Saturday, 2 March 2013

Organising your House Series - Kitchen: Tip # 2. Categorise to Organise

This tip will work for some people, and will be counter-intuitive to others. I know some people like to organise by priority (putting everything you use most frequently in one place). I like to organise by category, so all similar things are together, usually by material. This also has the added benefit that when husband/well meaning friend or relative pack your dishes away for you (something to be encouraged when you have small children!), they'll be able to find where thing go. If it works for you, great!

Here a list of the categories I use:
  • Every day items (plates, bowls, glasses)
    – I keep the frog’s plates in here too so that I can get everything for dinner from one place.
  • Glassware and ceramics (glass bowls, ramekins, le crueust casserole dish)
    – The higher the shelf, the less used.
  • Plastic (tupperware, colander)
    – Remember to throw all tupperware away that doesn’t have a lid/base. I’d even go as far as to say, (if space is an issue) only keep the sizes that you actually use. Like that tiny one that couldn’t fit a walnut in. What is that even for?!! If you, like me, don’t know; toss it.
  • Pots and pans
    – I have pots and pans that have detachable handles. They’re a great space saver and make things stack very neatly. Not at all saying you need to buy a new pan set, but when it’s time to do so maybe keep these in mind.
  • Casserole dishes
  • Baking (cooling rack, cake tins etc)
    – I don’t bake very often, so some of my baking stuff is in the cupboard. Especially things for Christmas baking – I keep that with my Christmas decorations. Remember the 6 months rule.
  • Tea and coffee stuff (mugs, tea and coffee)
    – I like this all to be in the same cupboard, although I know some people like their mugs to be on their counter top. I suggest this isn’t the best idea, especially when space is an issue. If you can clear a cupboard for them, do so. They get dirty and broken when they’re out. Also, do you need that many mugs? Think about the most amount of people you have around for coffee at one time – that is the amount of mugs you need. I’d say keep the ones that mean the most sentimentally, and the others should go. From now on operate a ‘one-in-one-out’ system – don’t put a new mug in your cupboard without taking an old one out. Be brutal!
  • Cutlery
    – Odd cutlery really frustrates me, but of course I know that this is sometimes necessary. But again, how many people do you have to dinner at once? Are you really going to throw that 15-person dinner party you’ve been talking about for the last 5 years? If you’re sure you’ll get around to it, then how about packing some of that cutlery away, and only keep out the number you need on a daily basis, matching if possible (if you have them) – makes it look so much neater and (I think) easier for cleaning/storing.
  • Utensils
    – This is the one I’m most guilty of! I love kitchen gadgets, and am very easily taken in by new-fangled items promising to make my life easier. Case in point, my most recent clear-out had me find 4 different utensils to deal with garlic, all of them different. I bet you didn’t know there were 4 ways to prepare garlic! In actual fact I still couldn’t name them as 2 of them I didn’t even know how to use. So, implement the 6 months rule again. For utensils maybe a 3-month rule is more useful. Also, watch out for replicas. You do not need 5 different ladles. Pick your favourite 1 or 2 at most, and get rid of the rest.
  • Miscellaneous
    – A little tip about the place in your kitchen for miscellaneous things. Try not to have a drawer for this purpose - things will get lost and dirty and you'll find things in there you couldn't possibly need. To sum this up perfectly, look at this clip:

(NB - this is not to say your husband shouldn’t have a ‘man drawer’! In fact I think it’s really important that men have their own space that you have nothing to do with. Just if it could be somewhere other than your kitchen, that would be best.)

Anyway, your miscellaneous place. Try to have this be a cupboard, and then put different baskets for different things in there. So in mine I have a wicker basket for medicines (clean out regularly), and a metal basket for things like light bulbs (the ideal ‘man drawer’ filler!). I also have placemats (do you need that many?!) and electrical items that I use regularly. By that I mean at least every 1-2 weeks, such as a toastie-maker (that's right, we still eat them regularly!), coffee maker and slow cooker. Those electrical items you don’t use frequently (but at least every 6 months) can go in a cupboard. For example I have an egg boiler and a steamer in mine. And yes, even a bread-maker, which I haven’t used since I was first married and had delusions of freshly-made bread every morning. 
·         Frog Shelf
– I’m sure I’ll need to expand this later when he gets bigger – for now there’s just some bottles and bowls. Bottles fall all over the place and get in a mess – try to put them together and then in a basket if you can (I love my baskets!). This is a good place to put your steriliser if you have one, but not your breast pump (if you use one)– I don’t express in the kitchen so it’s no good in there.
I'll do a different post about organising your pantry later (just as soon as I get around to organising mine!).

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