most efficient place to keep them. Take into consideration the size and shape of the counter, and the proximity to other items you will need when using them, and the availability of electrical outlets. For example, my coffee pot is close to the coffee cups, and my microwave is close to the fridge.

These coffee cups are out of the way and easily accessible.
These coffee cups are out of the way and easily accessible. | Source

Where to Put the Dishes, Pots and Pans

Take the following things into consideration when deciding where to place your dishes - plates, saucers, bowls, pots and pans, silverware, other utensils, and other kitchen gadgets:

  1. The proximity to the place you will be using them, in terms of efficiency. It is generally good to have glasses by the refrigerator and pots and pans by the oven.
  2. The size and shape of the cabinets. If you have lots of pots and pans, and the cabinet right next to the stove is too small, you may want to consider storing them in a bigger cabinet, or reducing the number of pots and pans.
  3. The location of the dishwasher, if you have one. I did not place any dishes above the dishwasher, because it would be difficult for me to put them away without having to keep opening and closing the dishwasher door over and over again.

My Favorite Organization Products from Amazon

Copco 2555-7874 Large Mesh 6-Part In-Drawer Utensil Organizer
Copco 2555-7874 Large Mesh 6-Part In-Drawer Utensil Organizer

A drawer organizer makes it easy to keep utensils with each other, making them easy to find. Be sure to measure your drawer to find an organizer that will fit into it.


Canned Goods and Pantry Items

The canned goods and pantry items are probably the most difficult for most people, because it has the most turnover. Different sizes and number of food items get purchased, moved around, and, unfortunately, some items wind up being expired before we get a chance to use them. Here are some tips on deciding how to deal with pantry items.

  • Store like items together. All tomato products should be near each other, for example.
  • Another option may be to store items that work together by each other. For example, store the spaghetti next to the spaghetti sauce. This is especially helpful for standard recipes that you use frequently and for things you always use together.
  • When you are about to run out of something, add the item to the grocery list that is on the refrigerator. Ask family members to do the same. This may save emergency trips to the grocery store.
  • Family members can also add special requests on the list, which the grocery shopper will buy the next time the item is on sale, only if it meets the family criteria of price and healthiness, etc.
  • Clean out the refrigerator and pantry before you go shopping when it is at its emptiest. Besides being easier to clean then, this will also give you an idea of what you already have when you go shopping.
  • When buying a new item to try, use it within the week. These are the things that wind up getting expired because you are not used to eating them.
  • When buying canned or boxed goods that don't have an expiration date on them, write the purchase date in magic marker on the box. A simple month and year will be sufficient. That way, you have an idea of its age. If you don't want to go through the trouble of looking for an expiration date, you can simply write the purchase date on every pantry item.
  • Place new items in the back, so the older ones get used up first.
  • Once in a while, instead of going shopping, have a week where you challenge yourself to use up the things that are in the cabinets and fridge. This helps to use up items before the expiration dates, and saves money.

This beautiful kitchen makes use of the space above the kitchen cabinets. The handle on the stove doubles as a towel rack.
This beautiful kitchen makes use of the space above the kitchen cabinets. The handle on the stove doubles as a towel rack. | Source

Other Stuff in the Kitchen

Don't forget to think about where to place the miscellaneous things that reside in the kitchen, and whether you want to move them to another room.

  • Kitchen towels can be placed in a drawer in the kitchen or on a shelf in the pantry. If you have space, you can store them in the dining room, in the drawer in the china cabinet for example.
  • Cleaning supplies can be stored underneath the kitchen sink, but be careful to have a lock if you have children or pets that can get into them. Keep the extra supplies in another room, such as the basement or the pantry to save valuable space in the kitchen.
  • If you don't have a lot of room, you should avoid having other miscellaneous things in the kitchen. Paper, for example, is not a good idea in the kitchen. It can get grease spots from the kitchen, and is very flammable. If you keep the junk drawer out of the kitchen, you will free up valuable kitchen space.

Organizing and Arranging Your Kitchen

Once you have made your decision about where everything should go, it is time to implement the change. As you put away each item in its place, you should consider how many of each item you need to keep in the kitchen, and whether you really need each item. The fewer items you have in the kitchen, the more space you will have, and the less you will have to move around to get to the things you really use.

As you put things away, you may find that you have to tweak the strategy a little, especially if you misjudged how much space something would take up, or came upon an obstacle you hadn't considered. Simply do the best for the way your kitchen is configured and arrange everything so that the most common items will be the most convenient to access.

How often do you reorganize your kitchen?

