Organizing Your Kitchen

October is the perfect time to organize your kitchen. The next few months will involve a lot of holiday cooking. Food drives ramp up so it is a great opportunity for you to donate various foods you have overstocked this past year.

Kitchen Strategy:

  1. Look at your motivation. What is bothering you at this time in your kitchen? Are your counter tops cluttered? Do you have trouble finding needed items in your pantry? Do you have items taking up space in your freezer that  you can’t even identify?
  2. Create your vision. How do you want your kitchen to look and how do you want to feel when you are in your kitchen? Do you want an open light filled space? Do you want space in your kitchen to do larger school or church food projects? Do you want to display some pottery or seasonal items that will make you smile every time you enter your kitchen?
  3. Brainstorm. List all the things you can think of that will make your kitchen match your vision. Some of these tasks might include: Clearing out all items you no longer need or love, looking for new storage ideas, organizing items for more convenience, setting up kitchen zones (food preparation, cooking, dishes,, food storage, and food serving). 
  4. Write out your goals. Writing the goals helps you focus. Your goals should be positive, consistent with your vision, specific and measurable, reasonable yet challenging.
  5. Develop your timeline. Here is where your calendar becomes your best friend. Look at what times you have available to work on this zone. Be reasonable. Plan for some unexpected things to come up. Break projects down into small parts. Instead of booking a day of “organizing kitchen drawers”, schedule “organizing the knife drawer” on Oct. 4 at 3:00.
  6. Now just follow the timeline. Honor the scheduled times you have set aside to do the tasks that are on your calendar. By the end of the month you will love your newly organized space and feel ready for the holidays.
  7. Reward yourself. Buy some flowers. Prepare a special meal. Do something to congratulate yourself on a job well done.
For more details of following this plan, visit my website and purchase my book, From Vision to Victory: A Workbook For Finding a Simple Path to an Organized Home, or sign up for my Zone Plan Teleclass program where I guide you through a new zone each month.

Jonda S. Beattie

Professional Organizer

Organizing the Kitchen Zone

If you are working on organizing your home according to my zone plan, October is the prime month for your kitchen. The holidays are right around the corner and the kitchen will become a very busy place. Seasons have changed so you are ready to put away the ice cream maker and pull out the crock pot. This is also the time of year that food drives kick into high gear so clear out the food that has accumulated this past year because of impulse buying or overbuying.

1. Stand back and study your current kitchen set up. What is bugging you the most? Are your counters too crowded? Do you have difficulty locating items? Are some containers hard to reach?

2. Create a vision of how you want your kitchen to look and feel by the end of this month.

3. Make a list of all that needs to happen to make this vision come true. Some of the tasks on your list might include:

  • Declutter your counters. Take off everything that you are not using at least weekly. Put these items elsewhere or consider donating them.
  • Purge your cabinets. How many plastic containers or small saucepans do you really need?
  • Look for innovative storage ideas. Contain like items together to make it easy to locate them and to make it easy to pull out the container to easily reach what is stored in the back of your cabinets.
  • Organize for convenience. Store all materials for making coffee near the coffee pot. Place the coffee pot near the sink. Hang your favorite mugs nearby on the wall. Put rarely used items on higher shelves.
  • Set up your kitchen in zones – food preparation zone, cooking zone, dishes zone, food storage zone, and food serving zone.

4. When your tasks are finalized and written out, schedule them on your calendar. Break up the tasks into manageable bits so that you don’t get overwhelmed.

By the end of the month, your kitchen is ready for anything the holidays can bring to it.

For more details on following this plan, visit my website and purchase my book, From Vision to Victory: A Workbook For Finding a Simple Path to an Organized Home.

Jonda S. Beattie

Professional Organizer

Organizing Your Kitchen for the Holidays – Zone Plan

October is a great time to organize your kitchen. This prepares your kitchen for all the extra holiday cooking. It also gives you the opportunity to donate to the various food drives all the food that has built up over the past year through impulse buying or overbuying.

My kitchen strategy:

  1. 1. Look at your motivation. What are the organizational issues with this room? Do you feel your counter tops are too crowded? Do you have difficulty locating items? Make a list.

