I have worked with a number of people over the years who have called saying they feel overwhelmed when they walk into their kitchens and are inundated by counter clutter, cupboard chaos, and fridge fright. Ever feel like your home life is out of control and you are overwhelmed by the state of your kitchen? It’s not surprising as the kitchen is the heart center of the house. For most, it’s a multi purpose room - food prep & storage, school study, home office, eating, crafting and visiting area. Consequently, it also becomes the central ‘dump’ spot for mail, backpacks, extra groceries, projects etc.
Take heart, spring is just around the corner and it’s time for a clean sweep of the cupboards, counters and pantry. Put on your favorite music and get your trash, recycle, compost & donate containers ready.
Clear The Counters:
• Set up or update a mail sorting/bill paying/follow-up system as needed
• File papers and recycle/shred any information that is out of date or not needed.
• Decide to decide and don’t allow those ‘I may want to do this someday’ piles to float around the kitchen. Commit to, file or purge those papers.
Purge The Pantry:
Are your cupboards overstuffed and unorganized? Have you looked for something in the back of a drawer or shelf and come across forgotten items and thought “Hmm, didn’t know I had these.” Have you started to make new nutrition choices?
• Anything outdated goes! Depending on your style or space available you can do one shelf at a time or a whole cabinet. Pull out all of the items, check for ‘use by’ dates, product freshness (opened bags of cereals & snacks), and old looking packaging without dates. Also, if your food choices have changed, donate or dispose of those items.
• Use the Zone approach. When restocking your cupboard & pantry, categorize your items like with like; snacks, breakfast, baking, condiments, veggies etc.
Look At Your Space Hogs:
Are you cramped for space in your kitchen and yet find that some of your most valuable counter and shelf space is taken up by mixers, grills, mismatched food storage containers, crock pots, food processors, and ‘As seen on TV” appliances that rarely if ever get used? I always do assessments with my clients when we start a new project and many times my clients have been surprised by how much space they have sacrificed in their kitchens to outdated or impractical appliances & storage containers. It’s time to rethink your storage/use needs.
• Do an inventory of your kitchen items. Are there things you don’t use or care for or are missing parts? Donate, recycle or dump.
• Are you tight on space in your kitchen? Survey your space hogs and assess if you can move them into a storage area (basement, garage etc.). Seldom used items should not crowd out frequently used/needed items.
Visit The Fridge – Inside & Out
Now that you have reclaimed space in your cupboards, drawers and pantry, it’s time to move onto the refrigerator/freezer. Roll up your sleeves, get some warm soapy water ready, grab the trash bag & shine some light into the back of your fridge.
• Assess all of your condiments - anything outdated, unloved or turning unhealthy colors? Dump them!
• Still have that fruitcake from Christmas? Is that sour cream in the container like the package says or is it unidentified MIA leftovers? Open all containers and assess freshness & contents. Purge as needed, label where needed (‘mystery’ containers rarely get opened).
• Wipe down the fridge as needed and restock like with like.
• Pull everything from the freezer and check for ‘use by’ dates, check for failed packaging & freezer burn. Purge any questionable, freezer burned or unidentifiable foods.

Finally you can enjoy your time in the kitchen with family and friends. Cheers!

Author's Bio: 

Mary Dykstra MBA, CPO is a Certified Professional Organizer, speaker and Time Management Coach. Mary helps corporate, residential and entrepreneurial clients get organized long term and has extensive experience in working with people with ADD/ADHD. She is the immediate past Director of Examination Development for The Board of Certified Professional Organizers and a current Industry Member Board Director of National Association of Professional Organizers. Her website is http://www.withinreach.biz. She can be reached at (616)453-2976 mary@withinreach.biz.