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In the Zone: How to Organize Your Kitchen Drawers

You have a kitchen full of empty drawers and boxes upon boxes of utensils, pots and pans, and other cooking supplies waiting to be unpacked. Before you start throwing things in any old drawer, make a plan.


“When you’re working in the kitchen, you want to be able to plant your feet and get to everything in one task,” says Mindy Godding, a certified professional organizer with Abundance Organizing in Virginia. Start by thinking through how you prep and cook meals and clean up afterward. Then divide your kitchen into task-specific zones. Generally, there are five zones — food prep, cooking and baking, storage, tableware and cleaning — though some kitchens have more or fewer, depending on space and homeowner preferences.


Zone 1: Food Prep

This zone should be located next to the largest area of countertop. Stock drawers in this section with knives, cutting boards, mixing bowls and measuring spoons.


Zone 2: Cooking & Baking

Pots and pans, cooking utensils, baking sheets and potholders are ideally stored close to the stove and oven. More and more, people are storing pots and pans in drawers. “Keep the lids separate so you can stack pots and pans by shape,” Godding advises.


Zone 3: Storage

Ideally, storage-related drawers are located close to the refrigerator and contain food-storage containers, sandwich bags, plastic wrap, tinfoil, etc.


Zone 4: Tableware

Situate this zone near the dishwasher for easy-peasy cleanup. Here, you’ll dedicate your drawers to flatware and plates. And, yes, plates can go in drawers. “A lot of families with young kids are moving to melamine plasticware,” says Godding, “and I’ve seen those stored in lower drawers so kids have access.”


Zone 5: Cleaning

Stash cleaning supplies — sponges, rags, dish towels and garbage bags — near the sink.


Within each zone, prioritize drawer placement based on frequency of use. If you have two to three drawers in a row, the items you use the most should go in the top drawer, followed by those you use less often, and so on. This way, the things you use daily are the most accessible.


As for the ubiquitous junk drawer, Godding advises getting rid of it altogether (she is a professional organizer, after all). If you must have one, she suggests placing it at the outermost edge of the kitchen.

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