A core practice of makers who love to cook is establishing mise en place, which means setting up everything needed to prepare a recipe or meal before cooking begins. In practical terms, mise is gathering the necessary tools and equipment, preheating the oven or pans, and chopping, measuring and weighing all ingredients in advance. Another equally important benefit of practicing mise is how it can center you into the moment. This will help you cook with more precision so you make fewer mistakes and will make cleanup easier.
The ability to seamlessly set up mise en place requires having a well-organized kitchen to begin with, where every item has a designated, easy-to-access home. This also means that all items are returned to their place when you’re finished. Follow the ideas outlined in this list to learn how to organize your kitchen to make cooking even more efficient and enjoyable.
How to Organize a Kitchen
There are several factors to keep in mind when organizing your kitchen around a seamless cooking flow. These include the size and layout of the room and how much storage space you have in cabinets, closets, shelves and drawers, as well as how many items need a home.
When considering how to organize your kitchen, identify the zones where you do most of your prep work, where you cook and where you clean. Organize the items most needed for those activities within easy reach of that zone. Explore the following kitchen organization tips to set up your favorite room so you can easily enter the mise en place mindset and enjoy everyday cooking and weekly meal prep in a whole new way.
HOW TO ORGANIZE YOUR PREP ZONE
1. HOW TO ORGANIZE KNIVES AND CUTTING BOARDS
The best place to store cutting boards is close to the countertop where you prep. Lean them against the backsplash or against the inside of the nearest cabinet or hang them on a nearby wall. Cutting boards can also be stored upright along with your cookie sheets and cooling racks.
Knives should also be stored where you can easily reach them from your prep station. Use a countertop block or a magnetic strip mounted on a nearby wall to hold knives for a variety of purposes. Blocks and magnetic strips are available in unique materials that add a decorative flair to your kitchen. You can also store knives flat in a drawer divider or in a knife dock, which holds the blades steady in slots. Remember when putting knives away to make sure they are clean and dry so you don’t damage your storage tool.
2. HOW TO ORGANIZE OTHER UTENSILS
Creative cooking can require a variety of utensils that don’t fall into a specific category, such as a can opener, vegetable peeler, microplane, and measuring cups and spoons. The best way to organize kitchen utensils like these is in a drawer close to the prep area. Again, divider trays can help keep these items organized. You can also install a kitchen utensil rack with hooks to hang utensils close to the backsplash of your prep counter.
3. HOW TO ORGANIZE COUNTERTOP APPLIANCES
The best way to organize kitchen appliances is to group them by frequency of use. If your kitchen is small, you will want to own appliances that serve multiple functions. Let go of items you seldom, if ever use. Or, if you have a shelf or cabinet in a pantry, closet, basement or garage, store appliances you don’t use daily such as a multi-cooker or ice cream machine out of the kitchen. This gives you more room for the tools that enhance your everyday cooking so you can keep them in easy reach.
Keep appliances that you use daily such as a coffee maker, blender, toaster or stand mixer out on the counter at all times. If your countertop space is limited, you’ll want to avoid cluttering the surface, so storing some items on a shelf mounted above the counter or in a cabinet below for heavier appliances keeps them close by. A stand mixer can add both style and function to your kitchen. If you need some guidance, we’ve come up with a variety of creative ways to store and display your stand mixer.
If you have the available cabinet or shelf space in your kitchen, try to dedicate one for storing countertop appliances such as a food processor, chopper and multi-cooker together. This is also a great spot to keep your cordless appliances, hand mixer, hand blender, attachments and accessories. Many KitchenAid® Food Processors even have in-bowl storage for their accessories. Use a storage basket or bin to hold loose items and you can even tuck the instruction manuals in with them.
4. HOW TO ORGANIZE MIXING BOWLS
Having a variety of sizes and styles of mixing bowls is an important part of outfitting your kitchen for an effective mise en place. Try to keep bowls together close to where you prep on a shelf or in a cabinet in easy reach. Reduce their storage footprint by using nesting bowls in different sizes. You can also use bowls as decorative elements in your kitchen by storing them on a shelf or the top of a cabinet if it’s easy to reach. This is a wonderful way to store well-loved family heirlooms and decorative bowls for your stand mixer.
5. HOW TO ORGANIZE A REFRIGERATOR
Your refrigerator requires regular reorganizing because it holds the fresh ingredients you use in your cooking every day. To organize your refrigerator effectively, you’ll need to group your food items within five important areas – the door, the shelves, deli drawer, high-humidity and low-humidity crisper drawers. Learn how to best organize these zones in your refrigerator to make it easy to set up every time you cook.
6. HOW TO ORGANIZE A PANTRY
To help establish a streamlined mise practice, it’s important to keep an inventory of what pantry items you have on hand. Dedicate a cabinet or two, or several shelves in a closet or pantry if you have one to store your dry and canned goods. You can make these items easier to access quickly by organizing them on risers and lazy susans. If you often keep multiple cans of the same ingredient such as diced tomatoes, you can store them in soda can holders stacked on a shelf. Keep flours, sweeteners, legumes and grains in airtight BPA-free plastic containers or glass jars. Smaller kitchens require more frequent shopping and you may find you need to store pantry items in more than one area due to limited storage. If so, group like items together so they’re easy to find when it’s time to set up and cook.
7. HOW TO ORGANIZE COOKBOOKS
An important part of cooking is experimenting with new recipes and techniques. You may have accumulated a large collection of cookbooks as you’ve expanded your repertoire. Your collection might be too vast to keep in the kitchen but you can set a few frequently-used favorites on a shelf or in a cabinet. Ones you use less often should be stored in another room on a bookshelf, but be sure to group them together so you don’t have to hunt and peck through fiction and self-help books to find what you need. If you use digital tools for your recipes, you can mount your smartphone or tablet on a countertop stand or an under-cabinet tablet holder that can also hold an open cookbook.
