Hacks To Simplify Your Kitchen

by Toria Sheffield

The kitchen can be a place of high efficiency and everyday staples, or a place of messy drawers, the wrong utensils for our recipes, and stress, leaving us frustrated and just wanting some simple kitchen hacks to make our lives easier.

On a video on her YouTube channel, Martha Stewart stressed that the key to a happy, functional kitchen, is organization and maximizing your space, and that "the kitchen is one place in your home that truly needs to be organized, so that you can spend less time looking for things and more time enjoying the moment." Excess clutter can also just cause us to feel stressed, or even depressed, with a study in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin finding that women who describe their homes as "cluttered" had higher rates of stress and depression.

The good news is, keeping your kitchen organized and as efficient as possible often starts with just having a few of the right basic tools and being aware of what you use most often. So if you're struggling with getting your kitchen in order and dread the thought of starting a new recipe because of all the preliminary hassle, take a look at the these nine kitchen hacks to make your life easier.

1. Be Strategic

In an article for Angie's List, professional organizer Susan Stewart recommended choosing your locations strategically. "An efficient kitchen won’t have you walking back and forth to unload the dishwasher or prepare a meal," she said. For example, store your dishes in the cabinet closest to the dishwasher for maximum time efficiency for when you unload clean dishes. You can also place mixing bowels in drawers near your cooking and food prep stations and keep coffee supplies, like mugs and sweetener, right by the coffee maker.

2. Use Transparent, Air Tight Storage Containers

Stewart also recommended using airtight, transparent storage containers in order to keep things like flour and beans fresh, as well as to always make sure you know exactly what you have in your kitchen. We often forget what we have when we can't see it, so being able to literally see ingredients in our kitchens will encourage us to actually use them, as well as not buy duplicates.

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3. Use Baking Tray Dividers

Tray dividers are a great alternative to just stacking trays and baking sheets on top of each other, making it way faster and easier to access what you need. There are tons of great tray divider options that go in your cabinet "that keep all your baking sheets upright and organized," Stewart said, and she also recommended getting one that rolls out of your cabinets for easiest access.

Rev-A-Shelf 18-in Bakeware Organizer, $7.49,

4. Use Spice Racks

This is another super simple, yet super life-changing addition to your kitchen, especially if you cook and bake a lot. I can't tell you how much time I wasted in life rifling through my cabinets for a random and specific spice before I finally got it together and just put them all in one easily accessible location!

Euro Wall Mount Spice Rack, $11.99,

5. Freeze Flat

J. Kenji Lopez-Alt, Culinary Director of Serious Eats and food author, said to always freeze soups, stews, and ground meat in flat, air tight bags, as they'll not only be way easier to stack in your freezer, but they'll thaw way faster. "It also improves the quality of the food (the longer something takes to freeze, the more cellular damage it will suffer)," he said.

6. Invest In A Bench Scraper

Lopez-Alt also highly recommended investing in a simple and inexpensive bench scraper, as well as always keeping a garbage can right by your work station. "Not having to walk back and forth to the garbage every few minutes can take a lot of drudgery your of your prep, and nothing's better than a bench scraper for moving large quantities of fiddly ingredients or scraps from point A to point B," he said.

Tablecraft Dough Scraper, $1.69,

7. Slice Avocados In Their Skin

"To slice avocados for salads or guacamole, split them in half, remove the pit by whacking it with the heel of your knife and twisting it out, then slice it directly in the skin using the tip of a paring knife or chef's knife," Lopez-Alt said. When you scoop it out with a spoon, you'll have way less of a slippery mess.

8. Line Vegetable Drawers With A Paper Towel

A list of tips from Rebecca Diliberto's The Penny Saving Household Helper on Country Living said to place a paper towel at the bottom of your vegetable drawers to absorb any excess moisture. It will help keep your veggies crisper and fresher longer.

9. Puncture Lemons, Don't Slice

If you ever need freshly squeezed lemon juice for a recipe, but don't need a whole lemon, there's no need to slice the whole lemon in half. According to The Household Helper, just puncture the fruit with a knife and squeeze out the juice you need, keeping the lemon fresh on the inside for the next use.

Using your kitchen doesn't need to result in a massive headache or a ton of time wasted searching for a few essentials. With a few super simple tools and some quick hacks, it can be a super efficient and organized space that can help make your life way easier.

Images: el gran sueno, Ania, jeffreyw, Steven Lilley, Martin Kathrae, Chiat's Run/Flickr