I am all for finding easier ways to do things and where the kitchen is concerned, I learnt that I initially failed to create a functional kitchen for 1 main reason:
COOKING WAS A DISASTER…
- Yeah, not an understatement. I would be cooking midway, then realise I had not gotten the right utensils, walk to the end of the room, only to return to burnt food.
- I had multiple containers for items, but was storing items all wrong. My garlic and onion were in containers and it grew rotten quickly and made the home RANK.
- I was a noisy cook. Clinging and clanging. Once I finished washing the dishes, storing pots and pans was something I would procrastinate because it was a CHORE.
THAT GOT ME THINKING…
So I completely re-ordered my kitchen. Cooking has been such a breeze since. I am a more efficient cook, everything is placed in the right areas, I stopped procrastinating and I no longer had episodes of “something just died in the kitchen and I have no idea where”(!).
My new kitchen focuses on doing less of 3 things:
1. Less MACROmovements
Macromovements refer to moving from one place to another. E.g.: walking from your working counter, to the stove. To the sink etc. Basically, involves getting your butt moving.
When you work in the kitchen, there are 3 main cooking hubs:
Hub 1: Sink / Working Counter (These should ALWAYS be together!) This where you will be doing food preparation and tidying
Hub 2: Stove / Oven This is where all the action is. The frying, cooking and boiling – you name it.
Hub 3: Dining This is where the indulging happens. You relax and just enjoy your masterpiece.
Each of these have signature “working tools” i.e.: items you need as you manoeuvre the area; more often that not, you will find yourself reaching out for these tools as you work in the given hub so you are better off having these tools close to the designated cooking hub. Below is a diagram of my very tiny apartment kitchen/dining, and what tools or items I place within proximity to the hubs:
You may find that you have additional cooking hubs or you have additional working tools (Comment down below on your different cooking hubs! I would love to know!). Feel free to organise according to your needs. The key idea is to group your space into hubs and to recognise the working tools. Doing so, you will find yourself navigating and moving around the kitchen like a top chef! Everything FLOWS.
2. Less MICROmovements
Micromovements refer to movements you make when you stand still. E.g.: squatting, bending down and hand gestures, stacking and unstacking , searching etc.
Micromovements add up. So it matters. I’ve identified a few tiny changes / adaptations you can make to pre-existing storage areas. Try these out and you will feel how much easier it is to cook and navigate. Best part is, most of these solutions are affordable (RM5 hacks!) and at most takes a little creativity. Case in point, below is a list of organisation tools and how I use it to make my cupboards and space more functional:
Organisation Tool: Elevated Metal Holders @ RM5.30 from Daiso
Good for: pots and pans. Eliminates the need to remove a layer of pots or pans before picking the one you need. Aim to make handles of long pans to point facing the cupboard doors. Henceforth, you can easily pull out your cooking tools without waking the neighbourhood. Putting items away also becomes less daunting
Organisation Tool : Spring Poles @ RM5.30 from Daiso
Good for: long items that are oddly shaped such as baking trays or pot covers (Place an additional spring pole at the base to prevent your covers from rolling off). You no longer need to stack and unstack to take your trays out! No need to nest little trays in big trays – just slide it in!
Organisation Tool: Magnetic Towel Rail @ RM49.90 from Muji
Good for: spices! I got sick of placing spices in cupboards and baskets because I spent so much time digging through them, reading the labels (identical-bottle-problems). I resorted to latching these magnetic rails flat down. I get a full view of my spices now! Best part is, it is removable!
Organisation Tool: Clear Plastic Bins @ RM5.30 from Daiso
Good for: cloth – when you do NOT have a drawer. I used to stack my hand towels and table cloths on top of each other. Downside is, every time I took one cloth out, an avalanche of cloths came down! This simple solution will make all cloth options visible and easily available, even when you have no choice but to store it on a higher shelf!
Organisation Tool: Suspended metal tray @ RM5.30 from Daiso
Good for: light items which is typically paired with heavier items e.g.: store container bases in something more sturdy but keep all the covers here. Mugs in something more sturdy but coasters can be kept suspended here. Pairing is made easy and you no longer need to “shuffle” items!
By now, you will have noticed a common trend – the rule of thumb is “think library”, you should aim to “see, pull out, push in”. No obstacles, with a clear selection of items easily visible – just like books in a library.
3. Less REmovements
Removements refer to the act of disposing items. Basically any act of not utilising existing packaging, or the act of unpacking only to repackage in a new tool / storage item
I used to be a sucker for gimmicks. I fell for tools aimed at making the home more practical and functional, but in the process realised that I threw away a lot of packaging. Ironically, the original packaging was fully functional, there really was no need to remove items from it! Overtime, I also realised that producers or suppliers of items thought long and hard about the best storage for perishable items. So, why remove them?
Here are items which should be retained in its original FUNCTIONAL packaging:
- Egg trays: Use the original trays, just shove the whole thing in your fridge instead of rearranging them in your “limiting” plastic egg trays!
- Onion, Garlic etc.: Buy the ones that come in plastic nets and hang them on hooks. I choose to utilise high quality magnetic hooks. These saved me counter space too!
- Aluminium foil, cling wrap, ziplocks etc.: All you need are “box holders”. I make use of “cooking pot cover” holders and hang them on my kitchen cabinet doors!
There are more things that can be used in its original packaging no doubt. This is not an exhaustive list. As you purchase items, always ask yourself if removing the packaging is necessary – if it isn’t, try fine tune how you store the items for a more efficient and less wasteful home.
I will leave with a tiny note of encouragement to those of you struggling to maintain a clean and organised home. I was there at one point, messy and disorganised. I did not put things back where they belonged and over time just made my home look like a war zone. The thing is, when you are so busy picking kids up, running around sorting the family, or just occupied with work – it is SO SO important to make organisation convenient, easy and less time consuming! The power to enable that is in your hands. Given that you spend so much of your life (yes, LIFE) at home, may as well set aside some time to re-organise so storing items in the right places become easy! That is when home REMOVES stress not CREATES stress. Happy weekend!