HOW TO ORGANIZE YOUR COOKING ZONE
It’s important to store the items you use most often while cooking as close to your stove as you can. These items include wooden spoons, spatulas, pans and lids, colanders and spices.
8. HOW TO ORGANIZE COOKWARE
Store the cookware that you use most often as close to your stove as possible, in a low cabinet or drawer. Stack pans and colanders neatly, and store lids upright in a lid rack in the cabinet. Lids can also hang on the inside of the cabinet door. Another option is to hang cookware on a wall-mounted rack or on a rack that hangs from the ceiling above or near the stove. Dedicate space in a closet, pantry, or a shelf in your basement or garage for heavy and less-frequently used items such as an oversize roasting pan, large-capacity stockpot or cast iron wok.
9. HOW TO ORGANIZE COOKING UTENSILS
Utensils that you use every time you cook, such as spatulas, wooden spoons, tongs, and ladles should be in easy reach of your stovetop. If you have a drawer next to the stove, this is an ideal spot to store these frequently-used items. Organize kitchen drawers with divided trays that keep utensils from becoming cluttered so you can easily find what you need. If you don’t have a drawer but have counter space next to the stove, you can also store your most-used, long-handled utensils upright in a sturdy container or crock.
10. HOW TO ORGANIZE BAKING PANS AND RACKS
To make the most of limited space, store your cookie sheets, rimmed sheet pans, muffin tins and cooling racks on their sides in a cabinet using a rack or divider. Easily add a divider with tension rods installed vertically inside the cabinet to create rows to slide the pans into for support. You can also stack baking pans on a cabinet shelf or in a drawer, along with cake pans and pie plates. Stacking makes them less easy to access but gives them a dedicated home, which helps streamline cleanup.
11. HOW TO ORGANIZE CASSEROLE DISHES
Heavy items such as casserole dishes should be stored in lower cabinets or deep drawers. You can nest them and store lids upright on a rack on a back shelf in the cabinet, or in a separate drawer. If you have space set them next to each other with the lids on. You can also put the lids on the dish upside down and stack them two or three sets high.
12. HOW TO ORGANIZE SPICES, SEASONINGS, OIL & VINEGAR
Flavorful cooking requires a variety of spices and seasonings, which can take up a lot of storage space in the kitchen. Ideally, these items are kept close to the cooking zone or prep areas. If you have a cabinet you can dedicate to spices, optimize the space with risers and lazy susans, which also work well for heavier bottles of oil and vinegar. If you don’t have a cabinet, you can use a wall-mounted spice rack or floating shelves to keep these essentials within easy reach. You can also store spice jars on their sides in a drawer and flat packs of spices standing up in wire baskets that you can tuck in the cabinet or on a shelf. Custom options include installing a narrow cabinet that slides out and is open on both sides or building open-faced shelving recessed between wall studs.
HOW TO ORGANIZE YOUR CLEANING ZONE
Your sink is the focal point of most kitchen cleaning, so you will want to store the items related to clean-up under and near the sink. Items such as sponges, soap, spray cleaner, sanitizer, your trash bin and paper towels should be easy to access.
13. HOW TO ORGANIZE CLEANING SUPPLIES
Keep cleaning supplies as close to your sink as possible. This is the area of the kitchen where you will do most of your cleaning, so storing items such as spray cleaner, sponges, brushes and soap under the sink keeps them in easy reach. You can also mount a roll of paper towels and spray bottles on a spring rod or dowel hung across the inside of the cabinet. Use a rack inside the cabinet door and bins on the floor to organize your cleaning supplies neatly.
Under the sink or in a nearby cabinet is also a good place for your trash bin. This can be a freestanding unit that easily lifts out to clean or a bin on a mounted sliding rail or a sliding cabinet with built-in trash and recycle bins. Keeping this close to the sink also helps cleanup go smoothly.
14. HOW TO ORGANIZE STORAGE CONTAINERS AND WRAPS
If you can, consider transitioning your containers to all glass, as they are easier to clean, last longer and make it easy to see what’s stored inside. Plastic containers can tip over easily while glass containers are sturdy and less likely to get jumbled. Storing containers with their lids attached helps you find what you need quickly. Plastic wrap, aluminum foil, parchment paper and zipper bags can be stored in a drawer or in a rack that attaches to the inside of a cabinet or closet door.
15. HOW TO ORGANIZE DINNERWARE, SERVINGWARE, GLASSES AND FLATWARE
Kitchen cabinets are designed to hold plates and bowls neatly nested and stacked, and you can easily double that storage by using racks on cabinet shelves. Glasses can be stored in a cabinet, usually close to the sink or refrigerator, but if you have beautiful matching sets of dishes and glasses, you might like to display them on an open shelf.
Flatware should be stored in a drawer and can be organized by type of utensil using drawer dividers and trays. If you don’t have a drawer, you can store utensils upright in sturdy containers on a shelf or countertop. Try to keep all of your serving items close together to make it easier when setting the table and putting items away. If your kitchen space is small, you can also store these items on a sideboard, china cabinet or on shelves in your dining area.
There are many creative possibilities for streamlining your workflow with these kitchen organization ideas. By giving every item in your kitchen a specific home that is easy to reach from the prepping, cooking, or cleaning areas, you’ll enjoy entering your orderly space with a focused mise-en-place mindset every time you embark on a new cooking adventure.
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