Tips to Organize Your Homestead Kitchen

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Homestead kitchens are a huge fad right now. All white and gray with shiny galvanized metal accents… Don’t get me wrong — they are gorgeous. But a homestead kitchen? They can be messy.

On our homestead, most of our time indoors is spent in the kitchen. We bake, fry, can, dry, process, and gather. It is where I bathe babies (and dogs) and often perch a child to bandage a knee. Here are some amazing tips to help organize your homestead kitchen and keep it clean. 

How do I Organize and Clean my Homestead Kitchen?

To make the space effective, there are some things to consider. Having an organized, versatile, and clean homestead kitchen makes the space more functional – especially if your kitchen space isn’t a large one. 

Let’s face it, we all like a clean work space. Not only does a clean work space reduce stress, but in the kitchen, having a clean works space can impact the health of our loved ones. Before a kitchen can be truly clean, it has to be organized so we’ll start there, organization.                                                      

Tips for Organization

  • Start by getting a large box and work one counter at a time. 
  • Place everything from that one counter in the box. 
  • Next, get two more boxes, baskets, or storage containers. 
  • Label one box ‘frequently’.
  • Then label the other box ‘infrequently’
  • Thirdly, place a large trashcan by where you’ll be working. 

Get Started

  1. Pick one counter or cabinet to start with. 
  2. Allow yourself just 30 minutes and set a timer. 
  3. Remove everything from that counter or cabinet and place in the large box. 
  4. Next, remove one item at a time. 
  5. Place it in one of the two boxes, frequently, infrequently, or in the trash if it’s broken or expired. 
  6. Once you have gone through the entire large box, take all of the items from the ‘frequently’ box and go through it again.
  7. If the item is used daily, it goes on the counter. If it’s not used daily, it gets moved into the infrequently box. 
  8. Once you have all the items out that you use daily, clean or wipe each item down down and find a home for it. 
  9. Now, sort through the ‘infrequently’ box and take out any item you use weekly and place in the now-empty ‘frequently’ box.
  10. Take those items you use once a week and place them out of sight but easily accessible, like in a cabinet, closet, or pantry shelf. 
  11. All of the other items need to be placed in the pantry, in storage totes, or in a cabinet. 

Rinse and Repeat

When your 30 minute timer has gone off, put away any boxes you aren’t finished with and hit it again the next day. 

Repeat this process until all of the cabinets and counters have been tackled. Use this method of organizing and eliminating any time you see clutter start to build up or your kitchen ‘stuff’ is causing you stress. 

How do I Clean My Kitchen? 

Clutter, unused items, outdated food, or knick-knacks can become housing developments for germs. You don’t want salmonella growing on the side of your country-cute canister set – so where they are placed should be well-planned.

The area of my kitchen where meat prep is completed is a piece of counter with nothing other than a knife block. This allows for complete sanitation after I get the meat off the counter.

Kitchen Cleaners

When it comes to cleaning, there is absolutely nothing better than distilled white vinegar. There are also a variety of homemade, herbal cleaners that work well – and are much safer and more inexpensive than store bought. If homemade isn’t your thing, check out the natural options offered in stores or online.

Less is more – and you don’t want chemicals on your food prep space, but you also don’t want germs. Make sure that the product you make or purchase has ingredients that kill germs – not just mask odors and cut grease. Look for ingredients like vinegar, tea tree oil, spearmint, and citrus extracts. If you can’t pronounce them, you probably don’t want them on your food or dishes.

I keep a spray bottle of homemade kitchen cleaner on my counter top in a refillable glass spray bottle, and spray off my counters after each meal. This is also a great habit to prevent ants in the summer. If they cannot find crumbs or tidbits of sweet liquid, they tend to stay away!

Deep Clean

After you’ve cleaned all your items during your initial purge and organization, now is the time to deep clean.  

I used to own a cleaning business and would tell all my staff, start at the top and work your way down. Again, set your 30 minute timer. Cleaning shouldn’t burn you out or take all day. Once you realize you can have an organized homestead kitchen and still be able to milk the goats and homeschool the kids, you’ll be more inclined to work on it. 

