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Organize a Small Kitchen on a Budget

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The kitchen is the heart of the home. Simplifying your kitchen can truly make a huge impact on your home’s atmosphere. This is especially true when you organize a small kitchen. 

You will be able to cook and meal plan more easily. You’ll be able to find things quickly, saving you from the hassle of buying duplicates. It may even cause you to really enjoy the time you spend in your kitchen!

I’d like to share with you how we organized our small kitchen on a budget – all with organizational items from dollar stores! The organizational items in the pictures are either from Daiso (a Japanese dollar store), Dollar Tree, or the 99 Cent Store.

But if you need to organize a small kitchen, then you already know all of this. Let’s get started!

STEP 1 | Throw away old food.

This may sound like a no-brainer, but throwing out expired food can be a quick win to give you the momentum you need to get going on decluttering the rest of the kitchen! 

Then, sort through the pantry and make a pile of unused, unopened, or unwanted pantry items. Donate the unopened items to a local shelter or food bank. 

Hopefully this will free up space in your fridge and pantry!

Related Post: Organize a Small Closet in 5 Simple Steps

Here’s a picture of our pantry, organized with bins from Daiso. The teal bin is from Home Goods and holds medicine and first aid supplies.

organize a small kitchen on a budget
organize a small kitchen on a budget

STEP 2 | Downsize by category.

Next, take EVERYTHING out of your kitchen cabinets. Yes, things will get messy before they get better! But it’s a necessary step, especially when you want to organize a small kitchen. 

Go through every item in your kitchen by category and see what you haven’t used in the past month or so. A 1 to 3-month time frame is usually a good gauge. 

Start with these categories:

  • Cooking utensils
  • Baking supplies
  • Knives
  • Serving bowls
  • Baking dishes
  • Pots
  • Pans
  • Appliances

We’ll tackle dishware in the next step. 

Get rid of duplicate items, broken items or items you rarely use. Simplify pots, pans, and appliances down to only what you really use on a daily basis or what you’ve used in the past 3 months.

Only keep items on the countertops that are truly used daily.

This will make the space feel larger when you organize a small kitchen.

Ideally, appliances that are not used on a daily basis should be stored in a cabinet. This way they don’t take up precious real estate on your countertops. This may be a new concept to some people. You may be thinking, “why would I store appliances in the cabinet?”

Having clear countertops is a great goal that will make your kitchen feel more open and less cluttered!

For example, we keep our Ninja blender and french press in a cabinet that’s a zone for all things drinks, since they aren’t used daily but every few days. 

During one of our moves and downsizes, we got rid of our traditional coffee maker. We found that there was no need for us to own a standard coffee machine that makes 12 cups. Plus, it took up precious countertop space! The french press makes enough cups and is more flavorful anyway.

Another example is baking dishes. I had taken a glass 9 x 13 pan with us on each move. Yet I rarely used the 9 x 13 size. Instead, I preferred the 8 x 8 pans. I found that owning two 8 x 8 pans works better for me, so I gave away the 9 x 13 pan.

Do you also have kitchen appliances or dishes like this that could be reconsidered?

organize a small kitchen on a budget
organize a small kitchen on a budget

STEP 3 | Assess the dishware + Set a limit

Now that we’ve gone through the aforementioned categories, let’s tackle these: 

  • Plates
  • Bowls
  • Mugs
  • Glasses
  • Cutlery

I personally recommend only keeping 1 set of dishware accessible for daily use. This 1 set of dishware should be enough for everyone in the household to use. This will free up extra cabinet space, which is critical when you organize a small kitchen.

For example, before having kids, we had a set of 12 dishware items available for us to use. Which meant that we had 12 coffee mugs just for the 2 of us! Although we did use all 12 mugs for entertaining guests, we didn’t need 12 available to us on a daily basis. 

My husband and I would go through those 12 mugs very quickly since we could easily reach for another clean mug. Before I knew it, our top dishwasher rack was completely filled with mugs! It was a hassle to unload the dishwasher because it was stuffed with so much dishware. It was a chore I would put off since it was time-consuming.

After we reduced our overall dishware to a more reasonable amount (like half), unloading the dishwasher was MUCH less of a chore and went a WHOLE LOT faster!

This is still the case – even with kids. I just set a limit on the amount of adult dishware and kids dishware total that’s available on a daily basis so we don’t use more than we truly need. 

I got into the habit of running the dishwasher at night and unloading it in the morning. It makes unloading the dishwasher in the morning easy peasy since it’s not overly stuffed. 

