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by Alice Henneman, MS, Registered Dietitian & Extension Educator
Many of us feel like we're living in the middle of a kitchen chaos, but don't have time (or money!) for a major kitchen makeover. To the rescue -- 10 organizational ideas that are easy (and inexpensive!) to do. The materials are commonly available in many stores and through several Web sites. NO TOOLS REQUIRED!
Large expanding shelves for canned/small packaged foods
If you're continually shuffling cans looking for the one you need, try stacking them on stairstep-type expanding shelves.
- Measure the width, depth and height of your cupboard. In determining the height needed, determine how far from the top "step" the tallest item would extend. Take a measuring tape along to the store in case you need to check some of the measurements.
- Place similar types of cans together.
Small expanding shelves for herbs & spices
Herbs and spices keep best in a cool, dry, dark place. Arrange them on expanding 3-tiered shelves inside a closed cupboard for easy access and desirable storage conditions.
- Measure the width, depth and height of your cupboard. In determining the height needed, determine how far from the top "step" the tallest item would extend.
- Place the tallest herbs/spices on the top shelves
- Alphabetize items for quicker sighting and to help avoid duplicates.
Turntables for refrigerators and cupboards
Perhaps you've purchased something only to find there already was a container in the back of a storage area. Or, felt like you were on an archaeological excavation as you sorted through the items forgotten in the back of a storage space.
Take a turn for the better by using a turntable. Here are 4 possible examples; once you start, you may think of many more.
- Use a smaller turntable for foods such as:
- refrigerated mayonnaise, mustard, nut butters, pickles, etc.
- boxes and cans of tea in the cupboard.
- Use a larger turntable in locations such as:
- in the refrigerator for storing bigger items such as whole grain flours.
- underneath the kitchen sink for accessing cleaning products.
- Only place turntables on solid refrigerator shelves versus open shelving.
- Measure the width and depth of your shelf space.
- Consider purchasing the type of turntables that have a rubber-type nonskid top surface. Foods are less likely to spin off or tip over when the table is turned.
- Test the turntable in the space available BEFORE removing the label and throwing away the box and receipt!
"Use soon" spot in refrigerator
Where, oh where is that remaining half an onion? Or the little bit of extra grated cheese? And wasn't there half a cucumber still in the refrigerator -- someplace?
Store remaining extras of items best used soon, in the same place. One possibility is to collect them in a shallow metal pan, such as a bread pan.
Dishcloth drying rack
A TV news program told about scientists finding more bacteria in peoples' kitchens than in their bathrooms. And some of the "cleanest" looking kitchens had the most bacteria. These kitchens were the ones constantly being "cleaned" with bacteria-laden dishrags.
One solution is to use paper towels instead of dishrags. However, if you do a lot of cooking and cleaning, this can get expensive. Another possibility is to buy several packages of dishcloths, especially when they're on sale. Use once and then dry on a hand towel rack, kept on the counter top or in the cabinet beneath the sink. Toss in the dirty laundry basket when dry.
New uses for magnets on the refrigerator
If mail frequently gets misplaced in your kitchen, try putting a "magnetic wall file" or "magnetic wall pocket," available from several office supply stores and Web sites, on the refrigerator. TIP: Have one for each member of the family.
It's handy to have a calendar in the kitchen, but where do you put it? Try using heavy-duty magnets and placing it on the refrigerator. TIP: Place magnets BOTH at the top and the bottom.