Tips for organizing your kitchen
by Cecelia Hostilo, Columnist
Jan 23, 2013 | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
During January, most people spend a lot of time making resolutions to improve their lives. These usually deal with weight management, health issues, finances, or organization. If I resolve to be more organized, I am usually referring to our family financial records or my time management. I don’t usually think of my kitchen when I think of organization. However, I would have to say that the one room in my house that it would be most beneficial to organize would be the kitchen.

Organizing your kitchen can save you money. First off, if you are organized, you are less likely to buy duplicates of things you already have. Look in your cabinets—how many cans of cream of mushroom soup do you have? How many containers of cumin do you have? I will confess to having too many! If I need it and can’t see it in my cabinets, I usually buy another one.

Secondly, if you are organized, your kitchen will be a more enjoyable place to work and it will take less time to make a meal and clean up. That means you are more likely to cook a meal at home instead of spending more to eat out. Not only will you save money, but you can the amounts of salt and fat that you eat, leading to better health.

A third way that organizing your kitchen can save you money is in the refrigerator and freezer. How many times have you looked in the back of the refrigerator and found something that is now akin to a science experiment? Maybe you have found a package of chicken hidden in the freezer that has freezer burn and you have to throw it away. Taking a little time to label and organize leftovers in the refrigerator and freezers means we will be more likely to use them instead of throwing them away, and that saves us money.

There are three common themes when it comes to organizing your kitchen. The first of these is to create “centers” in your kitchen around common activities such as food storage and preparation, cooking and serving, cleanup, planning, and eating. The idea behind centers is that all the items that are used for those tasks are stored close to each other. Silverware, plates, and glasses would be stored close to the dishwasher or drying area so that they are easily put away. Baking tools and ingredients such as flour and sugar would be stored near each other to make a baking center. Plastic wraps, foil, and storage bags might be stored close to the refrigerator or freezer. Put a permanent marker with these items so that you can label leftovers as to content and storage date.

A second theme is to get rid of items that you are not using. Look at your serving dishes, utensils, and small appliances. Have you used it recently, or is it just taking up space? The rule we use in organizing our clothes closets also applies in the kitchen. If you haven’t used it in a year, you probably don’t need it! Empty out that cooking utensil drawer that you have a hard time closing. Lay everything out and clean them. Remove the duplicates, the items that you don’t use, and the items that belong somewhere else. The results will be a drawer that you can keep organized because it isn’t so full.

The last of the three common themes is to store the items you use the most between your shoulders and knees and in the front where you can see it. This is especially important for those of us who are more vertically challenged! This way it is easy to find what you are looking for and quick to put things away. The flour and sugar canisters might be moved to a bottom cabinet if you do not bake every day. Maybe your coffee, filters, tea bags, and travel mugs need to be stored at eye-level because you use those every morning.

Organizing the kitchen takes a little time and thought, but I think you will be happy with the results!

Don’t forget that the Trigg County Biggest Loser Community Weight Loss Challenge is continuing. Our next class in the “Lighten Up!” series will be held on Friday, February 1, 2013, from 11:30 AM-1:00 PM at the Trigg County Extension Office. We will be presenting ways to lighten up our favorite comfort foods. Call the Extension Office at 270-522-3269 before noon on January 31st to register. Classes are free and open to anyone in the community!

For more information, contact Cecelia Hostilo at the Trigg County Extension Office by calling 522-3269.

Information for this article was obtained from “Eat Smart. Spend Smart.” blog written by Peggy Martin, RD, coordinator for nutrition programs, Iowa State University Cooperative Extension; December 31, 2012, and January 7, 2013.

Educational programs of the Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service serve all people regardless of race, color, age, sex, religion, disability, or national origin.

Slow Cooker Bean Soup

9 cups no salt added chicken broth

1 package (16-20 ounces) dried beans, about 2 1⁄4 cups, rinsed and drained

4 medium carrots chopped (2 cups)

3 medium celery stalks, chopped (1 1⁄2 cups)

1 large onion, chopped (1 cup)

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1⁄2 teaspoon salt

1⁄2 teaspoon basil

1⁄2 teaspoon oregano

1⁄2 teaspoon garlic powder

1⁄2 teaspoon ground pepper

1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained

In a 5- or 6-quart slow cooker, mix all ingredients except the tomatoes. Cover and cook on low heat 8 to 10 hours. Stir in tomatoes and increase heat setting to high. Cook 15 minutes, or until hot.

Yield: 12 (1 1⁄2 cup) servings

Nutrition Facts Per Serving: 170 calories, 2 g fat; 20 mg cholesterol; 290 mg sodium; 27 g total carbohydrate; 4 g dietary fiber; 4 g sugar; 12 g protein; 70% Daily Value of vitamin A; 15% Daily Value of vitamin C; 6% Daily Value of calcium; 15% Daily Value of iron

Source: Jackie Walters, Extension Specialist for Nutrition Education Programs, UK Cooperative Extension Service

Sweet Potato Crisp

3 large fresh sweet potatoes, cooked until tender

8 ounces reduced fat cream cheese, softened

1 cup brown sugar, divided

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

2 medium apples, chopped

1⁄2 cup all-purpose flour

2/3 cup quick cooking oats

3 tablespoons butter

1⁄4 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350 ̊F. Lightly spray a 13” x 9” pan with non-stick spray. Mash sweet potatoes. Add cream cheese, 2/3 cup brown sugar, vanilla, and cinnamon. Mix until smooth. Spread sweet potato mixture evenly in the pan. Top sweet potatoes with chopped apples.

In a small bowl, combine flour, oats, and 1/3 cup brown sugar. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbles. Stir in pecans. Sprinkle over apples. Bake uncovered for 35-40 minutes or until topping is golden brown and fruit is tender.

Yield: 16 (3/4 cup) servings

Nutrition Facts Per Serving: 240 calories; 6 g fat; 3 g saturated fat; 5 mg cholesterol; 200 mg sodium; 44 g carbohydrate; 4 g fiber; 20 g sugar; 4 g protein

Hurry Up Baked Apples

2 tart apples such as Granny Smith

1 teaspoon white or brown sugar

1⁄4 teaspoon cinnamon

2 tablespoons oatmeal

2 tablespoons (total) raisins, sweetened dried cranberries, walnuts, or other nuts

1 (6-ounce) container low-fat vanilla yogurt

Cut apples in half lengthwise. Use spoon to remove cores and hollow out a space 1 inch or more deep. Arrange apple halves, cut sides up, in microwavable dish. Cut thin slices off bottoms to keep from tipping. Combine sugar, cinnamon, oatmeal, raisins, and nuts. Fill each apple half. Cover with plastic wrap. Fold back one edge 1⁄4 inch to vent steam. Microwave 3 to 3 1⁄2 minutes, or until apples can be cut easily. Take from microwave. Let sit a few minutes. Spoon yogurt over the top and serve.

Yield: 4 (1/2 apple) servings

Nutrition Facts Per Serving: 120 calories; 2 g fat; 5 mg cholesterol; 30 mg sodium; 26 g total carbohydrate; 3 g fiber; 20 g sugar; 2 g protein

Source: Peggy Martin, RD, coordinator for nutrition programs, Iowa State University Cooperative Extension
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