10 Organizing Tasks to Start the New Year Off Right

published Jan 3, 2017
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(Image credit: Hayley Kessner)

You’ve made it through the holidays, and chances are your kitchen has taken a beating. Before you get yourself in a tizzy thinking about what you need to do to get it back into shape, just break it down into smaller tasks you can complete throughout the month. Finish these 10 organizing tasks by February and you’ll be good for the rest of the year.

See more photos from the kitchen pictured above: A Handmade, Homemade Australian Home at Apartment Therapy

1. Ask hard questions of your gadgets and appliances.

Do you really need a blender, food processor, soda maker, coffee maker, and toaster out on your counter? Nope. Find space in the cabinets for the items you don’t use all that often. And ask yourself the hardest question: “Do I even use this at all?” If the answer is no, gather what you don’t use and gift it to someone you know, trash it, or put it in the donate pile.

2. Weed out dishes and smaller tools.

Once you’ve gone through the big stuff, take a look at your smaller items. Just like with clothes, if you haven’t used a set of dishes or a random gadget in the last year, chances are you won’t this year either. Get rid of cracked wooden spoons, chipped bowls, and melted plastic utensils if you don’t use them.

3. Look up! Add vertical storage.

Now is the time to take advantage of extra wall space. Exposed brackets are so in these days! Mount some shelves and give canisters of dry ingredients or drinking glasses a new home. Or hang some pots and pans from a rack to help free up cabinet space. Just look up and you’re sure to find some more storage space.

Vertical Storage Inspiration

4. Consolidate ingredients.

Chances are you’ve accidentally bought multiple spices or dried ingredients, thinking you didn’t have them, right? Consolidate them into one container and then re-shelve them using a tiered spice rack or organizer so you can see everything a little easier from now on.

5. Do a fridge sweep.

We’re usually all about a time-saving shortcut, but this is one time we don’t really suggest cutting corners — especially if you didn’t have time to clean out your fridge before or after Thanksgiving or Christmas (you know, the big food holidays). Block out some time to take everything out of your fridge and wipe down the shelves and drawers. Then, put everything back, with soon-to-expire items in the front and like items together.

More Fridge Advice

6. Organize your leftover containers.

Don’t be embarrassed: Most people’s leftover containers are a hot mess. But yours won’t be anymore! Sort your containers by size and put the lids in a tidy stack nearby.

7. Befriend a bunch of baskets.

Baskets hide a manner of sins and instantly add organization to open shelving, pantries, or cabinets. Plus, they’re great for holding dish towels, trivets, cookie cutters, little bags of dry ingredients — anything, really. You can never have too many baskets.

A Case for Baskets in the Kitchen

8. Group like things together.

Make sure your cabinets and drawers make sense. Keep plastic wrap, aluminum foil, and sandwich bags together. Cutting boards should be grouped, serving pieces should all live together, and so on. Things will look prettier and this will save you so much time and anguish when you need something.

9. Downsize your cookbooks.

If you use all of them, great, but if there are cookbooks you’re hanging onto but never reference, it makes no sense to keep them. Donate or give them away if you don’t need them. It’s not hard to accumulate cookbooks and they take up more space than you realize.

Cookbook Inspiration

10. Make sure everything is accessible.

Do a check-in and make sure you have everything you need to cook and serve where you need it. Things that you use less frequently (like your gravy boat or Champagne flutes) should be stored up higher, while things you reach for every day should be lower and at an arm’s reach if you need them.

What are you doing to start the new year off right in the kitchen?