5 Kitchen Organizing Hacks That Are More Trouble than They’re Worth

updated Jul 16, 2020
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Credit: Lauren Kolyn

You know those Pinterest-worthy pantries and color-coded shelves that make you feel like your kitchen — no, your life — is just a total mess? Well, these picture-perfect versions, with their LaCroix cans perfectly spaced one inch apart, are often just that: picture-perfect. If your goal is to have a pretty space that you can #humblebrag about on Instagram, that’s fine. But if you want a kitchen that you can cook in, there are some “hacks” that are way more trouble than they’re worth.

These are those hacks.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

Lifestyle Director Lisa Freeman tried this hack at home and immediately regretted it. Did the inside of her cabinet door look pretty? Yes, it did. Did the spoons and cups slam against the door every time she opened it, scaring her and her husband? Yes, they did.

If you want to hang your cups and spoons, we suggest doing so on a rail with hooks. Or do what I do and nest your cups and spoons in a drawer; you’ll find they don’t take up that much drawer space, they’re easy to find, and they won’t cause a fright.

Credit: Lauren Kolyn

2. Putting spices into cute matching jars.

If you aren’t buying your spices from the bulk bin (in which case, we applaud you and you can ignore this), chances are your spices already come in a container with a label. These jars might not be cute and they might not match, but they exist! And transferring spices to new jars and adding labels is just another step (two, actually). Plus, you’re likely to have leftover spices in the original jars and we ask you: What do you do with that? You don’t just throw them away! So now you’ve got two sets of spice jars.

3. Overusing bins — especially ones that aren’t clear.

I like bins in moderation. They’re good for corralling things that go together, like baking spices or cookie cutters. But I often see pantries where people put things like canned goods inside a bin and I wonder: What is the point of that? Cans can be neatly stacked and organized all by themselves. If you have cans in a bin, then you need to take out the bin, take out the can, then put the bin back. If you have cans on a shelf, you just have to get the can. So much easier! Alternatively, try using a sheet pan to group like items so that when you need stuff for, say, your famous stir-fry, you can grab the tray and carry out multiple sauce bottles at once.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

4. Putting anything that has a container into another container.

About a year ago, I bought a few clear containers with the goal of storing rice and pasta and sugar and flour in them. Here’s the thing, though: Pasta comes in a box. Rice and sugar come in a bag — often one that’s resealable. My flour goes in the freezer, where a boxy container has no place. A year later, these containers are just sitting empty. Or, I’ll put my bag of sugar inside the container to make myself feel like the container was worth it. But it was not.

5. Organizing your pantry by color.

Here’s the thing about food and color: Blue foods or red foods or orange foods do not go together. Your yellow can of cornstarch does not belong next to your yellow pasta box. Your green olive oil bottle makes no sense next to your green tea. Teas go with teas, oils go with oils, grains go with grains. Forget about what you see on Instagram!

Got any others to add here? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.