Some cooks have amazing flow. They can quickly find every gadget in their kitchen, seamlessly move from prep to cook without shuffling everything on their countertop, and make dinner in an instant. That flow comes from knowing their kitchen well — and also from organizing their kitchen and cooking process in a way that’s intuitive for them.
Luckily, the actual steps to getting there aren’t too complicated! Here’s what these well-organized cooks always do — and what you can do, too.
1. They meal plan.
Every good cook and organizing expert I’ve ever talked to agrees: The best way to eliminate food waste, save money, and stop wasting time running to the store is to plan your meals in advance. It’s not as boring as it sounds (we promise!). If you sit down on a Sunday and plan your meals for the week, you won’t regret it. Because who really feels like crawling the aisles of the grocery store at 6:30 on a Tuesday trying to get inspired?
2. They create a work triangle.
The “work triangle” concept is one of the basic tenets of kitchen design. It’s built around the fact that there are three main work areas: the fridge, the sink, and the stove. Ideally, your kitchen has been designed so that each of these zones is separate, but not too far away. This way, you can easily move between them as you’re cooking.
Obviously, you’re not going to renovate your kitchen just because your fridge doesn’t complete the triangle (or maybe you’re going to because you’re all about the power moves?). But there are things you can do with the space you have based on how you move around when you cook: Is there a trash can or a stool that you have to walk around every time you move from one station to another? Or maybe there’s a section of countertop that would be better as work station than as an appliance center? Think about how you move around in the kitchen and set yourself up for success.
More on the Work Triangle
3. They store things where they use them.
On a related note, don’t just think about how you move — think about how your stuff moves. Are your spices and oils constantly being relocated from a far-away pantry to the stove? Maybe move them to a nearby cabinet. Can you easily move your plates and glasses from the dishwasher onto the shelves, or is that a hike, too? The less space between what you use and where you use it, the better.
Related: 5 Things You Should Always Keep Within Arm’s Reach of the Stove
4. They adjust their shelves.
Have you ever taken the time to adjust your kitchen cabinets’ shelves? Too many of us keep our cabinets as-is when we move in and end up storing things in weird places because they don’t fit where we’d like to put them. Adjusting the shelves — even just an inch or two — can fix that. And it takes about a minute, which means you can even adjust them as your needs change. So next time you’re annoyed that your Sriracha doesn’t live with the rest of your seasonings, adjust the shelves and make it work!
5. They put things back where they found them.
Even the most organized home cook probably has to pull out some stuff in order to access a blender, casserole dish, or what have you. The difference is that she puts that stuff back right away — before she even starts using the thing she was digging for. Then, once she’s done using that thing (and it’s been cleaned and dried!), she puts it back in its place. Follow this lead and you’ll always know where to find things, and you won’t have extra clutter junking up the rest of your kitchen.
How many of these things do you do?