Organizing Your Kitchen – The Zone Plan

I use a Zone Plan to organize my home. Each month I focus on one area. During the month of October I focus on my kitchen. The holidays are coming up fast and my kitchen will become very active. This is also the time of year that food drives kick into high gear, so it only makes sense to clear out the pantry now.

I like my kitchen to look uncluttered yet warm. I want my countertops ready for action. I want to feel that I can work on food preparation without clearing a space first. I want my stored food and spices organized so that I can easily put my hand on what I want to use. I want to feel happy working in this warm space.

I make a brainstorm list of all I need to do to make this vision come true.

Some items on the list might include:

  • Remove any items that are not daily used or that are beginning to annoy you – for me that is getting rid of a toaster that isn’t working well and a second coffee maker
  • Purge the cabinets – are we really using all those pots and pans? Do all of the food storage containers have matching lids?
  • Organize for convenience – put rarely used items to the back and often used items to the front of shelves that are easy to reach
  • Set up zones within the kitchen – designate a food preparation zone, cooking zone, dish zone, storage zone, and serving zone

Now that the plan is made, it is time to work the plan. I divide the tasks into four weeks and work one set of tasks each week. I schedule a time on my calendar to achieve this.

Week 1 – Cooking Zone
Tasks might include: clean the oven, stove, and microwave and organize and purge pots, pans, cooking utensils, and bake ware. If you have special cookware that is only used for a specific holiday, store that ware with the holiday decorations.

Week 2 – Food Preparation Zone
Tasks might include: clean the refrigerator/freezer and organize and purge cutting boards, knives, mixing bowls, spices, mixers, blenders, and measuring cups and spoons. Toss spices that are beyond their expiration date.

Week 3 – Dish Zone
Tasks might include: clean your sink area and dishwasher and organize and purge your dishware, mugs, glasses, and flatware. Toss chipped, cracked, broken items as well as excess dishware.

Week 4 – Food Serving and Storage Zone
Tasks might include: organizing and purging placemats, napkins, trivets, large serving pieces, and going through your pantry and organizing and discarding food that has expired. Excess food that has not expired but that you don’t expect to use soon can be donated. When you replace the food in the pantry, group the foods by type – all soups together, all pasta, fruit, etc.

By the end of the month, you will love working in your kitchen. You are ready for anything the holidays throw at you.

Jonda S. Beattie

Professional Organizer

Planning Kitchen Zones

I was working this past week with a client who had just moved. It was a pleasure to be able to set up kitchen zones right from the beginning. One of the secrets to a neat and organized kitchen is to utilize zones. If your zones are working, you should not have a lot of kitchen clutter.

I look at 6 zones in the kitchen.

Food Preparation Zone – This is usually the largest zone in the kitchen. It is either between the sink and refrigerator or the sink and the oven. This is where you would have your cutting boards, knives, mixing bowls, spices, food wraps, mixers, blenders, and measuring cups/spoons.

Cooking Zone – This is near the oven and stove-top. This is where you would have pots, pans, cooking utensils, pot holders, bake ware, recipes, and cookbooks. Many people now get most of their recipe’s on line and can let go of a lot of their cookbooks. However, they may have some family favorites they just want to hold on to. In this small efficient kitchen, we determined that her cookbooks would go a step or two away into the adjoining laundry room.

Daily Dishes Zone – This is close to the sink/dishwasher. You would have your daily dishes, bowls, mugs, glasses and flatware here. Flexibility is key. My client’s sink/dishwasher were on an island that overlooked the living room and there were no overhead cabinets. She just turned around and used the cabinet on the other wall for her daily dishes and her special occasion dishes were stored in a cabinet above her refrigerator.

Food Serving Zone – This is near where you eat. You would have your placemats, napkins, trivets, and serving pieces near this zone. A nearby pantry could store these items. Some families who eat in an adjoining room store these items in that room.

Food Storage Zone – This would be the refrigerator and pantry. If you do not have a pantry, you would use a cabinet.

Cleaning Zone – This is usually under the sink. This is where you would store household cleaners, detergents, rubbish bags, sponges, and towels.

The real key is to be somewhat flexible with these zones depending on your kitchen layout and space. If clutter starts to accumulate in your kitchen, it is very likely your zones are not well laid out, so take some time and reevaluate. Every item should be close at hand for each type of task so it is easy to reach and easy to return to its home.

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer