5 Pro Tips for an Organized Kitchen

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These will make cooking more efficient – and your space more attractive.

We all need interior design inspiration once in a while, and for me that recently came in the form of this New York Times article featuring a beautiful, highly organized kitchen. It belongs to Ellen Bennett, a former professional chef and now kitchen-wear entrepreneur, who lives in Echo Park, Los Angeles.

Bennett offers several great tips for organizing your home kitchen like a professional. These are tried-and-true methods for easier food storage, preparation, and serving that also make for a more attractive space.

“When you have a place for everything, you don’t have to think twice,” she says, because there’s no searching for what you need. “It’s about not having to do the extra work.”

While you can read the entire tour in detail here, I took away the following points:

1. Keep like with like.

Bennett has divided her kitchen tools into 4 categories: prep, cook, serve, store. All containers are stashed in drawers and cupboards according to their categorization.

The same idea applies to flavors. Her fridge is divided into sections for Asian sauces, American sauces, pickled items, fruits and vegetable, and cheese.

On the countertop, she keeps what she calls her “flavor station,” a reliable wooden bowl stocked with shallots, garlic and red onions. “They’re the raw materials,” she says, “the all-around the basics of good flavor.

2. Label everything.

Come up with a simple system for labeling and stick with it. All you need is a roll of masking tape and a marker, or if you want to get fancy, chalkboard pen on black sticker labels. Label and date all refrigerator items, spice containers, frozen foods, pantry baskets. There will be less waste, as you won't have mysteriously unidentifiable foods kicking around.

3. Keep things within easy reach.

For those items that you use multiple times a day, keep them out on the counter and make them easily accessible. Get a magnetic knife strip. Have a basket near the stove with olive oil, salt, pepper, and butter. Leave a cutting board on the counter, a compost bin handy.

4. Ditch the gadgets.

It can be tempting to acquire specialized gadgets, but unless you use them on a regular basis, they're just taking up valuable real estate and contributing to a general sense of clutter.

Counting a chef’s knife, a paring knife, a bread knife and a pair of scissors as kitchen drawer essentials, [Bennett is] a staunch opponent of single-utility items like cherry pitters and garlic presses. “Do not get an avocado slicer,” she says. “Learn to use a knife.”

5. Do a regular purge.

Treat your pantry like your closet. It needs a major declutter and overhaul on a regular basis. Bennett recommends tossing (or donating) anything you haven't used within six months and keeping only those things that reflect your current cooking habits.