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ADHD ORGANIZING TIPS | Kitchens & Pantries

15 ADHD Kitchen Organizing Tips That Really Work

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ADHD Kitchen Organizing Tips

Here’s how to create an ADHD-Friendly Kitchen:

As a professional organizer, I have organized many kitchens over the years. While there are lots of kitchen organizing tips out there, if you have ADHD, kitchen organizing needs to be done differently in your home.

Having ADHD myself, I know which organizing systems really work for those with ADHD, and which ones might not, depending on how your unique brain works. That said, there is also some overlap…meaning there are some tried and true kitchen organizing systems that work well in all kitchens. In this post, I will share those too.

If you have ADHD, keeping your kitchen organized not only is possible, but it is essential if you want to feel in control from day to day.

These ADHD kitchen organizing and decluttering suggestions will make a huge difference in helping you keep your kitchen and pantry orderly and functional long-term:

1. If you only implement one tip on this list, let it be this one: Reduce your inventory and keep only the things you truly use. 

The more stuff you keep in your kitchen, the harder it will be to keep it all organized. For those with ADHD, kitchen clutter is even more overwhelming than it is for those with neuro-typical brains. So if you have ADHD, it is important to take a critical eye to every single thing that you store in your kitchen. If you do this one thing and do it thoroughly, you will greatly improve your ability to keep your kitchen organized from day to day.

2. Get rid of duplicates 

Be careful about keeping too many duplicates if of the same things. Do you really need 4 colanders or 6 rubber spatulas? How many things in your kitchen serve the same purpose? For example, do you need to keep a hand mixer if you also have a stand mixer sitting on your countertop? Better yet, do you need that giant mixer taking up countertop space if you rarely bake and have a hand mixer?  

3Donate or move seldom-used space hoggers.

The same goes for that giant bread machine you only get around to using once every three years.  Large, seldom-used appliances take up too much space to merit being there. If you have an appliance you have to keep because you use for the holidays, consider storing it in a storage area instead of in your kitchen.

ADHD Friendly Kitchen

4. Store things simply to create an ADHD friendly kitchen. 

Focus on organizing everything in your kitchen so that things are super easy to find, access, and put away quickly. Avoid stacking too many things on top of each other or placing frequently used items in hard-to-reach areas. Overcrowding and over-nesting make things hard to put away and retrieve. 

Use an expandable tiered shelf to store spices and canned food so you can see every single thing you have. As a rule, unless you rarely use it, if you can’t find and grab it quickly, find a simpler way to store it. Your goal is not to have to look for anything that is hiding behind something else.

5. Store things vertically.

Take a close look at everything that you store in your kitchen and see what can be stored standing up, rather than laying down. Things that are stored upright are always easier to access and put away. They also take up less room. Since I am tall, I installed a wire rack in the cabinet above my frig to store all of these things. 

More than cookie sheets and pizza pans can be stored vertically. Things like griddles, baking pans and casserole dishes can be stored this way too. Items stored in bins or baskets can also be stored standing up as long as they are not too floppy.  

6. If you have ADHD, Kitchen countertop clutter should be minimized.

As a rule of thumb, when it comes to appliances, if you use them frequently, keep them out on your countertop for easy access. Why make more work for yourself than necessary? On the other hand, avoid leaving anything that is not used regularly on your countertop. Again, if you have ADHD, kitchen clutter can be visually distracting. Being able to walk into your kitchen and see clear countertops will energize you and help you feel more in control. 

7. Avoid micro-organizing.

If your organizing systems are too complicated, they will require too much time and effort to maintain. For example, it may sound like a great idea to store all of your different types of cereal in labeled plastic containers or all of your spices in little labeled glass jars. But be realistic with yourself, will you really take the time to refill it all regularly?  

8. Let go of pretty, but high-maintenance kitchen organizing systems unless they are also ADHD-friendly.

It is more important that your systems are simple and super user-friendly than beautiful. This is where scrolling through Pinterest pins can put a snag in your organizing efforts. Yes, pantry staples stored in matching glass jars, will look fabulous. But this system will actually make you feel less organized if you can’t keep up with maintaining it. Low maintenance is your best friend if you have ADHD.

