Saturday, April 7, 2012

Organize and Maintain your Kitchen

How are you doing with your new Paleo habits? Are you steadily eating away at that elephant? Remember you need to keep reminding yourself until it becomes automatic.

Here's you're next habit. When you feel comfortable, then it's time to work on the next step. But not before. Don't rush this. Remember Kaizen is about changing your life one tiny step at a time.

Check the list below. If you are still working on some of these habits then keep doing that until you no longer need to think about them.  Only then are you ready to move on.  Nobody is rushing you and nobody is keeping track.  This is YOUR plan and you decide when you're ready.

"A journey of a thousand miles starts with one step"

. .... then another, and another.... Take your time, do it right, and you'll build a solid base for a lifetime of easy and healthy Paleo eating.

  1. I have bags in my freezer with bones and leftovers for stock, and I plan to make it regularly on my basics day.
  2. I have a large salad for lunch most days, and I plan to make eggs, chicken etc. for my lunches on my basics day.
  3. My freezers are organized and inventoried, and I make at least two extra meals a week for my freezer.
  4. I have a regular weekly shopping day, and I never shop without a list.
  5. I plan my menus and schedule cooking time each week, and I keep notes for future use.
  6. I have set up and organized a storage pantry, and I put aside some money every week to stock up on specials. 
  7. I have researched alternative food sources in my area and tried at least two.
  8. I buy fruits and vegetables mostly when they are in season.


Habit # 9 - Organize your kitchen and follow a maintenance plan

Now that you've gotten your eating habits well organized, we are going to turn our attention to the room where most of your food related activities happen - the kitchen.

This step, like many of them, will have two parts to it.  The first step is to get your kitchen into shape.  The second step is to keep it that way.

Now please understand, we are not looking for perfection here.  I am not asking you to tear your kitchen apart and try and simplify, de-clutter and organize as well as clean it all in one go.  That is too overwhelming for anyone.

 What we are going to be doing here is to get your kitchen into the best shape it can be in a limited amount of time so you can reap the benefits of working in organized surroundings, and believe me there are many.

If you are presently having to deal with stuffed cupboards, overflowing counter tops and a constant hunt for ingredients and equipment every time you want to make something, then it's little wonder you don't want to cook.  Nobody would under those conditions.

So what I want you to do is set aside 2 to 3 hours (depending on the severity of the problem) to work on your kitchen

To begin, I want to give you a quick tutorial on how your kitchen should be set up. There are three main areas that each kitchen needs to contain, and each area requires certain tools to easily do what need to be done in that area.
The three main kitchen areas are the cold area, the hot area and the preparation area.  These are signified by the three main appliances - the fridge, the stove and the sink.

The hot and cold areas are pretty self-explanatory.  Obviously the cold area is where you keep your food - the fridge and the freezer.  And the hot area is where you cook your food - the stove, microwave, slow cooker etc.

The preparation area isn't as obvious so you need to give this a bit of thought.  The main thing is to make sure you have enough room to work and that it's within easy reach of the sink.

If you have a kitchen island then you have the perfect workplace.  In the above example you have lots of counter space right next to the sink.

Some kitchens can be challenging to set up, especially really small ones.  Here are a few examples from of some smaller kitchens and how they can be set up.

In this example, you can use the counter space between the sink and the stove.

Since this space is very limited, if room allowed I would also add a work table, but it would need to be far enough away from the fridge and stove to allow for the easy opening of those appliances.

This is what is known as a galley kitchen and doesn't have a triangle at all.

Since all three appliances are in a row and counter space is almost non existent, you really have no option other than to use an adjacent table or other flat surface for your work area. At least in a kitchen this small it really doesn't much matter where you store things since just about everything is reachable in a couple of steps.

A lot of us use our kitchen for other things as well like desk work and eating, but for now we are just concentrating on the three main areas.

So now on to shaping up your kitchen.

Whether yours is in pretty good shape or really needs help, this method will work for you.  It's a quick 2 to 3 hours work plan that you can do on a weekend afternoon and the end result will be not a perfect kitchen, but a perfectly useable one that will be visitor ready as well.

Step # 1 -  Set your kitchen timer for 15 minutes and start cleaning out your fridge.

Consider grouping the items into containers as in the illustration above to allow for easier removal. You are doing this for only 15 minutes and your are not allowed to work on it for any longer, so do the most important stuff first.

