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The Well-Ordered Kitchen

It’s the perfect time to organize the kitchen. With all the big holiday meals coming up, a clean, well-ordered cooking space will be a great gift to yourself.

Every kitchen is unique, but most can make use of the “golden triangle” theory to keep them organized. That is, every item of importance should be accessible from the golden triangle made by the sink, stove and refrigerator (or whatever three appliances you use the most).

Another rule of thumb is to keep frequently used items on shelves between the knees and shoulders for ease of reaching and bending to retrieve them. This means that if you are a frequent baker, your baking gear shouldn’t be stored on the highest shelf in the kitchen. Here are some more tips:

• If a kitchen item is important to you or used often, it needs to be on a shelf between the shoulders and the knees within the sink-stove-fridge triangle. Or out on the counter.

• Line your drawers with removable plastic for easy cleaning. No matter how fastidious you are, spills and crumbs are unavoidable.

• Some clients like their wooden spoons and other cooking utensils in a jar near the stove, some prefer them in a drawer, but the operative phrase is near the stove. You don’t want to have to cross the room every time you need a spatula.

• Knife storage is also a personal choice — do you keep them on a magnetic strip on the wall or store them in a drawer? For people with kids, the drawer (child-proofed) is recommended. Line the drawer with cork liner to prevent them sliding around. Otherwise, I love the magnetic strips for storing knives, since I chop veggies for every meal and am also short on drawer space.

Hanging racks or hooks on the walls are great for storing your bulky pots and pans, especially if they are pleasant to look at, like a matching set of All-Clad or if they have polished copper bottoms.

Try to designate one cupboard (or area, if you have a lot of storage) the food/pantry cupboard and avoid having food items stashed throughout your kitchen. It looks messy and makes it hard to remember what you’ve got. Since food is so perishable, this can lead to waste.

Throw out the stuff that has passed a printed expiration or “Best By” date. If sodas are more than six months old, they should be drained and the cans or bottles recycled. Food companies give rather generous expiration dates and if something is past its prime, it is truly not worth saving — it won’t taste good and will just be a waste of calories. Better in the trash than on the hips! Items past their expiration date may even be hazardous to your health.

If you have a lot of bulky kitchen gadgets that you use seasonally (like an ice cream maker or an extra blender for margaritas in the summer) see if you can create a space in the garage where you can store them. Be sure to cover them in clear plastic for long term storage. Don’t feel forced to keep everything in the kitchen all the time, especially if you are pressed for space.

By the same token, if your turkey platter and deep baking dishes or pie plates have been in storage, now is the time to dig them out and wash them. Unless, lucky you, you’re not hosting the holidays this year.