18 Smart Ideas That Help Simplify & Organize Your Kitchen

  • Stash plastic bags in empty paper towel tubes, hanging bag holders or even fold them so they take up less room yet still convenient to grab and go.
  • A crock can be used to hold frequently needed utensils and set on the counter for easy access (wooden spoons, spatulas, soup ladles, etc.). Also helps keep the large utensils drawer better sorted since less is packed inside (dividers or shallow baskets come in handy here). Can also hang a wall basket to stash lightweight larger items.
  • Store a hand mixer, its beaters and attachments into a basket before tucking away into a cupboard. No more fussing with wrapping cords, digging around for attachments-everything is neatly tucked in the basket. This works for all kinds of small appliances and their attachments (electric knives, food choppers, electric juicers, etc.).
  • Spices can take up a lot of precious space–get them off the shelf and up on the wall. Mount a spice rack or crate on an inside pantry wall or hang a narrow basket shelf inside the door (not over the stove, heat degrades the quality of stored herbs and spices). I use small canning jars (5.6 oz) and organize them in wire racks hung on the walls inside the pantry. Best system I’ve had yet!
  • A well stocked and sorted pantry will save time, money and effort. Fabric totes, plastic bins, big glass jars can be used as containers.
  • Consider stashing measuring cups right in the bins along with the sugar, flour, etc. If you have big bins, consider sticking the sifter right in with the flour too. Great trick and no more digging for lost measuring cups!
  • Use shallow tubs and boxes to contain like items in the refrigerator (idea from Susiej). Just pull out the tub and grab what’s needed (condiments box for relish, etc.). No more digging through the fridge trying to find that elusive jar of mustard!
  • Keep pouches of dry soup mixes, seasonings, etc., in small bins (empty margarine tubs work great) or baskets…now they’re neat & tidy in one place.
  • Insert kitchen reference charts and favorite recipes in clear plastic sleeves then hang on the inside of cupboard doors for easy access. They can easily be wiped clean and frequently referenced info will be right at your fingertips.
  • Pack lids for plastic containers or Tupperware in a clear tub or large ziploc bags so it’s easy to see just where the required lid is…no more rampaging foot loose and fancy free!
  • Get the knife block off the counter by installing a magnetic bar along a back counter wall–will hold knives securely. A magnetic bar can be installed on the pantry wall to hold small tools (screwdriver, pliers, etc.) or make a hanging tool organizer found on this page (look in the sidebar).
  • Lazy susans are a great tool to store like things together and you’ll know just where to grab what’s needed.
  • Cup hooks: Affix to the inside of cupboard doors and on pantry walls. Hang things like measuring spoons, large bbq & kitchen utensils (with straps or holes for hanging), trivets, etc.
  • Ziploc bags neatly carry small like-items (like twisty ties, corn cob handles, etc.) then stash all the bags together in a basket or tub.
  • Utilize the space underneath cupboards by installing a paper towel or plastic wrap holder, knife holders, etc.
  • Charts or magnets will nicely track food items in the freezer…you’ll be able to keep on top of what should be eaten soon (less to throw out).
  • A bamboo steamer makes an ideal countertop food container, stash bulbs of garlic, onions, shallots, and other items that don’t require refrigeration and need ventilation.

Pot Lid Taming Options

Here’s a hot tip sent in from Sarah (website SarahAnnSmith.com) that gives a couple new ideas for storing pot lids (you know — those things that get jumbled up and hide in the cupboards).

  • Spring-tension curtain rods! Run them front-to-back in the drawer to make dividers.
  • If drawer is deep enough for the lid to be stored standing up on its edge, buy 1/2″ dowling. Cut the length of the inside of drawer, front to back, plus 1/2 inch. Measure the thickness of the lid(s). Add 1/8″. Drill 1/4″ deep holes (that are a hair over 1/2″ diameter) on the front and back of the drawer. These holes should be the thickness-of-lid-plus-1/8″ from the side. Pop dowel into holes. Presto….a lid-holding-rod on the side.

These two techniques also work great in all skinny cabinets that you use to store cookie sheets and cutting boards…..


Many thanks to Sarah for sending that in, I think it’s a clever idea! (First published January 27, 2008)

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    • WillyB

    I hang a plastic basket (7 x 6 x 5) on a nail driven into the wall. I flop the plastic lids into the basket as I stack the containers on the shelf next to it.

      • Rose

      This is a great idea for my re-use of cottage cheese and sour cream containers. It seems some brands have smaller/bigger lids by just a fraction of an inch, but it affects how the lids fit. So, Yoplait lid in the basket, container next to it……great!

    • Sam S

    I’m kind of confused on how this works, is there a picture someone could take of them using this method?

    • Ann

    I use those tension spring curtain rods as well to organize cookie trays and cutting boards under the sink. I used three in a row stuck between the bottom and top of the cabinet, and they form a nice divider that keeps the flat objects from sliding all over into the cleaning stuff.

    • Ultra

    i second Sam S. I have no idea how this should look.

    • Barb

    Please post a picture. I can neve visualize anything. Thanks in advance.

    • Linda

    I have NO IDEA how this tension rod idea should look. I’m thinking — put two or three tension rods horizontally along the back of the cabinet and put the lids in there?????????????? Please attach a pic please, for the imaginary impaired.

      • CTY

      The rods are placed vertically to create a “wall”divider then slide the cookie sheets, muffin pans etc on their side between the side of the cabinet & the rod “wall”

    • TipNut

    Sorry, no pics were sent in with the tip and I don’t have this to upload. If anyone has a pic, feel free to link to one in the comments.

    • TipNut

    I’ll see if I can explain the process so it’s easier to understand…

    For deep drawers:

    Insert the rods so they position from front to back. Then stack the lids in between each rod. If you put two rods inside a drawer, you will have three spaces for standing up lids.

