Kitchen Organization 101

Free-standing natural wood pantry shelf with an abundance of clear containers of the same style in many sizes elegantly organizing pastas, legumes, and other dry cooking ingredients.

No matter how often you cook, your kitchen is often the communal point in your home. With all the activity and gathering in this space, it’s inevitable that clutter starts to accumulate. What can you do to minimize the kitchen clutter? How can you create a functional space that works for everyone in your home?

A streamlined routine makes a noticeable difference in how you move and live in your kitchen. I have five easy steps to help you declutter and create a system for an organized kitchen: Empty, Categorize, Toss & Donate, Create Zones, and Maintain. Let’s talk about how to follow this process and reorganize your kitchen to match your own lifestyle.

1. Empty

To declutter your kitchen, the first thing is remove ALL the contents of the space. This step can feel overwhelming, which is understandable when you have every single thing scattered on your counters, but it will kickstart the process. Removing items and starting fresh is the only way to truly see and know your inventory and decide how to reorganize.

2. Categorize

After pulling everything out, you can begin to identify the categories that make up your inventory. Sort through your items and group like items together to form categories. Think about the categories that are unique to your specific routine.

Here are some examples of categories:

  • Dinnerware
  • Silverware
  • Pots and pans
  • Utensils and gadgets
  • Cutting boards
  • Appliances
  • Spices
  • Food storage
  • Towels
  • Cleaning supplies

3. Toss & Donate

Getting rid of items helps you create more space, which helps you keep things organized and decluttered.

Here are some suggestions to consider when assessing your kitchen items:

  • Toss or donate expired food or spices. Know what expiration labels mean (What Food Expiration Date Labels Actually Mean) You can donate some expired canned goods, pasta, sauces, etc. to local food banks in your area.
  • Toss or donate any food or kitchen items that no longer fit your lifestyle or diet.
  • Toss broken or chipped cooking utensils or dishes.
  • Toss or donate any duplicates. (You don’t really need four of the same size spatula.)
  • Donate unused small appliances or tools. If something isn’t getting used in your household, there may be a better home for it with someone else.

4. Create Zones

Create a roadmap (jotting it down on a piece of paper is fine) of where zones are located and where items should go based on the flow of your kitchen and your routine. What items do you need handy to cook your typical meals? Do you need a kids' zone? Do you bake often, or rarely? How often do you tend to entertain guests?

The goal is to create a functional space personalized to you. Below are some ideas, but feel free to make it your own. No matter how you decide to organize your kitchen and pantry, It is important to choose systems that work for you and your needs. 

Preparation Zone

(An area with counter space, typically near the stove or an island)

  • Cutting boards
  • Mixing bowls
  • Serving bowls
  • Kitchen gadgets

Food Storage Zone

(Near the refrigerator, pantry, or island)

  • Tupperware
  • Storage containers
  • Plastic wrap
  • Foil
  • Plastic bags

Cooking Zone

(Near the stovetop and oven)

  • Baking sheets
  • Pots and pans
  • Oils and spices
  • Spatulas and cooking tools

Serving Zone

(Near the sink and dishwasher)

  • Plates
  • Bowls
  • Glasses and mugs
  • Silverware
  • Serving utensils
  • Cloths and hand towels

Cleaning Zone

(Under the sink)

  • Cleaning supplies
  • Sponges and gloves
  • Dishwasher detergent
  • Trash bags

Product Recommendations for Zones

Plastic Storage Bins with Handles (The Container Store): These bins are very versatile and great for storing snacks, canned goods, pasta, bags, and food storage containers. 

Stackable Wood Storage Bin (Target): These wood bins are great for snacks, fruit, picnic or BBQ items, or towels.

10-Inch Non-Skid Lazy Susan (Amazon): Use these to place spices, oils, canned goods, spreads, sauces, and cups. You can also place these in corners to properly utilize all the space and easily rotate to access your items.

Clear Stackable Pantry Organizer Bins (Amazon): Great for snacks, canned goods, drinks, pasta, spreads, and spices.

3-Tier Spice Rack (Amazon): This rack makes it easy to see and access spices and canned goods.

5. Maintain

Now all of your kitchen items have a home and you can easily see when you’re running low on something (and when you aren’t). This system is not hard to maintain, but you’ll have to periodically commit to going through your inventory, tidying up, and making edits as your lifestyle or routines change. Remember, put things back where they belong. Small daily habits will make all the difference! 

Happy Organizing!


For more in-depth guidance and tips, check out the Feather & Nest DIY Pantry Guide.

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