Welcome to the new year, friends! Are you feeling refreshed, reinvigorated, and ready for a new year in the kitchen? We are, too! Official "resolutions" can be weighty and intimidating; we find simpler, more accessible changes to be far more inspiring and life-changing, which is why we've put together this list of 10 small ways to make your kitchen just a little better, easier, and more enjoyable this year.
10 Small Ways to Improve Your Kitchen in 2014
1. Label your pantry jars: Faith has written before about the transforming power of a labeler in her pantry, and it's advice well taken! If you don't have a labeler, you could also label jars with washi tape. When the pantry becomes easier to navigate, so does your life in the kitchen.
2. Reorganize your measuring spoons. If you have more than one set of measuring spoons, don't keep them all piled up together in the drawer divider. Instead, give the teaspoons and tablespoons their own little compartment. Those are the measurements you'll probably reach for the most anyway, and this simple update makes it easier to sort the spoons and keep them organized.
3. Oil your cutting boards. Just five minutes a month — that's all it takes to keep your cutting boards in tiptop shape. Considering they're such a major workhorse in the kitchen, it's worth it to take good care of them so they last a long time.
4. Clean your knives properly. Like the cutting boards above, we wouldn't be anywhere without our knives, so it's worth learning the proper way to clean and care for them. Do it a few times, and it'll soon become a habit!
5. Tiny kitchen? Maximize your counter space. On Monday we shared a brilliant little tutorial for cozy burner covers — a great solution if you find yourself frequently frustrated by your lack of adequate countertop space.
6. Rethink (and maybe redo) your cookware storage. Pots, pans, cookie sheets...they're essential, but they take up a lot of room. If you're not satisfied with your current storage setup, find a new solution. A few ideas: store stack pans in a wire organizer, use a ceiling pot rack, or hang them in a corner cabinet. And don't forget about organizing your pot lids! My new favorite way to store stainless steel lids is a magnetic knife rack.
7. Light it up! Having gone from a very dim kitchen to now having adequate task lighting, I can tell you the change is revelatory. This update needn't be expensive either. You can install under-cabinet lights or just bring in a swing-arm task lamp if nothing else. I installed two of IKEA's RANARP Clamp Spotlights over the workspace in my kitchen, and I love them. (You can see how they look here.)
8. Don't be a refrigerator bag lady. Old habits die hard, and for me it took awhile to let go of my grocery-bags-in-the-refrigerator storage method. I'm still not perfect, but life in the kitchen is so much better when I open my fridge and see properly washed, prepped, and packaged greens and vegetables. Not only does it help keep my fridge neater, but it also means I'm more likely to eat those goods rather than letting them languish in an opaque plastic bag.
9. Buy a fire extinguisher. If you haven't done this, now is the time! You hope you never have to use it, but you don't ever want to find yourself needing one and not having it available! Make sure to buy one that is suitable for Class B (flammable liquids like grease, gasoline, and oil) or Class K (vegetable oils, animal oils, or fats in cooking appliances) fires.
10. Pick one thing to prettify. You may not have time or resources to do a full-scale Kitchn Cure right now, and that's fine! But January is a great time to do something a little special for your kitchen. Maybe you finally buy a big clock to hang over the door, or a pretty tea towel, or some nice-smelling dish soap. Maybe you move a plant from the living room into the sunny spot by your kitchen window. Whatever it is, take a moment to recommit to your kitchen and cooking life for 2014. It's going to be a good year!
What small changes are you making in your kitchen this year?