Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Organizing/Cleaning Issue 4 - the Kitchen

Today, we are diving into the kitchen - the heart of the home.  Each month (week 2) I take a good look at my kitchen and do a 15 minute (or so) job (or two) each day to keep up on things in the kitchen.  This is of course in addition to my weekly cleaning plan and things that are included in the morning and night time routines that we discussed in Issue 1.  Let's review those:

Daily - Empty Dishwasher (if needed), check calendar, prepare dinner plans, clean hot spot, shine sink (or at least empty out sink), wipe down counter as needed (middles only).

Weekly - Vacuum/Mop and empty trash

Below are my "jobs" that I look at on a monthly basis.  I sort of rotate these based on date last completed or just  how I am feeling at the moment.  You would do one or more of these a day in week two (M-F) to take up 15 minutes a day of focusing on detailed cleaning in the kitchen.  Below is my list of things that I think need cleaned in the kitchen.  You are welcome to copy and paste it into a word document and print it off. I put mine in a sheet protector and date it as I complete them.  Then I never have to wonder when the last time was that I cleaned/organized it.  You can add things (as I usually do each month as I find things) and make it your own. The ones with smiley faces next to them are ones I have my kids help me with :)These are in no particular order:

Kitchen Counters (wiping them all down and under things)
Trash Can (put in the shower or hose down inside and out) :)
Sink Faucet (with toothbrush)
Large Appliances (dishwasher, stove, fridge - wiping down)
Detailed Floor scrub (hands and knees kind) :)
Cabinets/knobs (wipe down outside) :)
Look up--cob webs, lights, above cabinets
Light switch plates/door knobs (wipe) :)
Baseboards/look down :)
Small appliances (toaster, microwave, can opener - wipe down)
Rubbermaid/Tupperware drawer - organizing, wipe down, throw away
Pantry - wipe down, organize, throw away (look for expired things)
Lazy Susan/spice rack - wipe down, organize, throw away, refill (look for expired things)
Clean out Fridge - wipe down, organize, throw away (look for expired things)
Clean out under sink - wipe down, organize, throw away :)
Wipe down walls :)
Clean blinds
Clean underneath microwave
De-clutter/go through cabinets (open them, look to see what you can get rid of, wipe down rearrange as necessary)

Here are some ideas for organizing in the kitchen: (note:  I try to organize with stuff I have at can spend a lot of money trying to get organized or you can use stuff that you have at home...I have a little of both in my home)

Tupperware bowls and lids drawer
We all try to stack what fits, right? But what about all those lids? I put mine in a zip lock bag and throw it in the drawer. They can’t spill and they are easy to flip through.  If you have two different shapes, say circle and square, put circle in one and label it circle.  Easy to flip through when you are looking for one, and easy to downsize when you are getting rid of things.  When you get rid of things, be sure to match the bowls and lids so you don't have extra ones with missing items.  
Bulk Cooking/cutting 
I do a lot of cooking in bulk to cut down on meals I have to cook. I have a family of 4 so any recipe that calls for a 9X13 I always split in half and put into two smaller square pans, quart dishes or freezer bags. I freeze one and eat the other. If you freeze flat, you can then file in your deep freeze like a file in a filing cabinet. If I am going to cut an onion, I might as well cut the whole bag and then I freeze the rest in zip lock sandwich bags. I do this onions, carrots, green peppers, etc.  I do mashed potatos in bulk and freeze them…If I buy a 10lb bag I just do the whole thing…one mess and its done.
This is just an example of some of the stuff I have.  I have all my green peppers in individual sandwich bags but then I put all those little bags in one big gallon ziploc to cut down on the scent mixing with the other foods.  Pictured here is green peppers, chopped broccoli (I add this in with sauces to sneak in an extra vegetable - I do this with spinach, sweet potato and carrot as well), chopped carrots, home made chicken broth, and a couple of meals to the right stacked on top of each other.
 How I file my flat as I can.

Dishwasher loading
This one might cause all of you to stop reading the blog…there were a few organizational tips that I do that I was scared to share as then I would be confessing my OCD organizing problem. This was one of them. When I load my dishwasher, I always put the forks all in one basket, spoons in one, knives in one, etc. That way when I unload it, I just have to pull them out and put them in the right place…no sorting. So I have a slot assigned to each utensil.
top left - bigger spoons (soup/Tbs), knives, back one is kid utensils and other. 
Bottom left - smaller spoons, forks

Restaurant coupons
This is what I use for sorting restaurant coupons (steak n shake, olive garden, etc). I store this file in one of my kitchen drawers. On the lables, I just put what month the coupons expire, that way when the month is over, I just pull all of them out and throw them away. No sorting or leaving them in a drawer for a year, and they are pretty easy to go through and find the one we want when its the rare occasion that we eat out.  I also included menus in the front and back of the file.

Random Recipes
What do you do with recipes you find in magazines or that someone give you? I just made a binder and put clear sheets in there, and just put them in there with sheet protectors. If they are smaller recipes, I tape them on to sheets of paper to fit multiple ones on. I have it organized by appetizers, breakfasts, lunch/sides, dinner, and desserts.
Cheap, cute binder from Wal-mart
 multiple recipes taped onto a sheet of paper and put inside of a sheet protector
 Divided by tabs

Junk Drawer
It may seem strange to some people that I have 3 different utensil holders in my house when I only have one drawer for utensils (forks, spoons, knives).  I use the other 2 for things other than utensils.  One I use in the kitchen in the "junk" drawer to store pens, pencils, and markers.  The other one I use in my craft for that same kind of thing.  You can organize lots of things with utensil holder!

And again I leave my counters pretty bare…fly lady has a rule that if you don’t use something more than 4 days a week, to put it away and off the counters…so I have my coffee maker, knife set, and blender out for smoothies and that is about it. I even put my sugar and flour containers in a cabinet. Easier to wipe down counters this way!
(*of course my spice rack is in alphabetical order because it's easier to locate one when I need it, but I didn't want to go there.)  
I am sure there are many more ideas out there for kitchens but that is the basic stuff for my kitchen!  The key is getting rid of stuff and having a place for everything so that there is less on your counter.  You know what they say...LESS is more!
My challenge to you this week is to clean out your fridge!  I just did mine and it feels great.  Also, clean out and organize that rubbermaid/tupperware drawer!

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