This post may contain affiliate links. All that means is if you purchase from one of these links we may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.
Whether your a new homemaker or you just moved into a new home; setting up your kitchen can be a chore. Knowing what items you should have and what would just be a waste of space and money is important. And what homemaker doesn’t dream of a kitchen that is organized, beautiful, and functional? I’m going to share the tips I’ve learned over the 20+ years of my homemaking career. Trust me, you too can have a kitchen you absolutely love to be in.
Importance of An Efficient Kitchen
The kitchen is one of the most important rooms in the home. For most of humanity, it has been the center or heart of the house. This is where we create meals that nourish our family. It’s the room where friends and family gather together for holidays and celebrations. Many kitchens have a place to sit and eat for just this purpose. So not only should it be warm and welcoming, but it should also be functional and organized.
Efficiency in the kitchen is important because the easier your kitchen is to use the more time you will enjoy working in it. And the less time you will be spending it doing things like cleaning. The goal is to make meals quickly, enjoy your time cooking, and be able to get back to doing other things you love like spending time with your family. Think of the kitchen as a homemaker’s workshop. As with any workshop, there are things to consider when you set it up.
- Safety: It is always important to have safety in mind when setting up your kitchen. After all, there are a lot of safety hazards in this room of the house. Some top tips are to keep dangerous items out of little ones reach, keep heavier items on lower shelves, and keeping a small fire extinguisher under the sink is a great idea.
- Cleanliness: This can also fall under safety in some ways. Always keeping your kitchen clean and safe from cross-contamination can literally be a matter of life or death.
- Functionality: This is where
organizationis extremely important. How you set up your kitchen will determine ease of use. Functionality can sometimes have an impact on how much you enjoy being in your kitchen. It will also affect how quickly you can get that meal on the table.
- Proper Tools: Just like any workshop, having the proper tools can really make or break you as a homemaker. This can also have an effect on your budget. Why spend a crapload of money on an appliance with only one use? Even using dull knives can cause accidents. Having the proper tools can really make or break your enjoyment of cooking and baking.
Kitchen Safety Tips
It should go without saying that safety is a huge deal when you are dealing with food. With that in mind what are the most important things to consider when setting up your kitchen? There are 2 main areas of concern: food contamination and accident prevention.
There are a couple of really important things to consider when dealing with food.
- Proper food storage: Storing food properly is usually pretty common sense stuff. But you’d be surprised how many times I’ve had to look up how long you can keep leftovers in the fridge before they grow fur. Here is a great reference to help you stay safe.
- Cooking Temperatures: Keeping your food out of the danger zone “40-140 F” is vital for the safety of your family. You can find the recommended cooking temperatures for meat at this link.
- Cross-contamination: THIS is a big one! There are so many opportunities for cross-contamination in a kitchen. The easiest way to avoid it is to maintain high cleaning standards. Always use different cutting boards and knives for meat and veggies when preparing a meal. A great idea is to get cutting boards specifically designated for each type of food. Always wash your hands after handling raw meat or between handling different foods. And wipe down cupboards with a good cleaner after you’re done.
Kitchen Accident Prevention
Just ask anyone who’s seen me wield a knife to cut up something for dinner, the kitchen is full of accidents waiting to happen. Here are some great tips to keep your cooking time accident free.
- Keep Knives Sharp: I know, it seems counter intuitive right? But a sharp knife means it’s less likely you will have a knife slip off your food and cut you. It also just makes any cutting job easier.
- Store Heavy Items on Lower Shelves: For us shorties this is just a norm. Pulling heavy items off a shelf above your head increases your chances of dropping the item or giving yourself back problems.
- Using Appliances: When using small appliances that heat up it’s always a good idea to put them on a counter with plenty of space around them. Make sure there isn’t something in the area that can catch on fire. Always read your appliance instructions before use. (Even if it’s something as boring as a toaster.) Don’t use appliances in your sink or on top of your stove top. (Don’t laugh, it’s been done.)
- Stove/ Oven Use: One of the biggest tips I can give you for the safe use of your stove/oven is about the self-clean setting. If you read the instructions it actually states your oven needs to be a considerable distance from your wall before using the self-clean! Who actually does this? So, my advice is to just clean your oven manually. And as always use the right size cookware for each of your heating elements (this saves energy and is more efficient). This is also why you should keep a fire extinguisher in your kitchen.
Cleanliness in Your Homemaking
I’ve already stated why you should keep your surfaces clean after preparing meat and other foods. It is a huge cross-contamination risk. But there are many other reasons you should aim to always keep your kitchen clean.
A clean and organized kitchen makes it easier to find everything. I can’t tell you the peace I experience after getting everything cleaned and in its place before I go to bed. A clean kitchen can keep illnesses from spreading to family members during cold and flu season. Also, keeping this room clean is the best way to prevent pests from making it their home. As gross as it sounds having a messy kitchen is an invitation for ants, cockroaches, and rodents. You wouldn’t want to eat in a restaurant that had a disgusting kitchen, your own should be no different.
I’ve listed below some great cleaning products you can use to keep your kitchen sanitized and fresh.
- Force of Nature: I use this in my home as an alternative to bleach. I know it has the same power as bleach but is much safer to use because it is non-toxic. It’s a great cleaner and leaves my kitchen smelling fresh.
- Mr. Clean Magic Eraser: I swear by these darn things. They have saved my butt more times than I can count. You got rust stains on the sink, beet juice stains on your counter, or scuff marks on your tile the Magic Eraser will take care of it.
- Cotton Tea Towels: These were always a mainstay in kitchens from my mother’s and grandmother’s time. And for good reason they are great multi-purpose tools. You can use them for drying dishes, cover rising dough, or just drying your hands. The are eco-friendly and a great replacement for paper towels. make sure to wash them frequently.