2. Create your vision. How do you want your kitchen to look and how do you want to feel when you are working there? Write out your vision. Your completion date for the kitchen zone is the end of the month.

3. Brainstorm. Now that you know what you want, jot down all that has to happen to make your vision come true. Some tasks might include:

  • Clearing out items you no longer want or use. If your counters are too cluttered, take everything off that you do not use at least weekly – maybe even daily. Look at the items you removed. Could you live without them? If so, donate them. Do you need them but just not often? Store them elsewhere. How many plastic containers or dishes do you really need? Donate extras and give yourself some much needed space.
  • Look for new storage ideas. I have used a small dish drainer to store lids and pie pans. Plastic bins or tubs hold like items together and make it easy to pull out the bin, select what you want, and put the bin back in its space. Consider hooks for holding items.
  • Organize items for more convenience. Store all materials for making coffee near the coffee pot. Place the coffeepot near the sink. Put the toaster nearby to make breakfast preparation easier. Put rarely used items on higher shelves. Find an attractive counter top container to hold frequently used cooking utensils and place it by the stove. Set up your kitchen into zones – food preparation zone, cooking zone, dishes zone, food storage zone, and food serving zone.

4. Write out your goals that you developed when working on your vision and brainstorming list.

5. Develop your timeline. Write out and put on your calendar when  you plan to do each task. Be reasonable and allow some time  for events that pop up. Do a little each day and schedule larger tasks like cleaning the refrigerator over the weekend.

6. Now just follow the timeline and by the end of the month you will love your new kitchen space. You are ready for the holidays!

For more details on following this plan, visit my website and purchase my book, From Vision to Victory: A Workbook For Finding a Simple Path to an Organized Home.

Jonda S. Beattie

Professional Organizer

Organizning Your Way to Healthy Eating

Everyone wants to eat healthily. We want to feel good and look good.

If your kitchen is cluttered and disorganized, you have a much harder time reaching that goal. A very organized and functional kitchen is important. You know what you have on hand. You have the necessary equipment ot prepare healthy, delicious food without feeling so frustrated.

Start by clearing out your refrigerator.

  • Get rid of unhealthy foods – start replacing items like soft drinks with iced green tea
  • Put good snack options towards the front of the refrigerator
  • Have clear containers to hold your favorite prepared snacks
  • Have labeled containers in your freezer with dates frozen so you can easily see what is available
  • Organize your refrigerator like a grocery store – have vegetables in one drawer and fruits in another – have snacks on one shelf and beverages on another – keep like with like
  • If you cannot see the back of your refrigerator, you have crammed too much into it

Next work on your pantry.

  • Get rid of junk food – if someone in the family enjoys foods that you should not be eating, put them where they are not readily visible
  • Store your foods like a grocery store – have all soups together, all pasta together, and all snacks in one place
  • Divide large bags of pretzels or snacks into single serving sizes
  • When you buy new items put them to the back behind the older ones that are already there

Tackle your countertops.

  • Have room for your cutting board and knives
  • Put out a fruit bowl
  • Have a blender handy to encourage smoothies and soups
  • Keep your countertop clutter free – put away deep fryers or bread makers

Wherever your store utensils and cooking pots – decide what you need to cook with or prepare healthy meals and place them “front and center.” Some example:

  • Steamer
  • Strainer
  • Wok

Either in your kitchen or wherever you do your meal planning:

  • Set up a menu base for health meals – this can be on a computer, in folders, or with tabs in your favorite cookbooks – then do a weekly menu plan
  • Track your eating – write down what you eat, how much, and when – consider counting calories, or carbs, or weight watcher points
  • Keep a running list of what you need to buy – to make shopping easier, look up aisle charts for stores like Kroger
  • Weigh in once a week and keep track
  • Cut back on activities that crowd your schedule so that you allow time to plan and eat properly – if you are overtired, you will grab what is easy
  • Plan an exercise program that you enjoy – post it on your fridge

Now, go out and buy that new swimsuit!

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Organizing the Kitchen Zone

If you are following the zone plan, October is a great month to organize your kitchen for a couple of reasons. First, you will soon be in that kitchen a lot preparing foods for the holidays. How much easier this will be if everything is organized and at your fingertips. Secondly, this is a time for many canned food drives so while you are in there cleaning out your pantry, find foods that you have bought and not used (but have not expired) and pass them on to a charity.

