With most of us in quarantine these days, many of our kitchens are getting more use than ever before. Is that a good thing? My infamous answer: It depends. Can you easily find and access what you need? Once you've used things, did you put them back in their home?
In kitchens all over the world, the French culinary phrase mise en place has come to mean "everything in its place." This philosophy is true to all areas in home and life, but especially holds true in the kitchen. Consistently returning bowls, spices, and tools to their designated shelf space is simply a way of life for chefs. An exacting standard of organization is what keeps fast-paced kitchens running smoothly.
When there is a place for everything, you don't have to think twice. There's no searching for what you need and no extra steps taken.
How to Set up Your Home Kitchen Like a Professional
Group Like Items
Start by grouping items by using these four pillars:
1. Prep - tools such as mixing bowls, scale, measuring glasses
2. Cook - pots and pans
3. Serve - plates, bowls, glasses
4. Store - resealable containers stacked together
Once you have designated areas of your kitchen to specific types of work, equip those areas accordingly, storing the correct tools within reach. You don't need a knife near the stove, but you do need one near your prep area. Cutting boards belong there, too.
Pots and pans should be within super-easy access of your stove. Be sure everything you own has a home: If your tools don't have a home, they will end up anywhere you can fit them. We love using these deep bamboo drawer dividers in large drawers to ensure that everything gets back in place neatly. Keeping like dishes in their own cabinet gives you easy access to setting the table. We use Corelle dishes in winter white and have designated a cabinet just for the dishes so that each shape and size as its own home.
This same method can be used when separating items in shallow drawers. Acrylic drawer organizers are our go to for drawers that have several different shapes and sizes.
Silverware should have it's own drawer and shall never be mixed in with other categories. This bamboo silverware tray is a beautiful and functional way to keep your silverware ready to use.
Creating zones for everything in the kitchen makes it easy to find exactly what you are looking for. Refrigerator contents are grouped by type of food and function. We have created zones for leftovers, milk and smoothies with easy lids, fruit, vegetables, eggs, condiments, meat, and snacks in this refrigerator to ensure they all have a designated section.
Master Your Flow
Food funnels in a professional kitchen from storage to prep to line to pass, and that's what it should do in your home kitchen. Almost every home kitchen is designed around a triangle, which connects the fridge, sink and range: It enables good flow while you're working.
Chefs set up their spaces to reduce movement during service. Equipping your home kitchen so that you don't have to take many steps while cooking is the key to making it feel functional and organized. Facilitate movement by keeping anything you're not using for cooking—storage containers, water glasses, serving platters—outside of the cooking triangle, but proximal to where they'll be used: Glasses go in a cabinet near your water-dispensing fridge; dishware lives near your table.
Decant & Label Everything
The key to feeling like you've got every ingredient at your fingertips? Clear storage and proper labeling. We highly recommend investing in a set of plastic or glass containers. This will allow you to keep your dry pantry clean and organized.
We are huge advocates of decanting and believe this helps when grocery shopping, meal prepping, meal planning, and not to mention, pleasing to the eye. This is a huge time and money saver in our book! When you remove original packaging, you are increasing visibility to the contents as well as making them more accessible. We transfer dry goods to transparent plastic or glass containers so we can always see what's inside. This process allows you to quickly see what you need to purchase before you run out or overbuy.
Once you've filled those containers, label absolutely everything. If you're properly organized, everything is labeled and facing out when you look in your cabinet or pantry.
Keep Everything in Plain Sight
Keeping your appliances to a minimum and in plain sight will help you easily find what you are looking for when you need them. Keep them in your cabinets so they're out of the way, but still accessible in the kitchen. Lower cabinets are the best option for appliances as some are heavy and difficult to lift over head. We highly recommend not moving appliances out of most kitchens and to keep them insight and so that you will use them. If you have them just because they were a gift or haven't used them in years, don't be afraid to let them go! Appliances take up way too much space to keep around and collect dust for the maybe somedays.
If you aren't already using this method, start now! We have placed a shallow bamboo divider in this drawer to create two rows for kitchen towels. File folding towels, cloths, and aprons gives your kitchen that extra level of organization, much more space, and functionality that we all love!
Keep Gadgets to a Minimum
Just like appliances, our minimalist approach holds true to gadgets! Let go of the extra kitchen gadgets and keep it simple. The more cluttered the drawers, the more time you spend shifting and searching, and the slower your process becomes. We have used a combination of acrylic and bamboo dividers in these drawers near the corresponding zones to customize the space exactly how we wanted.
Place all tools near their designated work zones to eliminate unnecessary physical steps. The closer the tools are to their work zone, the more often you will use them.
Baskets & Bins
Using baskets and bins throughout your kitchen and pantry can help contain all of the items that are too big or bulky for a plastic or glass container. Baskets and bins are also good for backstock and other items that need to be within reach on a daily basis.
The best way to ensure your home kitchen is successful is to make sure you maintain it regularly. That means throwing away outdated food, clearing away excess items that don’t belong, and tidying up by putting everything back in its designated home every day. It’s also a good idea to take a few minutes each week to work on continuous improvement. You can do this by ensuring everything is up-to-date and making sure your designated homes still make sense based on your current needs.
Our kitchen gets a good tidying each week. My routine is to open the pantry, cabinets, and fridge, and start my grocery list based on standard items on hand. Then I can very easily go through and add my meals for the week. Once I have created a meal plan for the week, I order groceries using Kroger ClickList and add the meals to our acrylic board in our command center. Check out my Building a Command Center post here!
*Tip: I like to keep our reusable grocery bags in the car so I always have them with me when picking up groceries.
Now that you are organized like a Professional Chef, I would love to see your amazing kitchen!
Remember to take pictures and tag us on Facebook or Instagram @thesimplelifeindy! Can’t wait to see your transformations!
Photos taken by: Lindsey Kate & Co. Photography