These are the best organization tips for the kitchen I’ve collected over the years to reorganize a kitchen efficiently

Streamline it with kitchen zones, counter organization, and moving unneeded items out so you can have an efficient kitchen. 

Today we’re going to take a critical look at your kitchen and reorganize for efficiency.

Trust me, you will feel so much better.

Reorganize Kitchen Efficiently

When we moved over a decade ago, I took the most time planning and unpacking the kitchen.

I didn’t want to put something just “away” without purpose because I knew that even if it ended up being poorly thought out, I probably wouldn’t move it for years.

I made lists of categories that I knew would be coming out of the boxes before the boxes even came.

I made post-its and stuck them on cupboards and drawers, then mock-cooked to see what was quick to grab and what sent me running all over the kitchen.

I tried certain items in three or four different places before I finally let them rest permanently.

I think I have some pretty brilliant strategies for saving time and money in the kitchen. I love the way I’ve organized most of it, and I work pretty well in there most of the time.

I even worked with professional organizer Andrea Dekker from Simple Organized Living to help me when my counters were always a wreck. I needed some help (and more hours in the day wouldn’t hurt either)!

I took a quick ‘before’ video of my kitchen (that is absolutely embarrassing), and then Andrea gave me 3 things to do in the following week to improve my kitchen efficiency.

If you can’t view the video above, click HERE to see it on YouTube.

(Did you notice the roasted seeds on the counter? Yum-O. Here’s how to make pumpkin seeds in case you have some pie pumpkins or spaghetti squash around!)

What to Take Out of Your Kitchen 

I’m no minimalist (except when it comes to minimalist shoes) but the less you have to shuffle around things the more you save time in the kitchen.

Instead of reorganizing things you never use, consider what you can purge. 

Minimize: The Unused Kitchen Items

If you haven’t used something in over a year, consider selling or donating it. 

Pretend you’re going on a trip to a beautiful condo on an island for a month.

What would you take with you? Consider putting those absolutely necessary things on your counter.

Then, look at everything that is left.

Do you really need it?

Is it worth storing?

Is it worth the time it takes to shuffle things around it?

If you do need it (just not urgently), where can you move it to make space for the more important things?

If you answered “no” or “not sure” to any of these questions, consider tucking these items away in another location and see if you miss them.

I had a George Foreman Grill I hadn’t used in years. I’m glad that Andrea suggested trying to sell it. I put it in my basement for a few months and then ended up donating it, and I don’t miss it! 

When we moved – I pulled half my kitchen utensils…okay, maybe a fourth of them…to “stage” our tiny house to sell, and I never missed them. Many things hit the garage sale pile after that. 

Move: The Lesser Used

If you use something less than once a month, get it out of your kitchen. 

For example, wine glasses got booted from the kitchen to a corner cabinet in the dining room.

It has glass cabinet doors and housed all our other fancy drinkware, so the move really does make sense and opened up an entire shelf. 

Ditch: The Toxic Kitchen Items

If it’s not made of healthy materials, take it out of your kitchen. 

Here at Kitchen Stewardship®, we value being healthy in all areas, including our environment.

For that reason, work to minimize the following materials because of their dangers: 


Nonstick pans – these leach out endocrine-disrupting chemicals that can mess with your estrogen and other hormones. Opt for cast iron instead! 
Products with toxic chemicals – like antibacterial hand soap, bleach, and parabens (here’s what I use instead) 
Unhealthy & processed food – I also dumped a few bottles of sports drinks with artificial sweeteners that we had from baseball season treats and recycled the bottles. Usually, I have trouble “wasting” food, even if it’s not food and I know it.
Expired foods 

Prioritize healthy materials and reusable products. Read here for my safe cookware recommendations. 

To summarize, I prioritize metal and glass. 

My professional organizer joked that she’d never seen a whole shelf of glass jars. She wanted me to move them out of the kitchen, but she doesn’t understand that they’re used DAILY. 

They stayed. 🙂 

Know thyself. 

Meet my glass jar shelf (and adjacent cupboards, showing one challenge of my kitchen):

If you can’t see the video above, click HERE to view it on YouTube.

And my Lazy Susan, definitely a real food treasure trove (You can see how I use glass storage containers):

If you can’t see the video above, click HERE to view it on YouTube.

Here’s how contributing writer Bethany Wright organizes with glass in her tall cupboards to give you some more inspiration: 

Sort Out Doubles

If you have duplicates consider what you don’t use. 

Sometimes we end up with multiples of items that are never used at the same time.

A friend of mine shared that she had 7 cutting boards and never used more than 2 at a time!

One caveat there would be if you have kids who are helping cook – then it’s nice to have multiples. (We have lots of knives and cutting boards!)