See results

Kitchen Organization Strategies

An efficiently organized kitchen will save you time. You won't have to look for something because you will know exactly where it is, and you won't have to wade through a lot of clutter to get to it.

It is easier to clean, because there isn't too much to move around. Even putting away groceries will be easier because you know exactly where to place everything.

An efficient kitchen will save you money. You won't buy too much of one product because you didn't know you had it, or throw things away because it expired before you could use it.

It will also save you stress. You won't be stressed out because you have to stumble over the dog dish every time you cook, can't find the ingredient to make a recipe, or have to throw something away because it expired.

It can make you and your family healthier. Since cooking will be easier, you will not dread it, and will be more likely to cook more instead of eating out.

The best way to achieve all this is to simply organize the kitchen in a way that works best for the way you use it.

© 2012 Shasta Matova

Share Your Tips on The Best Way to Organize a Kitchen

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    • Silva Hayes profile image

      Silva Hayes 5 years ago from Spicewood, Texas

      and in the same vein as using the dishwasher as a cupboard, when I have company coming I have been known to run and hide things in the washer and dryer too.

    • Millionaire Tips profile image

      Shasta Matova 5 years ago from USA

      Thanks Silvia, I am glad you found it helpful.

    • Silva Hayes profile image

      Silva Hayes 5 years ago from Spicewood, Texas

      Wow, I learned some helpful things from reading this hub! Voted UP.

    • Millionaire Tips profile image

      Shasta Matova 5 years ago from USA

      Om, I can understand using a dishwasher as a cupboard. I have done it from time to time when we had company!

    • Om Paramapoonya profile image

      Om Paramapoonya 5 years ago

      Thanks for these wonderful kitchen organizing tips. I currently use my dishwashing machine as a cupboard! It's just me and my husband in the house, and we don't normally have that many dishes to clean. So I just do it by hand and use the dishwashing machine as our nifty storage space.

    • Millionaire Tips profile image

      Shasta Matova 5 years ago from USA

      Thank you Eiddwen and thumbi7. Having an organized kitchen does help the chore of cooking more manageable, and even fun.

    • thumbi7 profile image

      JR Krishna 5 years ago from India

      This is an excellent hub.

      I recently moved to a new house and did some of this organising.

      Thanks for sharing

    • Eiddwen profile image

      Eiddwen 5 years ago from Wales

      What a great hub which I vote up and share.


    • Au fait profile image

      C E Clark 5 years ago from North Texas

      Very good information, advice, and suggestions here. I was glad to see you spent some time on the kitchen triangle. It really is important that the kitchen be arranged to best benefit the primary user of the kitchen. Excellent hub, voted up and useful. Will share!

    • Millionaire Tips profile image

      Shasta Matova 5 years ago from USA

      Thanks CZ, we just did another reorganization of the kitchen after I wrote this article. Our spices are neatly contained again in one area. Hopefully we will be able to keep them contained.

    • CZCZCZ profile image

      CZCZCZ 5 years ago from Oregon

      Great ideas, suggestions, and ways to organize the kitchen. We could implement some of these for sure, thanks for sharing. Voting this hub up.

    • Millionaire Tips profile image

      Shasta Matova 5 years ago from USA

      Thanks Christy, I appreciate your visit, comment, vote, and share.

    • ChristyWrites profile image

      Christy Birmingham 5 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Good tips here! I like how you organize the hub and can tell it is well-planned out (just like a good kitchen!). Vote up and sharing too.

    • Millionaire Tips profile image

      Shasta Matova 5 years ago from USA

      Thanks midget38, I hope you find the best layout for your kitchen. Cooking is no fun when you have to look for things and stumble over obstacles.

      Thanks Lastheart, you're right, the bedroom, bathroom and kitchen, since they are used the most often, should be organized in a way that is works for the way we live. Unfortunately, my kitchen looks more like that small cramped kitchen than that first picture. I can only dream!

      Thanks ignugent7. Even small tweaks can help make the kitchen more efficient and easier to work in.

    • profile image

      ignugent17 5 years ago

      Great ideas! It is always nice to know more about organizing. I will be back when we do some arrangements in the kitchen.

      Thanks for sharing! :-)

    • Millionaire Tips profile image

      Shasta Matova 5 years ago from USA

      Thanks Patricia. It does take thought, and arranging and rearranging to get it to be just right. Money for remodeling and organizational gadgets helps as well. I am glad that both of you have found the arrangement that works just right for you.

    • Lastheart profile image

      Maria Magdalena Ruiz O'Farrill 5 years ago from Borik√©n the great land of the valiant and noble Lord

      I love this hub...kitchens are like bathrooms and beds, they are used frequently in a day. Nothing better than an organized house. The first picture has something that I love and that is the windows, very practical.

