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    32 Kitchen Organizing Basics That You Should Probably Know By Now

    Here's the 101.

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    1. If you want to get rid of stuff (which, you don't necessarily have to!), choose a sorting system that you think would be most useful for you and your things. And put your focus on choosing what's most worth it to continue including in your kitchen, instead of on what you're letting go.

    Penguin Random House, St. Martin's Griffin

    Maybe you read the famous Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up (or watch the Netflix show), and plan to pull every last thing out of your cabinets, pantry, and fridge to go through one by one so you can out which ones actually, y'know, ~spark joy~ (which in the kitchen, can be stuff that you use regularly but don't like, love *and* stuff that you hold near and dear but use once a year). It's on Amazon for $9.69, or find it at your local bookstore or library.

    Or you might opt for something more chill like Un**** Your Habitat, which is filled with humor and empathy and emphasizes the very practical "20/10" method, where you give yourself 10 minutes of break for every 20 minutes of work. It's on Amazon for $11.65, or find it at your local bookstore or library.

    Of course, you can also simply line up a few cardboard boxes labeled "keep", "donate", "recycle", and "toss", and make your decisions that way! Or, again, you could skip this step completely — whatever works best for you.

    2. Toss anything expired from your fridge and pantry (or wherever you store your food) on a regular basis — but know the difference between a "use by", "sell by" and "best by" dates, so you don't accidentally waste food!

    3. After cleaning out your fridge, store everything you're keeping according to your refrigerator's ~zones~, because different parts of the fridge will have slightly different temperatures and humidity levels.

    4. When you're considering different organizing products, always measure before you buy. Make sure that your pantry door will still close with that over-door setup and that the silverware organizer isn't somehow too tall for your drawer.

    Disney

    This may seem obvious, but I've been guilty of buying stuff without measuring, too! And if it doesn't work, you have to find a way to repurpose the thing, or spend time returning it... measuring takes way less time than all of that!

    5. Save yourself time and energy in the long run by arranging your kitchen according to the activities you do in each area. So you might put your clean kitchen towels, for example, in the drawer go right next to your sink. Then your sink itself would host everything you use daily to wash the dishes.

    Amazon

    When you keep everything together like this, you don't end up taking extra steps across the kitchen to grab a clean towel when you need one, dripping water all the way — instead, you simply reach over from where you stand and grab it.

    This sink organizer — which sticks on with suction cups, works for basically every kind of kitchen sink, and allows water to drain directly into the sink from its pan — is $10.99 on Amazon (also available in grey).

    6. And use the space beneath your sink to store extra cleaning supplies and any dishwashing tools you use regularly but not all the time.

    amazon.com

    The drawers used in this photo are $21.99 each on Amazon (and are also available in chrome).

    7. Drink coffee every morning? Stack your mugs in the cabinet directly above where you plug in the coffeemaker, and if you regularly take milk with your brew, choose a spot relatively close to the fridge.

    amazon.com

    Another option: free up cabinet space by displaying your favorite mugs on hooks Your kitchen, your rules. The pictured set of three geometric hangers here is $14.99 on Amazon.

    8. And if you love to bake, you might designate a baking cabinet where you stash your mixing bowls, electric mixer, and the basic baking ingredients you tend to keep around all the time (flour, sugar, baking soda, etc.)

    Brittany Lauren / Facebook: BuzzFeedNiftyHome

    The drawer right under that cabinet might have your measuring cups, spoons, and cake icing spatulas. If you have a standing mixer, it could sit on the counter right there. You could even do as Brittany Lauren did, and use simple wire Command Hooks ($6.61 for a pack of six on Amazon) to hang your measuring cups and spoons from your cabinet door!

    (Brittany Lauren's photo is from when we asked the BuzzFeed Community and BuzzFeed DIY Facebook to send us photos of the ways they actually organize their homes.)

    9. As you're considering your different zones, look out for all kinds of storage space ~opportunities~ in your kitchen that you can transform with the help of a few well-placed pieces. To start, the back of a cabinet door can become a designated cutting board storage spot or the perfect place for your foil and parchment paper.

    amazon.com, thewandmakersmother.com

    The over-door rack is available on Amazon for $14.47. Magazine rack idea from the now-defunct blog The Wandmaker's Mother.

    10. Enlist sliding drawers to make the most of every inch of space in a deep cabinet (like under the sink, or your plastic storage container cabinet). They literally bring everything in the back corners forward in a single swoosh, where you can actually reach it.

    Polished Habitat / polishedhabitat.com, amazon.com

    Baskets or shoe boxes could also work really well here (and be incredibly helpful storage solutions, depending on the the size and shape of your cabinets!) but IMO much of the time siding drawers are still worth getting, because they often have a shelf on top so you can use the vertical space above them.

    That also means that basket drawers can work wonders directly on the floor, too! This Amazon review shows how they used two sets of the drawers pictured above left to magically create extra storage space on the floor of a pantry.

