Is Your Kitchen Zoned Out?

The way your kitchen is organized can make you sick. 

That’s what I realized when I received a new diagnosis from my doctor. I quickly had to re-group and re-define my daily kitchen routine. After 20+ years in the same space, it wasn’t simple – but I learned a few things along the way.

A few years ago my daughter Kayla and I were diagnosed with gluten intolerance. I came home from the doctor appointment feeling a bit overwhelmed. Over the next few days as I read every flyer, blog, and online-magazine dedicated to helping people with gluten sensitivity, I realized the first thing I had to do was rearrange my kitchen.

The primary concern I had was related to baking, which I LOVE to do. I would much rather bake muffins or cookies then cook dinner any day! But now I had a new challenge ahead of me. Not only did I need to isolate the wheat-based flour products, I needed to add a whole new selection of ingredients, that now 2 years later, includes rice flour, tapioca flour, potato starch, sorgum, almond, and arrowroot flour, not to mention Guar gum and Xanthum gum. So you can see – I had to free up some significant space.

I realized as I started re-defining my kitchen space, that I should re-think and re-define how I use my entire kitchen. I knew there were opportunities to gain some efficiency in a room that is truly the focal point of our home, and the space I find myself in far too often every day!

I started by identifying “zones” throughout my kitchen. In addition to designating a zone for my long list of newly acquired baking supplies, that I now call my “baking zone,” I also identified my cooking zone, prepping zone, everyday dishes zone, trash & recycling zone, and small appliance storage zone.   Within a very short amount of time I moved a few things around and found a positive difference in my daily routine. Here are a few things I experienced:

  • I saved time. I quickly noticed that I significantly reduced the number of steps I made around the kitchen by grouping items that are used together within reach of each other.
  • I found serving dishes and small appliances I rarely use. I moved them out of the kitchen and created more available shelf space that I sorely needed.  I also donated a few items I never used to my church yard sale.
  • I decreased my daily decision making requirements. I never realized how distracting it was to have to think about where everything I needed was, as I gathered them up to prepare our next meal. Now as a simple example, while cooking dinner I can easily reach the olive oil and spices from the stove.

If your kitchen is like mine, it’s the hub of your home and daily family activity. Making more efficient use of this precious space will save you time and energy for all the tasks in your daily routine.

Consider setting up some spaces in your kitchen to zone out in every once in a while.

TA DA Tip of the Month

If you are considering re-thinking how you operate in your kitchen, keep these simple things in mind:

  1. For a week or even just a few days, observe yourself as you make coffee in the morning or prepare lunch and dinner. Are you able to easily reach for the bowls or tools you need?
  2. Identify your zones. After a few days of observing your own patterns, identify zones that reflect how you use your kitchen. Are all of your baking ingredients, cookie sheets and spatulas within easy reach of each other?
  3. Let usage dictate storage. Are there items on the shelves or hidden in the corner cabinets that you only use once a year? If so, move them to the basement or garage. This will free up space for the items you use on a regular basis.

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