5 Genius Kitchen Organization Tips (So You’ll Never Toss Food Again)

open shelving for pantry storage in kitchen
Photo: VH-studio/shutterstock
Whip your culinary space into shape with these time-saving tips and smart storage solutions.

No matter your living situation, the kitchen is the heart of the home. It's where the food is, after all. But with so much cooking, entertaining and hanging out in one place, the chaos (and mess) can easily get out of hand. Tired of finding expired food in the fridge, purchasing ingredients you already have and putting too much effort into searching for them while cooking? It's time to break those patterns and transform your kitchen into a place better equipped for your lifestyle, while also reducing food waste. Read on for five easy organization tips and storage solutions that'll help you create a kitchen even pro chefs will envy.

  1. Tip 1: Store food where you can actually see it.

    Follow this motto when it comes to food storage: The easier it is to see, the easier it is to eat. Instead of stocking dry goods in the back of dark cabinets or deep drawers, transfer grains from their original packaging to air-tight clear containers, and pour spices into small stackable canning jars. Keep unrefrigerated fresh fruits and vegetables in wire baskets on your countertop, so healthy eats will be the first thing you see when you're in the mood for a snack. Trust us, seeing the food you already have will inspire you to use it.​

  2. Tip 2: Rethink existing storage solutions—and create new ones.

    ​Let's be real: The perfect kitchen layout and storage situation is hard to come by, especially if you're renting. And when your kitchen is out of sorts, it's easy to forget about the vegetables you picked up at the farmers market and the snacks you've already stocked up on. The best way to establish designated areas for food? Open shelving that keeps what you frequently use in sight and at top of mind—it's like having a mini grocery store in your own home. An organizational spree is also a good opportunity to get your cabinets in order: Hang a magnetic knife rack near your prep space to keep everyday knives accessible. (Plus, the blades will hold up better over time when they aren't scraping against one another in a drawer.) Another way to clear clutter is to reconfigure dead space for more functional use: Add a bilevel carousel in your corner cabinet, and those messy stacks of pots and pans will be a thing of the past.

  3. Tip 3: Meal prep like a pro.

    ​Between prepping ingredients, cooking and—the worst part—cleaning up, cooking new meals every day takes a lot of preparation and can definitely lead to food waste. Come up with a meal plan that guarantees leftovers you can enjoy for the next lunch or dinner. This will increase your likelihood of putting fresh produce to use before it goes bad, and cooking in bulk is also a major time-saver. Keep stackable containers on hand to keep your leftovers organized and easy to find. While you're at it, store any remaining ingredients you've washed and chopped so that when it's time to cook again, the hardest part is already done.

  4. Tip 4: Become the queen (or king) of labeling.

    Grab your label makers! We're major proponents of marking food containers accordingly, whether it's frozen items in your freezer or preserved goods on pantry shelves. Portion out and freeze leftovers in individual serving sizes, then label bags with a use-by date and reheating instructions. Use label holders to keep shelved items sorted—and make putting groceries away in the right spots even more foolproof.​

  5. Tip 5: Recycle. Recycle. Recycle.

    ​Sometimes it's easy to forget how our individual actions and decisions affect the planet. Take one small step for your family (and one big step for the world), and implement a recycling routine in your home. Cut down on food and packaging waste by separating glass, plastics and paper into durable recycling bins. It's a surefire way to make a difference with minimal effort.