Clean out your vegetable bins and any food that is no longer fresh, line the drawers with paper towel, and then if you have time, work on the rest.

When the timer goes off, you're done.  If you finish before the timer goes off start on step two.

Step # 2 -  Now you set your timer for another 15 minutes and clean your sink.

Put all the dirty dishes into your dishwasher.  If you don't have one, then fill your sink with hot sudsy water and soak all the dishes that are in there while you work on the next part - clearing off your counters. Then by the time you come back to them the job will be half done for you.

Once you've done the sink start de-cluttering your kitchen counters. Your goal is to remove as much as possible. Anything that can be put away, put away into whatever cupboard has the most room.

If you have any piles lying around, get a cardboard box or a shopping bag and put everything inside.  No, it's not organized, but it wasn't before either. At least now it's contained, and when you need something you can still find it by going through the bag or box.

If you finish before the timer goes off, start on step three. If you have dishes soaking, do them now, dry them, and put them away.

Step # 3 -  Once your fridge, counters, and sink are done, set the timer for 15 minutes and do exactly the same for the rest of the kitchen.

If you have a table and chairs then the table should be completely clear.  The only thing you can have on it is either a bowl of fruit or a container of flowers.

If you have a desk, clear that as well. Again, any piles can go into a bag or box.

End this session by sweeping and mopping the floor if you have time.

Step # 4 - Now set the timer for another 15 minutes and make yourself a cup of coffee, tea or whatever your favourite beverage is.

DO NOT IGNORE THIS STEP.  Working without a break is a sure way to overwhelm and failure.

Sit back, relax, and look at what you've accomplished. Your kitchen  should now be in much better shape and will look great as well.  Your fridge looks neat and clean when you open it, your counters are all free of clutter, and all the other surfaces are clear as well.

You have just given your kitchen a great face lift and you deserve a break. Yes, there is still work to be done, but once the outer surfaces are neat and tidy you will be more motivated to do the rest.

So now take a few minutes and do something completely different.  Answer emails, read a book - anything to change your focus.  Just 15 minutes of rest will boost your energy to keep going.

After the break we are on to hour two which is when you will tackle the inside of your cupboards and drawers.  Again let me stress we are not looking for perfection here, just something better than you had before you started.

Step # 5 -  Set that timer for 15 minutes and start on your work area.

Your aim is to have all the food and equipment you need to use in that area close to that area.  You will not be able to move everything if your area is totally not set up this way so don't even try.  Just aim for some improvement.

Start out by putting your spice container and your utensil container on the counter in this area.  If you don't have these items, use a basket to hold your spices and a jar or large mug to hold your utensils, and make a note to buy some nicer ones for your kitchen the next time you shop. There are all kinds of options available, including a combination of both like this one above.

Now think about what you make each day and what equipment and bowls you use.  Most people will at least need some mixing bowls, some measuring spoons and cups, and a few wooden spoons.

Do you make packed lunches? Then you need lunch containers, plastic bags etc. somewhere close.  Do you bake Paleo bread?  Then have your bread tin(s) there as well. These things should all be in the cupboards and drawers close to where you will be using them.

Now that you know what should be in this area, things that don't belong will be glaringly obvious, so move them to the right area or exchange them with something that would be more suitable.  Do as much as you can but only in the time allowed.

Clean one cupboard or drawer at a time and DO NOT empty more than one at a time. Don't drive yourself crazy here.  What you get done will all help, and there is always tomorrow to finish what still needs doing. Remember the goal is for things to be better, not perfect.

Step # 6 -  Set the timer again and for the next 15 minutes do exactly the same in the hot area.

This is where you need to be keeping your stir-fry supplies. You can keep them in a basket by the stove which is what I do - coconut oil, sesame oil, olive oil, gluten-free stir-fry sauce, and hot sauce or hot pepper flakes if you use them.

You also need to keep your cooking pans here and if you have room your baking pans as well.  Alternatively the baking pans can be near your work area since you will probably fill them there anyway.

Then again if you have no room, a ceiling rack is another option to consider.

Again, do what you can for 15 minutes, then go on.  DO NOT empty more than one cupboard or drawer at a time.

Step # 7 -  Set the timer and for the next 15 minutes work in the cold area.

