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De-clutter in 15-25 minutes (per cabinet): Kitchens and Pantries

You'll begin with your cabinets. Reorganizing these will probably mean moving some things to other zones of the kitchen. Working on one cabinet at a time, pull everything out and give the shelves a quick cleaning. Now assess what you've pulled out of the cabinet. Is it food, equipment, or supplies that will be used near where the cabinet is located? If not, they should go somewhere else. Does the cabinet have a lot of extra room that is not being used efficiently? If so, the highest shelves might be best for rarely used items such as special-occasion platters. Was everything crammed into the cabinet? In this case, you'll need to find new places for much of what was there.

Take this opportunity to start shedding. Throw away open boxes of food staples that are more than 6 months old. Donate canned goods you've had for more than 9 months, because you'll probably never use them if you haven't already. (Or include the cans in your emergency preparedness kit, kept in a basement, garage, or large closet.) Discard or donate orphan glassware, dishes, or flatware whose mates have disappeared or been broken. If you still have the cartoon jelly-jar juice glasses from when your high-school-age children were toddlers, it's time to get rid of those as well — unless they're collectibles. Get rid of equipment and appliances you never use. (Remember the large electric juicer that was going to change your life and then found a permanent home behind the wine glasses? Ditch it.)

As you begin putting things back into the cupboard, group similar items together: cereals with grains, canned goods with other canned goods, and glassware with dishware. This will make finding everything much easier. Get in the habit of placing all food labels facing front and lining up glassware and dishes in neat rows and stacks. The goal is to make everything in your cabinets easy to see and reach, and to make it clear where things go when the dishwasher gets emptied or bags of groceries are being put away. There should be room around glasses and appliances so you can easily remove them without having to move other items out of the way.

Larger items such as mixing bowls, waffle irons, and baking trays generally go in undercounter cabinets. But if those cabinets are crowded, consider hanging pots, pans, and any other equipment with handles or loops (see Hanging Storage). Or put them in the often-underutilized space above the cabinets. Consider the following unique solutions for the different types of items you plan to store in your cabinets.

Canned goods: Make preparing meals easier by organizing canned goods by type (for example, fruit with fruit). The trick to keeping cans organized is maintaining visibility. If you place cans of the same size one in front of the other, you can never be sure what you have — or don't have — making shopping that much more difficult. There are a number of ways to ensure that you can clearly see which canned goods are where:
Tiered shelf platforms, available in wire or solid plastic, are ideal for keeping cans and jars in plain view. Many versions are available, including those that expand, slide out, and have hideaway trays.

Helper shelves are basic wire shelves with legs. They essentially double your cabinet shelf space because you can slide cans under the shelf and place others on top of it. Some types have adjustable legs for more storage flexibility.

Turntables or lazy Susans keep groups of items in one easily accessible place within a cupboard. For instance, place tomato sauce, paste, and canned diced tomatoes on a single shelf. Or use a two-tier lazy Susan for baby food, with vegetables and main courses on top, and fruits on the bottom.

Spices: There's no reason for a jumble of spice bottles or jars to clutter your cabinet space, especially when there are so many spice-storage options available. Put spice jars in a tiered wire or wood spice platform that lets you store them with the labels out. "Pull-down" versions can make it easier to reach the spices. A spice carousel is another option. Sometimes making sure that spices are as close as possible to the cooking area means getting them out of the cabinet; see other spice storage options in Hanging Storage, Drawers, and Pantry. Regardless of where you put them, spices should be kept out of direct light and away from heat sources.

Dry goods: Boxed dry goods should be stored by type. Group breakfast cereals together, rice and beans together, and staples such as flour and sugar together. Bags of staples like dried beans, rice, and sugar are odd shapes for shelf storage. It's more space-efficient to store these in labeled see-through plastic bins or storage containers.

Dishware and glasses: Store dishware and glasses on an accessible shelf in a cupboard as close to where you'll be eating as possible. Store glasses in a row, so it's clear where they belong, and leave room around all your tableware so nothing gets broken when moving pieces in and out of the cabinet. Dishes are usually stacked, but a wire dish rack can improve access.

Pots and pans: Cookware is usually kept in undercounter cabinets, where the pieces won't hurt anyone if they fall. But keeping them orderly is a challenge. The first line of defense against pot and pan clutter is nesting: Whenever possible, store one pot inside a larger one to reduce the amount of space they take up. Of course, you'll need to get to your cookware on an almost daily basis, so you may want to invest in a slide-out cabinet tray. When you're dealing with pots and pans, you also have the challenge of storing their lids. A simple tray or bin can serve the purpose of collecting pot lids in one place, but for roughly the same cost, you can buy a wire pot lid rack that will keep them in a neat row.
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