Organize kitchen counters for free

There are 3 counter surfaces in this kitchen; one corner, one long, one island. The electrical outlets are NOT distributed efficiently (AAARRRGGG!) so some larger electrical appliances have to be stored near a socket, taking up space be darned (AAARRRGGG!).

Thankfully, there is a microwave ledge built in so that thing doesn’t have to take up counterspace.

So, we move in, we unpack, we do our best to get the stuff that we need out where we need it and finally, I move it from “well, it works” to beautiful efficiency.

As you can see, this is the remainder of the countertop that I organized in a previous post.  The microwave is above the cookbooks.

As you can see, this is the remainder of the countertop that I organized in a previous post. The microwave is above the cookbooks.

The cookbooks are here, the tub of flour, the coffee maker, and my ice cream bucket for collecting coffee grinds for the garden.
pantry area

pantry area

Obviously the waffle maker doesn’t belong ON the coutertop, it belongs IN its box on the top shelf.

sandwich making station

sandwich making station

Some things have got to change
It’s not that every cupboard is crammed with stuff, it’s just that we moved in with 2 small children and needed food and food preparation STAT. We didn’t have a system. Now we do.

Underneath the corner counter is a lazy susan type cupboard but without the turning part. In it is stored a giant, stainless steel frying pan as well as bulk baking goods. Because this pan is not in the pot cupboard under the island, Hubby never uses it when he’s cooking. He uses the enormous cast iron frying pan that is a bitch to clean. So I made a switch and put my boxes of Cliff bars inside the iron pan.

frying pan switcheroo

frying pan switcheroo

Cliff bars in pantry, not countertop

Cliff bars in pantry, not countertop

Then I set about putting all the children’s cracker snack foods in see-through glass jars so they can see the food, decide on their own what they would like for a snack (and therefore eat it?) but are not able to reach it (yet). The last holdout where the square saltines. I had no empty jam jar with a wide enough mouth to accommodate them. I started looking around and found that I had stored the cornmeal from a punctured bag in an empty glass peanut butter jar. I transfered the cornmeal to an empty water bottle (not really great for reusing for water because the plastic leeches into the water) and used the PB bottle for the crackers.

cornmeal container switcheroo

cornmeal container switcheroo


the brown mat is my drying rack for the dishes.  See food, eat!

the brown mat is my drying rack for the dishes. See food, eat!

kitchen island after 1I put marshmallows in empty glass spice jars, each one with a child’s initial on it rather than an empty travel coffee mug with no label. My citronella tea light candles and twist ties for the kitchen garbage are in the pretty little paper box I made.

I repurposed a complimentary travel coffee mug from somewhere we bought something for the straws so the kids can get the colour they want themselves. The sunscreen bottle is also here, beside the grocery list pad so we can slather up on our way out the back door.

The Tupperware with the blue lid is the peanut butter. Hubby buys the giant container but once it’s half empty it gets annoying and messy to scoop out the PB, so I spooned it all into a smaller container. And washed and reused the big one of course.

The water reclaiming jug has to stay there (it’s about 5 feet to the door where the water bucket it), and the coffee grinder and ice cream maker have to stay near the only working outlet in that neck of the woods.

with cookbooks gone, flour tub fits

with cookbooks gone, flour tub fits

I got rid of 6 cookbooks, gifts THAT WE NEVER LOOKED AT A SECOND TIME in at least 6 years. Also threw out 1 of the 2 “what to see in ….city” we got when we first moved here. With at least half the space cleared out I was able to push the tub of flour back to the wall to act as a bookend and to give us more counter space in the front.

I also took the book ends I’d made in shop class in grade 7 upstairs to my son’s room where he desperately needed bookends.

well, you can imagine the "before" picture

well, you can imagine the “before” picture

Why this works
The kitchen will stay this way because I didn’t put the cornmeal in the upstairs linen closet. Everything is where it used to be, or moved slightly to a more reasonable location. Things we didn’t use are gone. We can see everything and when you can see it, you’ll use it, keeping up the flow of fish crackers without backlogging the Ritz crackers.

This is how our lifestyle works and since everything has a place, everything can be put away!


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