Plans for healthier eating usually focus on food and meal planning. But life coach Jean Prominski wants you to take a few minutes before you rush out to stock up on those healthy foods. Look around your kitchen and ask yourself: Is it set up to support my goals for healthier eating and cooking?
“It’s important to get real with what food you want to have in your house,” Prominski says. “But do you have a place to put that food? Are you getting new equipment like a spiralizer or an Instant Pot? If so, will those fit on your counter or in your cabinets?”
In short, if your refrigerator is still crammed with holiday leftovers, the cabinets are packed with easy-to-reach chips and dips, and the only place to put a new juicer is deep in a cabinet at floor level, you may be sabotaging your good eating intentions. To improve your chances of healthier eating in the new year, reorganize first.
“Simply speaking, a well-organized kitchen is a happier place,” says Alan Regala, who owns ShelfGenie of Seattle. “That’s true for large or small kitchens.”
Take stock of what you have
Start by pulling everything out of a cabinet or fridge and putting back in only what you plan to use. Prominski acknowledges that it can be hard to get rid of stuff, even stuff you have absolutely no plans to ever use. Certain types of food (such as canned goods) can go to food banks and unopened snack foods can often be given away to neighbors through online exchanges. But the wonderful gift box of jam, sundae toppings and candy? “Not easy,” Prominski admits.
It’s even tougher to deal with the excess equipment in drawers and cabinets and on counters. A lot of it is equipment that never gets used — often because it doesn’t work very well. This is your chance to repair or replace broken equipment, or to upgrade to something that’s easier to use. “If you decide to upgrade, get recommendations from someone you trust,” Prominski counsels, noting that online ratings can be skewed.
Agonizing over a large piece of kitchen equipment that you haven’t used in a year or two, such as a food processor? Prominski suggests that you deliberately plan a meal that requires you to use it. You’ll find out if you really need it, or if it can be donated for resale.
Editing doesn’t have to mean getting rid of things. But it does mean figuring out what role you want things to play in healthier eating. Maybe stacks of your mom’s cake pans need to move father away so that the timesaving slow cooker can be kept within easy reach.
“Bring in an expert who’ll help you consider your kitchen as a whole,” Regala says. “There is often much more storage space than people think — once it is better organized.”
Regala, a “creator of happier spaces,” not only helps clients figure out what goes where, he also installs sturdy hardware solutions that make food and cooking equipment more accessible. Deep pantries get reconfigured to suit the sizes and shapes of the items being stored, using slide-out shelving to get full accessibility. Cabinets can be retrofit and completely reconfigured with pull-out shelving so you don’t have to stack things like cast-iron pans.
Your kitchen, your style
“Very often people move into a home and just keep using the generic shelf configurations from the previous family,” Regala says. “But there is so much you can do with a better design.”
The most successful kitchen reorganizations take into account the needs of the entire household. One person might like all the appliances out on the counter in easy reach. Another person might prefer a clear counter, with frequently used appliances stored within easy reach.
“Even if one person in the household says they are the ‘boss’ of the kitchen, you want to get everyone else involved,” Regala says. He takes into account factors like people’s heights and who needs to access what foods and equipment. “There are definitely instances where you find out that two people are using the kitchen very differently. Getting everyone on the same page is essential.”
A well-organized kitchen not only makes it easier to cook and eat healthy foods, it saves time, and stress, Prominski says. It’s easier to put away groceries, prepare meals, store leftovers — even empty the dishwasher.
“Good foods make you feel your best,” she says, “and so does being efficient.”
ShelfGenie of Seattle offers custom shelving solutions for kitchens, baths, and pantries, including expert design and installation. Learn how Alan Regala and his team can help add more space, more organization and more accessibility to your existing cabinets. 206-458-6804