Now, that your kitchen is safe, let’s get to the business of getting organized for maximum effectiveness.
Note: Caregivers who are responsible for meal preparation, sometimes feel as if they spend all day in the kitchen. An unorganized, cluttered kitchen can cause the calmest person to feel stress. Add in caregiving for a person with Alzheimer’s disease and and a disorganized kitchen can just about make you crazy.
Step One—Get rid of items you no longer use. Donate to charity, give away to a friend or just plain toss. Whatever you do, clear as much clutter as you can prior to beginning your organization project.
Step Two—Assess your appliances and tools. This is an important step. You should toss the 10 year old melon baller that you haven’t used since your nieces wedding. The large capacity mixer that you 1) don’t have the parts for and 2) have forgotten what to do with the parts if you did have them can go. Post it on freecycle.org and watch someone snatch it up before you have a chance to change your mind. Finally, with regards to appliances and tools, the litmus test is simple. Look at the appliance or tool and ask yourself two simple questions: 1–When is the last time I used this appliance or tool? 2- -Will I realistically use this appliance or tool within the next month? If you haven’t used it or are not planning to use it then let it go.
Step Three—Consider storage solutions and drawer organizers. A couple of years ago, I adopted the mantra for my kitchen, “A place for everything and everything in its place.” I purchased (from the dollar store) small containers for my drawers. That way, instead of just tossing small items into a “junk drawer” you can actually place them into a small basket in the drawer. Pens, markers, erasers in one container. Tape measure, ruler in another. Labels, safety pins and ….you get the point. It feels soooo good to open my former junk drawer and actually be able to locate what I’m looking for.
Food Storage–It’s not necessary to spend lots of money on canisters, etc. Just store your food, so that you can see what’s there. I use glass containers for my flours because I like to see what I have. However, glass is heavy and breakable, so I use clear plastic for cereal. Its easy to see when I need to refill or purchase and its easy for the kids to handle without spilling. Your system has to work for you.
Step Four—Think Horizontal (again). Clear counter tops. I have a fairly large kitchen and lots of counter space, so I keep my appliances out. That way, I actually use them and save a step since I don’t have to pull them out and then put them away. Even if you do keep your appliances out, the counter tops should not be cluttered with items that don’t belong there.
If you have any piles on the kitchen floor, get rid of them. In terms of the top of the refrigerator, stove, cabinets, clear those spaces. You’ll be amazed at how much larger (and inviting) your kitchen looks when the horizontal spaces are clear.
Step Five—Clean. The kitchen is one of the areas that requires the most cleaning as you get organized. So, use some elbow grease if necessary and get those internal (shelves) and external (floors, counter tops) horizontal spaces as clean as a whistle.
Step Six—Join me tomorrow and I’ll tell you how to organize and plan your meals, so that you can actually spend LESS time in your newly organized kitchen.