Once, I saw a photo in a book on the organizing of 30-plus hanging copper pots and pans. The caption said that hanging pots saves on cupboard space, and keeps them in view and within easy reach. That's the perfect solution for an average number, but imagine polishing more than 30 pots! For me, organizing should make life easier, not create more work. Here are my real-life solutions to three universal kitchen troublemakers: plastic containers, pots and pans and the junk drawer.
• I've quoted Kathy Waddill, author of The Organizing Sourcebook (Contemporary Books, 2001), before, but what she says definitely bears repeating: “Use clear plastic containers with matching tops. Keep enough to fit on two shelves in your refrigerator, and no more. Discard every top and container with no mate. Toss all opaque containers.” As for those yogurt and margarine containers, as Kathy asks, how many can you use at one time? If you can't use them, lose them.
• Invest in one set of containers from one manufacturer: they'll stack together better than different shapes and sizes from different manufacturers. Kudos to Rubbermaid for their new Servin' Saver Plus line: containers of the same size nest tightly inside each other, and also stack securely on top of their lids, which have grooves to keep the containers in place.
• The best place to store containers is in a deep pot drawer, where they can't spill over into nearby cabinets. Upper cabinets are a nightmare unless you like containers raining down on your head daily. Wherever they're stored, devote that entire cabinet or drawer to them.
• Improvise when organizing plastic food containers, since there's nothing specifically for them on the market that we know of (manufacturers of kitchen cabinets and organizing products, take note; if there is, write and share it with us!). For large lids, use a rack like ClosetMaid's new coil-design rack. Smaller lids can go in a plastic bin, which is great for separating groups of large, medium and small containers. You might also retrofit cabinets with pullout wire shelves so that containers are easy to reach.
• If you want to store a lot of containers, maximize cabinet space with a wire shelf rack that sits on the existing shelf.