You will also have zones within your kitchen. There will be a cooking zone, a food preparation zone, a dishes zone, a food storage zone, and a food serving zone.

The cooking zone includes the stove, oven and microwave as well as your pots, pans, bake-ware, and cooking utensils. As yourself when organizing in this zone if your lifestyle has changed. Are you still holding on to items just because you once used them? Are you doing as much baking as you once did? Are you still using the big pots and the roaster? If the answer is “Yes, but I only use them seasonally.” then store these seldom used items with the seasonal decorations and clear up space in your kitchen for day to day food preparation.

The food preparation zone includes the refrigerator as well as cutting boards, knives, mixing bowls, spices, mixers, blenders and measuring cups/spoons. As you sort like items together, continue to get rid of multiples and items you are no longer using. When organizing your refrigerator, set up zones there as well. Have a diary zone, a snack zone, a leftover zone, a fresh produce zone or whatever fits your life style. Having zones in your fridge helps you save money, time, and make the best use of your space.

Your dishes zone will include your sink and dishwasher as well as your dishes, bowls, mugs, glasses and flatware. Keep the items you use most frequently on the easiest to access shelves. Get rid of cracked, broken, or no longer used items.

Your food storage zone is the area you use as a pantry. Donate foods that have been hanging around and not used. Toss out expired items. Group your foods into categories the same as a store might. Have all soups together, pasta together, and group vegetables with vegetables, and fruit with fruit. This helps you see what you have and keeps you from losing items on the back of the shelf.

Your food serving zone may be partly in a dining area as it includes placemats, napkins, trivets, and large serving pieces. As you organize these items give away or toss unwanted or unused pieces.

Now your kitchen should feel less crowded and you will enjoy using it to prepare your holiday treats.

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

Kitchen Zone

If you are following the zone plan, this is the best month for the kitchen. If you organize your kitchen now, it will be ready for the heavier holiday use.
Divide your kitchen into 4 zones and tackle just one zone a week. This way the job will not feel so overwhelming.

Week one – work on the Cooking Zone. This would involve cleaning the stove, oven, and microwave as well as organizing pots, pans, cooking utensils, and bake-ware. If your space is crowded, consider giving away pots that are rarely used. If you have special cookware that is used only for a specific holiday, consider storing that item with the holiday decorations instead of taking up space in your kitchen all year long.

Week two – work on the Food Preparation Zone. This would include cleaning out the refrigerator as well as organizing cutting boards, knives, mixing bowls, spices, mixers, blenders, measuring cups and spoons. After emptying out and cleaning the refrigerator, return items to specific zones in your fridge. There might be a dairy zone, a snack zone, a leftovers zone, a fresh produce zone.
Check your cutting boards. Are they still usable? Keep only the best ones. Check your spices. Get rid of the ones that are past their prime and see what might be needed for the holiday cooking.

Week three– work on your Dishes Zone. This will include your sink and dishwasher. Organize your dishes, bowls, mugs, glasses, and flatware. Again, purge any items you do not need.

Week four– work on your Food Serving Zone and your Food Storage Zone. Look over placemats, napkins, trivets, large serving pieces and any groups of items you have not already organized. When you go through your pantry, pull out any cans that you have been holding on to and are reaching expiration or you do not expect to use soon. Donate these to a food pantry. When you replace your food in the pantry, group the foods by type – all soups together, all vegetables, all pasta, etc.

Any cleaning/organization areas that were missed like cleaning windows, light fixtures, or the floor can be added to any week that you have enough time.
Now step back and enjoy your fresh kitchen. You are ready for the holidays!

