How to Take Control of Your Kitchen Part 2: Dishes & Refrigerator

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The other week I mentioned that I noticed a renewed sense of clarity on keeping the kitchen cleaned & organized on a regular basis. Part 1 of this series focused on cleared countertops. Today, part 2 will focus on maintaining a clean, organized kitchen with specific attention to the status of the dishwasher and refrigerator contents.

A System for the Dishes

I feel like I have finally figured out my system for maintaining the dishes in a constant state of being washed or about to be washed without having the sink overflowing with dirty dishes. It might sound really simple, but sometimes it takes a lot of work to get to simple.

I have been obsessed with a rule of doing only my most important task first thing in the morning (after yoga and meditation) ever since I read Leo Babauta’s The Power of Less and other productivity books like Never Check E-Mail In the Morning by Julie Morgenstern. I don’t want to sacrifice that magical time when I might be able to write a blog post before the interruptions of the day inevitably set in.

But, there is a period of about 15 minutes first thing in the morning that I am in the kitchen making my tea, sometimes making coffee, and most recently making smoothies for the day. Over the past week, I started noticing that I can use the time in between making tea, coffee, and smoothies to empty out the dishwasher.

Having the dishwasher empty first thing in the morning allows me to easily add dishes throughout the day, keeping the kitchen nice and clean all day. I also started making myself conscious of a ritual to run the dishwasher in the afternoon if it is a day I know we will be cooking something from scratch, and leaving it to run after dinner if we are ordering in or making a simple meal like veggie burgers.

Either way, I am keeping up with the dishes as I go, even while preparing dinner, leaving as few dirty dishes as possible to clean after dinner. Even if it isn’t exactly my number one activity of choice after we finish eating, I am getting up to quickly clean the remaining dishes and start the dishwasher before we start a movie or a show after dinner.

Then I can happily enjoy the movie with the soothing sounds of dishes getting clean in the background, allowing me to wake up in the morning to a clear kitchen to start the process all over again the next day.

An Organized Refrigerator

organized-refrigerator

I took a few hours a few weeks ago to deep clean the refrigerator, and then proceeded to the grocery store to get supplies for the week. After reflecting on my previous habit of going grocery shopping and thinking I would then clean out the refrigerator after I got home, I realized that system never worked.

I never feel like cleaning out the refrigerator when I get home from the grocery store. If I wait until then, I almost always just cram things in anywhere, even if cleaning out the fridge would have taken only 15 minutes.

I love it when the refrigerator is organized. My favorite part of MTV Cribs was seeing how clean and organized the refrigerators were. I didn’t think anyone actually lived like that, and was pretty sure they did that only for the show. But why can’t we have refrigerators like those on MTV Cribs, I ask?

We primarily use the drawers in the fridge to store produce, meat, and cheese. With the door shelves stocked and not much else to put on the shelves besides eggs & beverages, the fridge actually looks pretty bare even when it is fully stocked. But that’s how I like it. It’s nice to know there’s room for leftover containers, and that you can pull out whatever you need at any time without having to take out 10 bottles of salad dressing first.

Having the countertops, refrigerator, and sink and dishwasher organized at all times is a joy. I love the feeling of starting to prepare a meal with completely cleared off countertops, an organized fridge, and an empty dishwasher.

Once everything is organized, it is a major day-to-day time saver. It takes so much less time to do things when everything has a place and stuff isn’t too piled up. I would also add that an organized kitchen helps us to stay healthy, because we are more likely to be inspired to prepare a healthy meal in an organized, simplified kitchen than in a cluttered, messy one.

The freezer, pantry, and a few drawers and cabinets are still not at their most zen states of being. I am excited to share them when they are ready!

Do you have any secrets for keeping the kitchen or refrigerator organized? I would love to hear them! Please share your thoughts!

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