The Kitchen Tour – Part One

 Posted by on July 30, 2010  Add comments  Tagged with:
Jul 302010

A reader asks:

“Could you give me some ideas for what you have in your kitchen cabinets-I have a very limited number of cabinets and am wondering where you keep things and how many shelves you devote to lets say…glasswear, dishes, pots and pans, dish towels and rags, etc…”

I have a confession – this is the type of post I enjoy reading on other people’s blogs. I just think it’s really fun to see how people organize things! I think that the best way to answer this question is to give you a kitchen tour, but this would be a very lengthy post, with lots of pictures, so I decided to post the tour in four parts. I’ll begin with this first bank of cabinets next to my computer, and work my way around.

You’ll notice that I keep very little on the counter – only my HMG, bread machine, and coffeemaker. This is because I have a rule in my kitchen (well several, actually). If it doesn’t get used at least once a week, it doesn’t get to occupy prime counter real estate. If it were up to my husband, every gadget and appliance we own would remain on the counter, but we have limited counter space, and it’s very difficult to cook three meals a day when you have nowhere to put stuff! So, when he takes over the cooking he can leave the mixer out. Until then, I make the kitchen rules!

Our house was built in 1971, and when we bought it, the cabinet finish was very scarred, but the cabinets themselves were solid. We chose to paint them (see My Frugal Kitchen Makeover), but not on the inside (way, way too much work, and who cares when no one sees them? Er…except for you guys. Right now).

In the first upper cabinet from left, I store canned goods. I designated a separate cabinet for them because I have limited pantry space. True to my super-dork nature, I keep canned goods organized by type, and fronted, just like at the grocery store, so I can always see just what I have.

The next upper cabinet is my spice cupboard. I buy nearly all spices in bulk from an Amish grocery (see Thrifty Tip #7 – Buy in Bulk), and store them alphabetically (I know it’s geeky, but it makes them easier to find!) I also make many of my own spice blends (see Money Saving Mixes). The two-tiered lazy susan is actually a Gerber baby food organizer that I got at a garage sale for a quarter. It works great for spices. I also store coffee and filters in this cabinet, because the coffeemaker is directly below it. The #1 rule in my kitchen is store things where you use them!

You might be wondering why I store my spices in a cabinet, and so far from the stove, but I have a very good reason for this! Spices are expensive, and they must be stored properly to maintain their potent, fresh flavor. Heat, light, moisture and air all speed the loss of flavor and color. Store your spices in airtight containers, away from heat sources, such as the top of the stove, dishwasher, refrigerator or microwave, or near a heating vent. The best way to avoid light is to put the spices inside a cupboard or a drawer. If you have an open spice rack, make sure to place it out of direct sunlight.

Below the counter, I have three drawers. The first one, which is right next to my computer and “office,” is used for checkbooks, notepads, and office supplies, such as my self-inking stamps, letter opener, pens and pencils, etc. I keep these organized in a plastic school supply box.

In the next drawer, I keep bag clips (stored in a Deli Select lunch meat container – it keeps them neat!) and kitchen utensils that aren’t used very often, such as the rolling pin. I keep utensils that I use all the time very close to my work area.

Next is the silverware drawer. I store tiny baby spoons in the little shoe box, so they don’t rattle around in there and make a mess.

Below the counter are two more cabinets. This is the “plastics” cabinet, where I keep food storage containers:

I nest containers inside each other, and stand lids in a large container that I never use, so they’re easy to find. A large, square shoebox would also work.

Finally, I store my glass baking dishes and mixing bowls in the bottom cabinet, closest to my center island, which I use as a baking center. Again, store things where you will use them!

This completes part one of the kitchen tour, and now you know even more about me, including which brand of beans I prefer, and that I like Miracle Whip. I do hope it was helpful, and gave you some organizing ideas (and now you probably think I’m even nerdier than you did before!)

Now, a word about questions:

I receive many questions via e-mail, and I do make a real effort to answer all of them. If I think they pertain to a subject that may interest all readers of this blog, I will typically answer them here. If not, I will answer them personally, but it sometimes takes me awhile. Please be patient with me 🙂