How to organise your kitchen and keep it tidy for good

Looking for a new way to freshen up your home? Decluttering your kitchen will help you feel more in control of your space and make your life much easier. Here, an expert organiser shares a guide to doing it properly.

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Many of us will take the time each year, maybe even seasonally, to declutter and organise our wardrobes, making space for new things and putting some kind of order into place. It makes a lot of sense to do this, given we are taking things in and out of our wardrobes every single day. But perhaps the time and effort we spend on clearing our clothes out could be better spent somewhere else: in our kitchens.

We spend so much time in our kitchens and so many of the household items we accumulate end up there too: novelty mugs you receive as gifts, the paperwork that ends up in the ‘clutter draw’ and all of the food you buy on at least a weekly basis. Your kitchen is bound to end up disorganised because this accumulation of stuff, so taking the time to clear out your cupboards and to put some organisational methods in place is seriously worthwhile. 

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“You often have a lot more in your kitchen than you need, particularly if you live with other adults. If you have both brought things from previous living situations, you’ve probably ended up with duplicate kitchen items,” says Kate Ibbotson, a professional organiser and the founder of The Tidy Mind.

“Prime storage space in kitchens is often taken up by things that don’t get used,” Kate continues, explaining that decluttering your kitchen can be a really fruitful task. “You can’t get organised before you have decluttered.”

Here, Kate shares her expert guide to decluttering your kitchen and putting techniques and habits into place that will help you stay organised. 

Categorise everything in your kitchen

You’ve probably been told that it’s a good idea, when clearing out your wardrobe, for example, to take everything out so you can see what you own, but Kate says that this is something to avoid in the kitchen. “Instead, categorise your kitchen items as this will make the process much easier and less overwhelming,” she says.

You can get quite specific with your categories, separating your food into things like:

  • Herbs and spices
  • Baking ingredients
  • Snacks
  • Breakfast foods

You can also separate your kitchen equipment into things like:

  • Pots and pans
  • Baking equipment
  • Plastic containers
  • Cutlery 

Avoid holding onto spares

“You need to figure out what the maximum amount of cutlery or crockery that you’d need in a given day is,” Kate explains. She adds that you don’t need to consider dinner parties, unless these are something you are hosting regularly. “If you do want to keep spares for things like parties, store them outside of the kitchen, in a loft or storage area,” Kate suggests.

“You don’t need as many options as you think you do. In fact, it can complicate your life,” she adds. Kate also recommends avoiding bulk-buying food if you are able to. “Buying in bulk might be slightly cheaper but if you haven’t got room for it, are those money savings really worth the impact on your space?” 

Organise your food by meals

Kate says that the best way to keep your food organised is meal planning before you shop, as well as trying to limit your food shops to once per week. She also recommends meal kits, as they provide you with the exact amounts of ingredients you need, so you don’t have to store a huge box of cornflour that you only use a teaspoon of once a month, for example.

Once you have found better ways to food shop, Kate recommends categorising your food by meal, storing breakfast foods together, snacks together and lunch and dinner foods together, where you can.  

Use your own packaging

“Often, the packaging food comes in is really bulky,” Kate says. To combat this, she recommends removing your food from its packaging when you buy it and storing it in labelled containers that work for your space.

You should also try and store your food so that you can see it at all times, Kate says. “You can store spares behind each other as you don’t need to see them but if something you need is at the back of the cupboard, you might forget you have it and accidentally repurchase it, which can create clutter.”  

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Make the most of your storage space

“There’s usually so much wasted space in cupboards,” Kate says, advising that you should try and fill empty space in your kitchen in order to make the most of your storage options. “Change the height of your shelves or buy some tiered storage. You can also buy under the shelf baskets that properly fit your cupboards,” Kate suggests.

Other options include ceiling hangers for pots and pans or hooks that you can add to cupboard doors. “With pots and pans in particular, try and avoid piling them up as this can make them difficult to get to and may create mess in the long run,” Kate adds. 

Put daily habits in place to keep your kitchen tidy

We’re often in a rush when we’re cooking or tidying, so kitchen equipment and food ends up being put back in the wrong place. However, there’s only so much time you can spend decluttering, so putting good daily habits in place when it comes to kitchen organization is a really good idea.

“If a piece of kitchen equipment ends up at the bottom of the pile, ask yourself when the last time you used it was and if you really need it,” Kate says. She adds that you could also put something in storage to see if you miss it, if you’re not sure whether or not it’s something you need. “If something breaks, get rid of it there and then – don’t just put it back and promise yourself to get it fixed,” Kate adds.

From there, according to Kate, you should try and clean out your kitchen seasonally and/or when a big lifestyle change happens, like if you move house or have a baby. 

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  • Kate Ibbotson, professional organiser

    Kate Ibbotson shares her kitchen decluttering tips.

    Kate Ibbotson is a professional organiser and founder of The Tidy Mind, an organisation that offers decluttering and productivity coaching. Kate has BA degrees in both Psychology and Social Work and she is also a qualified life coach. She has combined these skills to develop a practical approach to decluttering that also prioritises emotional support, having successfully ran The Tidy Mind for nearly seven years.

Images: Getty and Kate Ibbotson

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