In case you’re wondering, we rarely eat out so we have a fair amount of dishes each night after being at home all day. This was the case when I was working full-time outside the home, too. It’s enough to run the dishwasher, yet it’s not stuffed to the gills!

Related Post: Organize a Closet Under the Stairs

organize a small kitchen on a budget
We clearly have more coffee mugs than we need!
Paper goods and breast pump on the top shelf because I’m currently expecting!

STEP 4 | Simplify the Tupperware 

Tupperware can be a big frustration in kitchen organization! When you organize a small kitchen, you don’t want Tupperware to up too much space.

Identify your favorite sizes, styles, and brands of Tupperware. Only keep those.

Get rid of the ones that don’t serve you well, aren’t sizes you tend to use, or that have missing parts.

I’ve found that if we buy one of those big box sets of Tupperware, we usually gravitate toward using the same sizes most of the time. Then I wish we had more of that particular size. 

To simplify our Tupperware, I purchase 3 different kinds: 

  1. the black “meal planning/portioning” Tupperware which we use to store leftovers and lunches
  2. one size of lunch Tupperware for kids’ school lunches 
  3. a set of small Tupperware that’s about the size of 1 cup. In lieu of tiny Tupperware, reusable silicone bags are a great option! Silicone is very versatile, as it can be used in the oven or the freezer.

For us, this simplifies Tupperware organization and decreases the chance of mismatched or missing lids. Plus, having only a few types of Tupperware means that they stack easily both in the cabinet and in the fridge.

After assessing your Tupperware, how could it be simplified?

organize a small kitchen on a budget
Our Tupperware Drawer

STEP 5 | Find a place for Entertaining / Seasonal Dishware

If you entertain often, create a dedicated space to put dishes, glasses, and serving utensils solely for entertaining guests. 

Keep the dishware that’s for entertaining separate from the dishware that’s used daily. This way, you don’t end up with a plethora of dishes that are dirtied daily. As mentioned previously, this helps to cut down on the total number of dishes your family can access to reduce the overall dirty dishes. 

A good storage location within the kitchen could be cabinets above the fridge or stove. Another option is storing them in a buffet or storage unit in the dining room or another spot in your house.  

Look over your collection. Set a limit to how many you will keep and try to store them in 1 space to keep them contained. These items shouldn’t be kept within daily reach. 

Related Post: IKEA Kallax Hack – Playroom Storage Benches

organize a small kitchen on a budget
The 2 blue bins are from Dollar Tree. The white bin is from Daiso.

STEP 6 | Optimize the kitchen’s function.

This is crucial when you organize a small kitchen! You can optimize the function of your kitchen by putting daily items within reach and ancillary items in less accessible areas. 

In other words, store your items by usage. Often used items should be easily within reach in the cabinets where it would make the most sense to store them. 

Ask yourself: Where would I think to look for, or reach for, this first?

As I mentioned previously, put the holiday platters and dishware for entertaining in a separate area up high or in another area of the house. This will create more space in your main kitchen cabinets since you don’t need them taking up precious cabinet space.  

Create zones in each cabinet area. A zone for coffee and tea items, a zone for dishware and glasses, a zone for Tupperware, Ziploc bags, lunch boxes, and to-go items. Create these zones in a cabinet near the area where it makes sense. Pots and pans near the stove, dishware and glasses near the sink, mugs near the coffee maker, etc. 

Do you have over-stuffed cabinets? How do you truly spend your time in the kitchen? For example, if you don’t enjoy baking, don’t feel obligated to hold onto a lot of baking supplies. If you tend to make more shakes than juices, then get rid of the juicer and keep the blender. This will create space and simplify your cabinet zones.

Create zones for pantry items. Snack zone, cooking zone, baking zone, etc. Creating zones may cause you to realize that the kitchen organization needs an overhaul. You might need to rearrange entire cabinets!

Although it takes a bit more time, optimizing your kitchen’s function will end up saving you time on a daily basis. It may even create more space than you thought you had!

Here’s a peek into our organized drawers. These are located next to the stove:

STEP 7 | Sell, Donate, or Give Away

Lastly, get all the decluttered items out of your house! 

Ask friends if they need them, post them to a Buy Nothing Facebook group, sell them second hand, or simply donate them. Obviously, toss the items that are in bad shape or just plain broken.

Lastly, pack it all in the back of your car so you can give it away when you’re out and about. Plus, it gets the items out of your house ASAP so you can enjoy your newly decluttered and organized kitchen!

Related Post: 7 Quick Tips to Reduce the Laundry Load

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