The cupboards and drawers by your fridge are the perfect place for all your wraps, Ziplock bags, freezer containers and other storage containers.  Using baskets to keep things together is a smart idea here as well as shown in this photo from

Again do what you can within the 15 minutes. Clean one cupboard or drawer at a time and DO NOT empty more than one at a time.

Step # 8 -  And here you are at rest time again.  Sit down, put your feet up, and enjoy the fruit of your labours.

Now you have really made a difference in  your  kitchen and not just on the surface but Internally as well.   I'm sure your kitchen is 100% better than it was before you started and you only worked at it for a couple of hours.

For most people, these two hours of work is probably enough. However if your kitchen was really in a bad state, you can repeat the last hour again, or just concentrate on the various areas that need the most work, 15 minutes at a time.

It's best to rotate areas every 15 minutes so you don't get bored, and definitely remember to take a 15 minute break after 45 minutes.

If the weather is nice you can go out and take a quick walk or bike ride.  If it isn't maybe do a quick exercise routine or peddle on your stationary bike for a few minutes. Any of those options will give you the break you need when working on a project like this and keep your from stiffening up from all that bending and stretching.

Once you've put in three hours I would think just about any kitchen will see major improvements, regardless of how bad it was, and at this point I think you should stop for the day.

Some people (and I've been there) tend to get carried away and work for hours, wear themselves out, and then get so fed up they don't want to do anything in their kitchen for weeks - which defeats the whole purpose.

It doesn't matter how well you clean your kitchen, if you don't set up some routines to keep things organized they will quickly go right back to the way they were and all your hard work will have been for nothing.

And the ironic thing is that it really doesn't take much to keep your kitchen up at all.  All you need to do is follow these 3 easy rules. If you don't do any of them right now, try using my Easy Elephant Eating program and just work on one at a time.

This is what you need to do every day :

(1)  When you finish using something, PUT IT BACK.  Not later. Now.

(2)  Empty your dishwasher every morning first thing, fill it during the day as you use things, and run it last thing at night.  Alternatively if you don't have a dishwasher, start the day by filling your sink with hot sudsy water, put used items in during the day, and then wash, dry and put away everything after dinner.

 (3)  Every evening once you've started the dishwasher or finished washing the dishes do what I call the "Quick Clean".

Set your timer for 15 minutes if you need motivation, and clean and wipe your sink,  counter tops and your table, put any piles into bags, and sweep and mop the floor if it needs it.  (If it doesn't, don't bother.  This isn't about making extra work for yourself.)

Every week you need to set your timer for 15 minutes and do a kitchen "catch up" session.  None of us are perfect and things happen.  This is when you catch up on all the daily things you should have done during the week but just didn't get to.

This is also when you do a quick clean of your fridge, getting rid of anything that's dying in there. I schedule this for Saturday, then on Sunday which is my rest day I wake up to a nice clean kitchen and a great way to start the week.

If you follow this routine you will never get into a big mess again.

And if you want to improve your kitchen even more, schedule a few 15 minute sessions during the week to work on the backlog.  You can clear and reorganize a cupboard or go through a bag of papers in 15 minutes - 30 minutes max.  Do this consistently and soon there won't be any extra work for you to do.

Your kitchen might not be show home perfect, but it will be perfectly suited for you .... and in the end that's what counts.
 “Life isn't about finding yourself.  Life is about creating yourself.”   - George Bernard Shaw

Want to try Paleo, but .....

... think it's too hard to do?
... don't have enough information?
... don't know where to start?
My STEP-BY-STEP PALEO ebook course makes it Easy !

I show you exactly what to do Step by Step,
I give you lots of great Recipes,
and I make it Fun !

check out Book 1 on Amazon today !


1 comment:

  1. I was happy to have found a clear and precise starting point as to setting up the kitchen for Paleo cooking/lifestyle. What a great 'step by step' this was... without it I would have never gotten so much accomplished in such a short amount of time and would not have been as inspired to start in such a organized, effective way. I did go 'over' the 15 minutes a couple of times but did remember my break. Thank you so very much! I look forward to being a loyal patron of your site, as this is a long time, overdue journey that I not only medically, emotionally and physiologically need but that I am finally ready and excited to begin...


Valid comments are always encouraged and welcome, but please remember this is not a platform for self-promotion. All comments are moderated, and those with links that are not relevent to the content on this blog WILL NOT be published.