Get organised by de-cluttering
Whether you’re cooking for yourself or the whole family, you’re going to spend a considerable amount of time in the kitchen. Make that time as productive and pleasant as possible – and save precious time for doing other things – by following these basic ideas for efficiency.
* If all the cake pans rush to greet you every time you open a cupboard, if you can never find the potato peeler, if you haven’t made bread in your bread machine since the Christmas you got it, or if you own enough takeaway containers to open a shop, identify your specific clutter issues because you’re wasting an enormous amount of time on them.
* De-clutter the second drawer down. Empty out each utensil and inspect it, setting aside anything that’s broken or useless. Throw out broken utensils and take ones you no longer use to an op-shop or charity shop. Clean out the drawer before replacing all the remaining utensils.
* Sort out all the pots and pans stored in kitchen cupboards and get rid of anything superfluous. This will make room and you won’t waste any more time looking for what you need at the back of a cupboard.
* For each kitchen gadget, ask yourself, ‘When was the last time I used this?’ If you can’t think of the answer, don’t waste any more time: give it away, throw it out or at least don’t keep it in the kitchen. Only keep the things you have used in the last month. Don’t be sentimental!
* Put the things you do use every day in places where they are obvious and most easily accessible. This way you’ll always have them to hand, which saves time instantly.
Go straight for the essentials
Extra ‘stuff’ that clutters up your kitchen stops you from finding everyday essentials. The solution? Get rid of everything that’s superfluous.
* Inspect everything with a critical eye and throw out the things that are no longer in good condition: glasses, plates and dishes that are chipped or have become dull over time, frying pans that are no longer flat and lids that no longer fit a matching container.
* Don’t keep things that are no longer useful – plastic dishes that your children used years ago and trinkets that have no place in a kitchen.
* In the pantry, throw away the things that are no longer fit to be consumed: condiments that have lost their colour and taste, and that have been sitting in the cupboard for 10 years, and products that have passed their use-by date or that are infested with weevils.
Easily stored and easily found
* Choose a permanent place for everything – don’t just store things where you happen to put them. If each item has a set place, you’ll save considerable time: you won’t have to search for items at the last minute, and the whole family will know where things are without asking… and where they should be put away after being used.
* Group the things that go together in the same place so you won’t have to make so many small trips. For instance, store the coffee paraphernalia and the cups in a cupboard near the coffee machine, the frying pans and saucepans near the stove, and the kitchen tidy not too far from your work surface – this means you’re less likely to spill scraps on the ground.
* Place all the containers and packages that you don’t use every day at the back of cupboards, or in high cupboards, and place the foodstuffs with a later use-by date behind those that should be consumed sooner.
Seeing everything at a glance
Improving the visibility in your kitchen is such a simple thing to do and will save you an incredible amount of time.
* Fill up transparent, hermetically sealed glass jars or clear plastic canisters with flour, sugar, rice, pasta, biscuits, snacks and so on. This gives you a clear view of what you’re looking for and what needs to be replenished when you’re making a shopping list. It also has the added advantage of keeping food fresher and pest-free for longer.
* Opt for cupboards with glass doors. That way, you won’t have to open three doors to find a saucer!
* Attach a horizontal bar above the work surface to hang utensils such as scissors, a grater, spatulas, skimmers and ladles, etc. Their size and shape can make it difficult to store them in the same drawer and people have a tendency to put them anywhere, which means you never know where to find them next.