The kitchen is probably one of the busiest rooms in your house, a place where you and your family spend a lot of time. As they say, the heart of the home is in the kitchen! Consequently, the kitchen can easily accumulate dirt and clutter if you do not manage it well. As a stay-at-home mother of four young children, I know this is easier said than done – most of us are always busy and even a simple clean-up can sometimes be a stretch.
Whether you’re a stay-at-home mother or a working woman (or both!), having a clean, organised kitchen is something that should not be overlooked, as it can improve our lives tremendously. In this article, I remind ourselves why having an organised kitchen is so important, and explain my tried and tested tips to make this a long-lasting achievement!
The benefits of having your kitchen well-kept are obvious; reducing stress, increasing ease of use and general sanitation are a few. Take a look at these three important points just to show you why it is worth all the sweat.
1. Islam demands its followers to observe cleanliness in all aspects of our lives as our beloved Prophet Muhammad said “cleanliness is half of faith…” [Muslim]. To me, this hadith says it all. It clearly shows how important cleanliness is in the sight of Allah and as Muslims, this is not something we should take lightly.
2. Having an organised kitchen not only saves you money, it saves you time. When everything is in order, you will no longer have to waste time looking for missing or hidden items. You can then use your time to do other important tasks instead, like ibadah and dhikr.
3. It helps prevent food wastage.
Allah says: “O Children of Adam! Wear your beautiful apparel at every time and place of prayer: eat and drink: But waste not by excess, for Allah loveth not the wasters.” [Quran: Chapter 7, Verse 31]
Food wastage is a massive and unfortunately common problem, especially when you have a disorganised kitchen. Common scenario: You buy a bag of grapes. You put them in your fridge drawer under a pile of fruits and vegetables with the intention of keeping them fresh, and then you forget all about them. When you finally remember about these grapes, weeks later, they are too rotten to eat. Sounds familiar? Don’t worry, we’ve all been there.
The good news is, it does not have to be like this anymore. All it takes in the beginning is a bit of our time, some planning, and our commitment, but in the end, it’s all worth it. Your kitchen will no longer be an eyesore and you’ll feel much better about it, In sha Allah.
Here are seven tips to get your kitchen organised and make it an enjoyable space to work in.
Once A Month
This is an editing process. One thing we need to understand about clutter is that it usually starts to accumulate when we have too much stuff with not enough storage space. So we start by getting rid of all unnecessary things. Hence, we purge. To do this, take two boxes, one labeled “donate” and the other one “throw out”. Now, go though your fridge and cabinet and purge. Any food that is still in good condition but you have no intention of consuming should be be put in the first box and those that have gone bad or are past their expiration dates should be put in the second box. And while you’re at it, it also doesn’t hurt to give the insides of your cabinet and your fridge a good wipe. You will probably have both boxes full by the end of this session and an emptier kitchen!
2. Allocate a “home” for all items
Now that you have extra space in your cabinet and fridge, it’s time to give each item its own home. This process can be a little time-consuming as it requires some planning, but is crucial nevertheless.
Take this as a basic rule: items that are frequently used should be placed in the most accessible places. Similarly, foods that are nearing their expiration date should also be placed where you can reach them easily, not hidden in the far end of the cabinet or fridge. This is a great way to get them noticed and consumed sooner, indirectly helping to cut down food wastage. And if you collect wine, freestanding wine coolers are wise investments.
Once you’ve given a home to all your kitchen items, be strict about putting things back where they belong and get your family members or housemates to do the same.
Every couple of months
3. Get into the habit of labeling things
Have you ever accidentally used cornstarch instead of baking soda to bake your cake? I have! This is one of the problems that we will encounter if things are not clearly labeled. It may seem petty, but it has happened to a lot of people, sometimes with catastrophic outcomes.
I also use labels when I store leftovers in the fridge. I write down the dates, so I know when I prepared these dishes (again, another trick to avoid wasting food). You do not need to buy expensive label makers for this. A masking tape and a marker are all you need, or something easy and cost-effective like chalkboard stickers. You can erase and rewrite on it whenever you change the content of any container.
4. Clean as you go
One of the things that people always lament about is the time spent cleaning their kitchens. Unfortunately, there’s no shortcut to having a clean and organised space. You have to put in the labour and a little bit of elbow grease at times. However, you can make it easier by breaking the cleaning process into little chunks and delegating tasks to people in your household, so as not to let the mess build up before you start taking action. This way, you will not become overwhelmed by all the workload. So while you’re waiting for your soup to cook, use that time to wash the dishes, wipe the counter and put the ingredients back to where they belong. Don’t wait until the end of the day to start doing these chores; life will be more manageable if you make this workflow a habit, and you’ll have a few extra minutes to yourself in the evenings!
5. Update your shopping list
A great trick is to have a piece of paper and a pen stuck to the fridge. Whenever something runs out, you can jot it down on the paper and grab it before your shopping trip. This saves you buying more than you need or forgetting to buy an essential item on your shopping run. I also do a quick run-through of my fridge and cabinet to check for things that need to be stocked up and write them down right away.
This technique helps limit your shopping to only the items that are on your list. Try and resist the urge to go beyond that; not only will this save you money, but also make your kitchen neater and more manageable. The major source of clutter and food wastage is simply having too many things. The less we buy from the beginning, the less we waste and the more space we have in our kitchens.
6. Schedule short daily cleanup sessions and get your family members involved
The goal behind this is the same as the “clean as you go” concept, which is to not let you get overwhelmed by too many chores. But more importantly, by getting your family members to pitch in, you’re teaching them (especially your children) important values and skills that would greatly benefit them in their lives later on, in addition to relieving your own workload.
That said, too often I see parents who don’t expect their children to help out with house chores. Although at times it can seem counterproductive, (you may find yourself having to clean more than you started with!), the key is to assign them with chores that are appropriate for their age and try to make things as fun as possible.
7. Be consistent and stay committed
Last but not least, maintaining a clean and organised kitchen requires commitment and consistency. If you can commit to spending a small portion of your time everyday and every couple of months to do the above steps, not only will you avoid that long, stressful clean-up session that becomes inevitable when your kitchen becomes too dirty or cluttered, but you will also feel a lot better about yourself for having the discipline to follow through. This productivity will give you the motivation to be more organised and productive in other areas of your life, In sha Allah.
How do you keep your kitchen organised? Share your tips and advice below!