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Guest Post | Kitchen Organization with Lisa Woodruff

As I like to say, there are no mistakes or coincidences in the Universe, only miracles. A very special guest post arrived just as we are scrambling to pack our daughter up for college, we dismantled my office to paint it—hahaha, yes, if you recall the kitchen painting episode last year, you’ll wonder whether we are determined to test our marriage annually, taking on both offices and the back hall this time—and on top of all that, my computer decided to misbehave. Needless to say, I hadn’t even considered what to write about this week….

One area in which many of us feel very overwhelmed is the kitchen. While my Fl!p Your K!tchen book and Meal Planning Made Simple online course get your cooking practice organized, I often get a lot of questions about tips for organizing the kitchen space itself. While I can answer them to a degree, I think it’s helpful to bring in an expert, and it’s always nice to hear more than one point of view!

I started following Lisa Woodruff of Organize365 a few years ago, and in a small world moment, it turns out that my friend Holly Southerland of Traveling Organizer knows and trained with Lisa personally! If you haven’t checked out Lisa’s podcast, blog, and programs, I highly recommend them. 

Lisa always has wonderful suggestions about organizing tips, tricks, and products, and she has an innovative way about breaking organizing down into the life stage at which we find ourselves, so without further ado, I give you Lisa’s answers to my questions!

What are the most common mistakes you see in the kitchen [dis]organization?

The biggest mistake I see that people are making in their kitchen is that when they move into their house, even if they custom design their kitchen, they use the cabinets exactly as the builder installed them, and they don’t move the shelves around or alter things.

I suggest moving the shelves around to fit your food, so there are three products that I usually tell people to add to their kitchen if they’re having trouble getting organized.

  • Number one are “lazy susans,” or as my audience likes to call them, spinners. Spinners are like little turntables, and they come anywhere from only seven inches all the way to 18 inches in diameter. I use the smaller spinners for spices and the bigger spinners in those large, awkward corner cabinets and in the refrigerator. So when you put a spinner in your refrigerator, you can put all of the small jellies and cheeses on that spinner, and you will be able to get to everything all the way back in the back of the refrigerator. And then you can make your shelves in your refrigerator only six inches apart because the spinner will easily spin, and you will be able to get out what you need, maximizing your refrigerator space.
  • The second item I often tell people to add for organization in the kitchen: if you eat cereal, take all of the cereals out of their boxes—they’re always in a clear bag—and put all of those clear bags in a basket. That’s a great time saver and space saver.
  • And the third one is to add extra shelving. It’s not always easy to find the exact size shelf that is in your kitchen cabinet, so what I recommend is buying a shoe organizer by ClosetMaid. It’s usually $12–$15—not very expensive—and it’s made out of that white Melamine material that looks like laminate and has two risers. It comes in 24” or 31” wide. I have it in my nice custom kitchen—I have a shoe riser in there! And the nice thing about this is that it adds more shelves into your cabinet so that you can divide out your baking dishes and not have everything stacked up there.

What are the simplest tips you have for making the kitchen a more nourishing / nurturing space?

The biggest thing that I’ve started doing lately with our food, which is really, really helping is realizing that we as a family like different foods at different times of the year. And we actually have a seasonality to our foods. It’s summer currently, so I would never make pumpkin bread right now. And I usually don’t make sugar cookies in the summer either. Conversely in the winter I very rarely make my favorite strawberry dessert.

Because we have different seasonal foods and different things we like to eat and different appliances we like to use in different seasons, I think of just like changing out your clothing in your closet. You may keep all of your clothing in your closet, but you may move the current season to a more prominent, easy-to-reach space in your closet. You should do the same thing in your kitchen! Go ahead: at the end of the season, go through and clear out any of the foods like pumpkin or other things that are very seasonal and donate those to the food pantry so that they can be used, and other people can be nourished, and your kitchen can be organized, and nothing expires.

And you can do the same thing there with appliances also. I use my crockpot all the time in the winter, but I don’t use it in the summer, so you can either locate it at a less convenient space in your kitchen or remove it from the kitchen entirely until the next season in which you want to use that appliance again.

What are the simplest tips you have for increasing productivity in the kitchen?

The best way to increase productivity is always through planning: planning out the menus that you’re going to eat, planning out the groceries that you’re going to buy, pre-ordering things by using an online service where you can order your groceries in advance and just drive up and pick them up. Usually it’s $5 or less to use the service, and it will save you so much time. And you also won’t do as much impulse buying because you’ve made all of your selections online before you go to the store.

Do you have a meal planning execution system?

And the answer is No. No I do not.

My execution system is: a few years ago, I delegated all food activities to my husband! So my husband does all the grocery shopping and all of the cooking, and all I do is clean up the kitchen stove. I guess my execution system is to delegate!

Any other thoughts on kitchens?

The only other thing that I think it might be good to talk about is the Sunday Basket. It does not matter whether you have children and whether you pay all of your bills online. Doesn’t matter. There will be a paper that ends up in your kitchen, and there needs to be a place for this paper to go and a way for you to handle it every week.

The Sunday basket is my solution to kitchen paper organization, and I know you know about this Liza! It is one place where all of the actionable to-do’s and pieces of mail go—a drop spot if you will. And the beauty of that basket is that everything has a place. Then once a week (I choose Sunday; you can choose a different day), you take everything out of that basket. Double check everything. Open all of the mail, see what needs to be done this week, and if it can wait until next Sunday you just drop it back in the basket until next Sunday.

Thanks so much for “chatting” with me about kitchen organization!

Thank you again so much for letting me do this guest blog post.

Be sure to check out Lisa’s programs—especially the one on kitchen organization! And let us know in the comments what cool tips and tricks YOU have come up with for kitchen organization or what was an AHA moment for you in Lisa’s answers.

Organize 365’s mission is to equip and encourage every woman with the resources and motivation she needs to get her home organized! Too many women feel overwhelmed, hopeless and have lost the motivation to take back the organization of their house. They weren’t “born organized.” Their family doesn’t understand them. They have tried and tried, but nothing works. No, no, NO! Anyone can get organized! But it takes work and a new way of looking at the challenge ahead. You know you are doing it! Ready to go ALL IN? Join the 100 Day Home Organization Challenge.

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