Wednesday, April 6, 2011

What's Cookin' Wednesday: My Anal-Retentive Kitchen

This is not the first time I have spoken of my anal retentive tendencies. I’ve talked about how not to pack my groceries and what not to do to my dishwasher. Now I’m going to talk about how my kitchen is organized.

1. Don’t mess with my pantry when you unload groceries.

We didn’t have room, really, for food once we had moved in and unpacked my kitchen 6 years ago. So we went to Ikea and bought a wardrobe and filled it with fixed shelves and slide-able baskets which would be our pantry. I filled it logically (duh) with heaviest items on the bottom. I need a stool, being 5 foot nothing, so that’s on the bottom with a bag full of paper bags we re-use, plus extra bottles of juice and our recycling bin. Then I have a shelf of cans (extra items that replace already opened ones in the fridge and other places) on the left to soups, veggies then fruit on the right. Then beverages (coffee mostly), bread and baking supplies. Then a shelf of carbs: pasta, rice, potatoes in a basket and a basket for items that won’t stand on the metal basket drawer: raisins, small container of sunflower seeds and anything in a zipper-top bag or packet. I put snacks all together in another  place. And then cereal super high up. I actually had to do that (PLUS put a baby lock on the handles!) because Ian, when he was about 3, started being all Mr. Independent and getting into EVERYTHING “like a big boy”! That included helping himself to cheez-its and cereal. So I put them up insanely high where it is almost uncomfortable to reach to keep the kids out of everything.

 But DON’T put the granola bars (less sugary and more fiber then cereal bars) on the snack shelf. They go with the cereal. And for the love of God, snacks do not go on the bread shelf! I know cheez-its can be classified as carbs, but they just don’t GO with rice and pasta! Oh, and turn all the boxes so the nutrition info is facing the wall; I like to see the label of what’s in the box facing out and typically, they label the panel opposite the nutrition label. Check, you’ll see.

2. First rule of the cabinets containing dishes: like goes together.

This means first, all bowls go together, then all bowls of the same size and then pattern go together. I mean, look with your EYES people, it’s all quite logical! It makes finding the right sized bowl for the job that much easier. Kids’ plates? All different funky shapes and sizes, so group like ones together and largest plates on the bottom. Obviously. Kids’ bowls, on the other hand, go down the bottom, under the island, again, like items stacked together. Don’t go all hodge-podge-y on me people! I don’t do leaning towers of bowls that topple over when I open the cabinet thanks. Why are bowls not with the kids’ plates you ask? Because first of all, there wasn’t enough room in the big cabinet.

Secondly, I needed something that I didn’t mind the kids getting into in the island because it was right on their level. This was because: hubby not putting locks on those cabinets + being on their level = contents constantly on the floor. So I put their little plastics bowls in there and then I encourage some independence by asking the little ones to get their own bowls for snacks and cereal. Awkward corner cabinets? Up top are cups and mugs (but NOT on the same shelf! Eesh!) and down the bottom, all my hardly-used oversized pans, vases, coffee carafes (is that “care-effs” or “kuh-raffs”?) and pitchers. I remember once, there was a woman in my mom’s group (mother of 4 whose kitchen was such a mess, you had to duck and cover when you opened a cabinet!) who came to my house for coffee and as I was finishing up unloading the dishwasher, she abruptly said: “I can’t believe how neat your kitchen is!! Can I see how you organize your cabinets?? “ She started whipping open doors and exclaiming over them. When she got to those corner cabinets she said,

“CUPS! What a great idea! I hate this cabinet. So awkward, I didn’t know what to put in there.”

I gotta give props to my mom, that’s what’s in HER corner cabinet but I asked the other mom,

“well, what’s in yours?”

She said, sounding puzzled,

“Casserole dishes.”

3. Drawers.

I put those items I use the most into drawers. I have 4 wider drawers and 3 smallish drawers. I did a LOT of rearranging the first 2 years we were here, trying to find the right place for everything. But one thing that never changed: I have a tea drawer. Right next to my stove (and it was a toss up: tea or spices in the only drawer beside the stove) where I boil my tea. I have an (ex) sister in law who had a tea drawer when we were in our twenties and I thought it was the coolest thing since sliced bread. I couldn’t wait until I actually had a drawer to put tea in (we were in a townhouse with literally one drawer in our kitchen that had my pot-holders in it!) When I got to this house, I created a tea drawer (I drink a lot of tea!!). *sigh* I love my tea drawer. It makes me happy every time I open it. Regular tea on one side, decaf on the other (Most of it’s decaf. I know, you wouldn’t know by…anything about me that I was decaf, but I am! Have been for years!) You know what’s really cool about tea? It all comes in boxes. Nice neat, square little boxes that fit so nicely together in my nifty, handy-dandy very square drawer.  One of my other fave drawers?  Spices!! I wanted a leveled spice drawer organizer shelfie thing but I couldn't find it to purchase after I'd seen it a few years ago online! Figures!  

4. Lastly, there is my fridge.

*sigh again* My fridge is a lost cause, but every once in a while (ok, about once a month. You feel me, right?) I grit my teeth, take Clorox wipes to the whole thing and then rearrange it. But my family (read: my husband) will not keep up with my system. For some reason, he understands and follows the system in the pantry, does reasonably well with how our cabinets are organized but just pays no attention to where anything goes in our fridge! The door is the worst. I try to put all the cups of fruit together, dairy items together, dressings and marinades together. But inevitably, the salsa is in with the jellies and jams. He tries to cram my grapefruit cups in with the butter. And I can never find the damned parmesan cheese; it migrates all over the door. Most days I just shimmy things around as best I can, shake my head and shut the door. Other days, when I’m in a hurry, I am greatly annoyed I can’t find what I need. Greatly. Annoyed.

When you cook regularly, it is important to be able to be able to find things and move freely and quickly about your kitchen. When someone messes with the system, it’s like going 60 over a speed-bump, missing a step in a dance. It can be the difference between snatching that boiling-over pot off the stove with potholders, and a burned hand. Or getting that spill juuuuust before it rolls off the edge of the counter and having to re-clean a just-mopped floor.

Don’t mess with my kitchen system. It works. Work the system.

1 comment:

  1. Ah, lady after my own heart!!! I lurv things organized, want to find them where I left them and not look for them all over the place. I also keep re-organizing till it is logical.
    But woman - how can you drink caffeine free coffee???????????????????


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