    For skinny cabinets:

    Insert the rods so they run top to bottom inside the cabinets. Then slide cookie sheets between the rods. The rods will help the sheets to stand up and stay somewhat separated from each other. If you stand two rods up and down inside the cupboard, you’ll have three spaces to organize your cookie sheets.

    Does that help or make things easier to understand?

    • Billie Lane

    I’ve downsized to 3 lids: a small one, a medium one and a fits all biggie. Stored upright on side of pot cabinet and always at hand. Less clutter too.

    • stink_bug

    I agree with #5. I had way too many spices taking up cupboard space. I found 2 short, shoe-box length bins that fit perfectly in a kitchen drawer. I used a Sharpie to label the lids of the spice jars with their contents. Makes it easy to find the spices you need.

    • Lynda

    I use tip #3 – crock to hold kitchen utensils – and it has always been so convenient. I expanded this idea to my everyday stainless (forks, spoons, knives). I use various heavy mugs, jugs and pitchers – one for spoons, one for forks, etc and leave them on the counter. It saves me a lot of extra steps. Or, if your kitchen table is right near by you could leave them on the table.

    • sue

    Good tip, Stink_bug, I carried it one step further, I put savory spices together and baking spices together. If you cook a lot, this is a big help.

    • Michelle

    I would consider using the spring rods from the “floor” of the cupboard to the “ceiling” of the cupboard along one side of the cupboard. You could still store pans in the rest of the space. I have some rather large lids that could act as a wall caught by the rods. I’ve seen dowel rods used in this fashion in quality cabinets holding cutting boards and cookie sheets.

    • PathAcross

    Good stuff. One thing I like to do for dry beans and rice is store them in clean, empty glass jars on the counter so they’re easily on hand for cooking. Sometimes I forget that I have a huge bag of beans sitting in the cupboard, so this also reminds me that there is something healthy to cook. Plus … they look pretty.

    • Jean


      • Tiffany

      Thats a great idea! I have back problems so I usually use a sponge mop (with ascrubby side) and vinegar and baking soda!

    • Pixie

    I just moved into an apartment and I do not have the spacious kitchen cupboards @ counterspace,and kitchen drawers that I had in the house.I don’t have room on my very limited couter space for my canisters I used. So I use Mason jars to put my sugar,flower,tea bags,etc in. Works for me 🙂

    • kyrose

    Getting older makes getting into the base cabinets harder. I use plastice clothes baskets and larger totes that will fit into the cabinets. In one cabinet, I store plastic storage container and in another the matching lids. In another, I use a basket to store boxes of rice mix, corn bread mix, etc. Still in another, I have my hand mixer and beaters. In the pantry, I have peg board where I store pans and skillets and I keep the lids in a medium size tote. And I make use of small baskets in the drawers to store things like measuring spoons, paring knives, pizza wheel, etc. You can find baskets and totes at many discout $ stores. I also use baskets and totes in my sewing room and home office. It makes it easier to group items together. I also use the tip about storing beans in jars. This also works well for tea, rice and macaroni. The oval mayo jars are great for packages of gravy mix, cocoa mix, taco mix, etc. And, the jars are free and using them keeps them our of the landfills.

    • Rosa

    I use a vertical paper file holder to put cookie pans & sheet pans in my shelves as a divider would that help?

    • Gina

    #11~ since so many different brand containers look the same..I just number them lid 1, bottom 1…then lid 2, bottom 2…and so on.

    • Vicki M.

    After a huge weevil outbreak in my kitchen a few years ago I keep all dry goods in jars. When I purchase flour or cornmeal, I put it in the freezer for a couple of days then transfer it to an airtight container. The freezer is supposed to kill any weevils or eggs. Anything that goes into my canisters is put into an appropriate size ziplock bag and then stored in the canister. I hate to not be able to use my vintage cansiter set so this is what works for me in order to keep any bugs out of my kitchen. If I do notice a weevil in something only that item is contaminated, not any others. After throwing away all dry goods, flours, bread crumbs, cereals, etc. I decided this would NOT happen to me again. They had even gotten into my Onion Soup Mix, dried dip mixes, chili and taco seasonings, etc. Nasty little things, don’t want to ever see them again. Also, it makes it easy to see what I need when I make the grocery list.

    • Shelley

    Those little square-ish plastic containers (about the 2-cup size)that plants come home in from the store are perfect for storing Kool-Aid and hot cocoa packets!

    • JOANNE

    Such wonderful kitchen tips. I have the really big coffee tins that I used to buy, until I started drinking decaf instant, I had a border in my kitchen at one time, and had a goodly piece left over, the border was the exact size of the tin, and my kitchen extras are all red in colour, the border is potted ivies and butterflys, so I wet the border stuck it to the tin, and it has held my big utensils and wooden spoons for over a year, and when it gets greasy, i will just put another wallpaper to cover it.

    • Diane A.

    JUst discovered this site minutes ago, regarding softening brown sugar, and right after I put away some baking equipment. Here’s my new-to-me idea: I put scrapers, beaters, measuring spoons and cups in the bowl of my mixer so they’re ready to go when I use the mixer. Thanks for all the other good tips I’ve read so far.

    • Robyn S

    Pot lid holder using tension rods is a genius idea. Had some rods left from a previous window covering treatment and they worked beautifully. Am truly grateful for this suggestion. Have been looking for months for a solution that would protect my beautiful glass Calphalon lids. Thank you

    • Dorrie

    Dried &/ or fresh Bay leaves will keep weevil/pantry pests away! I never want to see them again either!

    • Cari

    I use an old dish drainer to store my pans, skillets, muffin tins, and pot lids.

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