    From Polished Habitat, who uses drawers to maximize the space she uses for her plastic and glass containers. The pictured two-tier drawer set is on Amazon for $24.87.

    11. And easily access everything you have stashed at the very back of each of your refrigerator shelves with a set of transparent storage bins. They're also simple to pull out and clean in case of a leak or spill because they a) will contain the mess and b) are much easier to wash than the entire shelf.

    Amazon

    The set of four is $29.99 on Amazon.

    12. Pick up a few expanding shelves or narrow under-shelf baskets so you can start taking advantage of the surprising amount of space your cabinets have to offer.

    Amazon

    With these, you don't have to pull your stack of four bowls down just to reach the plates.

    They're both on Amazon: the expanding shelf for $19.99 (or a pack of two for $29.99), and a pack of two of the under-shelf baskets for $14.97.

    13. Maximize your pantry's shelf space, too, especially if you keep canned food around — something like this organizer rack, for example, uses ~gravity~ to make sure the cans continuously roll forward so they're simple to see.

    Amazon

    It's available on Amazon for $19.97 (available in three colors).

    14. Repurpose an over-door shoe organizer to add cheap, convenient storage to the back of your pantry or (depending on your home's layout!) laundry room or garage door.

    amazon.com, amazon.com

    If you need one (or more...), they're $7.97 each on Amazon.

    15. Or if you want space to store bigger, heavier items in addition to seasoning packets and things, opt for a solution that will add extra pantry shelf space, like a sturdy over-door rack.

    Amazon

    It lets you completely customize where you latch its eight different shelves (and there's also an option to wall-mount it). It's $33.99 on Amazon.

    16. Put a Lazy Susan anywhere you need to corral a bunch of bottles, so you can quickly reach the ones in the back without pulling everything down.

    makinghomebase.com

    It's especially helpful on higher shelves. From Making Home Base. Get a 12-inch Lazy Susan for $7.99+ or a two-tier 10-inch Lazy Susan for $12.99, both on Amazon.

    17. Turn that narrow gap between your fridge and the wall into useful storage with the addition of a slim rolling cart.

    amazon.com

    Or your range and the fridge, or two cabinets, or wherever you happen to have a gap that's about 4 1/2 inches wide. It's on Amazon for $21.95. According to some reviewers, if you buy two you can stack them vertically for six shelves!

    18. When you're considering different storage options, look for ways to make it easy to see everything at a glance *and* easy to both pull out and put away. For example, grab an old paper file organizer you have lying around to sort out your baking sheets and cooling racks.

    twotwentyone.net

    From Two Twenty One. Want to try this but don't have one to repurpose? Get a similar rack for $7.01 on Amazon.

    19. And similarly stack your pots, skillets, and pans on a wire rack so the moment you open the cabinet door, you can see every single option and immediately reach in and grab the one you need, no reshuffling required.

    amazon.com

    They'll also be protected from any scratches they might incur if you regularly stacked a bunch of them on top of each other. Maybe you're lucky enough to have built-in shelves or cool drawers in your kitchen already that let you do this already — in which case, awesome! But if your storage space is limited, there are tons of other options out there. This particular one holds seven pans and is available on Amazon for $24.99.

    20. Then don't forget to take advantage of the empty space on the insides of your cabinet and cabinet door as the perfect place to store lids so you can get to them with zero effort, thanks to yes, Command Hooks.

    buzzfeed.com

    heatherraec, from when we asked the BuzzFeed Community to show us how they organize small spaces.

    When I tried this myself, I ended up needing a third hook on the top so my lid didn't flop forward, but it worked like a charm and is still holding strong like, a year and half later! A 20-pack of medium size Command Hooks is $14.97 on Amazon.

    21. Same goes with spices: instead of piling them all in a cabinet where you have to pull several out to find what you're looking for, lay them all out in a drawer or mount a rack in your pantry where you can see your entire selection at a glance.

    Amazon, amazon.com

    My parents have a similar drawer setup and it works wonderfully. Those liners are $14.99 for a pack of six strips on Amazon. But if you don't have the drawer space to spare — and I for one don't! — wall-mounted's the way to go. Acrylic racks like the one pictured right ($11.53 for the two-tiered version) can even be hung with Command Picture-Hanging Strips (renters, take note!).

    22. And tea, too! Besides laying all your options out like a ~menu~ so it's easy to pick and choose, tea caddies like this one condense the amount of space your tea collection claims in your cabinets.

    amazon.com

    It's dual-sided and can hold up to 100 tea bags at once. It will slide right into your cabinet (or onto your pantry shelf), and has 12 removable clear plastic bins to make it easy to grab exactly what you want. It's $24.99 on Amazon.

    23. For your tallest, bulkiest items, small tension rods can turn ten inches of two shelves into a sturdy custom storage spot.

    Photo by Monica Buck. Courtesy of Martha Stewart Living. Copyright © 2002. / marthastewart.com

    Just make sure to measure the height of your shelves! From Martha Stewart.

