If your version of personal happiness includes perfectly aligned La Croix and a fully stocked Lazy Susan, welcome to the club. We lust after tidy kitchens not because we’re hungry, but mostly because we’re convinced we can’t have one. Think about it: Between your midnight snack stash, staple spices, and spare appliances, there are a lot of moving parts. Luckily, we’ve come up with a few tricks to streamline this often-cluttered space—no label maker required.
Your pantry’s number one job is to provide the tools to make the most out of every meal. Forget everything anyone has ever said about what kitchen storage should look like. Sure, your great aunt told you that every good kitchen has at least five cheese platters, but unless your résumé includes “wedding caterer,” those bulky boards are hogging up precious space.
Hungry for more? Read on for eight items your kitchen pantry doesn’t really need—and what to swap in their place.
Ditch: The Spice Rack
Embrace: Single-Serve Packs
Dropping $15 on chili powder is a hard thing to justify, especially when it comes in an oversize container that’s bound to expire before you use it again. Enter, Occo: A single-serving spices startup that delivers freshly harvested ingredients in preportioned packs made from recyclable aluminum. Its slim, sealed bubble packs are designed to let you get the most out of bespoke spices and lessen your carbon footprint.
Ditch: Your Five Million Butcher Blocks
Embrace: A One-and-Done Cutting Board
A sky-high stack of butcher-block cutting boards might look cool, but it won’t make you a better cook. Whether you’re slicing, dicing, or mincing, you only need one really good board to get the job done. This folding board serves every purpose and features a chute to transfer ingredients without spilling.
Ditch: Built-In Shelving
Embrace: Hanging Baskets
You don’t have to go overboard with custom millwork or floor-to-ceiling floating shelves to have a proper place to store produce and snacks. If you’re short on wall space, hang a series of baskets from the ceiling instead. Any extra wooden fruit bowls can double as catchalls in the entry, living room, or bedroom.
Ditch: A Mountain of Plates
Embrace: A Horizontal Rack
You’re more likely to use what you can actually see, and that goes for treasured china and other dishware. Yamazaki’s rack lets you organize plates by size, color, and occasion. With your boldest dessert plates and ceramic platters on display, you might feel inspired to spice up the table setting every once in a while.
Ditch: Plastic Leftover Bins
Embrace: Portable, Reusable Bowls
It’s tempting to rely on the throwaway containers restaurants hand out when you take your food to go. But once you end up schlepping your leftovers to the office the next day, any crumbs end up right in the trash, and your box goes with it. Make your workweek a little greener by packing the day’s lunch in to-go bowls. Crafted from ceramic and BPA-free plastic, these colorful travel companions will make every meal prep and leftover day worth the extra step.
Ditch: The Junk Drawer of Notepads
Embrace: A Never-Ending Roller
It’s hard to jot down a grocery list on the fly when you’re digging through a jumble of crumpled Sticky Notes and stationery to find something suitable to write on. By the time you do find a working pen and notepad, you’ve forgotten half the things you need to pick up at the store. George and Willy’s genius paper roller (which stays in plain sight) is designed for productivity and peace of mind.
Ditch: Wilted Herbs
Embrace: A Fresh Storage Solution
All your herbs deserve a long and fruitful life. These smart containers are a preferred alternative to wrapping your cilantro, asparagus, or parsley in a sad bag and hoping for the best. Just fill it with an inch or two of water, tuck in your greens, and stow them away in the refrigerator, and if it’s a woody herb like rosemary or thyme, store them out in the open.
Ditch: Extra Sponges
Embrace: All-in-One Cleaning Supplies
Ordinary sponges get grimy fast. Instead of throwing out your sad cleaning supplies every other week, embrace a crew that’s made to last. This power team includes a scrub brush, soap dispenser, and a bucket that can double as a drying rack for the dishcloth.