Whether we like it or not, caring for children involves constantly preparing and serving food and then cleaning up afterwards. Not only do our children (and partners) have to eat, and preferably eat well, we have to eat well to be able to function at our best, mentally, emotionally and physically.
In many households, the kitchen is the hub of the family home, where connecting, refuelling and many other activities take place. It makes sense, that if we have to spend so much time in there, that it be a pleasant experience (I feel this way about my laundry too, but am yet to make that a reality!). This means that instead of feeling chaotic, cluttered and disorganised, the kitchen would feel organised, clean, tidy and uncluttered.
How would you describe your kitchen?
Do you like being in there, or does it make you feel stressed?
My kitchen is right in the middle of our house, and clearly visible from all living areas. We can’t help but walk through or past it constantly. So, if it feels disorganised and untidy, it’s really hard to ignore. In particular, the state of my kitchen bench, has a significant impact on my stress levels! (I know I’m not the only one!) Kitchen chaos can also make it harder to find things and make cooking take longer. It can cost you money if you don’t know what you have, and food spoils before you use it. Or you might keep buying pantry items, not realising that you already have them, leaving the old ones hiding long past their expiry date.
How do we keep our kitchens in order and make mum life a little easier?
To help answer this question, I’m so pleased to introduce you to Claire Cameron, from Claire K Creations. Claire loves helping overwhelmed mums declutter, simplify and organise their kitchens and cooking to make life easier. She has plenty of practical, valuable tips to share and kindly answered some of the most pressing questions from my More to Mum community this week. Here’s what she had to say about how to organise and tidy your kitchen…
1. What are your top tips for turning kitchen chaos into order?
My number one tip, really for everything, is not having more stuff than you actually need and use. When we have too much stuff, that’s when the chaos tends to occur. There’s no set ‘home’ for items OR their home is behind a whole lot of other things that make it too much effort to actually put it away so it ends up being left out on the bench.
A UK study found that 10% of the small appliances we have in our kitchen only get used 6 times. If that item is taking up valuable cupboard or bench space, then it’s taking up room from something that could have a new home. Having a place for everything is really important but it’s also important that the space is easy to access. If it doesn’t have a place in a cupboard, on a shelf or in a drawer, then it’s going to find itself on the bench creating clutter. Using things like mini shelves inside shelves, drawer dividers, lazy susans all help to keep everything accessible and so easy to put away.
My other rule is to only keep things on the bench that you use every day or close to it. A clear bench changes the whole look and feel of a kitchen and you’re much more likely to want to keep it tidy if you get a chance to see it clear.
If you want extra incentive, create a little pretty space. Maybe it’s a plant or pretty little display of teapots… it doesn’t matter what it is, just as long as it’s a space that makes you happy to look at.
2. How do I stop everyone using the kitchen bench as a dumping ground?
If things are ending up on the kitchen bench then it’s likely because they either don’t have a specified home or that specified home isn’t easily accessible for everyone. Have a good look at what it is that’s ending up on the kitchen bench. Paperwork and mail is probably the number one item that collects on the bench so find a space elsewhere for it. Even having a magazine holder on a shelf in the kitchen that all the paper can go in is a good idea. Or you could have a simple hanging basket somewhere near the kitchen to collect mail and paperwork as it comes in.
There are a million and one ideas on Pinterest if you search ‘family command center.’
Other things are usually car keys and little toys or homework stuff. Again, creating a space for it all that’s easy to access and obvious makes it easier for everyone to get on board. In our house, when we renovated our kitchen I had them put two little cupboards under the bench on the stool side. One is the kids, one is mine. Sure they sometimes end up a little cluttered (I do regular clean outs) but at least everything is off the bench!
3. How do you ensure all your appliances, such as the oven and fridge, get cleaned regularly?
Having a schedule and reminders is really the only way I can keep on top of things like this. It’s another of my top tips for life but by having it down on paper or in an app (I love Life Sorted) with a reminder means you don’t have to think of the last time you cleaned the item. For me, the fridge gets a quick clean out once a week on the day I buy fruit and vege. The oven… well it’s not quite in the schedule yet. Note to self, add oven cleaning to the schedule every 2nd month.
4. What are the secrets to having an organised pantry?
Again, this one comes down to systems – having a section for each category that’s easy for everyone to understand and having things accessible. If everyone has to dig around to find what they’re looking for then it’s going to quickly get chaotic. Using things like baskets and lazy susans, as well as shelf dividers, can make keeping the pantry tidy a lot easier. I recommend see-through containers so everyone can see what’s in there at a glance (I actually use glass jars in my pantry) and having a “one in stock, one open, one on the list” rule.
For a step-by-step guide to organising the pantry, have a look at my tutorial here.
5. How do you prevent the kitchen becoming a disaster zone when you are cooking?
We call my dad 20-pot-Pete because when he cooks, I swear he uses every item in the kitchen. Now, I’m not going to claim to be the neatest cook, but I do like to keep a reasonably clean kitchen.
Cleaning as you go is a good way to stop the mess spreading too far. We have a double sink so usually, as I cook, I will rinse things in one side of the sink and throw them in the other then once I’m finished, I’ll stack the dishwasher. My usual method is to put away all the ingredients first. Then get everything in the sink then wipe the bench and stack the dishwasher.
If you want to take it one step further, doing things like bulk meal prep not only saves you time and money, but it cuts down on the cleaning. Peeling carrots? Peel a whole stack of them, cut them up and pop them in a Tupperware container with a little water and there’s no more carrot prep for the week. I try to do this with all my veggies so there’s only one lot of vege prep each week.
If you want to take it yet another step further, prepare more than one meal at a time. Sure you might make a little more mess than cooking one meal but then the next night, zero mess. Maybe you put something in the slow cooker and prepare another meal for the oven?
I always ask myself, ‘what can I do now that will make my life a little easier later’?
I hope some of these tips can help you organise and tidy your kitchen, to make your life a little less stressful.
If you’d like to make dinner times a little easier I’d love to offer you a free copy of my eBook 11 recipes, 12 ingredients – learn how to create a basic ingredient supply in your kitchen so that you can cook easy, tasty meals even when cooking is the last thing you feel like doing (without having to run to the shops). Click here to download your free copy.
JOIN CLAIRE LIVE! Claire will be running a live Q&A session on eliminating chaos on the kitchen, over in my Facebook Group. If you’d like to join Claire live, and have your questions answered, then click here.
About Claire Cameron
Claire Cameron is the creator of Claire K Creations and The Household Revolution where she helps overwhelmed mums leading busy city lives to declutter, simplify and organise their kitchens and cooking to make life easier. For tips, tricks, tools and recipes, visit: