How to Stay Organized in the Kitchen

How to Stay Organized in the Kitchen- Tracy Benjamin of Shutterbean shares her tips & tricks.

how to stay organized in the kitchen

When I say that I don’t feel like cooking, what I am really saying is that I don’t feel like cleaning the kitchen (again and again). Staying organized and cleaning as you go can make cooking less of a daunting task. It can also help you prevent mistakes, burnt appendages, huge messes, and failed recipes. Don’t feel like cooking? Let me show you How to Stay Organized in the Kitchen so you’ll be more likely to WANT to cook. 

Here’s my number one rule…

How to Stay Organized in the Kitchen- Tracy Benjamin of Shutterbean shares her tips & tricks.

start with a clean workspace!

The quickest way to get stressed out in the kitchen is to cook around/with a mess. 

Is a clean kitchen one of the most powerful aphrodisiacs? I certainly believe so!  😉  Nothing gets me more excited to cook than a clean kitchen.

Take that euphemism as far as your imagination will let you. 

My Everyday Life Week 2 of 2022- a photography series by Tracy Benjamin of

Set aside 15 minutes to clean up your space before you start any kitchen adventure.  This timer cube helps me stay on track while cleaning the kitchen because I force myself to beat the clock to get it done before the timer goes off.  Use your phone too. Be mindful of time! 

Good questions to ask yourself as you prep the kitchen:

  • Where am I in the dishwashing cycle? Do I need to load or unload?
  • Do I have counter space to work on?
  • Are my cutting boards clean and ready to use? 

How to Stay Organized in the Kitchen-

read recipe/figure out the timing

Always ALWAYS ALWAYS read the recipe before you start.  Do it way ahead of time.

Questions to ask yourself: 

  • Do I have the ingredients?
  • Do I have the time? 
  • Are there additional steps I need to think about? Proofing time or waiting?

Timing is EVERYTHING in cooking. Make sure you map it all out before you start the cooking/baking process. 


How to Stay Organized in the Kitchen-

gather tools 

Now that you’ve read the recipe, you are going to want to ask yourself: 

  • What tools do I need to get out?
  • Does anything need to be washed before I start working?

Pull out all of the necessary bowls, pots, and pans while you’re at it. 

How to Stay Organized in the Kitchen-

gather ingredients:

The best way to organize ingredients instead of dumping them all on the counter is to place them on a baking sheet to sort through. 

If you’re working on more than one recipe, use a baking sheet for each. 

This saves my life as a food stylist!  Smaller baking sheets are great to gather a few things that need to be in the fridge. 

Small Batch Sugar Cookie Fruit Pizza -makes enough for 2-4 people. Recipe on

In all of my food recipes on Shutterbean, I take a photo of the ingredients involved so it FORCES me to stay organized. When I am done with that photo, I know I’m ready to dive into the first step of the recipe! It’s been a real gift to be able to look at an older recipe and see what I need to grab to make it again. 

How to Stay Organized in the Kitchen- Tracy Benjamin of Shutterbean shares her tips & tricks.

put on an apron 

When I have an apron on, I mean business! My grandma (pictured below!)  always had an apron on and so did my Mom. 

How to Stay Organized in the Kitchen-

I usually have some of my favorite pens and a pair of scissors in my apron while I’m working. Other things found in the pockets: tape, wrappers, a hair clip, my phone, a list, a cat toy, a lego, etc. 

How to Stay Organized in the Kitchen-

clean as you go

My Mom used to say, “A good cook always cleans up!”  She’s right.

Sometimes I get too involved in the cooking process to clean as I go and when I don’t, OH MY GOODNESS it’s like a tornado went through my kitchen.  As someone obsessed with timing things, I try to use the cooking time and the time in-between steps of recipes to straighten up my workspace.

Do your muffins need 18 minutes to bake? Awesome. Your challenge is to clean the kitchen in 18 minutes! 

The less work I have to do after a meal, the easier it is for me to sit down and settle in for the night with my family.

If you also need the reminder to clean as you go, you can purchase my print here! 

fill a bowl with soapy water in the sink

Get a headstart on your cleaning with a bowl of soapy water. You can toss dirty utensils and tools in there to soak while you’re working. There’s less risk of anything going down the garbage disposal too!  A soapy baking sheet with a little water in it is also very helpful for soaking your knives/putting them aside to easily clean and reuse. 

How to Stay Organized in the Kitchen-

get out a junk bowl

Junk bowls make life easier!  They also help me keep at a fast pace in the kitchen. Instead of walking over to the garbage/compost container to get rid of something, I can store it all in this junk bowl and empty it in our compost bin/garbage later. Sometimes I’ll put two bowls out. One for wrappers/plastic/garbage/recycling and one for compost. It all depends on what I am cooking.  The bowls get emptied after I’m doing working in the kitchen. 

How to Stay Organized in the Kitchen-

get out your dish towels

It’s always good to have a few close by. I like folding a dish towel at the base of my cutting board so I can easily push some crumbs onto it, keeping my cutting board clean. Sliding a baking sheet under the cutting board or side of the counter is also a great way to wipe down a surface without getting anything on the floor. The food bits from the counter make it onto the baking sheet and not on the floor. 

Dishtowels are way better than wasting paper towels. Every little bit helps. 

How to Stay Organized in the Kitchen-

enlist help!

I am here you remind you of the saying, ” Don’t ask, don’t get!”  It takes practice asking for help.  Take a minute to think about what needs to be done and ask for what you need! 

My mom used to give me the job of drying dishes/putting them away. I also had to set and clear the table at dinner (we alternated nights as kids) and sweep the kitchen.  Having Cooper load + unload the dishwasher for me and take out the garbage + recycling lightens my load SO MUCH!  I just make sure he’s not emptying the dishwasher when I need to be in that part of the kitchen.  

My Everyday Life Week 09 of 2022- a photography series by Tracy Benjamin of

 If you’re deliberate about how you spend your time in the kitchen and you develop a system to stay organized, it won’t feel like SUCH A CHORE.  

Thanks for reading How to Stay Organized in the Kitchen!  If you’re also into intentional living and organizing you might like some of the following posts that live here on Shutterbean!

Are there any tricks you use to keep yourself organized? I’d love to hear them! 

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