Sometimes in order to know what to store in your kitchen cabinets, it is easier to start with what not to store in kitchen cabinets. Here is a basic list of items either too bulky, too awkward, too frequently used, or even too infrequently used to store in kitchen cabinets.
Lower kitchen cabinets are pretty prime real estate. They’re usually larger than upper cabinets and can, therefore, accommodate bigger items, and while they can be a bit tricky to maneuver within (the stuff in the back isn’t so accessible), what you store at your lower cabinets’ openings should be things you reach for consistently. Assessing what might not belong in these prized slots of space can help free up places to, ultimately, make your kitchen run more smoothly.
If you bake with any regularity (or even if you don’t), your stand mixer may deserve a place on your countertop. Stand mixers are heavy and definitely not something that’s easy to lug out and up from a bottom cabinet (or any cabinet, really). If you have the countertop space to store your stand mixer, use it. If you’re not a regular baker, maybe you can find a shelf or counter somewhere else at home—closer to counter height—to store your mixer and spare yourself the backaches.
Blades and Accessories
Bottom cabinets aren’t an ideal place for blades that go to your mandolin and food processor or the attachments for your stand mixer. For one thing, you may not want these easy to get to, especially if you have children (or if children ever visit). In addition, these kinds of small objects have a tendency to roll around or get lost behind bigger objects in your cabinets and you really don’t want to be kneeling and reaching and fumbling around for things you can’t see that can cut you. Instead, store attachments and blades in a small container and up high.
Food that isn’t at eye level is food that will sit a lot longer before getting eaten. Even if you’re storing ingredients like flour or oils in lower cabinets, the need to bend down and get them introduces a mental block when you’re cooking. Keep these kinds of items in upper cabinets, where they are easier to notice and won’t languish past their expiration dates. (If you must store food in lower cabinets, store things you either rarely need, that last a long time, or that you’re trying to hide from yourself!) Food in lower cabinets also provides easier access to rodents.
Stacking things in lower cabinets is a perfect recipe for frustration. When you are looking down on stacked items, all you can see is what’s on top and to get anything beneath it, you need to reach down and undo your setup. When it’s time to put things away, you have to play the whole stacking game in reverse. It’s too much clanging around. If you must store pans or pots stacked, go no higher than two items, max. Consider shelves to separate your lower-cabinet pots and pans or racks to file things like baking sheets and casserole dishes vertically.
Almost-Never-Used Appliances and Pans
Any small appliance that you use a couple times a year doesn’t belong in any cabinet in your small kitchen (unless, maybe, the cabinets are deep and you’re storing them in that “dead zone” in the back). This includes things like the ice cream maker you use once each summer and the large roasting pan you use at Thanksgiving. Try to decouple the idea that kitchen things have to stay in the kitchen. If you only access them annually, your special occasion appliances and kitchenware will be no less conveniently stored in a closet, garage, or under the bed.
Unless you are entertaining a household of 20-plus nightly, serving trays can go into storage (I like a plastic storage bin) and retrieve right before the party for cleaning. They are bulky and hard to fit into cabinets, so it makes sense to store them offsite if you have limited space. I store mine in the dead space above the refrigerator.
Linen napkins, fancy placemats, and tablecloths can be moved to the linen closet. No need to take up space and mix in fabric pieces with your food and appliances. If they must be stored in the cabinet, place them on the highest shelf so nothing drips or spills on them.
Once again, unless you are entertaining constantly, these can be stored in a labeled bin in a storage space like your basement or attic.
Outdoor Serving Pieces
Move these to your kitchen storage area with the aforementioned party decor. Even if you have a large kitchen, you never want items you use once-in-a-while crowding out items you use regularly.
Are you changing any of these around today?