Organize your kitchenHere we are, once again, at the beginning of October and just past the autumnal equinox. Temperatures are cooling, leaves are beginning to turn colors and will soon begin their descent from their limbs to the ground. Fall decorations are beginning to appear in shop windows and in many homes around the neighborhood. The holidays are just around the corner, and it’s time to begin preparations for all the festive events that take place this time of year.

As we begin to plan for the upcoming holidays and the gatherings with family and friends, meal planning is a big piece of the pie. Preparing traditional dishes or trying new recipes in your kitchen can get a little frustrating if you don’t know where your ingredients are, or you can’t find the recipes you need to make those fabulous dishes that you are so famous for. Perhaps it’s time to organize your kitchen!

Creating task zones is a good way to organize your kitchen. Task zones can be created by the way your kitchen is laid out, the available space you have, and by the way you work. For example, it makes sense to prepare meals – dicing and slicing veggies, on the counter near the sink that has the garbage disposal. If you are a coffee drinker, set up the coffee maker near the cabinet where you store coffee cups. Think about how and where you perform tasks in the kitchen and set up zones that make sense to you. There are suggestions below that may help, as you think about creating your task zones.

Recipes: Sometimes storing recipes is challenging. Whether you are a seasoned chef or a novice just starting out, corralling all those cookbooks, magazine clippings, recipe cards, mom’s handwritten notes, and email messages can quickly pile up. The various shapes and sizes make it difficult to put in any kind of logical order so you can find what you’re looking for. Binders work well to house all those recipes with varying sizes and shapes. If space is an issue, use bookends on top of the fridge as an option to store books and binders.

Storage: Storage needs be considered in order to organize your kitchen. Storing food, cookware, tools, etc., can be done in a similar fashion as creating zones. Store items near the places where you will use them as dictated by the space that you have. Storage typically comes in the forms of – refrigerators, cabinets, pantries, counter tops, and containers. Reserve prime real estate counter top space for items you use on a daily basis; some examples are – coffee maker, fruit bowl, paper towel holder and electric can opener. If space is an issue, install under the cabinet paper towel holders, and electric can openers. Items used infrequently can be stored in the back of a cabinet or on a higher shelf. Use a single or double-tiered Lazy Susan for deep pantries to store canned goods to make optimal use of the space. Or better yet, install slide out shelves. Make sure labels on cans and boxes face front so you can easily read the contents. Refrigerators are usually designed with organization systems, such as deli and veggie crisper drawers. For other food stuff, group like items together such as, condiments and make sure all labels are facing front for quick and easy identification.

Now that you have your task zones created, sort through all your items, and purge expired food items, and items that are broken or missing parts, such as plastic containers with missing lids. Place the ‘keepers’ in your task zones. You may want to go one step further and label containers, shelves and drawers to help you remember where everything belongs.

Ok that should do it. You have organized your kitchen and it’s ready to prepare all those fabulous dishes to wow your guests during the holidays. So, take a deep breath and revel in a job well done. Bon appetite!