Whether you love to cook or simply do it out of necessity, you’ll enjoy cooking more when the process is organized and efficient. Here are seven easy-to-implement ideas to help you get organized and save time in the kitchen:

7 Tips to Get Organized and Save Time in the Kitchen

1.  Declutter your cabinets and drawers.

How much time do you spend rifling through the utensil drawer looking for the pancake turner or your storage containers cabinet searching for a matching lid? Declutter your cabinets and drawers, and let go of utensils and other items that are just getting in your way—and eating away at your time each and every day.

2.  Organize your kitchen so it reflects your cooking process.

Simple changes in how you organize your kitchen cabinets and drawers will save you time every time you cook. Use drawer organizers to make it easier to see and access your tools and utensils. Organize your spices in a way that makes sense to you and store them on a lazy Susan or spice organizer, so it’s easy to see the labels and get your hands on whatever spice you need right when you need it.

3.  Clear surface clutter daily.

If your kitchen is a wreck before you even begin the day or start cooking dinner, it’s overwhelming and stressful. Keep your kitchen counters clear and clutter-free by taking a few minutes each day to handle your kitchen counter clutter. Go through the mail. Put away the dishes. Redistribute non-kitchen items to where they belong. The time invested in keeping your kitchen surfaces clean will pay you back in lowered stress levels and speedier meal prep.

4.  Establish a simple counter-top filing system.

file basket canistersOne of the most common sources of kitchen counter clutter is paperwork and mail. Curtail this clutter by setting up a simple counter-top filing system using a small basket or file folders. Create a household reference binder to store items you need access regularly and need to keep close at hand.

5.  Plan ahead.

If you plan your meals ahead of time and shop with those meals in mind, you’ll save time worrying about what you’re going to make for dinner, and you’ll spend less time running to the store to pick up a missing ingredient. Best yet, meal planning will help you save money by reducing the temptation to go out for dinner or call for carryout.

6.  Develop a repertoire of simple-to-prepare meals.

If you’re like me, then you enjoy trying new recipes. While new recipes are fun, until you go through the learning curve, even simple new recipes can take more time to prepare than meals you know by heart. Create a list of easy-to-make meals, and then call on those tried-and-true favorites during busy crunch times. Try new dishes on days of the week (or seasons of the year) when your schedule has a bit more breathing room. You’ll enjoy cooking more and save time when it matters most.

7.  Clean as you go.

It’s always easier and faster to clean something as soon as it gets messy. And this applies in the kitchen, too. Wipe up spills as soon as they happen, so you can wipe them instead of scrubbing. Soak pots and pans while you eat and you’ll spend less time scouring them. And wash the dishes, or rinse them and put them into the dishwasher right after you eat. Not only is this faster than waiting until the food dries up and sticks to the dishes, but you’ll also get the added benefit of starting your day tomorrow with a clean and clutter-free kitchen.

Each idea you put into action will save you time in the kitchen, freeing you up for other more enjoyable or more necessary activities. Happy organizing!

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Aby Garvey is a creative organizing expert and simplify 101’s founder. She has created 14 online organizing classes, which she has been teaching since 2007, helping thousands of people around the world get organized. Aby loves to help people create positive change in their lives through her online classes and organizing eBooks.

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