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The kitchen can be a place of productivity and satisfaction. Or, it can be a place of dread. Often the difference between the two depends on a few simple adjustments. But, what are those, exactly?

Writer and professional chef Joseph Morris talks about his favorite room in the house, the 5 areas there that might need your attention, and how to make sure that the time in your kitchen is spent in the creation of delicious meals, and not in pulling out your hair …

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Does the thought of cooking this holiday season give you nightmares filled with chaos and stress? Perhaps you need to organize your kitchen.  Here are five areas that most commonly need attention in the average kitchen:

1. Counter space

A well laid-out kitchen can give you more counter space to prepare food, set recipe books, and plate meals to take to the table. Even if you have a small kitchen, you don’t have to sacrifice counter space.

If appliances and kitchen utensils clutter your kitchen countertop, you might want to consider storing them in drawers and on shelves. Some items can even be hung on the wall or on a ceiling rack. An island countertop is also a great way to add countertop space to a small kitchen.

2. Refrigerator

Many of us are guilty of having refrigerators cluttered with leftovers, our favorite foods, and extra items that happened to be on sale. However, when a refrigerator is cluttered, it’s easy to forget about food at the back that we never see, and this is wasteful and unhealthy when mold starts to grow!

Only keep your fridge stocked with the food you need for the next week or so. Before you go grocery shopping, try to plan meals for the week so that you only buy what you need. You should also clean your refrigerator frequently.

3. Pantry

Having an organized pantry is one of the key ways you can save money on food. Assign categories to different shelves (baking, oils & sauces, snacks) so that you can quickly find items you need. Just as with the refrigerator, don’t buy foods unless you plan on eating them soon.

Before you go on a shopping trip, check the pantry to be sure you aren’t about to buy a duplicate item. You might also consider storing items like cereal and pasta in transparent containers so that it’s easy to see when supplies are running low.

4. Drawers and shelves

Without organization, drawers and shelves can become so loaded that it’s impossible to find anything without emptying out everything or knocking down a tower of storage containers. Drawer organizers use lots of compartments for all of your utensils, preservation materials and other kitchen needs.

For shelving, look for stackable items like bowls and storage containers. You may also consider adding extra shelving inside your cabinets.

5. Cooking zones

Try to organize your kitchen into cooking zones with areas for food preparation, baking, stovetop cooking, and serving. You may also want to think about what you do most often.

For example, if you have coffee and oatmeal for breakfast everyday, you may want to store the oatmeal near the microwave and place your coffeemaker nearby so that everything is in one place. This will make your kitchen less of a chaotic space.

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Thanks, Joseph!

Joseph Morris has been a professional chef for over 20 years. He also owns the site Culinary Arts College for students interested in getting a degree in culinary arts.

Cheers!

Rob.

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Cate Morgan-Harlow

Cate Morgan-Harlow is an all arounder, writing about how-to, DIY, and design with gusto. She is a shadowy figure with a mysterious past.