Even if you consider yourself an organised person, there’s probably at least one drawer or cupboard in the house that you’re scared to open. You know the one – it’s full of all that random stuff that doesn’t seem to go anywhere else, so ends up in THE cupboard.
Kitchen cupboards are especially prone to becoming a bit of a jumble, since you’re squeezing in a whole range of items into one room. There’s the crockery, pots and pans, food, appliances, bins, bags and wrappers, and – if your kitchen is anything like mine – it’s also where the laundry detergents and cleaning products go.
To help us organise our kitchen cupboards, we spoke to professional declutter queen Vicky Silverthorn for her tips on sorting out the busiest room in the house.
How to organise kitchen cupboards
We know it’s hard to refrain from putting all your favourites into the shopping trolley each week. And aren’t those special offers just so enticing? But it’s all the extra, unnecessary food that’s taking up space.
‘Avoid bulk buying unless you really need to,’ says Vicki. ‘A special offer is great – but if it’s going to go out of date before you get a chance to use it then it’s actually wasted money and not a bargain.’
Before you go grocery shopping, Vicky suggests having a quick look in your cupboard so you can be aware of what you already have. How often have you bought something ‘just in case’, only to find you’ve got two tins of it already at home? This way, you’ll save money, reduce waste and save on cupboard space. Jack Monroe’s food audit tip is also a great way to stop yourself buying unnecessary things.
Clearing out kitchen cupboards also helps to shop smart. You can take a mental note of the items you’re getting rid of that have barely been used, if at all, and make sure you don’t unnecessarily buy them again.
What goes where?
Remember, ‘everything to do with organisation is a guideline not a rule,’ says Vicky. ‘You have to do what suits your lifestyle, your space and the time you have.’
So there’s no ‘one rule fits all’ when it comes to where to store your kitchen utensils in relation to the food. Think about how you use your kitchen, and what makes most sense to you.
It sounds obvious, but you should keep the same types of food in the same place. It’s no good having spaghetti in one cupboard, penne in another and macaroni in another. Keep the categories simple so you don’t feel restricted by them, too. For example, the pasta cupboard could also include other dry carbohydrates like cous cous, quinoa and rice.
There may be food you want your children to have access to, in which case it will need to go in lower cupboards. Oils, vinegars and other items you tend to grab while you cook would do well by the hob. Often you can move shelves within a cupboard to make space for tall bottles, too. You don’t want to be carrying heavy pots and pans across the kitchen, so try to also store them near the hob if possible.
How to organise small kitchen items like herbs and spices
It depends on how much space you have, but Vicky has some general suggestions for how to make the herbs and spices cupboard less chaotic.
If you’re lacking cupboard space, make use of the walls with hanging spice baskets, a rack, or try bamboo steps inside the cupboard.
You can also get drawer inserts which mean herbs and spices can be laid out and are easy to see. If you’re able to stand them upright in a drawer, it might be worth adding labels to the tops of the jars so you can quickly find what you need. Or, take organisation to another level and store them alphabetically.
How to store open packets
Vicky loves storing open packets of food in Oxo Pop Cube containers as you can stack them and they’re square, so you make great use of space. Also, unlike glass, they’re safe around children.
We know it looks super neat and organised when everything is in a storage jar, but this is a commitment you have to uphold. So it’s important to be realistic with what goes in a container. Don’t forget to put labels on storage containers to identify the foods, as well as the use by and best before dates, even if you just cut it off the original packet.
Before you go and buy a load of cute-looking jars, however, Vicky recommends having a look at what you are storing and the volumes of what you need. If you don’t have the space for containers, simply use a strong clip or elastic band to seal a packet. Open packets can also live in a good transparent storage tray, such as ones from IDesign, which can also help to avoid spillages.