What is the best way to keep a kitchen well organized?

1. Create zones to keep your supplies and tools within reach

2. Clean as you go

3. Keep a constant eye on the amount of tools and whether you are using them

What are the different types of zones?

Prep Zone = This area will include your knife collection, poultry shears, cutting boards and other prep containers including measuring spoons and cups and mixing bowls. This is also where your Tupperware, baggies and paper wraps should live.

Cook Zone = This zone is located on and around the stove and oven. Store all cooking utensils within arms reach of this zone. A ceramic jar takes up a small amount of space and keeps your spoons, spatulas and whisks close at hand. You will also need to store your baking racks, pots and pans and pot holders within this zone.

Bake Zone = If you love to bake, you might find it handy to store your flour, sugar, baking powder, a set of measuring cups and spoons, your favorite mixing bowl, etc. together in one convenient spot. Right below these items will be the cabinet with the cookie trays, baking sheets etc.

Serving Zone = Everything you need to set the table including plates, bowls, platters, flat wear, napkins, trivets, cups and stem wear and the whole shebang!

It might even make great sense to keep your much loved and frequently used condiments here: salt and pepper, hot sauce, liquid aminos? Whatever your family uses with most meals.

Clean Zone = This is obviously by the sink and hopefully the dishwasher too. Keep your soaps, towels, scrub brushes, drying rack all in this area. A pretty ceramic flower pot will keep your scrub brushes upright and the hole in the bottom will keep them drained and free of muck and slime.

Waste Zone = This area is getting more complicated as we endeavor to recycle as much as possible. You will want an area large enough to hold your trashcan, recycle bin and possible even a compost container. The best location will be close to the cleaning and prep zone.

Storage Zone = If you are lucky, you have walk-in pantry, if not you still need to create a zone to keep all of your excess dry and canned goods.

A Bonus Zone = If you have kids, another great zone to create will encompass breakfast and lunch. Use lower cabinets to hold breakfast bowls, cups with lids, cereals and possibly even the peanut butter and jelly. The ideal location 6twill be close to the prep zone so it will be easy to make sandwiches and bag up your lunch items in a snap!

What about my pantry? How can I keep that organized?

There are many ways to organize a pantry but the most organized pantry will also have specific zones created within.

Here are a few examples of pantry zones you might use:

Condiments, Sauces

Canned Goods: Soups, Veggies

Baking Zone


Teas / Coffees / Canned Beverages

Snack Zone

International Foods

Breakfast Zone

Entertaining Foods

Do you have any favorite organizing devices for pantry items?

For cans – If you have a large amount of shelf area, use stepped stacker shelves. These shelves come in white plastic or metal and expand to fit your shelf width. Make sure to buy the extra large shelves, the regular size typically accommodate spice jars, not canned goods.

For cans – You can also use extra large Lazy Susans with a tall lip on the edge. The extra large susans will hold 20-30 cans and maximize your recessed corner areas. Simply spin and find what you are looking for in a snap!

For bottles of sauces – Lazy Susans are the best storage device. Use as many as you need to hold all of your sauce bottles. I also use these in the cabinet next to my stove for quick access to oils and vinegars.

For Bags of Beans and Rice – Remove packaging them and store into tall rectangular containers. You could also keep them in their original packaging and pile them on top of each other in the plastic or glass containers with lids that seal tight. Avoiding round containers will save precious shelf space.

For Pastas – Baskets or plastic square or rectangular open bins keep these packages from falling all over the shelves. You can place this basket conveniently beside the marinara bevy.

Any Other Tips For an Organized Kitchen?

1. Keep all papers off of the kitchen counter. If you do bills in the kitchen, designate a drawer to hold the bills in between payments. Keep stamps, envelops, and pens within the same space. If you don’t have an extra drawer, create a vertical storage space that will live at the far end of a counter against a wall. Keep all papers and materials within that container. Stepped vertical file holders or stepped baskets work well. Only use tools that require minimal counter space and please do keep everything vertical and out of piles on the countertop!

2. Wipe down and clean out one drawer or shelf at a time at periods when they are the most empty. Cleaning a little at a time makes it less of a chore.

3. Determine where to store items based on how frequently you use them. For instance, if you only use your crockpot during the winter months, store it away from your main cabinets. It might even make sense to store it on the garage or somewhere outside of the kitchen area.

4. For those items that you use on a weekly basis, keep them in easy to access cabinets front and center, not high up or in the back out of reach. If you use one appliance every day like a small food processor,, it might deserve to live on your counter right beside the stash of knives and cutting boards.

These tips came from my interview with Betsy Karetnick & Sunny Anderson on Martha Stewart Living Show broadcast on Sirius Radio October 18, 2010