    • midget38 profile image

      Michelle Liew 5 years ago from Singapore

      This is so useful, Millionaire TIps! These are tips worth a million, indeed! You have just motivated me to make my kitchen a better place to work in! Thanks for that, and I share this.

    • 2patricias profile image

      2patricias 5 years ago from Sussex by the Sea

      This is an excellent hub. Both of us have put a lot of thought into our kitchens, and have finally got them "just right".

      I am putting up a link from one of our hubs to this one as well as voting it Up.

    • Millionaire Tips profile image

      Shasta Matova 5 years ago from USA

      Thanks Kathy - a lot of times we do know what we need to do, it is just a matter of actually getting around to actually doing it.

      Thanks Aurelio. Lots of cabinets would certainly help. I think that, for me, my shelves will always be slightly too full, no matter how many cabinets I have!

      Thanks Dianna, I hope it helps people think things through before they remodel a kitchen, and also think about their existing space in a new way.

    • Millionaire Tips profile image

      Shasta Matova 5 years ago from USA

      Thanks Paula, I noticed that the kitchen pics that I liked had the seating space in the kitchen. I didn't realize I wanted that, but now I know!

      Thanks NMLady, Terrye, and rfmoran. I would love to remodel the kitchen, but organizing it in a way that works best will have to do until then! As life changes, our space has to change with it.

    • Millionaire Tips profile image

      Shasta Matova 5 years ago from USA

      Thanks Vespa. We've been using the grocery list for about 10 years now, and it does come in very handy. It helps me remember things, of course, but it also helps relieve me of the guilt. When family members say, "but you didn't buy ...", I can simply say "it wasn't on the list."

      Thanks Suzette. Keeping a kitchen uncluttered is something I struggle with from time to time, but it does make such a big difference in its efficiency.

      Thanks Angela. That's great that your husband has found an efficient way to organize the kitchen. Maintaining it and putting everything back where it belongs is a big part of keeping it efficient.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      This is a hub that needs to go with every remodel of a kitchen. Great information and so well written. I am sure this will be an answer to many who need to organize their kitchen for the best use of space. Voted up.

    • alocsin profile image

      alocsin 5 years ago from Orange County, CA

      Some quite useful tips -- fortunately we already practice a lot of them in our kitchen. But to me, the absolute best way to organize a kitchen is to have lots of cabinets ;)

      Voting this Up and Interesting.

    • savingkathy profile image

      Kathy Sima 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Thank you for sharing these tips, Shasta! I have a couple of cupboards and drawers in my kitchen that are bursting at the seams, and I keep saying I need to reorganize and get rid of some things. This hub has given me the little push I needed to get it done.

    • rfmoran profile image

      Russ Moran 5 years ago from Long Island, New York

      You put a lot of thinking into this hub. Thank you for a valuable resource. Voted up and useful and shared with my wife

    • TToombs08 profile image

      Terrye Toombs 5 years ago from Somewhere between Heaven and Hell without a road map.

      I can SO use these helpful hints. Thank you, millionaire! Voted up and shared.

    • NMLady profile image

      NMLady 5 years ago from New Mexico & Arizona

      Kitchen organization is so important. I learned some things here!

    • fpherj48 profile image

      Paula 5 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      I spend so much time in the damned kitchen, M.T. and it's an old country serious need of remodel. Therefore, I am forever organizing and reorganizing, trying to make things easier and more convenient for me....Have you been peeking in my windows?? Thanks so much for this great hub full of helpful tips....I LOVE the kitchens in the pics!! Up++

    • angela_michelle profile image

      Angela Michelle Schultz 5 years ago from United States

      My husband is like you, and believes there is a spot for everything, and if I try to move things on him, he tells me it is just not efficient. I have to admit the way he organized the kitchen is very efficient.

    • suzettenaples profile image

      Suzette Walker 5 years ago from Taos, NM

      This is a great hub. You give great suggestions, advice and tips for arranging kitchens. This is so common sense and uncluttered! I love the presentation and the photos of the example kitchens. Great idea!

      Voted up and shared!

    • vespawoolf profile image

      vespawoolf 5 years ago from Peru, South America

      Boy do I need this hub! I had a roommate once who was a great organizer. Now I'm the only organizer and the kitchen isn't at peak performance right now! I plan to go through my cupboards and reorganize. I try to put similar items together, but eventually they get misplaced. I also like your idea of putting a list on the fridge where family members can note down items that run out. That would make my life a lot easier. : ) Thanks so much for these great tips.