Learn how to organize your kitchen so you can feed your family healthy, affordable food that they want to eat and still have a life. Let’s face it, getting dinner on the table every night for years is a big job. Why make it worse by hunting for the oregano over and over again? At Cook for Good, we look beyond the individual recipe or meal to see the whole picture: planning, shopping, cooking, cleaning up, storing, and disposal. The menus cover breakfast, lunch, dinner, and even snacks. If you are on a tight budget or under stress, getting your family food system organized is even more important.
Here are the top five ways I organize my kitchen. I hope they help you too.
1. Plan your menus
At the very least, know what you will be having for dinner tomorrow so you can soak beans or defrost overnight as needed. Learn about the magic of knowing what’s for dinner and find template menus here. For inspiration, here’s a four whole-day menus under $7 and a weekend-away menu for three days of yum.
2. Keep a shopping list
At least jot down what you’ve used up. Use your menu to plan what you will get at the store. Imagine what you could do with the time wasted on unneeded trips to the grocery store.
3. Keep a freezer list
This is especially important if you cook ahead. Write down what you freeze and the date. Foods kept frozen are safe indefinitely according to the FDA but the texture starts to decline after the first two or six months and is usually good during the first year.
4. Invest a little time arranging things
You’ll save a lot of time and frustration later.
- Alphabetize your spices, group your baking products, and put items you use frequently where they are easy to reach.
- Put healthy food where it is easiest to spot.
- Get rid of stuff you don’t use. Give it to a friend would use it, have a yard sale, or donate it to a charity.
5. Cook to reduce dish washing
- Cook from sweet to savory. After you cut an apple or carrot, it’s fine to use the same knife and cutting board for onions. The other way around? Ewww.
- Cook in bulk. For example, when I cook a pound beans in my slow cooker, that means five dinners for two but my Taster only has to wash the slow cooker once.
- Watch my video on Menus and Shopping Lists.
- Know how to prepare for a winter storm or power outage, including the safe temperatures for food.
- Know how to prepare for a summer storm, including gathering a week’s worth of non-perishable food.
- The right tools can make cooking a snap. See my list of handy kitchen appliances for tools that can save you time and money. Maybe even your hearing!
For more tips on how to get organized in the kitchen, plus four month-long seasonal menu plans, complete shopping lists, and 100 recipes to go with them, check out my book Wildly Affordable Organic and my first Wildly Good Cook cooking class video: Best Use of Your Resources: Shopping, Planning, and Cooking.