Sunday, October 5, 2008

Works for Me Sunday: Kitchen Organization

Since I was only really able to get online twice last week since my job sucked every ounce of energy out of me, I'm going to post a very late entry in regards to Shannon's weekly "Works for Me Wednesday" topic at Rocks in My Dryer. Since it's obviously too late to participate in this Wednesday's WFMW: Kitchen Organization edition, I'm just going to post it on my own. Why? Because I can and because I want to.

I'm admittedly narotic when it comes to organization. Everything has its appropriate place, and every task has it's appropriate way of being done for me. There is no other way. In my kitchen, you either do it my way, or let me do it myself. Ugh, I'm such a brat (I'm working on it, really, I even let Clark unload the dishwasher nowadays). But here are some tips for the kitchen according to my Mighty way.

#1: Spoon Rests
A must-have for any kitchen. They keep your utensil of off potentially dirty surfaces, and they help avoid the creation of messes. A good design is one that is easy to clean and one that keeps your spoon/spatula/what-have-you secure. My spoon rest, even though it is made by Pampered Chef (which I like a lot), does not actually work for me. It is a bad design. While easy to clean, my spoons are constantly falling over because it is too vertical and flimsy. My tip: get a spoon rest different than this one.
#2A. The Dishwasher
I think it is the best to find the most efficient use of space for your dishwasher with respect to the dishes you most commonly use and need to clean. Arrange them in an orderly, efficient way, and load them in that way every time. This saves time and space in the future, as there is very little rearranging later on to try to make everything fit. If you place like things together, unloading is a breeze, too. I put all of my large plates on one side, small plates on the other, small bowls behind the plates, and large bowls on the outer edges. Each piece of flatware has a designated compartment, which obliterates the need for sorting later. Spoons and forks are placed handle-down so the most utensils can fit there, and knives are placed blade-down for safety. Other compartments are used for wooden spoons and miscellaneous cooking utensils (I tend to sort them according to their storage location). For the top rack, I put plastic cups on one side and glass on the other, and small bowls and various plastic tools in the center. Arranging the cups/glasses by type and size makes it really fast to stack and store them when they're clean.
#2B. Dishwasher Communication
Should anyone other than myself even DARE to think about putting anything in the dishwasher (which they'd better not, because they don't understand or follow my obsessive system), it is essential to know if the dishes are clean or not. (This is always a topic of confusion, because I always wash all of my dishes by hand before they go into the dishwasher. I KNOW I am crazy but I CAN'T help it.) Anyway, my dishes always appear clean whether the washer has run or not. I'm sure many of you have seen the clean/dirty thingies before...well, I made my own. It was cheaper, more fun, and cuter than anything else I found, and it works. I found a magnet that looks exactly like Rocky, and I printed out speech bubbles indicating the status of the dishes. Rocky always lets us know if the dishes are clean or dirty. If your dishwasher is not magnetic, use velcro. Be sure that the indicators are obvious...if the dishes are clean, I put the "dirty" quote upside down and on the other side of the washer door.
#3. Kitchen Crocks
Put your most used cooking utensils in a crock in the most efficient location for their uses. Put all other utensils in a drawer so that your cookspace is not overwhelmed with equipment you do not need to use all of the time. My extra utensils are in the drawer immediately below my cookspace, so in the event that I need something, they are still easy to retreive. (And yes, I took these pictures as I was making macaroni and cheese, yum!)
#4. Designated Scissors
I can't stand using dull scissors when I need sharp ones, nor can I stand to use precision scissors for a rough, hardy task. I have many pairs of scissors around - all with different purposes. The black standard scissors are everyday, rough scissors. Go ahead, slice open a cardboard box or cut some wire with them. They are my "I don't care what happens to these" scissors. The blue handled ones are nice scissors. If I need to cut paper, fabric, crafty things, these are my go-to blades. The skinny scissors with the safety sheath are my super sharp poultry scissors. They are ergonomic, totally dishwasher safe, and will not rust. The hefty black scissors are what I use for anything else food-related that is not meat or potentially bacteria-infested. They are for cutting veggies, opening bags with food in them, etc. I believe that it's important to keep meat tools, other-food tools, and non-food tools separated. The FDA would agree with me. I keep all of my scissors in the kitchen, because that's where I use them the most and that way they're always in one place.

#5. Cute Towels
Cute towels really work for me. How could they not? Just please, if you're going to get cute towels/cooking utensils, make sure you will actually use them. Strictly decorative items are a waste of space and will clutter your work area. There will always be cute things to buy, so don't get attached to a dishtowel with a pumpkin on it. There will be others to buy in the future, so go ahead, use it, enjoy it, wash it, etc. If you don't actually use it, it doesn't belong in the kitchen!
So there you have it. Now you all know how crazy I really am. But really, even if you're not insane about these things like I am, they really can be helpful tips. Just wait...this is just the tip of the iceberg...just wait until you see my closet....


amy said...

You crack me up.

Jess said...

I'm happy you laugh at me. I do, too. :)