21 Little Ways to Have a More Organized Kitchen in 2021

updated Jan 8, 2021
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You might be tired of being in the kitchen as much as you have been this last year. And with so much use, your kitchen probably isn’t as in order as it was a few months ago. I, for one, began lockdown with a full-blown pantry clean-out and reorganizing session. Nine months later, I can barely tell it happened. 

With heavy use, maybe by multiple members of the household, your kitchen is likely also ready for a tidying up. Some newfound kitchen organization, with or without several more months of staying at home on the horizon, will bring you a bit of joy and ease every time you’re in there. 

Here are 21 little ways to kick the organization up a notch in 2021.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

1. Use drawer inserts wherever possible.

Drawer inserts add instant order to any drawer they rest in. Even if your items won’t fit in traditional drawer organizers, there are diagonal ones, expandable full-drawer options, and this beloved small-space cutlery organizer for narrow drawers.  

2. Add turntables wherever possible.

Turntables eliminate the problem of items in the back of the cupboard being inaccessible. Put oils and vinegars on one, use them in corners of the pantry, or store spices on two-tier spinning trays so what you need is always at your fingertips. Please allow me to suggest this one or this double-decker option.

Credit: Faith Durand

3. Use trays to corral small items left on counters.

Putting countertop items like hand soap or your candle on trays gives them a home and makes your whole kitchen look put together and deliberate. 

4. Clear as much off your counters as possible.

The less you have out on your counters, the less cluttered your kitchen looks and the less clutter continues to collect there. It’s fine to leave out the larger items you use every day, like the coffee maker, but really ask yourself what could find a spot inside a drawer or cabinet. For instance, I recently put my cooking tools inside a drawer rather than out on the counter and, in addition to clearing off my counters, having them tucked away means they aren’t dusty when I go to use them! 

Credit: Joe Lingeman/Apartment Therapy

5. Organize your routine kitchen tasks.

Rather than running the dishwasher whenever it gets full or taking out the trash when it’s near to overflowing, make a schedule. This way, you aren’t ever catching up on one task so you can do another. Organizing all your tasks is what makes your kitchen hum. 

Credit: Lauren Kolyn

6. Use shelf risers where applicable.

Shelf risers allow you to make use of vertical space. Not only will you gain space that may have gone unused, but you also won’t need to unstack items to get to something on the bottom. 

Credit: Raymond Forbes LLC/Stocksy

7. Get rid of duplicate tools.

One of the secrets of an organized space is to have one that isn’t crammed with too much stuff. Get rid of duplicate tools like spatulas, peelers, can openers, etc. Items with room to breathe are easier on the eye and easier to find. 

8. Cull your pots and pans.

Along the same lines, take stock of your cookware. If there are some you never use, consider donating them. No one says you have to keep an entire set together. In fact, you’ll probably enjoy the extra space much more than the too-small pot that only gets in the way when you reach for your favorite. 

9. Label your fridge shelves.

Labeling tells you, and everyone else, where to put things away and where to find things when you need them. When it comes time to, say, clean out leftovers, you won’t need to scour the whole fridge looking for them, but can concentrate your effort on the leftovers shelf, saving you time and energy. 

Credit: Joe Lingeman

10. Label your pantry shelves.

Labeled pantry shelves not only offer the same kind of focused search capabilities as labeling your fridge, but also allow you to stay on top of inventory. Knowing you already have three boxes of cake mix because they’re all in one spot and you know exactly where to look for them keeps you from spending extra money on yet another box and then squishing that in the pantry, too. 

Credit: From Left to Right: Joe Lingeman, Olive & Mango, Joe Lingeman

11. Meal plan.

Meal planning also might not seem to relate directly to having an organized kitchen, but it really does. Knowing what you have, what you can use up by planning certain meals, and buying only what you need saves you time and money and cuts down on disorder in the kitchen. 

Credit: Kitchn

12. Take inventory before you grocery shop.

This goes hand-in-hand with meal planning. Make it a habit to “shop your house” before going to the grocery store. Cross off anything on your shopping list that you already have at home and take note of ingredients that you have that need to get used soon. Having these habits will ensure that your kitchen is full of the food items that will get used rather than extras that will take up space and may end up going to waste. 

Credit: Joe Lingeman

13. Make a no-keep list and stick to it.

Decide once and for all that you won’t hang on to extra chopsticks or the ketchup packs that come with your takeout. This way, you won’t be stuffing it in drawers or trying to make space for it. Less to organize means a kitchen that’s more organized all the time. 

Credit: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn; Prop Stylist: Stephanie Yeh/Kitchn

14. Be purposeful with your under-sink storage.

Don’t treat your under-sink cabinet like a catchall or you’ll end up with a jumbled mess before you know it. Only keep what you need and use items like bins, risers, and over-the-door racks to keep items within reach and in order. 

Related: The 9 Most Brilliant Under-the-Sink Organizing Tips and Tricks You’ll Wish You Knew About Way Earlier

Credit: Joe Lingeman

15. Employ the “filing system” with your bakeware.

Stacking baking sheets and muffin tins means you’ll have to undo piles when you need something, and no one needs that kind of stress and noise in their life. Instead, use a rack (or this smart tension rod hack!), which allows you to file your bakeware vertically. This way you can grab just what you need without even having to touch anything else. 

Credit: Sarah Crowley

16. Try to use uniform containers.

Containers have a funny way of adding to the clutter — while they’re being stored and while they’re being used. One way around that? Try to use uniform containers. This will help with nesting and stacking. This tip works for spices, too: Whether you commit to buying one brand or decant into containers of your own, uniform spice containers will tidy up your spice situation for sure. 

17. Create zones.

Having kitchen zones takes the guesswork out of where to store things and also helps keep your kitchen in order while you’re working. For instance, I have a portion of my counters where I do my baking. The stand mixer lives out on that counter, and the drawer beneath it houses our measuring cups and spoons, spatulas, etc. All the baking takes place on this counter and the mess is confined here too. 

Credit: Joe Lingeman

18. Take rarely used items out of the kitchen.

In keeping with the spirit of creating space to support organization, take a look at everything you’re storing in your kitchen. Consider whether you can take rarely used items out of the kitchen and store them somewhere else. For instance, the roasting pan you use once a year could get stored on the top shelf of a closet, freeing up valuable space in your kitchen. Ditto for all those vases, the ice cream maker you only use in the summer, etc!

Credit: Minette Hand

19. Use back-of-the-door storage.

The backs of doors are often the unsung, unused heroes of freeing up space in your kitchen. You can attach narrow shelves for small items like sauces and spices, or use a shoe storage organizer for snacks and other small pantry items. And don’t forget the backs of cabinet doors. I use racks on the back of my under-sink cabinet door to hold cleaning spray. 

20. Use hooks where possible.

Whether it’s on the back of a door or on a wall, a well-placed hook can solve many organization head-scratchers. I use them in the pantry to hang aprons and on the inside of a cabinet door to hang bottle brushes. 

Credit: Sarah Crowley

21. Get your food storage container lids under control.

Random food storage lids are the bane of many kitchens. Take out all your food storage containers and lids, match them with one another, get rid of extras, and pick a way to keep them in order going forward.

What are you doing to be more organized in 2021?