RELATED: Organizing for a kid in the kitchen

Non-Cooking Things in the Kitchen?

If you don’t use it for cooking, ask if it really belongs in the kitchen. 

Lunchboxes are the first thing I moved – all lunchboxes and clean water bottles now are in a bottom drawer just barely outside the kitchen.

If you don’t use it while cooking dinner, you might be able to move it!

Streamline Your Kitchen Organization 

Right after WWII in the 1940s, there was a big push to create kitchens with the famous “kitchen work triangle.”

The idea is that the stove, fridge, and sink all need to be in a triangular shape from each other – and that “no leg of the triangle should be less than 4 feet or more than 9 feet.”

There are all sorts of other fun “rules,” too, and you can check them out on Wikipedia.

So if you find yourself in the position of redesigning a kitchen from scratch, you’ll probably want to visit these triangular-kitchen principles.

But I’m not here to help you reorganize your kitchen someday. I want to help your kitchen TODAY!

Grab a piece of paper and think through all the tasks you do in the kitchen. Make the tasks as broad or as narrow as you want.

(You may be surprised that some tasks, like sorting mail, have nothing to do with cooking. Don’t forget them, though!)

As you go through your tasks, see if you can visualize them as different zones in your kitchen.

How to Create Kitchen Work Zones 

Here’s the list from contributing writer Bethany Wright:

cleaning zone (sink, dishwasher, dish rack, a place for dirty dishes)

cooking zone (stove, toaster oven)

food storage zone (fridge, pantry if it’s in your kitchen)

preparation zone (for chopping, mixing, measuring)

blender zone 

planning zone (organization, calendar inputting, mail sorting, menu planning, etc.) 

photo credit: Cameron Braun

Here is a video of me explaining my baking prep zone. Don’t mind me organizing on accident while trying to do part of my “kitchen tour” video. 

If you can’t see the video, click HERE to view on YouTube.

Analyze your actual kitchen in its current state with these tasks.

Have you allowed yourself enough space for these tasks?
Is everything you need for a specific task in the same zone?
Are your mixing bowls close to where you do your prep work… or are they just stashed in a random cabinet because that’s where you put them five years ago?
Do you have tools for baking in three different places in your kitchen, forcing you to walk in circles? Or is everything in one spot?

Reorganize Your Kitchen Efficiently With Broad Categories 

Professional organizer Andrea says she always, without question, organizes everything by general category. 

All food storage containers, for example, should go in one place, whether they’re large or small, glass or plastic. If you don’t have enough room for all of them, either find a new place where everything can live in harmony or get rid of some.

For spatulas, huge 3-foot drawer installed in her kitchen just so she can has “utensils” all in one place (plus 9 other drawers that are making me jealous).

I had just finished proudly showing her how amazingly organized my FOUR drawers of “utensils” were:

baking supplies
cooking supplies
serving utensils and misc.
knives and other cutting board tools

I even have silverware in two different places in the kitchen.

One example of “my way” are these two cupboards, affectionately called the “Breakfast Cupboard” and the “Kids’ Cupboard.”

If you can’t see the video above, click HERE to view it on YouTube.

Andrea noticed, “You have nuts in, like, 3 places,” after she’d been in my kitchen, like, 3 minutes.

For real.

I had not thought of that!

There were nuts in the snacks area, nuts in the kids’ cupboard, nuts with the power ball supplies…the dried fruit was just as bad.

Now I totally reorganized so that all the dried fruit and nuts are in one place for making trail mix and snacking, and then the “back-up” dried fruit and nuts are in one place that is not as accessible. Then there’s some single-serve dried fruit in the snacks tub and just a little, just the dates, in the power ball/smoothie/baking area. 

At first, I was not sure if I like Andrea’s broad categories or mine, which are organized by smaller categories based on where and when they get used, but it’s interesting to get a new perspective.

I have found that my family often puts utensils in the wrong drawers, so I can see the appeal of the “one” place. 

For sure, I recommend to put all of your spices in the same place!

Reorganize Your Kitchen With Like Items Together 

The things that helped me decide to categorize by broad categories was the idea of putting like items together. 

Organize items so other people can find them easily and so that the kitchen makes sense to someone just walking in.

“If my husband doesn’t know where something goes, and it’s not intrinsically obvious, maybe I need to rethink my system.” My husband could never remember where things went.

I may have overcomplicated my kitchen systems, focusing only on the one aspect of saving time/steps/breaths/seconds while cooking, and forgetting that if I have to put away a dozen assorted items when I enter the kitchen because hubby didn’t know where they belonged, I’ve already spent every second I’m going to save in the midst of the cooking frenzy.

