It seems that whenever I begin a kitchen remodeling project, the first requirement from my client is, “MORE STORAGE.” I’m sure some of you can relate. But more often than not, I find that it isnt a lack of storage that’s the culprit as much as it is a lack of organization. Now, with a few kitchen remodels underway, I thought a post on proper kitchen organization would be perfect.
Cassie Corbett loves to experiment in her kitchen and dreams of one day being the star of her own cooking show. When she’s not busy concocting cocktails or putting out the occasional kitchen fire, she writes for World Kitchen, who supplies a wide range of kitchen cookware.
Keeping it Organized: The Concept of Mise en Place
Is your kitchen a scrambled mess? When you have company over are you frantically trying to find your salt and pepper? Does cooking a meal take twice as long as it should because you are constantly reaching into the pantry for one more ingredient? Maybe you’ve thought that your kitchen could use a little help in the organizational department, if this is the case then heed a little advice from professional chefs and introduce the concept of mise en place to your kitchen.
Mise en place (say it like ‘meez enn plahz’) literally translated from the French means “everything in place.” The principal behind the concept is that before you begin cooking a meal that you are fully prepared with all of your ingredients and tools that you will need ready to be used. Culinary students all over the world learn this technique early on in their training and learn that it applies to more than just cooking.
An organized kitchen is easier to keep clean and a clean kitchen is one that doesn’t make you sick when you cook your own food. If you are a bit of a clutterbug when it comes to organization take the time to consider your kitchen and if it could be organized more efficiently.
Keep it together
Are there plates, glasses, or other pieces of cookware that you use every day? Any items that you find yourself using very frequently should be placed together and in easy reach. If your daily ritual consists of you coming home from work, grabbing a plate, a glass, and grilling a sandwich on one of those classy indoor electric grilling machines, then all of those items should be easily accessible.
Similar items and accessories should be stored together. Plates with plates, glasses with glasses, food storage items like plastic bags, plastic wrap, or aluminum foil should also be similarly grouped. Keep your pots and pans and other tools you use during cook near your cooking area. Seconds matter when you’re desperately in need of a lid to keep a pot from boiling over.
Be mindful of how you store things. Point and sharp ends should always be facing down with handles sticking out of any container. Be careful how you store knives as well. If you are storing them in a drawer then spend some money on a compartmentalized organizer. Imagine a scenario where someone is over at your house looking for a utensil in a drawer and ends up slicing themselves on a serrated knife that was buried under other utensils. Be smart and safe in how you organize your tools.
Out with the old
Have you ever heard of the concept of “first in first out”? This is how restaurants organize their food, so that food is used efficiently and nothing ends up secretly expiring hidden in the back of a shelf. When you come home with leftover Mongolian noodles are you stuffing them in the back of your fridge? When was the last time you saw the back of your fridge?
A refrigerator is a prime environment for bacterial growth. When one thing goes bad in a fridge it can hasten the spoiling rate of everything else in there. Keep your older foods near the front of the fridge and your newer ones in the back and either eat your leftovers or throw them out, ideally before they start paying rent.
Take on your pantry in a similar attack plan. Is there a bag of pasta noodles sitting under another bag of potato chips that have been there since the time when gas was less than fifty dollars a gallon? If so, it might be time for it to go. Toss out anything too old to be used and prominently display anything that you need to get to using. Do you have a jar of spaghetti sauce a few days from its expiration date? Maybe tonight would be a good spaghetti night?
There are some very cool organization accessories that can also add to the décor of your kitchen. An over the door storage rack for your pantry door gives you extra space and can easily store quick snack items for people to grab. Likewise, baskets can also help you keep similar items grouped together and make an easy grab and go option for some.
Accessorize down under with some under cabinet ideas. Under lighting is becoming quite a popular trend and makes cooking on counters quite attractive. Along these lines there are under cabinet racks designed to hold cookbooks, perfect for the chef who gets a bit messy during their prep. You can also introduce vertical storage for pots and pans, taking freeing up cabinet space and making use of the empty spaces on walls.
Remember, the basic idea behind a concept of mise en place is that everything is where it belongs. Keep what you need handy and store similar items together. You’ll have a neat little kitchen that will be as inviting as it is attractive.
Thanks for all the tips Cassie! You can find more Cassie via her twitter @CassieCorbett1