Mise en place is a term that means “everything in its place.” It’s the prep work that happens before the actual cooking begins. Mise en place can extend to the kitchen as well. When my drawers and cabinets (and pantry and refrigerator) are organized and everything is in place, there’s a synergy to my cooking and meal planning. I know what I have, I know where to find it, and I know what I need.
When we first moved into our house, I called professional reinforcements. Julie Hibbs, owner of Squared Away and my organizational guru, is not only a mastermind when it comes to streamlining and purging, she also makes your home look beautiful and serene. I teach cooking classes out of our kitchen almost every week during the school year, so it’s important that my supplies are streamlined and user-friendly.
Summer is the perfect time to purge and reorganize. Ditch outdated spices. Clean out snack baskets. Wipe out silverware drawers. A clean kitchen is pure bliss.
When Julie came over recently for a summer refresh, I asked her to share her top 10 kitchen organization strategies with you all. Here are a few tips to help you pull your kitchen, pantry and refrigerator into summer shape.
- Put what you use where you use it. This may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s a common mistake. Hot pads by the stove top, dish towels by the sink, knives and cutting boards in your prep space.
- Don’t fall for the newest kitchen gadgets and tools. Over-crowded drawers are frustrating to use and difficult to maintain. Most of your prep can be achieved with a chef’s knife, a serrated knife and a paring knife.
- Make your “drop zone” somewhere other than the kitchen counter. Littering the island with keys, backpacks and incoming mail adds to the chaos. Consider hooks by the back door, or labeled baskets that catch the clutter where you enter the house.
- Schedule time for cleaning out and editing the perishables. Refrigerators should be reorganized every 7 to 10 days. The pantry and freezer should be addressed every 4 to 6 months.
- Pay attention to what you toss. Use this information to make smarter purchasing choices. If you always throw away bags of salad greens, cross them off your grocery list.
- Choose storage spaces that are appropriate for the size of the item. I have a chocolate basket for all the different varieties and odds and ends of chocolate I use — shockingly, it’s my favorite basket in the pantry.
- Use storage containers that fit end-to-end to maximize space. If you use round baskets, you’re wasting valuable space.
- If you can, treat yourself to matching bins. Most pantries are small spaces that aren’t visually appealing. Minimize visual clutter to create a more peaceful space.
- Flat trays, platters, baking sheets and cutting boards are best stored vertically. If you don’t have a cabinet with a built-in tray rack, there are metal tray racks available for for $10 to $15.
- If you are currently designing a new kitchen, don’t go crazy on appliances you don’t really need. When you add multiple trash and recycling drawers, a warming drawer and a microwave drawer, you lose valuable lower storage in your kitchen.