Spring is a season of aspirations: There’s the race against the clock in the evening after work to catch that last half hour of sunshine. There’s the vacation planning for summer, and the necessary shopping trips for shorts and skirts and sandals to keep you cool in the heat. And then there’s the inevitable, unavoidable task that we all aspire to in one way or another: spring cleaning.

But before you start Marie Kondo-ing your bedroom closet, let's talk about the kitchen. Just as excellent meals struggle without a proper mise-en-place, and no kitchen can function at top performance without some basic organization.

If you can’t figure out where to start, the SAVEUR test kitchen has you covered. "Most of our team has experience working in New York City restaurant kitchens, where space and time are always tight,” says Kat Craddock, SAVEUR’s test kitchen manager. “Efficient storage and lots of labeling are essential for preventing wasted time and food."

A full kitchen decluttering takes effort, but once you’re finished, you’ll be able to make your favorite meals faster and keep ingredients fresh longer (not to mention an accompanying blissful, everything-is-so-organized mindset). These six easy tips will help you re-organize your kitchen and achieve maximum culinary mastery:

Add Crocks To Your Counter

storage crocks
Oversized spatulas, serving spoons, and other bulbous utensils stored in kitchen drawers can make opening and closing them a nightmare. Keep frequently used tools like spatulas, whisks, and wooden spoons out on the counter in stoneware crocks so you can access them quickly and easily.Matt Taylor-Gross

Group Like Items

storage jars for pantry food with labels
The boxes and bags that foods such as flour, noodles, and grains are packaged in often take up more room in the kitchen than the foods themselves. To clear out some cabinet space, remove bulky packaging and group the foods together in clear plastic bins or large labeled jars. Designate an area of your pantry or cupboard just for them, to keep your cabinet searching to a minimum.Matt Taylor-Gross

Ditch The Blocks

wall magnet for knives
A knife block can take up a surprising amount of precious counter or drawer space. For clear view and easy reach of your knives, go vertical. Mount a wall magnet in the kitchen that can fit all of your blades. Use this vertical storage trick for other kitchen items, too—hang frequently used cooking tools such as strainers, ladles, or tongs on hooks by the stove or on the inside of cabinet doors for some serious space-saving.Matt Taylor-Gross

Nest Your Pots and Pans

Nest Your Pots and Pans
If you're currently cramming all of your mismatched skillets, saucepans, and pots every which way into one or two tiny cabinets, you're not alone. To help keep order, nest similarly-sized skillets and pots together, then stack and store them in a location in proximity to the stove. This isn't just a space saver—bundling your kitchenware makes it easy to grab the exact size you need for any kitchen task.Matt Taylor-Gross

Know Your ABC’s

keep an inventory system of herbs
"At SAVEUR we test recipes from all over the world,” Craddock says. “The pantry can clutter quickly when we don't stay on top of our inventory system.” She suggests keeping most-used herbs and spices in a single, tidy layer stored somewhere within easy reach of the stove. (Extra points if you organize them alphabetically, she says.) “Storing spices and seasonings in clear, airtight jars preserves freshness and keeps pests at bay," Craddock adds. Buy spices whole and in bulk, then jar them, label, and store in the pantry or in cabinets.Matt Taylor-Gross

Freshen Up

airtight bin for herbs
Cooking with fresh herbs is always a good idea in theory, but sometimes tricky when it comes to actually storing them. They're often left in the same plastic bag that they're bought in, then end up smushed into the bottom of a fridge shelf or crisper drawer, where they turn rotten and mushy. Fortunately, there's another way to store them to keep them bright and crispy longer. First, ditch the elastics right away, trim the ends of the herbs, and wash and dry them well. Then, save space and keep the finished product fresh by storing the herbs in labeled, airtight plastic bins.Matt Taylor-Gross
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