January is the perfect time for a kitchen tune-up. A new year has dawned, and with it the possibility of new cooking adventures. If tackling your kitchen seems overwhelming, start with one (or all) of these eight tips for a neater, cleaner, and more organized kitchen. 1. Get rid of plastic packaging in the pantry and store your food in clear containers. Nothing breaks up the flow of a pretty pantry more than a mess of plastic packaging piled one on top of the other. Instead, store your food staples in glass jars or other clear containers. The cupboard will immediately feel more organized and accessible.
2. De-junk your utensil drawer with an organizer insert. Don't just throw everything into the drawer! Instead, use drawer organizer inserts to keep your cooking utensils and tools separate, neat, and easy to locate.
3. Create a waste-sorting and cleaning station under the kitchen sink. The area under the kitchen sink is an awkward space, and too often a catch-all for trash, recycling, and cleaning supplies. Make it easy on yourself with pull-out drawer gliders and trash can systems, which are easy to install and oh-so-effective at keeping the area clean and manageable.
4. Add wall storage. If you're short on space in your kitchen, make the most of your wall! Hanging pots and pans can not only be effective storage, but also a built-in work of art-especially if you have colorful cookware or a pretty pegboard.
5. Get a rack to store your pot lids. Pot lids always seem to be in the way, don't they? Which is why we love pot lid racks. They're inexpensive, and you can hang them inside cupboards or behind a pantry door if you don't want your lids exposed.
6. Buy or keep the essentials and get rid of the rest. The #1 enemy of a neat, organized kitchen is too much stuff. If you're just starting to stock your kitchen or looking to pare down, stick with the essentials and give away any small electric appliances, cookware, bakeware and utensils you don't use.
7. Once you've pared down, organize items according to task. Your kitchens should be set up to eliminate any unnecessary movement, so group items together by task, with the most-used items within arm's reach. For example, spices, oils, and cooking utensils should be near the stove, while cutting boards and knives should be near your prep area.
8. Keep cookbook collections in control with the "one in, one out" policy. Keep your cookbook collection in check with this simple trick: for every new cookbook you get, pass on an old cookbook to a friend or family member. Before you give it away, make sure to copy out a few of your favorite recipes, then pass it on with good will!
(Images: 1+2. Leela Cyd Ross; 3. Top: Lauren Zerbey, Bottom: Jill Slater; 4. Sara Kate Gillingham-Ryan; 5. Faith Durand; 6+7. Leela Cyd Ross; 8. Emily Ho)