The kitchen is where the action is in most people’s homes. But often, particularly as families grow, there isn’t enough space for all the meal prep, socializing, dining, and other activities that go on in the kitchen. The kitchen is the place folks sit down to chat, it’s where the kids often do homework, and friends gather to have a cold drink at the end of a busy day. Yes, the kitchen is definitely the heart of the house.
Because it serves so many purposes, the kitchen needs to be free of clutter and junk. It has to be accessible, tidy, and well managed, no matter how big or small. Whether you’ve got room for a dining table and six chairs or you have a galley kitchen just big enough for food prep, this vital space has to be well organized.
In this post, we offer ideas for making the most of your kitchen storage space. No matter how it’s designed, these kitchen storage ideas will work for you. And you needn’t spend a fortune doing a complete update and redesign! Try one (or all) of these ideas, and soon your kitchen will be running like a well-oiled machine.
1) Get rid of the silly stuff and clean your kitchen
You know what we mean – the gizmos and gadgets you bought on a whim, or because you saw an ad on social media urging you to buy. The only way your kitchen is ever going to function well is if you toss the junk you don’t need. Go through the pantry and each and every cupboard. Clean out shelves and decide whether you really need to keep something. Ask yourself: when did I last use this thing? Does it make my cooking faster and easier? Do I even know why I bought it?
If you don’t know when or why you bought something, put it in the garbage pile.
By the way, before you start this big purge, make sure the kitchen is clean. Otherwise, you’ll get focused on the dirt and dust in cabinet corners and old food in the fridge. Start with a clean environment and you’ll be able to concentrate on the task at hand – getting rid of things you don’t need. That’s the all-important first step for making these kitchen storage ideas work!
2) Sort Your clutter with boxes
When your cabinets and shelves are empty and clean, begin winnowing down the items you’ve got. Make a pile marked “keep” and another one labeled “toss.” Create a third box dedicated to stuff still in good enough shape to donate to charity. Be sure you recycle anything that’s plastic or glass, like old jars without lids.
And don’t limit yourself to those items. Any dry food you’ve had sitting on pantry shelves for more than three months can be donated to a local food bank. Have you got a bag of pasta sitting there unused? Give it away! Someone else will be grateful to receive it.
Be firm! If you feel yourself wavering, clinging to things you know you don’t use but can’t let go of, remind yourself: I need more space!
That’s what this entire exercise is for. You mustn’t keep useless things you’ve never even opened, like a plastic garlic press or some other cheap, poorly made gizmo. The only way you’ll create new kitchen space is by getting rid of all the items that clutter up your pantry and cupboards.
3) Use airtight containers and jars to store your goods
The next step in this process, once all the cabinets and shelves are empty, is organization. You’ve dumped all the extra doodads and silly utensils, but what about your food shelves? When is the last time you emptied and cleaned those? Are you keeping a large, unwieldy bag of rice somewhere, a bag that leaks rice grains every time you grab it or bump it? The same goes for flour and pasta: do you have bags of it loose on a shelf, going stale because they’re half-open?
The time has come to minimize the space these foods take by storing them in containers and jars. Forget the bags these things come in, and splurge on some plastic or glass jars with tight-fitting lids. Dry goods stay fresh almost indefinitely, and the containers are attractive enough to display if you want to.
4) Reconsider your spices and how they are stored
It’s vital that your spices are fresh if your dinners are to taste their best. Reducing the number of spices you regularly keep is one of the best kitchen storage space ideas you can adopt. It saves money as well as space and ensures the ones on your shelf are fresh.
We know that having your spices close at hand, on a shelf over the stove, for example, makes them easy to access when you’re cooking. Unfortunately, that’s not the best place to keep them. The changes in temperature affect their flavors. They become stale quickly, losing their bright, bursting taste. You are better off storing them on a shelf that’s out of the range of heat, sun, and moisture.
Perhaps the biggest foe of fresh spices, however, is time. If you tuck yours away and forget they are there, at the very back of a kitchen cupboard, months go by and it’s easy to forget they are there. Keep them in several spice jars that are visible and handy. That will inspire you to try more and different spices each time you make a meal.
