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Help! My New Home Has a Fabulous Kitchen and I Don’t Know How to Cook!

Are you one of those people whose kitchen cabinets explode every day you open up a cupboard door? Help is here! Grab a cup of Joe and let's begin!

Part One in a Two Part Series on Kitchen Organizing

So my buyers have just closed on their new house complete with a great, state of the art kitchen.  What’s the problem?  Neither one of them knows how to cook—or at least cook very well!  Even as the furniture was delivered they both avoided the kitchen like the plague (except to brew some coffee, eat some Dunkin Donuts and munch down late night take out).  In great despair they called me and asked if I would help them get this room organized and functioning.  So I take off my Realtor® hat, smile and put on my Designer/Cook/Organizer hat. Then it occurred to me that they aren’t the only people having the same anxiety over their kitchen’s organization.  So of course, I set out to write this blog.

Let’s begin by starting off with the basics. When unpacking dishes be sure to place your everyday dinnerware and glasses within reach of the dishwasher.  If there is room on the top shelves of the cupboard then this is a great place to store dishes and serving pieces that you won’t use often.  Position your utensils in the drawers to the right or left of the dishwasher near the dishes.  If you intend to do some baking or you own baking utensils, small appliances, and baking essentials, then group them altogether for easy access. Next, set up your pots and pans.  If you have large pull out drawers you are in luck!  Put all of the lids together in one area for easy access.  If you don’t have large drawers don’t worry.  There are all sorts of kitchen aids specifically designed to hold and organize lids.  Put all pots and pans together in another drawer or cupboard. Or if you prefer then invest in a hanging pot rack.  There are several designs to choose from including those that are wall mounted and others that hang over your center island.  Some newer kitchens are equipped with a water faucet near the stove for easy filling of stock pots, etc.--making it easier to fill large capacity pots with water for pasta or cooking lobsters.  Great time saver for busy cooks—for the occasional cook it serves as a great feature to make your kitchen more appealing when you are selling your home.

Now the items that I have found to cause the most problems are plastic storage containers and lids.  You know the routine.  You open a cupboard door and these containers come flying out!  Every size, color and shape lid goes rolling across your kitchen floor!  Well fear not.  This is another ideal use for lid organizers.  Arrange all of your containers according to size and neatly store the lids close-by.  If you don’t have lid organizers then opt for a basket that will accommodate the lids and arrange the lids by size as well.  Problem solved.

One favorite appliance to bond with is definitely the stove!  Get to know how the range hood works, the stove's settings and how the built-in grill works.  Familiarize yourself with everything about the stove including the self cleaning oven features and automatic cooking timer. If you have a convection oven then learn how to use it properly.  And then once you’ve mastered the stove, oven and its components you will be ready to cook!  Be sure to place serving spoons, spatulas, and tongs in a handy container or crock within reach of the stove.  If your microwave is located above your stove then store microwavable cookware close by.  There are some great gadgets that make microwave cooking easy and a no brainer such as a bacon tray, muffin pan, and pasta cooker all of which are made out of microwavble safe materials.  Place oven mitts, hot pads and dish towels in the same draw or cupboard.  Now it’s all starting to come together.

Since this article is written for all types of kitchens I would like to point out that those of you with pull out organizers in your kitchen cabinets are blessed!  And for everyone else help is here!  Home improvement centers offer an array of kitchen cabinet organizers that will help keep pots, pans, dishes, etc. neat and tidy.  Before you run out and make your purchase be sure to do a walk through of your kitchen noting how you use the space.  You can even find easy to install organizers for recycling bins that store neatly away in the lower cabinets.  Do your homework before you load the back of your car with these hard to resist organizing kits.  It will save you money and time.

For those of us who love to cook and collect cook books we know that we always have more than we really need!  Not too worry.  Sort through them and take out the ones that you refer to on a regular basis.  Make a space for them on the counter, a shelf or baker’s rack.  If they happen to be colorful then they will do double duty by adding that small pinch of color to the room.  Store the others in a convenient location so that they don’t get placed where they will be forgotten.

Set up a coffee or breakfast station.  Set up a coffee maker, coffee grinder and/or toaster either at one end of your kitchen’s countertop or in a storage nook with a rolling door if your kitchen is equipped with one.  Store coffee cups, mugs, coffee verities and teas close by for convenience.  You can also place your sugar or honey jar within reach.  This simple organization technique can save precious time in the morning when you fixed for time and running out the door!

I have found that most kitchens have beautiful center islands that double as an eating/snack area, prep area or gathering spot when entertaining.  If you don’t have one then consider investing in one.  Portable center islands come in all sizes, price ranges and materials.  When your space is limited then consider purchasing a rolling shelving unit that doubles as a prep area but can be positioned any where you need it.  If you are a baker then a marble or granite surface is perfect for rolling out dough.  If you are wine enthusiasts then you might want to look for an island that has a place for wine glasses as well as a wine rack.  The options are limitless.  If you are handy then by all means go for it and make your own.  You can salvage antiques or older furniture pieces by restoring them and giving them a faux finish.  Top it with an island work surface made out of materials that are best suited for your kitchen.  Use your imagination and create a one of kind piece. 

I’m sure by now I’ve got you thinking about getting your kitchen into shape!  And I know you are all wondering about the pantry.  Well that’s a topic that we will be covering in part two.  Pantries stand alone and make for another article on their own.  You won’t want to miss out on all of the great information on what you can do to get your food items organized as well as which foods serve as the basic, simple ingredients to make meal prep time quick and easy.

Until next time—happy eating!

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

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