9. Store things where you use them.  

You want to make retrieval and clean-up as easy for yourself as possible and creating zones in your kitchen is the best way to do that. For example, if you drink coffee daily, create a coffee bar for yourself by keeping all of the supplies for making a cup of coffee together, – including the coffee cups.  This will make daily coffee preparation easier for everyone. 

If you bake, store all of your baking items near one another. To make emptying the dishwasher easier for yourself, store your cups, dishes, and silverware close to the dishwasher. Store everything you use for cooking near the stove so that you can grab them quickly. This includes hot pads, utensils, pots and pans, spices, and cooking oils.

When everything is stored together, you make cleaning up easier for yourself – and thus more likely to happen.

10. If you need to organize your whole kitchen, avoid overwhelming yourself by breaking projects into small chunks. 

It is a common organizing mistake to take on too large of an area all at once. Only focus on completing one small task at a time. Just clear off your countertops. Once that is complete, tackle only your pantry, one shelf at a time. Once the pantry is 100% complete, then get to work on your upper cabinets. But do it one cabinet at a time.  

Overwhelm can be an issue for anyone taking on a large organizing project.  But those with ADHD are at a greater risk because they get overwhelmed even more easily. Breaking  the job into small steps will also prevent you from ending up with a giant mess in your kitchen in case you run out of time and are unable to finish.

11. Use caution not to overfill your kitchen cabinets and drawers. 

Once your kitchen has exceeded its clutter threshold, it becomes less functional and user-friendly. Things become more difficult to find and put away because space is limited and things are crammed too closely together. Can you get items out of your cabinets without struggling or knocking things over? 

Never nest more than 3 items inside of one another. This makes the bottom one hard to get to, and it is inevitably the one you will always need.  

12. Be on the lookout for these common items that most people have way too much of:

Every kitchen I go into seems to have a surplus of these same things: Food storage containers, extra sets of dishes, coffee cups and thermoses, water bottles, grocery bags (plastic and canvas), and koozies. Tackle the low hanging fruit by going through these categories and donate or toss the excess to make more space in your kitchen.  


ADHD Kitchen

13. Name your spaces, containers & shelves.

Susan Pinsky, the author of “Organizing Solutions for People with ADHD” suggests that as you organize, it is helpful to name your bins, shelves, and drawers. This will help you keep things together. For example, you might have a coffee cup shelf and a baking cabinet. This will help you avoid tossing random items together.

Extra tip: I often find that the shelving inside kitchen cabinets is adjusted too high for those who spend the most time in the kitchen. If you are not tall, see if you can lower your shelves so that you can reach all of them. Try to store shorter items on the lower shelves, so you can lower the higher ones. Doing this one thing will make your kitchen much more user-friendly for yourself.

14. ADHD kitchen organizing tips for your pantry:

Try not to do too much stocking up. Again, the more stuff you have, the harder it is to stay on top of your food inventory. This is true for everyone but especially for those with ADHD.  

Keeping with the rule of storing related items together, keep all of your food in one location in your kitchen or pantry. If your pantry is too small to store all of your food, store a specific food category in a nearby kitchen cabinet. For example, all canned foods or all baking-related products. Avoid storing food in a storage room or basement. If you do this, you will forget what you have and will end up with expired food on your hands. Trust me, I see it all the time.

15. Separate and containerize. 

Use clear plastic bins to keep related food categories together. Using containers will go a long way in keeping your pantry organized. And the clear bins will allow you to see and find everything quickly. Label the bins so that family members are discouraged from tossing things in the wrong bins. Some examples of sorted food categories are Energy bars, snacks, and side dishes. Remove any excess packaging from snacks and other items for easy access and to save on space.

Once you and your family develops the habit of storing and returning food to their assigned containers, your pantry will stay organized for good.

ADHD Kitchen

By reducing your kitchen’s inventory and simplifying your organizing systems, you will be well on your way to an organized ADHD-friendly kitchen!  You should be able to walk into your kitchen and quickly locate and grab exactly what you need when you need it.  

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