You’ve just moved into your new home. A new home that features a gorgeous, brand new gourmet kitchen. Now that you have your dream kitchen, how do you organize it for easy use? We hate when we’re getting into our groove, cooking our favorite dinner, and have to stop to search for the lemon zester or garlic press. To make things go smoothly in the kitchen, start by arranging it so that commonly used items are easily accessible. Check out these tips for organizing your kitchen for easy cooking and cleaning.


Your kitchen cabinets need the same treatment your closet gets every once in a while: a good ol’ purge. Take a serious look at your kitchen equipment and tools. If there’s anything that hasn’t been used in a year or more, get rid of it. Just because a kitchen gadget does something really cool, it doesn’t mean you have to have it. If it’s something that never gets used, donate or sell it.


Store things that aren’t used as often in cabinets farther away from your stove and workspace or in your buffet or china cabinet. Things like seasonal dishware, large roasting pans for turkeys and hams, and your good china can be stashed until you need them. On the other hand, the items that you use more frequently should be stored close to your workspace. Everyday items should always be close at hand. For example, use a magnetic knife strip to keep your best knives out of reach of little hands but also nearby.


Determine a place for everything, and stick to it. Designate a drawer for spatulas, wooden spoons, ladles, et cetera. If you’re into baking, set aside a certain cabinet for items used for that. If you entertain a lot, have an area that holds the items you only bring out for entertaining purposes. Keep items close to the area where they’re used most. Ideally, things like pots and pans, cooking utensils, and pot holders will all be stored near the stove.


Know where certain items should be stored for their protection or for convenience. Keep non-refrigerated food items in a cool, dry place. While you want your spices and herbs to be close to the stove for cooking, they need to be kept inside a drawer or cabinet and away from heat. Keep everyday plates, bowls, and silverware in cabinets and drawers close to the dishwasher for easy put-away. And this one may be obvious to most, but cleaning supplies should be stored under or near the sink for easy access.


There are also some tips to keep in mind for safety’s sake in the kitchen. First, don’t store heavier items on high shelves. It’s much easier to take heavy things from bottom shelves and cabinets than to risk them falling on you as you try to reach them on higher ones. If you have small children, be extra careful of where you keep items they could hurt themselves on, like blenders or food processors. You might want to keep food items out of reach unless you don’t mind little ones going for a snack whenever they please. Be mindful of any food allergies your family or friends might deal with. Keep allergy-friendly foods on a specific shelf and store those items with allergen ingredients in a place that’s not quite as easily accessed, especially if the one with the allergy is a small child.


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