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With the holidays and special food preparation fast approaching, you might be thinking about the functionality of your kitchen:  

•Are my kitchen cabinets so full that I can’t find anything?
•Do I buy food that I already have because I can’t find it when I need it or I don’t know that I already have it?
•Do other people in my family have a hard time finding things in the kitchen?

If you are interested in doing something about your kitchen, I've listed two possible organizing plans: BASIC OR ADVANCED. Perhaps one of the plans might be of interest to you.  
 
 BASIC PLAN

-Go through each shelf and cabinet - one at a time.  Pull everything out of a cabinet and set it on the counter or table.  
-Decide if there is any food that is old or cooking tools that are broken.  Throw them away (or compost/recycle).  If you have too many cans or bags of the same kind food or food that you no longer eat, donate them to a local food pantry.  
-If you have dishes that you don't use or like or too many of the same kind of kitchen tool, donate them to a local second hand store.
-If you aren't sure if you are ready to get rid of something, box it up, store it, and in a year pull it out and decide how you feel it about it. (Remember to write on November 2009 of your calendar "look through boxed up kitchen things".
-Once you have purged any unwanted, unneeded, or inedible items you are ready to sort.  Put like things together, for example: soups, baking supplies,
pasta supplies (sauce too)snacks.
-Wipe off the shelf or cabinet and put the things back in the cabinet - making sure to keep like things together.  

ADVANCED PLAN
 1. Identify work zones for your kitchen.    Zones might include: 
-food preparation (cutting and chopping)
-food storage (cans, dried food)
-cooking 
-baking
-office
-homework
 
2. Go through each shelf and cabinet - one at a time.  Pull everything out of a cabinet and set it on the counter or table.  
-Decide if there is any food that is old or cooking tools that are broken.  Throw them away (or compost/recycle).  If you have too many cans or bags of the same kind food or food that you no longer eat, donate them to a local food pantry.  
-If you have dishes that you don't use or like or too many of the same kind of kitchen tool, donate them to a local second hand store
-Once you have purged any unwanted, unneeded, or inedible items you are ready to sort.  Put like things together, for example: soups, baking supplies, pasta supplies (sauce too), snacks.

3. Designate a home for these groups of things in their appropriate zone. For example: 
-the pastas and sauces can go together in a section of the food storage zone.
-the baking supplies (possibly flour, sugar, vanilla, measuring cups, beater, mixing bowls) can go in the baking zone

4.  If you have a group of items that needs to go into a cabinet that is full of things that haven't yet been purged and sorted and it is too full to add anything else, you can put the things in a box.  You can consider this box the holding area.  When you organize the next time, start with the cabinet that was full and needed to be sorted.  Pull everything out of this cabinet, clean it, put the items from the box into the cabinet.  

5. Start the process over with the things you pulled out of the cabinet that is now clean and is home to a new set of things. 
 
OTHER IDEAS AND THINGS TO REMEMBER
 
1. Everything needs a home and put things in their home: don’t put something into a cabinet that doesn't belong there.  For example, if there is a little extra room in a cabinet, don’t fill it with a bag of chocolate chips - it will make things hard to get to, plus you might not remember where you put the chips when you need them.  Having some extra space in your cabinets is a good thing.  You are able to see and access what you are looking for.

 2. Put what you use less often in the back and what you use more often in the front.

3. McCormick Spices
-if the label says Baltimore, MD rather than Hunt Valley, MD it’s at least 15 years old. 
-if you have a red and white can (except pepper) it is more than 15 years old.
-you can look on the McCormick website for more information
http://www.mccormick.com/
 
 
HANDY ORGANIZING SUPPLIES FOR KITCHEN CABINETS 
 
•3-Tier Cabinet Organizer (steps for your cabinet to make things more visible)
Want to see it? The Container Store  or  Lowes 

•Pantry shelf (this adds another shelf to an existing shelf). Want to see?  Lowes 
 
**FYI-If you are interested in some specific Thanksgiving Tips, go to my website to view the NAPO Southeast Newsletter.  
 
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