5) Opt for clear jars
Our next recommendation is a truly great kitchen storage idea. Transfer all dry goods – not just rice and pasta, but cereals, flour, and other foods – into clear, labeled jars or canisters. They can be glass or plastic, whatever you prefer.
These are particularly useful if your kitchen space is small. Buy jars in different sizes, depending on the height and depth of each cupboard and shelf. If you mark each one correctly, you can find them at a glance and keep the containers lined up in a tidy fashion. This means no rummaging around trying to grab a box of cereal, can of nuts, or bag of flour!
One caveat: remember that a clear container allows light in. That means you should keep them in a cool, dry place and don’t let them sit for more than a few months. If you do display the jars, use their contents even more promptly, since they’ll be exposed to light.
6) Store your produce with wire baskets
Wire baskets are excellent options for storing fresh produce, but lots of other things in other rooms too. They look great – very modern – and you can utilize them in your kitchen, home office, or bathroom. They hold lots of different products, everything from rolls of toilet paper to bags of onions and potatoes in the kitchen.
The wire design allows air to circulate, so produce won’t spoil easily or quickly. A basket of lemons and limes makes a colorful accent on any dining room table!
7) Tidy up utensils with drawer organizers
There are plenty of attractive and well-designed drawer divider inserts available for storing knives, spatulas, and other kitchen essentials. Using these clever and helpful inserts is an excellent idea for kitchen storage. They make your drawers look good and stay tidy, and let you find things quickly and easily.
Consider one for cutlery, another for tools like corkscrews and can openers – all the one-of-a-kind items that are indispensable. Group together gadgets and utensils in a way that makes sense to you and fits how you prep and cook food. Soon you’ll wonder how you ever managed with just a messy drawer full of stuff carelessly tossed in!
8) Consider a rolling cart for extra storage space
If your space is really tight, you’ve got to get a little creative to achieve extra kitchen storage space. A rolling cart is an ideal solution. It lets you store plenty of things – even condiments and baking products if need be – on a movable surface you can wheel out of sight.
Choose one with a surface you can do food preparation on, like chopping veggies or mixing ingredients. That way, it functions as more than storage – you can use it to make meals and then move it away. Such a useful item is never really in the way!
9) A magnetic knife rack is attractive and functional
If a drawer divider of knives doesn’t appeal to you, consider a hanging magnetic knife rack instead. These keep knives stored off counters, but readily accessible when you need them. Knife blocks take up room, whether on a counter or in the pantry. And they just might harbor unhealthy germs and bacteria, too.
A wall-mounted knife rack not only saves space but also lets your knives air dry after washing. More sanitary, and less clutter – a winning combo!
10) Keep an eye on how much you buy
Keeping track of what you buy is easy if you note when you buy groceries. Let’s say you have a new bag of pasta. Once you get it home from the grocery store and transferred it to the glass container, (like we just discussed!) make a note of the purchase date on the label. Then be sure to store the container near the front of the shelf. Think of this as a “first-in, first to use” system. The products you bought weeks ago need to get used up! Recording the date you bought certain things keeps you on top of when you have to use them.
Use this system in the fridge, too. Let’s say, for example, you have a bunch of asparagus you bought at the produce market on the weekend. Put a label on it saying something like, “use before…” Note a date, and keep it near the front of the shelf. You can avoid wasting a lot of fresh and dry foods with this system. The same applies to your freezer. Label everything with a “use by” date, and stick to it!
Once you get into the rhythm of tidying up and reducing things you store in shelves, drawers, cupboards, and the pantry, you’ll love the room and freedom extra space brings. Instead of losing track of your favorite kitchen gadget, you’ll find it close at hand as soon as you open a drawer.
And you’ll spend less money buying food and gizmos you don’t really want or need.
Doesn’t that sound heavenly?
Even the smallest kitchen can be made to feel big if it’s clean and well organized. And a well-organized kitchen brings happiness and calm to the busiest cook!
Here’s to kitchen storage ideas that create space, order, and tidiness!