keeping an organized kitchen

Since I started the blog, I've had a few emails/comments about tools I use, how my kitchen is organized, etc etc. I can tell you, it isn't glamorous, but it is functional. There are no recipes hidden in this post, so if you could care less how I get myself organized, stop now!

Our apartment is just under 900 square feet and we have a very small galley kitchen. There are a total of 5 drawers and only three of them are big enough to be really useful.

I keep our kitchen organized by following one simple rule: if it gets used often, it needs to be within reach. If not, it doesn't. It's that simple.

Here's a few things I've done to stay organized and streamlined.

1. I bought a double set of stainless shelves and assembled them for additional storage in our dining area. They hold everything from placemats to cooling racks, decorating sugars to most of my cookbooks.

2. I keep all of my extracts except one bottle of vanilla in a small basket on the stainless shelves. This keeps the small cabinet space from being overrun with extracts I might use once or twice a year.

3. I keep all my measuring cup sets in another basket on the stainless shelves. This keeps my one utensil drawer a bit less cluttered, and it's always easy to find a specific measure. I also may have a measuring cup problem.

4. Using the shelves to store all of my aluminum foil, parchment paper, and plastic wrap means I don't have to use another drawer for them.

5. As you can see above, I also keep all of my plastic storage containers stacked neatly together. This is huge as I use them allllll the time and they always want to be out of control.

6. Any serveware or photo props (a collection which is eternally growing) has a spot out here, because I use our dining room table as my studio area. It gets the best natural light in our apartment. All of my wooden cutting boards live out here too, as I never use them for actual cutting.

7. The two cambros on the bottom right hand corner of the shelves hold onions (back) and potatoes (front) respectively. I also leave the garlic here so I can always see when it's time to buy more.

8. In the kitchen, I bought an under-counter hanging system which I love. I bought hooks and buckets to go with it. The buckets hold 1. all my spatulas and 2. all my measuring spoon sets.

The other side of the rod holds whisks and tongs, which are my most frequently used tools. I keep meaning to go pick up more hooks, I just haven't gotten the gumption yet.

9. Inside the cabinets, I keep everything tidy, clean, and organized as well. This makes cooking so much more enjoyable and quicker. I particularly recommend keeping spices in rows with division between- this way, you can see exactly what goes where. I can reach into my cabinet without looking and grab exactly what I want. Spices I use less often are relegated to the top shelf, where I can rummage through them when I need something like juniper berries or whole allspice. That container in the top left corner is full of hot chocolate mixes :).

10. I have extra space between the cabinets and the ceiling, so I use that to store less-used pans and larger items that I don't need often. 

11. In one of our precious drawers are the cutting boards I actually do use. 

12. Next door to that is our utensil drawer, which generally looks like any utensil drawer anywhere. In a perfect world I would have pegboard on the wall in the pantry and all of my utensils would hang in their own place.

13. Our silverware drawer holds our knives and silverware (shocker!). I have four sharp paring knives and one chef's knife, and I have yet to need any more. Getting rid of a knife block is such a huge counter space saver! I keep the knives in sheaths for safety and eternal sharpness. Amen.

So, the tour of my kitchen! Exciting stuff, I know. What do you do to stay organized? Any tips or tricks to share?