Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Rearranging Your Kitchen For Efficency

I was thinking about adding this to the Food Budget Series, but decided against it since there is not a direct tied to saving money. This is more about efficiency. One of the big complaints I hear from people against cooking is that it just takes too long. I know we have covered some time saving tips in the series, but let’s step back and take a better look at logistics of our vessels. (Meaning pots and pans).

I went a little OCD on my kitchen this weekend after throwing my back out for the fourth time since Easter. When I moved into the apartment, we were getting wedding gifts willy nilly and I would just shove them into cabinets. I have had one great rearrange in the year at the apartment, but it was time for a revamp. Here’s how it went down.

First things first, I pulled everything out of the cabinets and created a fresh hell in the kitchen.

Random baking accouterments

The big appliances, shoved in haphazardly, ready to crush a foot.
This may sound silly, but the next thing I did was go buy those black gel pads for the floor. I hate shoes, and my philosophy about shoes falls in line with Dane Cook's. As a result, cooking hurts my knees and back BAD. The gel pads have helped tremendously in that department. They have even helped Jon's back pain when he is washing dishes. They are definitely worth the investment.
The next thing I should have done was throw out any tupperware that was warped, stained, or missing a lid. Also, throw out chipped or broken dishes since they harbor bacteria. Throw out or donate appliances and dishes you never use. I forgot this step. You shouldn't.
The next thing I did was think about what items I was using on a regular basis. You can do this as you are cooking. What items are you having to walk away from your stove for the most? Those are the items that should be moved closer. I decided to move those items from the lower to the upper cabinets, and from the left side of the stove to the right. The bending at the waist was killing my back so this would really help with that problem. Since I am right handed, moving those items to the right of the stove makes sense because that is the first place I reach. Now, I don't have to go all over the place to get what I need.
Before: dishes, random small appliances, measuring cups, vases, is that a funnel up there?!

After: Dishes scooted, and frequently used mixing bowls, baking items, measuring cups, & tupperware.

The next thing I did was tackle my baking area. I use my stand mixer on a pretty regular basis, but my spices, flour, sugar, etc. were so far removed from it, that I was spilling them all over the kitchen. Wasteful and messy.

Cooking spices stayed put. Sugars, candies, baking soda, cookie cutters, etc. moved.
Now came the pots and pans. Here was there original location next to the poorly organized spice cabinet.

Pots ready to fall on your head. Not easily accessible, they don't really fit in this cabinet left of the stove.
I moved all these pots to the cabinet where the miscellaneous large appliances were (see 2nd picture above). These are nice deep cabinets under the counter. I placed the pots in with the handles facing out, again to the right of the stove, so that I could just open the cabinet, reach for the handle, and pull out what I need. I put the lesser used pots further from the stove, with the every day pots closest to the stove. Didn't take an after photo, sorry.

For the less frequently used items, such as party servers, big corningware dishes, etc. I moved them to the left of the stove, where I would go to less frequently. The bulky appliances from above, like that fryer, pizza stone, cheese board, wok, griddle, etc. were all moved down below in never-use land.

No more digging for what I need!

Since everything is a spot that makes better logistical sense, I can cook faster, bend less, and make less mess. Now all I have to do is remember where that spot is and I'll be cooking in no time! No seriously, if you have had stuff in the same place for a long time, it will take a few days to get used to the new layout. However, things will click soon and you will be chugging along without a hitch. Remember, every kitchen is different, so arrange it in a way that works best for you. You'll know when it feels right because your cooking will have a natural flow. If it doesn't work, change again. Just remember to tell whoever puts up the dishes so that they aren't doubling their time trying to find where put away those pots!

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