There's something to be said for tackling your kitchen top to bottom, taking everything out, throwing a bunch of stuff away, and putting it all back in its proper place. But let's be honest — sometimes you just don't have the time, energy, or inclination to give your kitchen a total organizational overhaul.
In the spirit of those times, here are 10 tiny ways to give a jolt to your kitchen's functionality. These are quick fixes, one-and-dones, for when you haven't got time to put everything in order (or just don't feel like it). Even better, each one takes just 10 minutes or less.
1. Assess your spices.
This is not the time to restock or replace every item in your spice cabinet. Save that for a rainy day. The 10-minute version of tackling your spices is a three-point process.
- Refill your pepper mill and salt cellar.
- Label anything that needs a label.
- Look at the jars to see what's empty or close to it and make a grocery list.
2. Sort the mail pile.
Mail, magazines, your kids' artwork, or those newspaper-style coupons that show up unbidden; for as digital as our lives have become, piles of paper still seem to accumulate on the kitchen table, counter, and the surface of the fridge.
Tackle it by collecting everything into one single pile, fetching your recycling bin, and dividing your stack into the following categories: things that are urgent (bills, invitations, etc.), things for leisure (magazines), and things for keeps (records to file, a curated selection of artwork). If it doesn't fall into one of those three categories, throw it into the recycling bin.
3. Get a handle on leftovers.
No, this isn't an entire fridge clean-out — it's a survey of the things that aren't condiments or raw ingredients. Whether home-cooked, store-bought, or leftover from a restaurant, taking 10 minutes to get a handle on the leftovers, getting rid of or freezing where appropriate, will free up space and prevent things from getting funky in the darkest corners of your fridge.
4. Put away your clean dishes.
Nobody likes a sink full of dirty dishes, but more often than not they're creating less visual clutter than their clean counterparts piled up next to the sink. Help the whole cycle flow more smoothly by unloading clean dishes from the dish rack and dishwasher and put them away entirely. Then, take a minute to wash up those few coffee mugs or cereal bowls in the sink and the entire kitchen will seem more streamlined.
5. Organize the linens.
Pull out the drawer, basket, or wherever you keep your kitchen linens. Separate cloth napkins from dishtowels and tablecloths from placemats. Match patterns together and make sure everything is neatly folded. Done.
6. Organize your baking pans and cutting boards.
Depending on what you're dealing with, this could turn into more than a tiny organizing task. Keep it to under 10 minutes by simply stacking or shelving like-with-like, nesting things where possible, and stowing the flat things that you use daily (favorite cutting board) in front of flat things that you use infrequently (pizza peel).
7. Stash the odds and ends.
Twist-ties and rubber bands accumulate on kitchen counters and windowsills far too easily. Clear the decks of these little bits, basnishing them to designated storage areas. The same goes for travel mugs, water bottles, or anything else that might be your clutter of choice.
8. Take stock of your plastic containers.
We have no shortage of ideas for the best ways to organize your collection of food-storage containers, but a few guiding principles support all of them: Get rid of any lids without bottoms (or bottoms without lids), anything that is warped, and anything that carries a distinct aroma.
9. Put your pots and pans in order.
Whether you use a rack, drawer, or series of cabinets to store your pots and pans, chances are that it could use some attention. Stow the lids and nest the pots in a way that makes sense to you. Stash crepe pans or other uni-taskers outside of your premium pan real estate. And if you're the person who leaves your cast iron skillet on the stovetop between uses, take 10 minutes and show it some love.
10. Pick one cabinet or drawer and deal with it.
If all else fails, simply choose one little pocket of your kitchen and organize that. A pantry cabinet, your tea collection, your silverware, or your coffee mugs — it won't always show, but sometimes a little change is all you need.
What tiny organizing or cleaning activities make the most difference in your own kitchen?