- Cleaning Brush Set: These are great all-purpose brushes that any homemaker should have on hand. I use them a lot for cleaning tile grout, tough dried food on pots and pans, and cleaning the oven.
Functionality & Organization
Organization is key for functionality when you are setting up your kitchen. You have to think about your kitchen and how you will be moving within that space. The location of appliances and cupboards is important for where you are going to store dishes, appliances, dry-goods, spices, and everything else you keep in your kitchen. If you have a pantry this will help immensely, but you will have to organize this efficiently as well. Here are some tips I have used whenever I have had to set up a new kitchen.
Tips for Storage in the Kitchen
- It’s always a good idea to keep glasses and mugs on one shelf. Plates, bowls, and serving dishes on another.
- I try to keep baking sheets and sets in a cupboard near the oven/stove. Pots and pans as well should be close to the stove/oven.
- Heavy mixing bowls should if at all possible be in a lower cupboard with glass baking sets.
- Small appliances that are used more than once a week should have a home on the counter. All others should be stored away in a pantry, baker’s rack, or above the refrigerator.
- Try to have utensil caddy on the counter for frequently used items like spatulas, tongs, or whisks. This will help a catch all drawer from forming.
- Baking spoons, cups, and other similar items should have their own drawer.
- Items you only use a couple times a year like large roasting pans and the like should be stored in a separate area if you have a small kitchen. A buffet is perfect for this.
- I also like to keep spices in a cupboard next to the stove. This way they are in easy reach while you are cooking. Separate shelves for savory spices and baking spices also helps.
The best tip I could ever give you for working in your kitchen is clean before you cook and clean as you go. It is something I have always practiced. I don’t know if it’s just because I can’t stand to cook in a messy kitchen or what. But I will say it is so awesome to be able to have a clean kitchen after cooking dinner and just turn on the dish washer and get back to my evening. And it really doesn’t take much effort. It is also a huge time saver.
Another part of time management in the kitchen is timing the cooking of your meal properly. Unfortunately this is something that just comes with practice. The only advice I can give you is generally the protein of the meal takes the longest, followed by your carb, with veggies being the fastest. This is just a general rule of thumb.
Essential Kitchen Tools
Now, the fun part! Let’s talk about the tools of the trade. There are a ton of tools I could absolutely not get by without. And there are also a lot of tools that are absolutely a waste of money. Besides what I list below I have a free printable that has a list that goes a little more in depth as well as covers other areas of the house. Check it out here.
Must Have Tools
- KitchenAid Stand Mixer: This is my favorite multi-use appliance especially if you have some of their many attachments. I would have had to give up baking if it weren’t for my Kitchen Aid (I have carpal tunnel).
- Cast Iron Skillet: If you have one of these you will have one of my favorite multi-purpose cooking pans. I have done everything from baking bacon to making pizza in this thing. It’s great to have for camping too. Every good kitchen has a cast iron skillet.
- A Proper Set of Mixing Bowls: Mixing bowls serve dual purpose with the obvious baking use and can also be used for serving in a pinch.
- Coffee Maker: Even if you don’t drink coffee they can be used to heat up water for tea or other hot beverages. I also highly recommend a programmable one.
- Durable Dinnerware Set: Corelle Ware is perfect for starter dinnerware. They truly are nearly indestructable. If they can survive me and my siblings, they can survive anything.
- Kitchen Tools Set: The one I linked is a pretty amazing set. And I can attest to the quality of OXO. You definitely want silicone especially if you have coated pots and pans. This set should have almost everything you need for a starter kitchen.
- A Good Quality Knife Set: This is also an absolute necessity for any homemaker. Quality knives will last you a long time and will help prevent mishaps in the kitchen.
- Instant Pot: The reason I suggest the Instant Pot is because it is a kitchen workhorse. It replaces many appliances and has easily become my most used kitchen gadget (next to my espresso machine of course).
- An Apron: Aprons are making a comeback and rightly so. How many times did I have to toss one of my favorite shirts because of oil stains before I broken down and got an apron? More times than I’d care to admit. I’m not sure why they ever went out of style.
Tools to Forget
- Pod Coffee Maker: I can’t tell you how much I truly dislike these things. I still swear the reason I got sick so often at my last job was because of our office Keurig. You can’t clean out the internal water tanks, they are wasteful, and the coffee you get from them is really not that great.
- Rice Cooker: My sister-in-law will kill me for saying this (sorry SzeNga!). I try not to have single use appliances at all in my kitchen. And the Instant Pot replaces this job for me. If I’m really desperate I just make it on the stove like a heathen.
- Bread Machine: As helpful as they can be they are an unnecessary expense. If you have a decent Kitchen Aid you can easily knead bread and just bake it in the oven.
- Most Single Purpose Small Appliances: I will always say these are a waste of money and you’re better off buying a single appliance that serves multiple purposes. Not only will you save money, but you will save precious storage space.
- Any New Fad Items: I waited a whole year before I went out and bought an Instant Pot. The reason is often these fads are exactly that, just something new and shiny. I like to wait and see if my friends who purchased the item recommend it after about 6 months to a year. I can’t tell you how much money I saved by doing this.
The Kitchen is the Heart of the Home
I have always loved setting up my kitchen in a new home. It has always felt like the beginning of a journey. What memories will you make in your kitchen? How will you nurture your family’s health?
No matter how you choose to set up your kitchen. Whether you like clean and modern. Or whether you’re a traditional farmhouse kind of girl. Remember that your kitchen is the heart of the home. And cooking/baking is how you show your family love. Kitchens are where family and friends come together to share joy and tasty food. Your kitchen should not only be a reflection of your personality but should also be functional. Happy homemaking!
If You Liked This Post You Might Like These Too!