1. Opt for see-through containers
One of the main contributors to kitchen chaos is mismatched food storage containers. This is true for pantry storage and for keeping leftovers. When there are several unlabeled opaque containers in the fridge, it’s easy to forget them and let the food go to waste. According to Palak Patel, a chef at the Institute of Culinary Education, glass containers with tight-fitting lead are the best for keeping cooked leftovers fresh as well as maintain organization and visibility. “Dedicate a full shelf or separate half a shelf for cooked food, and the other half for raw and prep ingredients,” she advises.
The same applies to your pantry, dry goods cabinet, and spices. To keep mess to a minimum, it’s best to store them in labeled see-through containers of the same size.
2. Use a whiteboard
In previous articles, we have advised you to freeze homemade dishes, broths, and sauces in order to make the most out of your food. However, if you don’t have some sort of an organizational system you might forget what you have, which beats the purpose of the whole practice. If the freezer and the fridge are packed, try keeping a small checklist of what’s stored in there with dates. The easiest and most accessible way to do it is by using a dry-erase whiteboard. That way, what needs to be eaten or replaced is right in front of you every time you open the fridge.
3. Get rid of things you don’t use
If you haven’t done so yet, clearing up your cupboard is the first step to having an orderly kitchen, in which you can be more efficient. Old herbs from a recipe you tried three years ago, items that are never in use but you never had the heart to get rid of - now is the time to let go of all of it. Once the space is cleared up, bring the most used ingredients and those with shorter shelf life to the front.
4. Organize what’s left according to some system
Once you’ve cleared out everything you don’t use it’s time to organize the ingredients that are left. We’ve mentioned placing your most used items at the front, but keep in mind that experts note that, as tempting as it is to keep oils and commonly used spices near the stove for easy access, the heat can negatively affect the shelf life and quality of these products. To avoid it, it’s better to keep them in a cool dry place, at a distance from the stove but still accessible.
You can group ingredients together according to their use - baking and savory cooking ingredients or subdivided by cuisine. Separating everything according to a system that’s convenient for you will allow you to easily grab what you need for a recipe.
Related: 10 Tips on How to Organize Your Fridge
5. Ensure every single thing has a designated spot
If you have to think about where something is when you start cooking, it means your kitchen is not optimally organized. From oils and spices to knives and spatulas - if everything has a designated spot and everyone in the house is on the same page about it, prepping, cooking, and cleaning up should go seamlessly and take much less time.
Try to sort things based on their function rather than aesthetics. You know best which utilities you use most frequently and for what purpose, so use that knowledge to make the best use of time spent in the kitchen. If the kitchen utensils drawer refuses to close even after decluttering, consider storing some of them in containers on the counter. You can organize them by function or by material (rubber, wood, metal, etc.)
Related: Stop Making These 10 Storage Mistakes
6. Prepare ingredients before you start cooking
The French phrase ‘mise en place’ translates to ‘everything in its place’. It refers to the process of preparing the ingredients in a recipe before you start cooking. Preparing all the chopping and measuring in advance will not only make cooking a breeze but also the cleaning process after it. It will prevent you from scrambling for ingredients while the stove is working, which will ensure fewer mistakes and a more organized cooking experience overall.