The kitchen is one of the most important rooms in our homes. It often functions as both a place of cooking and as a place of congregating, and it's why planning a kitchen work flow can be so incredibly useful to our lives. Seriously — there's nothing like an inefficient kitchen to frustrate you, or even make you avoid the space altogether.
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." Not only that, but did you know that excess clutter can actively make us feel anxious and ill-at-ease? A study in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin found that women who describe their homes as "cluttered" had higher rates of stress and depression.
If you know you want a super awesome and efficient kitchen that will enable you to get everything you need done with minimal frustration and annoyance, but you just don't know where to start, worry no more. Here are seven hacks for the most efficient kitchen space ever.
1. Live By The Triangle
In a piece on her site, Martha Stewart stressed the importance of the workflow triangle when it comes to you kitchen. This refers to the configuration of the refrigerator, counter, and sink. The arrangement is designed to create the easy access to the places you will move between the most when preparing a meal, creating the most efficient use of your space. So for example, you ideally wouldn't put a table with seating between the sink and fridge, or the fridge and prep counter.
2. Create Work Zones
Contributor at KitchenStewardship.com Bethany Wright said that she creates specific work zones in her kitchen to streamline the cooking process. The blender, food processor, and chopping board all sit in a "food prep" zone, which is in arm's reach of the baking supplies and measuring tools. The cooking zone includes the stove, toaster, and toaster oven, and the sink is reserved for cleaning supplies. The key is to keep things you often use together grouped close to each other.
3. Have What You Use The Most Easily Accessible
A compilation piece on home organizing for Real Simple recommended having all of the things you use most the most easily accessible. For example, you might want to keep large wooden spoons and spatulas in a metal container on your counter, but opt to keep the turkey baster in a drawer. The same holds true for pots and pans — keep the ones you use most up front. Also, I personally recommend installing a battery-powered light in your cabinets, as it makes hunting for what you need way easier.
4. Use Clear Containers
Set of 3 Canisters, $65, OneKingsLane.com
If you bake a lot, I always recommend keeping baking basics like flour, sugar, and nuts in clear containers on your counter. Not only does it look nice and allows you to see how much of everything you have, but it is just so much more efficient than digging into a crumpled bag of possibly stale flour.
5. Always Have Cleaning Supplies In Stock
Clorox Disinfecting Wipes Value Pack, $10.98, Walmart.com
Martha Stewart is a huge advocate of always having cleaning supplies on hand, but also opts for the strategy of less is more. "You actually need very few products to clean any given room," she said, and noted you really just need a universal cleaner, a more abrasive cleaner for tough buildup, regular sponge, a wire sponge, and rubber gloves. Keep them in a bucket under the sink, and you're good to go!
6. Invest In A Bench Scraper
Crestware Dough Scraper, $1.56, Walmart.com
In a piece on the site Serious Eats, managing director and food author J. Kenji Lopez-Alt strongly recommended that everyone get themselves a bench scraper for when preparing meals. "Nothing's better than a bench scraper for moving large quantities of fiddly ingredients or scraps from point A to point B," he said. Once you own one you'll seriously wonder how you ever did without it.
7. Buy An Easily-Moveable Trash Can
Umbro Mezza Trash Can, $11.99, Blinq.com
And in addition to a bench scraper, Lopez-Alt also recommended investing in a trash can that is easy to move from location to location (which means a super heavy and expensive one isn't always your best bet). "Not having to walk back and forth to the garbage every few minutes can take a lot of drudgery out of your prep," he noted — not to mention it will just save you time.
Your kitchen layout should help you out — never frustrate you. And if it does, it's probably just because you need to do a little reorganizing in the way of zoning and work flow. As soon as you have that down, you'll very likely notice a drastic improvement and probably find you enjoy being in your kitchen way more.