Here’s a little tour of my kitchen drawers, pros, and cons included. I didn’t consolidate into just two drawers, but I ended up using broader categories and baskets:

If you can’t see the video above, click HERE to view it on YouTube.

How to Reorganize the Kitchen Efficiently with Containers 

Professional organizer Susan Santoro recommends using containers you’d recycle instead of buying new ones to organize your drawers. 

In drawers, use small baskets and boxes to separate the space and make it feel more organized. Again, if you don’t have enough room, maybe you have too much stuff.

It’s not about having the perfect organization tools or supplies. 

You don’t have to go out and spend $100 on a zillion organizers.

Visit a good dollar store, cut the top off a clamshell container from berries, use a shoebox without a lid, collect baskets at garage sales.

Shoot, use all those plastic containers you’re not really using anymore to organize small things!

If you have deep or tall cupboards, you need to break them up into smaller areas.

Deep: Use shoeboxes or baskets at the front so you can pull the whole thing out to access the back. 
Tall: Use those coated wire half-shelf thingys to make two shelves where there was just one. A huge stack of stuff is always a recipe for disaster and messiness. (And sometimes avalanche.)

How To Reorganize Your Kitchen Counters 

Scrutinize your counters.

Even after you’ve purged what you don’t use and put items into zones, consider what you’ve typically left on your counters and put them away. You don’t want unneeded items cluttering up your workspaces. 

Take everything off your counter and ask these questions: 

What shouldn’t be there? Why is it there?
If it’s because it doesn’t have a place to be, give it a place.
If it’s because you want to use it soon, write it down.
Maybe you have ferments and soaking things and containers of homemade goodies cluttering up your workspace. Is there anywhere else that can go? (Inside an unused microwave, for example.)

The counter is not “away.” 

Nothing should belong on the counter.

Find a place for everything based either on your work zones, broad categories, or placing it with like items in bins. 

Thinking Efficiently About Kitchen Organization 

Going through these exercises made me realize my faulty thinking in the kitchen. 

Sometimes we roll with things that don’t make any sense just because “they’ve always been that way.”

It can take a fresh set of eyes – or just a new perspective from yourself – to realize what doesn’t work.

I’m a smart gal, but I don’t always think smart.

For example, all the things I leave on my counter just so I get around to doing them, which I constantly have to move around just to function in the kitchen. Not so smart.

Do you “save time” by leaving things in your way so you don’t forget to use them?

Have you had the same item on your counter for more than a week because you plan to use it in a recipe, but you just haven’t gotten around to it yet?

If that sounds like you, you and I are in the same category, 

Of course, it takes more seconds, in the long run, to leave something on the counter for two weeks rather than put it away and just make a note-to-self to use it.

You have to move the thing to wash underneath it, bump into it as you work, and perhaps, like me, the clutter begins to stress you out and try your patience.

Funny that I’m prone to sabotage myself like that, isn’t it?

The “After” Kitchen Tour

This video was intended to be one full-length kitchen tour, but we got a little interrupted by a bump on the head, so “part two” is a bit further down in the post, since it had to be split up anyway.

I think the kitchen is still a work in progress, but here’s a little tour:

If you can’t view the video above, click HERE to see it on YouTube.

Consider a “launchpad” for the week to collect things I’m going to use soon and have them in a cupboard.

Check out the video, which also includes the redone lazy Susan and some more counter-clutter excuses, even blaming other people for the mess!

If you can’t see the video above, click HERE to see it on YouTube.

Some of these systems are still in place, while others didn’t work for me. 

I LOVE the baskets and boxes, especially for our lunch supplies. 

We’ve added to our stash in that category over the years as more kids enter school, so we have new, bigger baskets, and they work great. 

I love having lunch boxes and water bottles out of the main kitchen. 

And I still love all my jars. 😉 

One Andrea-recommendation that just didn’t work is the cookie sheet thing to organize my deeeeeep pantry cupboards. I found that items jostled around too much when I tried to remove the cookie sheet, or I didn’t have a place to set it, or other weird excuses. 

I ditched that system after a year and probably don’t use that space perfectly, but I hope hope hope to have a real walk-in pantry if/when we get to finally complete our kitchen renovation! (COVID held it up this year, so sad.) 

The best part about organizing, though, is that you can always improve. 

I’m sure it’s time for me to take some scrutinizing looks again at how I’m using my space!

How about you?

Your quick challenge:

Go take a look in your kitchen and see if you can find ONE thing that should be moved somewhere else. 

Hopefully, that will start some momentum for you to make some positive changes in your kitchen efficiency!

What are your best kitchen organization hacks?

The post Organize Your Kitchen Efficiently: Kitchen Organization Hacks You’ll Want to Start Today! appeared first on Kitchen Stewardship | Caring for All Our Gifts.

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