    Get a set of six tension rods that expand from about 12 inches to 20 inches on Amazon for $12.29.

    24. Never underestimate the power of a well-placed drawer organizer. Whether you're simply storing silverware or need something more custom for your cooking gadgets, there's an option out there for you.

    Amazon

    The organizer on the left ($9.99) takes up half the space of traditional silverware organizers, leaving the rest of your drawer free to store even more. Then the set on the right ($8.95) comes with eight different bins you can layout however you want, then securely connect together.

    25. Or for something entirely custom, save up empty cereal and snack boxes for a bit, then transform them into the colorful organizers covered with the contact paper you like best.

    thestonybrookhouse.com

    Get the complete how-to from The Stonybrook House. If you need contact paper, Amazon has a marble pattern for $7.98, a selection of floral patterns for $10.91+, or dotted patterns for $7.73+.

    26. Protect your knives from scratching and dulling by storing them properly — their blades should be separated, never just thrown in a drawer with other knives or utensils.

    amazon.com, Amazon

    Otherwise they'll be dull before their time. You can accomplish this in many ways, of course! You can get knife blocks for either your counter ($29.99; it's universal, so you don't have to have a complete collection for it to look good) or to slide in a drawer ($9.99), or mount them on the wall under your cabinets with a magnetic strip ($17.49). Or if you must keep them in a drawer with other knives and/or gadgets, at least try some edge guards to keep them sharp ($13.99 for four).

    27. Adopt a few organizing and storage strategies that could help reduce any wasted food — like designating a bin (or even an old shoebox!) in your refrigerator as an "Eat Me First" box.

    clossette.com

    Basically, anything that has a tendency to expire quickly (a half-used jar of tomato sauce, that pre-made chicken salad you impulse bought at the grocery store last week, etc.) or that's expiring soon goes in the box. It also makes for an easy one-stop spot to double check for what may need to be thrown away. From the now-defunct blog Clossette.

    28. And, whether you have kids or simply want to snack a little healthier yourself, keep pre-portioned snacks in another easy-access bin (or, again, shoebox!).

    houseofhepworths.com, organizeyourselfskinny.com

    If you'd rather not use plastic bags, I recommend the reusable silicone Stasher bags ($11.99 each for the sandwich size), which are completely dishwasher safe, work just like regular plastic bags, and come in three sizes. I've had a couple for several years now and love them!

    From House of Hepworths and Organize Yourself Skinny. A similar bin to the one on the right is $11.99 on Amazon.

    29. Quit throwing away moldy strawberries and wilted spinach (and cleaning up the aftermath it leaves on your shelves) by storing them in filtered containers that will genuinely keep everything fresh for almost two weeks.

    Natalie Brown / BuzzFeed

    I've been using these pretty much constantly for an entire year now — except for when they're in the dishwasher — and I can't even begin to guess how much money they've saved and food waste they've prevented! They genuinely do work wonders. You can find them on Amazon in two- or three-container sets for $23.96–$26.99, or in six sizes sold individually for $4.99+. Or for more, read my full Rubbermaid Freshworks Produce Saver Review.

    30. Avoid cross-contamination by storing your raw meat and fish in its very own fridge bin or drawer, away from everything else — and if your fridge has a drawer labeled "meat", it probs stays colder than any other drawer, which can make your steaks, bacon, and chicken last longer before you cook 'em!

    Faith Durand / thekitchn.com

    31. Package all your meal prep or last night's leftovers in super transparent, shatter-resistant, leak-proof, air-tight containers so you know exactly what you have on hand in a single glance, and don't simply forget about it because it's stashed in the back corner in an opaque container.

    Amazon

    These heavy-duty plastic containers are microwave-, freezer-, and dishwasher-safe. They even have little vents you can open so you can microwave them with the lid on, preventing splatters! Yi, one of the writers here, owns and loves these containers especially for bringing her lunch to work, because they will. not. leak! And yes, they're dishwasher, microwave, and freezer–safe. You can read her full Rubbermaid Brilliance Plastic Containers review there.

    The seven-container set is $24.99 on Amazon.

    32. Consider decanting pantry staples (rice, dry beans, chips, candy, cookies, etc) into airtight OXO Pop containers because they keep things fresh for longer than the original packaging ever possibly could, all while making everything easy to find.

    Amazon, Rebecca O'Connell / BuzzFeed

    They're designed to be incredibly efficient with the space on your shelves, the rounded corners make for easy pouring, and you press the button on top to open and seal the containers. Of course they look gorgeous and if you want to do your entire pantry with them, go for it! But if you only want to get a few, I at least would go for ones that work for whatever foods you know are likely to sit around your pantry for longer than their freshness might last. A set of five is $39.99 on Amazon, but they're available in a variety of sizes and sets.

    You, getting back to cooking now that you're kitchen's all in shape:

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