7 Genius Organizing Tricks These Grandmas Rely On

published Feb 22, 2022
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Grandmother making cupcakes with young boy at table in kitchen, learning, togetherness, domestic life.
Credit: Getty Images/ Compassionate Eye Foundation/Gary Burchell

When it comes to kitchen wisdom, there’s no one we trust more than our grandmothers. We’ve surveyed French grandmothers, German grandmothers, Southern grandmothers, and Midwestern grandmothers (to name a few) about their top cleaning tips. But an efficient kitchen is about more than just cleanliness — it’s also about creating an organized workspace.

And so, with the winter cooking season ahead of us, we gathered a group of grandmothers to get their best organizing ideas. Here are the top seven tips we learned.

1. Put your most-used items within easy reach. 

It may seem obvious, but how often do you find yourself getting frustrated when reaching for the too-high box of coffee filters? Jane Hart, a grandmother of two in Bluffton, South Carolina, always stores her most-used tools and utensils within easy reach. “Choose a height that’s comfortable for you,” she says, reminding us that whoever cooks most often should be the one who organizes the kitchen.

2. Invest in clever and helpful tools.

Roberta Mangano, a grandmother of four in Syracuse, New York, agrees that tall shelving can be a challenge to the home cook. But those with small kitchens and limited storage options don’t always have the luxury of putting everything close-at-hand. To solve this problem, she uses a kitchen step stool and a long pair of tongs to give her the occasional boost. 

3. Keep your pantry ingredients on a lazy Susan.

Gerrie Smith, a grandmother and avid cook in Bonita Springs, Florida, regularly cooks from scratch, so she has a “tried and true” list of spices, oils, and vinegars. Rather than rummage for them in the cupboards, she keeps them front and center on a lazy Susan. This makes them super easy and quick to find. (Definitely don’t skip over this piece of advice — it’s a tried-and-true method used by professional organizers, too.)

4. Label shelves.

Kathy Newby, a grandmother in Syracuse, puts a label on the side of her shelves to identify the contents above. “My spices are in a really narrow upper cupboard,” she explains. She groups them alphabetically and identifies the groups on the shelves. A simple piece of tape will do the trick, but we also know a grandmother or two who likes the beauty of label makers.)

5. Decant ingredients.

Smith is a fan of decanting dry goods, such as flour, sugar, and pasta. Mason jars work great for her, but she makes sure to label them, so she can easily find what she’s looking for. “I try to buy only what I need for shorter-term use,” she explains.

6. Turn anything into a pantry.

“I’m blessed to have a pantry,” says Barbara Costello, an Instagram-famous grandmother of eight living in Danbury, Connecticut. The pantry is a must for keeping all of her baking ingredients and pans organized, but she notes that you don’t need a whole closet to make your space work for you. She makes use of every nook and cranny of storage, including the deep bottom drawers of her kitchen island. A plastic storage tub or large basket could also work for corralling ingredients and snacks.

7. Gather everyday cleaning supplies in one place. 

Costello keeps her most-used cleaning supplies under the sink. That includes her dishwasher tablets, DIY granite counter cleaner (psst: It’s a 4:1 water-rubbing alcohol mixture she keeps in a spray bottle), and Bar Keepers Friend. This way, she can grab what she needs, when she needs it, without having to walk all around the house to gather supplies.

This post originally ran on Kitchn. See it there: 7 Brilliant Organizing Tricks These Grandmas Have Used for Decades