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Life Lessons of a Military Wife (overseas in Europe!): Streamline Your Kitchen

Life Lessons of a Military Wife (overseas in Europe!)

My goal here is to make your life easier, especially those who are in the unique situation of being a military spouse. Yes...I've been around...but in a good way...and hopefully can share those tips, tricks and shortcuts with you too. I've been on this military bus for over 40 years now. My goals in life are to have a well-run home, few money worries, well adjusted children, money socked away and whatever happiness I can scoop out of life.

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After life as an Army brat, being in the Army myself and marrying a soldier, I can honestly say I have a bucket full of life lessons I can share to help you make your everyday life easier and enlightening. Don't waste your time making unnecessary mistakes and benefit from others who have come before you on your journey through life.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Streamline Your Kitchen

Picture this...you are walking back and forth across your kitchen, countless times in one sitting, with streams of water and crumbs, and possibly a few ice cubes on the floor...and no, I am not accusing you of doing this.....but your kids and husband probably did it! Do you ever wonder why this is so? And no, it's not because your family is a group of numbskulls....there is actually something else at work here.

Before I knew any better, in the old L-O-N-G galley kitchen we had, I would walk from one end of our kitchen to get a glass and then trudge back to the refrigerator to get some ice and water...I think you've gotten the picture. The answer here, is to streamline your kitchen to put things in their "place of use", along with grouping "like items" and pre-positioning the "mostly used" items...you want to be able to get at things in one motion....it's as simple as that.

As you look at the layout of your kitchen, follow these simple rules:

  • Keep glasses and cups in the cabinet by the refrigerator
  • Keep pots and pans right next to the stove; if yours are a jumbled up mess, try putting them in a bin or at least putting all your lids in a bin that you can just pull out
  • Keep your spices, oils and vinegars near the stove (far enough away where they won't get too hot); if you have an unused drawer, you can also write the name of the spice on the top of the bottle, and then store the bottles, standing up in a drawer (just make sure it's deep enough); I also separate my spices by type...all the herbs go on one shelf, the minced garlic, onions and spices on another, and all the baking/sweet type items, along with food coloring, on another shelf
  • Keep ziploc bags, plastic wrap and tinfoil, even Tupperware, by your food prep area (along with cutting boards and implements)
  • Keep all your baking items together (from bowls to cake pans, rolling pins, whisks, spatulas, cookie cutters and the like); I keep all that stuff in my center island
  • Keep all your plates, bowls and flatware in the cabinets nearest your eating area
  • A kitchen really does need a junk drawer. I confess I actually have two! Put in those dollar store plastic bins to organize your junk. Our junk drawer holds things such as pencils, pens, marker, Scotch tape, scissors, two screwdrivers (flathead and Phillips), batteries, rubberbands and clothespins (to clip chipbags).
  • You know those nested mixing bowls you have? Tired of always lifting out the little one on the top you never use? The ones you don't regularly use get put away on a top shelf (where you will put other "rarely used" items). The sizes you use all the time, will rest in the "mostly used" area.
  • Keep only gadgets that you use every day on the counters (such as your coffee maker). Put away your bread machine, mixer and the like.
  • For all your other gadgets, examine if you really need it. If you don't use it on a regular basis, get rid of it. If you use it seasonally, put it away with your seasonal items.
  • Even if you don't have a pantry, keep food items in one place. When I did not have a pantry, I kept all my cans, glass and plastic items in one cabinet and the boxed items in another. Before storing the boxed items, I bought a dozen large plastic square storage containers, and transferred the dry goods to each container. Label the outside with a marker, and if you have directions from the box, cut them out and stick them inside the container. Things stay fresher AND they fit nicely on your shelves.
  • If you have no room for canned goods in your kitchen, then use a hall closet. Cans stack very nicely and orderly there.
  • Run your dishwasher in the evening. This means lower rates for water (in some localities), and you start the next day with all fresh and clean dishes. As we dirty a dish throughout the day, it gets rinsed and then put in the dishwasher. No dishwasher? You can rinse and then hold the items in a small tub under the sink instead of washing each individual item.

The bottom line here, is that you want to put items where you will only need one movement to get them out and use them...without running all over your kitchen and sometimes house. Yes, you can actually bake 1000 cookies with one set of mixing bowls and possibly two sets of measuring cups and spoons. So I admit I do have more than one set of those. But seriously, take the time to look at what you have and be honest about whether you use it or not, and if it's in the best place for you to get at. If not, then it's fine to move things around to maximize and streamline their use. What do you do to streamline your kitchen?

Enjoy this article and others like it at Wired for Noise, Carnival of Stay at Home Moms.

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