Life Simplified

Organized kitchen for hassle free cooking

1:49 PM

If there is one room I am hyper particular about, it's the kitchen, it HAS to be kept clutter free and with a system that nobody is allowed to change. I don't care if the rest of the house is messy, the kitchen should not be, and this is one of these things I find myself constantly trying to remind my maid, who clearly do not see why the pots and pans have to be put back where they belong, and that hiding the thongs and spatulas in the drawer is a very bad idea. The kitchen is that room which I must be able to function on auto pilot in, no matter how stressed out or sleep deprived I might be! my brain is set to know that the wok will be in that one specific spot, that the cooking spoons are next to the stove in a pot, that the spices I use the most often are I a rack nearby...I could go blind and still know where to find what...unless someone move my stuff that is.

It doesn't matter what size your kitchen really is, I had all sizes and layouts over the years, what matter is that you get a system that works for you and save you time while preparing food. Cooking is that task that can take time, and can be totally stressful if you end up running all over the place to find last minute ingredients, pots, pans, knives, so the best thing to do is first to have as much counter space free at all time. I am sure many don't get my obsession with keeping as much of my counter space clear when it could be a place to put appliances galore, and big food containers...my maid being the first. But my reason is that since most kitchens are small, you want to have spots ready to set stuff aside while cooking, spots to cut veggies, spots to process other things. When I am not cooking, the only stuff on my counters are the stove, oven, spice rack and tea kettle. The tea kettle being out at all time because I use it 3-4 times a day.

The other thing I am firm about is the pantry, my food cabinets HAVE TO be neat, and everything in them has to be visible in one glance, and to make that much easier this is what I have in place:

After years of using cheap round plastic canister and a hodgepodge of non stackable old food jars, that not only meant I would have things hidden behind others but also face heavy risks of canister avalanches and possibly broken jars, I decided to slowly and steadily upgrade it all to Tupperware containers. They are pricey, but if you do it slowly and ask your consultant, you'll end up knowing when the brand is having promotional packages. The advantage of these containers is that since I bought them and started using it, no food has caught mold or got infested by bugs during the monsoon...that alone is a huge advantage over my old "prime" canisters. Then they have a oblong shape, which means that they are longer than they are wide, which means they are occupying the depth of my cabinet efficiently, while letting me stack more of them in a row, they are also stackable and all fit on top of each other nicely, no risk of them coming crashing down at any given time. And last but not least, they are transparent, which means I can see their content at one glance, grab the one I need in seconds and continue with my cooking.

Of course I am aware this might not be affordable for all, but if you can, do go for them, and in every case, do plan your pantry storage solution in such a way that you have most of your containers belonging to the same brand. Opt for rectangular ones over cylindrical ones, as they will occupy your space Ina more efficient way, and try to avoid having two row of canisters, you will almost never use what is hidden, and when you'll suddenly remember the item in question, chances is that you'll find it to have exceeded its shelf life. And as you can see I have still some shelves of things that are not in Tupperware containers, the one on the top shelves in this picture are mostly ones I use less often, or boxes in which I store unopened packs of spices and pulse. And there is all the things that already come in their own containers, like in this cabinet below:

I make a point not to cram this particular cabinet, all my vinegars, oils and sauces are there in one row, but still accessible at all time, you can see my nuts and dry fruit in containers, and a few jars, and the last remaining of all these cheap canister I have. Big enough to store my pasta. I forgot to snap a picture of my less often used spice cabinet, but it follows the same logic of having it all at one glance and within easy reach. And of course there are all the things I could cram into my cabinets but chose not to:

This is the picture I took last year after moving in, our fridge is too wide to fit in the kitchen, so I out that space to good use to store some of the stuff I need often enough and do not want sitting on the counter or squished into a cabinet, we fortunately have space in the spare room for the fridge, it is not an ideal scenario, but I got used to just take all I need from the fridge to the kitchen before cooking, and this is where my obsession with uncluttered counters pays off, I can put all of it aside and within reach at the same time. These little things might seem extremely futile and silly, but believe me, it has saved me time in meal preparation, and preserved my sanity at the same time. One day last year, my maid decided that the old newspapers would be better off in the pots and pans cabinet and took upon herself to rearrange the shelves in there, for me to walk in while she was outting the finishing touches, her beaming with pride, and me having an horrified look about my face. When questioned she told me she didn't want to loose a few piece of oaper to the dampness under the sink before she got the time to take the papers. I went once to my pan cabinet and to illustrate my point tried to grab the frying pan, which was wedged in so tight on the top shelve that I had to yank hard, very hard, and half the content of the cabinet came crashing down in a deafening concerto of cling clang clash kaboom. Told her that this was the reason why my cabinet was originally stocked the way it was, and that old newspaper getting a bit damp next to the mop bucket was really not my problem and not a valid reason for her to change anything about my kitchen. She was a bit miffed at having to put everything back as it was and till date after 2.5 years of working for us, still has great difficulty in getting that my kitchen goes by the simple principle of "A place for everything and everything in its place".

 

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