The more time we spend at home, the more we realize that the kitchen really is the hub of the home. It most easily succumbs to clutter because everyone is using it all day long and constantly passing through it! In this blog I’m covering 4 key habits to keep your family kitchen organized.

The kitchen not only offers the most storage of the home, but it is also the most used, highly trafficked space in the home. It’s burgeoning with STUFF and it offers lots of surface space to COLLECT items of all descriptions!

It’s a “public space” in which we host others. Because it collects people and stuff, it needs our ongoing attention to remain operational.

While physical organizing is the first step in “restoring order” to the kitchen, it’s our HABITS that make our kitchen a functional and enjoyable place to be!

Let’s talk about some habits to create that will uplevel your kitchen from a cluttered pass-through and dumping ground into an oasis of order and service.

First, coffee.

Create a Caffeination Station: A Kitchen Coffee Bar

Let’s start with most important habit to create: morning coffee!

It’s totally overwhelming to shuffle into the kitchen with bedhead, in search of your morning coffee or tea, only to have to dig for your supplies amongst cluttered surfaces, drawers, and cabinets.

Start your day off right by gathering all your barista supplies in one place by creating a caffeination station.

An orderly beverage center is going to launch your morning, and keep you powered throughout your day so it’s an important habit around which to build some ORDER.

You can see here I have a tray on the counter to organize my electric kettle, coffee grinder, and foamer. These are our most used coffee and tea appliances. We have others, like full-size coffee makers, carafes, creamers, plus specialized coffee gear, in our nearby butler’s pantry. When we are having lots of guests for the weekend or for a stay, I pull out the coffee pot. Otherwise, we keep our counter appliances to a minimum.

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You’ll also want cabinet space for your mugs. We have two shelves full of mugs right above our appliance tray.

As part of your caffeination station, you’ll need drawer(s) for supplies.

I guess we take our hot beverage seriously, because we have three drawers that hold our gear:

  1. Coffee supplies and alternatives
  2. Herbal teas
  3. Black teas – my favorite!

Now that we’ve got you powered up, you can step up! A key to functional kitchens is practicing the habit of shared responsibility.

Share the Responsibility of Meal Preparation

This one is a tactical habit: Sharing responsibility is the first step in making meal preparation easier. Partner up so the kitchen duties are not on just one person.

Did I hear an “Amen” from the back row?! That’s right, you heard it here: the care and feeding of the family should be shared by all who enjoy eating!

In our home, we each take on the roles we are good at:

  • I am in charge of weekly grocery shopping. Trevor does the bulk shopping once or twice a month.
  • Trevor is in charge of most of the cooking. I cook when he’s gone or working on a project.
  • I am the “sous chef,” running eggshells and onion peels to the trash, cleaning pans and pots, etc.

This arrangement works well for us.

Here’s your homework assignment if meal preparation is a pain in your household:

  1. Write down on notecards all the jobs related to acquiring, preparing, and cleaning up from feeding. You can even include duties like putting away all the groceries (which takes time!)
  2. Discuss with your family all the food duties
  3. Each person takes the jobs they are best at
  4. Reassign roles as needed
  5. Test drive and tweak these roles over a week’s time until you settle into a new, shared rhythm.

Divide meal-related duties so all the feeding burden isn’t on one person.

Once you have re-allocated the work, now you can begin to do a LITTLE planning…but not too much. Formal meal planning can be intimidating and thus, is avoided by most people. Instead, I have an easy habit for you to try: prepping forward.

Try “Prepping Forward” Instead of “Meal Planning”

You’ll like this easy-to-adopt habit: With very little forethought, you can optimize meals by prepping forward.

In our home, we don’t really meal plan, we just buy the foods we like and then get creative with the ingredient combinations. This saves a lot of planning ahead, stressing about what nights to have Instapot meals and which nights we want a range top meal. We save brain power by just keeping on hand a variety of produce, starches, and meats, and we mix and match with an emphasis on whole food.

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Instead of stressing about “meal planning,” just prep a little bit ahead.

One example is: I love making overnight oats in minutes to pop in my fridge for morning enjoyment. I just toss together some cold ingredients in a bowl, transfer to individual lidded jars, and refrigerate overnight.

My friend Amy shared this easy recipe with you, and I’m glad to pass it onto you!

Overnight Oats

  • 2/3 cup frozen blueberries or fruit of your choice
  • 1 cup old fashioned oats
  • 1 TBS chia seeds
  • 1 TBS ground flax seeds
  • ½ tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 ¾ c. almond milk, or other nut milk
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • ½ tsp. vanilla

Another way to prep forward is to expand one effort to produce two or more meals. This is done by optimizing one meal to create the next! Here are two simple examples:

  • Quinoa. Whenever we are making quinoa for dinner, I make an extra portion to convert into sweet breakfast quinoa the next day. Instead of making the quinoa with chicken broth, I just make it with water. Then, the next morning I put it back on the stove with nut milk, nut butter, maple syrup, and whatever seeds and nuts and berries or bananas we have on hand. Delicious!
  • Potatoes. Whenever we’re having potatoes for dinner, we make extra. The next morning, we add them to our morning eggs for a yummy scramble.

These are just two examples, but you could easily practice this “prep forward” habit with all kinds of foods, expanding each day into the next.

An obvious way to “prep forward” is to simply double your recipe when you’re preparing food, and freeze a portion for a night in the future when you don’t have much time.

Prepping forward is much less intimidating than formal meal planning and is FAR more likely to be adopted!

I like this tip, and I hope you will, too. Keeping your meal prep SIMPLE and forward-thinking reduces your effort in the kitchen and even eases clean-up!

Finally, we have to talk about the subject no one wants to address: the kitchen patrol duties.

Tackle Kitchen Clutter by Assigning Kitchen Patrol

After 21 years organizing people’s homes, I can tell you that the kitchen is the ONE space in the home that most needs constant clean-up. And the more we are home, the more we are making messes!

To address kitchen clutter and backlogged dishes, adopt the habit of assigning kitchen patrol.

In our family, we all clean up (especially me), but our sons tackle dinner clean-up.

Here are some ideas to assign KP duty:

  • Choose one clean-up person who enjoys this task (or at least prefers it over the grocery shopping and meal prep!)
  • Rotate kitchen clean up between family members each night
  • Assign one person per meal (I really like this idea, because then there’s no questions about “whose night it is;” each person just steps up to the plate for their assigned meal clean-up

Having an active Kitchen Patrol will not only declutter your kitchen from the constant onslaught of use, but it will ensure that this hub-of-the-home is a pleasant place to be.

I don’t know about you, but I often work in and near my kitchen, so clear counters decorated with fresh flowers (instead of last night’s dishes) are essential to my peace of mind.

I hope you’re inspired to reclaim your family kitchen’s state of order with some essential habits. I’ve reminded us of the time-honored wisdom of sharing responsibility and implementing ongoing clean-up. I’ve dropped a new idea that you can look forward to creating: an appealing caffeination station. And hopefully, the idea of “prepping forward” feels far more doable than formal meal planning. The key to all of these habits is implementation. Go for it! Set a date to rework your meal-related habits. Your kitchen and family will thank you!

Your friend in life reclamation,

Vicki Norris


Need help reclaiming your life? I’ve got you! Here are YOUR NEXT STEPS to “restore order”:

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