Supplies

Start at the Top

  1. Wipe down light fixtures, ceiling fan, tops of cabinets
  2. Clean out fridge and throw out any food that has expired, fuzzy things, or items you can’t identify. 
  3. Wipe down cabinets. 
  4. Clean out oven ( homemade comet works great for this)
  5. Add aluminum foil to the bottom of your oven to make cleanups easy. 
  6. Cleans windows
  7. Wipe down any tables or chairs, including legs
  8. Lastly, clean floors and baseboard. 

How should I arrange my homestead kitchen?

A homestead kitchen is the heart of the homestead. It’s where we teach younger generations, doctor livestock, and prep food for the coming year for our family. It needs to be effective, more than aesthetic. Determining what utensils, tools, and appliances are most used can help to determine where they should go.

My preference is that my most frequented kitchen tools are within arm’s reach of the space I use them in. For example, spices hang to the immediate right of my cook stove, and pot holders hang to immediate left of it. Things used less often, like the mixer, can stay below deck – safely stored in cabinets.

Minimize Clutter

Another thing to consider is keeping the counter space as open as possible and minimizing clutter. Decorations are adorable, but can easily become a waste of usable space, not to mention they are dust collectors. I once had my kitchen utensils in a rustic galvanized pail near my cook stove. While it looked nice, it wasted space – and realistically I found that it was a dust and grease catching magnet. Yuck.

Get rid of duplicate items, do you really need three colanders? Extra or duplicate items can be donated to food kitchens, outreach centers, or places in a storage tote for camping. 

Items stored away in drawers can be neatly organized and just as easily accessible as on counter top. If drawers aren’t an option, don’t fail to look at walls or inside of cabinetry to hang utensils.

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How Should I Arrange My Countertop?

Keep it minimal! Homestead kitchens are busy. Keeping only the essentials on the tops of counters will let you keep things clean and keep the space usable at a moment’s notice.

For my kitchen, the countertop essentials are a knife block, coffee maker, sugar container, and my container for compost. These are the things I reach for continually and would waste time getting them out over and over.

How do I Organize My Groceries?

Grocery shopping in itself can be tiresome, never mind the task of putting them away. I am a fan of pantries (or even closets) for food storage for a few reasons.

Firstly, they can be organized in a variety of ways. For me, I can put boxed/dried together and canned separate, and also store fruit juices, snacks, etc. where they are easily accessible for kids. Secondly, they block light. Light can easily damage home canned foods and deteriorate them quickly. Storing in a cool, dark, and dry place is ideal for longevity. This also applies to root vegetables and spices.

FIFO

Always be sure to use the “first in, first out” method with groceries. This prevents food from becoming outdated and possibly going to waste. Organizing food in the cabinets with the oldest to the front is helpful – so in a pinch you don’t have to stop and check dates. This method also applies to home-canned goods.

Herbs & Spices

Storing of herbs, spices, canning ingredients, and baking items is a separate storage space in my kitchen. These items are stored directly next to my cook stove, so I never have to leave my workspace to grab more.

Bulk Items

Another thing to consider is bulk buying. When buying anything in bulk, it is usually not necessary to store it in the kitchen. Space is precious – and there is never room for much extra. Make use of the utility/laundry room (or mud room) to store our bulk purchases.

A homestead kitchen is the heart of the homestead. It is where all of the labors of love come together into something beautiful – and delicious. Ensuring the space is clean, organized and ready for use gives the upper hand when it comes time to prepare a homegrown, homemade meal.

Other Space-Saving Tips

Living in a tiny house, I’ve become the master at space-saving. I’ve had to out of necessity. Here are some of my space-saving tips that I used in my kitchen. 

  • Canning jars: put those empty canning jars to work. They make great sugar dishes, screw containers, and drink jars. 
  • Cast iron: cast iron is beautiful, hang your cast iron on a wall or from a beam on the ceiling, freeing up valuable cabinet space. 
  • Knives: many people have their knives in one of those large blocks that sit in a counter. Invest in some magnetic strips that attach to the wall. 
  • Think Up: Many kitchens have plenty of wasted vertical space.  If you don’t have a pantry or extra storage, add shelves above your cabinets or stove for infrequently used items. 
  • A place for everything and everything in its place. If you have an orphaned kitchen tool, find it a home that it can go back to after every use. 

 

This as a Collaboration Guest Post

with Aleshia Garrison
I am a real-life rural housewife, with four amazing children. I am a homeschool momma, a hobby-farmer, and serve as volunteer firefighter in rural southwest Missouri.

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