5 Low-Cost Ways to Super-Effectively Organize Your Kitchen
Published on October 20, 2021
By Corinne Morahan
If you walk into your kitchen every day and think, “My day would be so much calmer if I could just get this place organized,” you’re hardly alone. As a professional organizer who has helped hundreds of clients in their homes, I want you to know that kitchens are one of the toughest spots to develop and maintain an organizational system for. Kitchens are the hub of the home: they have so many different types and sizes of items, and each person in the house uses the space multiple times a day. No wonder organizing your kitchen can seem daunting! But I’m here to tell you, it really is possible to organize — and maintain! — a beautiful kitchen without breaking the bank.
A well-organized kitchen can save you buckets of time; but how do you super-effectively organize your kitchen without spending hundreds of dollars on a bunch of organizational stuff? You might be surprised to learn that there are several steps you can take that will cost you absolutely nothing. I promise, you don’t have to spend a trillion dollars on a bunch of fancy bins and labels to get organized — in fact, a lot of it can be done with what you already have on hand:
1. Get rid of everything you don’t use
The first step in organizing isn’t actually organizing at all: it’s purging. This simply means getting rid of things. In this case, you need to get rid of every single item in your kitchen that you don’t use or eat. It costs nothing, and frees up space. Throw out all of your expired food and spices. (Yes, spices expire and lose their potency and flavor over time!) And it’s not just expired food you should get rid of. Those protein bars you bought because you wanted to be healthy but will never actually eat? Donate them to a food pantry.
Next, start pawing through your tools. Ask yourself: “Do I really need three whisks and seven spatulas?” If you do, great! Keep them. But chances are they are just taking up space. You will be amazed at how getting rid of the stuff you don’t use immediately makes you feel lighter and more organized. And if the guilt of wasting money is holding you back, remember this: that money has already been spent. It’s a sunk cost, and these items you aren’t using are providing you no value. In fact, they are continuing to drain value by taking up space and stressing you out. It’s time to get rid of them, guilt-free.
2. Spend time setting up your kitchen to work for you
After moving into a new home, the kitchen is often the room that gets set up first — but that means it’s often organized with the least intention. You might promise yourself to methodically organize your kitchen one day as you unpack your glassware, but then that day never comes. Thankfully, it’s not too late. Today, ask yourself if you have spent the time setting up your kitchen to function well in your space. Are your spices near where you prepare and cook food? Are your plates, dishes, and silverware in the cabinets closest to the dishwasher so you can easily unload it? Are your glasses near the water? Often, a simple swap of a cabinet can be the biggest game changer in saving us time and frustration.
3. Store items with the lid on
Yes, you read that right: Imagine never, ever having to search for a Tupperware lid or your water bottle top again because it’s stored on its bottom. As a bonus, you won’t keep any random pieces around that don’t have a match because you’ll know immediately if one part breaks or goes missing. It’s true that they can take up more space this way, so this might mean you have to pare down the number of storage items you own. But chances are high that you have more than you need anyway. And just think: your Tupperware and water bottles will never be a source of stress again. And if you’re low on space and want to store all your water bottles with the lids on, this acrylic bottle holder can turn any cabinet into the perfect water bottle zone.
4. Say goodbye to your junk drawer (seriously)
It really is possible to have a kitchen that has no junk in it. I have a husband and two kids, and we live in a junk drawer-free home. At Grid + Glam, we’ve created this reality for every client whose kitchen we’ve organized. But it does require going through the drawer, throwing out all the trash, and re-assigning everything that is left to a specific place to live in your home. There are a couple spots in our kitchen where products truly do help us stay organized, and an inexpensive “miscellaneous” drawer insert is one of them. A simple divider tray will do the trick instead.
5. Organize your food in zones
Whether you are blessed with a walk-in pantry or have a small kitchen with cabinets that are doing double duty, storing your food in zones will help keep you and your family organized. Keep all of your baking items together in one zone (flour, sugar, baking powder), dinner items in one zone, and grab-and-go-snacks in one zone. To make your life even easier, store snacks where little ones can grab them on their own and eliminate one more “Mom, can you…” in your day. Food zones also work in the fridge. Create categories that work for you: In mine, I have dedicated spots for cheese, veggies, fruit, leftovers, and food to cook. But the choice is yours! The best organized system is the one that works for your needs.
It really is easier (and so much less expensive) than you think to get your kitchen organized. Yes, it requires time, a little bit of patience, and a whole lot of strategic placement, but it is so worth it. And don’t forget to get everyone in your family on board with your new, organized setup. If you truly want to ensure the long-term organization of the space, it will take a commitment by everyone who lives in the house.
Corinne Morahan is the founder of the G+G Membership and the CEO of Grid + Glam, an organizing and media company designed to give busy women back their beautiful spaces and the breathing room they deserve. You can find more organizing tips on her website, GridandGlam, and her Instagram.