Your pots and pans area. Part 2 of Kitchen Clean Up 2017. This is a tough one. It’s a high traffic, often-cramped hot spot. You reach for pots and pans every day-sometimes several times a day and this is your where your equipment for creating good meals is stored, so it’s important. Organizing this ground zero first depends on the actual space itself. What is your situation? Is it a pantry, is it a cabinet with shelves, are the shelves deep, are there any hooks? Whatever your space is for your pots and pans, there are a lot of great design ideas out there that can help you organize it.
- Hang ’em up: I love the thought of hanging your pots and pans (with the lids sliding on the handles) if your space can accommodate the dimensions needed. http://a.co/2hDcZ7y The drawback for me is that I’ve got drawers above my cabinet and at first read of the specs, this won’t work in my kitchen. But if you’ve got the right layout, I love this idea.
- Rack ’em up: if spreading out is not an option, go up. This rack is a perfect idea for skillets or low profile pans. http://a.co/gaqGTsY
- Roll ’em out: the pullouts are definitely something I’m going to look into in the future. If you have deep cabinets, that may work great for you. http://a.co/8jPBRvm
But as the Fly Lady says (and if you don’t know who Fly Lady is, visit flylady.net right now! It changed me. She is a wonderful resource for controlling chaos and clutter in your home and helping you stick to routines), start where you are. Jump right into the situation you have right now! Unless you already have your dream kitchen with a designated spot for every cup, cutting board, and cookie sheet, you’re thinking about what you want in the future. How you would design your dream kitchen. But at the end of the day, what you have right now, is what you have. You’ve got to start where you are. Accept your space and maximize it. My space is two bottom cabinets with a shelf dividing on each side and here’s how I maximize it and more importantly, keep it organize and make it an area I don’t mind visiting several times a day:
1. Only store in this area what you use most often. You don’t have your ski jacket or evening gowns in with your button down blouses and shirts in your closet, do you?? Same thing applies. A big soup pot, an electric skillet, a double boiler, etc.-these are things you may not use every week and you could store those items elsewhere. My bigger electrics and things that aren’t a part of my daily kitchen needs are in a closet in the hall adjacent to my kitchen, it’s an extension of my kitchen storage, just in another part of the house. Keep what you use all the time together and store what you don’t in another place.
2. Throw out non-stick pans that are past their prime and have deep cuts in them. Just like you toss that old sweater that has pulls and pills on it, toss that pot. If it’s not inspiring you to create good food, don’t use it. And more importantly, if it has deep cuts in the non-stick coating, you may not be doing yourself any favors cooking in that pan.
3. For you cabinet folks–handles in. It just works. Try it. The handles find their spot because they are naturally slim and the belly of the pans are not. You can tell tuck the belly of the pans close to each other and maximize space. Handles in works–try it!!
4. Don’t nest your non-stick. Unless the manufacturer of your non-stick cookware says it’s okay to do, I recommend not doing it. I have some Calphalon non-stick that specifically says do not nest one in another. The exterior metal can damage the interior nonstick. Only stack your stainless. If not nesting your non-stick is a no-go, put the lid of one of your non-sticks on upside down and place a skillet or another pan on top of that (see info below).
5. Unless you have a dedicated holder for lids, keep your lids with your pans. If you want to stack, keep the lid with the pan still, but turn the lid upside down (with the handle facing the inside of the pan) and stack another pan on top of the lid. You have a lid storage system that works for you, but I do this with not only my pans, but my glass and plastic storage containers. I’m a visual person and it helps me when I open the cabinet and see everything that I need is together already. I don’t have to hunt for the matching lid.
6. Don’t just wash stainless steel pans, clean them. Take a look at your stainless. Is there build up on the bottom or stains and discolored areas on the inside? Maybe where some milk scalded and you never really cleaned it off. I’m guilty. If you look closely at my cooking videos, you’ll probably see where I didn’t follow my own advice before I put a pan in front of a camera. A camera lens sees everything! Shining up your stainless is not exactly a priority on the list of life stuff, I get it and I agree, but when you clean that gunk off and sparkle up your pots and pans, you’ll be surprised how much better you feel opening up that cupboard when you want a pan. Doesn’t your car drive better when it’s clean?? Mine does. I use and swear by Bar Keepers Friend. I use it on my ceramic sink for stains, on my stove top for stuck on foods and especially on my stainless steel pans. First off, check your manufacturer’s recommended cleaning methods. Check Bar Keepers Friend directions, and if the two line up, go to town! It’s like ironing for me–wrinkled one second and unwrinkled the next. Instant gratification.
7. Stick to your system. This is a hard habit to form. Once you figure out how you want your pots and pans cabinet/pantry to work, stay with it. Put things back in their right space. With structure, there’s freedom. You don’t ever have to think about how to cram this pan or that pan in this spot again. You’ve already figured it out. Just remember and stick to it!
Your time in the kitchen is so limited with our busy schedules, so make the time that you have more enjoyable and stress-free. It’s not just about how good the food tastes or how well the dish turned out. For me, being in the kitchen is a cathartic experience and when everything has a home and is in its place, the process of preparing a meal for your family becomes a whole lot more peaceful and relaxing.