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

pantry organization

October is a great month to organize your pantry. This is the time to get rid of multiples of items you bought and aren’t likely to use before they expire. Also toss the expired items to free up space for what you will be buying for holiday cooking.
I live in a small house and don’t have a full sized pantry but I use two kitchen cupboards-one above the counter and one below the counter- for my pantry. On the counter between the pantries,I have glass canisters for open sugar, flour, and rice.
A pantry should be arranged similar to a grocery store with like items with like items. In my situation, I have all canned vegetables on the left top shelf. Snack items next to that and soups to the right. Further back on that shelf are plastic food bags. On the lower shelf I have rice, pasta, and pizza mix with my food processor (which I rarely use) in the back. Kitchen trash bags also fit here. In my top cupboard I have oils, vinegars, cereals, crackers, and baking supplies like baking soda, flour, and sugars.
When you return from grocery shopping, if you have just bought another can of green beans, place it behind the existing cans. If you jam the newest items in front, you will end up with expired cans when you sort through your pantry again next October.
Try to resist buying multiples on sale. If you don’t have a definite plan for this food it very well will end up getting thrown out when you clean and purge. This purging time, I ended up throwing out a large can of tomato juice (bought last year with the idea of making chili when family was here), a can of baked beans ( bought multiples and rarely eat them) and some oyster crackers.

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Posted by Picasa

Refrigerator Organization

So why would you take the time to organize a refrigerator? Well, to save money, save time, and make the best use of your space.
You save money by not buying multiples. You don’t need two large jars of open Mayonnaise. You save money by not letting food languish on the back shelves and go bad instead of using the food in tasty dishes. You save money because it is easy to find food to make breakfast or pack a quick lunch so you don’t spend the money at a fast food restaurant. You save electricity because you don’t stand in front of the open door for hours trying to figure out what there is to eat.
You save time because you can find items quickly. You can quickly see what you have and don’t have so it is faster to put together a shopping list. It is faster to pack a lunch or snack out of that organized refrigerator than it is to make a trip to a restaurant. A system in place makes it faster to put food away after shopping.
Organizing your refrigerator helps you to use the space wisely. No more left over dinner plate half wrapped in plastic wrap teetering on top of a saucepan with 6 left over green beans and a soda can. Adjust shelves so that they fit the type of items you buy.You might notice that I have part of one shelf that has very little height. It is just perfect for my cream cheese, natural peanut butter, and Parmesan cheese from the market. I have a tall shelf for beverages like OJ and jugs of milk as well as the open RC bottle. Things that are going to perish soon are toward the front. That row of yogurt has the oldest containers in the front. The drawers have different functions for me. One drawer is for snack food and cheeses. One drawer is for produce like potatoes, onions, cabbage. Another drawer is for my salad fixings.
It is a good idea to give the refrigerator a quick clean once a week. Toss anything that has gone bad or is iffy (when did you bring home that leftover takeout Chinese?). Give the shelves a quick wipe.
Designate areas in your fridge for certain types of food- like snack food, salad makings, meats. Then educate anyone in your family who opens the fridge where the food belongs. Put leftovers in proper containers. Clear ones are best but if you use others you might want to label what is in it and when it was put in the fridge. Put items you use a lot toward the front- for me that would be jelly and salsa- dried breadcrumbs in the back.
The door, which is warmer, holds items like salad dressing, sauces for cooking, mustard, etc. I also keep some small bottles of water there.
Every six months give that refrigerator the big cleaning. Take everything out of it and freezer. Clean well. Clean under the fridge and behind it so that there is not dust build up which makes the motor work harder. Check for all expiration dates before you put food back away.
Now is a great time to do this task so you have a clean organized refrigerator for the holidays.

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Posted by Picasa

Kitchen Zone

This month I will focus on the kitchen for my organizational zone. I like to do the kitchen zone in October because this is a good time to donate food items that I no longer want but are still not expired. I will divide the kitchen into 4 sections and attack one section each week. As I go through each section, I will take items out of the cabinets, refrigerator, or off the stove and clean each area. I will then evaluate each item before it goes back. Is this something I need, use, or love? It looks neat, but when was the last time I used the omlette fork to make an omlette? Not for years- I just grab a big fork out of my utensil drawer instead- so the fork will go. OK- the copper utensils seen in the picture are never used but I bought them in Greece and love them- so they will stay. As I go through the refrigerator and the areas where I store food, I will check each item to see if I really have a plan for it. I will check expiration dates on items. I will throw items out or put in a box to give away as I go. I will evaluate my cooking pots, my dishes, my gadgets, the stuff hanging off my refrigerator. I will declutter and make the kitchen pleasing for me to work in- all in time for holiday cooking.

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Posted by Picasa