Shaily Lipa, Israeli cookbook author, TV show host, and master kitchen organizer is intent on starting a peaceful revolution that begins in the kitchen.
In her latest book, HaKol B’Seder— a play on words that means both “everything is okay” and “everything is in order” — Lipa gives us the tools to turn our kitchens into efficient, calm yet active hubs of the home.
The change that begins in the kitchen, says Lipa, extends to the rest of one’s life. And when a kitchen is tidy, organized, and buzzing, it influences everything. If you are looking for a project right now, organizing your kitchen and pantry is a satisfying task to tackle.
Here are some tips from Lipa on how to make your kitchen into the space in which you can love to labor and linger:
- Before you begin, look at the bones of your kitchen. You want it to be well lit. Clean it. Toss the trash. Check that all of your appliances are working as they should be. Get rid of any cracked or broken dishes, glasses, serving pieces. And remember to be grateful for what you have: big or small, we are lucky to have a kitchen with a refrigerator, sink, running water, and counters. Start from a place of gratitude.
- First, organize the food areas. They are broken down into five sections: pantry, spice drawer, refrigerator, freezer, and breakfast area. Look at each part with a fresh eye and aim to keep only those objects and ingredients that you need and use, and store them in a way so that they are easily accessible.
- Tackle the pantry first. Empty it, put all that it contains on the counter, check the use-by dates, toss out the old stuff and review the rest. Get rid of anything you probably will never use. Organize the pantry’s contents according to the items you reach for most frequently and give those items prime real estate. Do you have too much of any one item? Streamline! Keep like items together – pasta in one area, tomato sauce in another, canned fish in its own pod, and so on.
- Once you have reviewed the five essential food areas, get to work on the rest of the things a kitchen holds — different kinds of drinking glasses, silverware, home textiles, pots, pans, serving dishes, cookbooks, paper goods, cleaning supplies. In each category, the advice is the same: Keep what you use, get rid of what you don’t, organize objects by category (wine glasses in one area, double old-fashioned glasses in another), make sure you can see what you have. And organize the contents of the kitchen in a logical manner, in a flow that works for you.
- Always remember that less is more. “Supermarket specials are the devil in disguise,” says Lipa. Whether you are looking at the pantry or the freezer or the silverware drawer, don’t buy things you probably don’t need, just because they are on sale. Only buy what you know you will finish. Pay attention to what you throw away. If you enjoy what you have and use what you have, the flow in your home will be better, resulting in good energy all around.
Lipa even gives advice on keeping herbs fresh, how to store your fruits and vegetables, and the best way to use your freezer. (Don’t overstuff it, but rather freeze in small, see-through containers so you know what’s there, and make sure to label them!) She gives you a method to use in every part of the kitchen, so you are left with a pleasant and functional workspace, one filled with air and light and functional objects that you use and love. You end up with a room that deserves to be the heart of the home.
For now, the book only exists in Hebrew, although Lipa is hoping to have it published in English. I recently read it while stuck at home due to coronavirus, and I realized that I had never previously considered my “breakfast area.” My coffee had always been in one place, my mugs in another, my sugar and spoons several steps away. With Lipa’s rules in mind, I re-organized and put all elements of my coffee-making ritual in one spot. The next time I made my morning Joe, there was an easy flow to the start of my day that I had never experienced before. That one small change helped me better understand and embrace the elegance of her method.
In this crazy world we are living in now, Lipa’s method shows us how to make peace and order in our kitchen. The zen-like balance that her method fosters will flow out into the rest of the home and family. We could all use some of that.