Ask the Experts

Q: “I Want to Eat Healthier, But My Kitchen Is Too Messy to Cook.”

Use these five ADHD-friendly kitchen organization ideas to help you feel less stressed about cooking and more empowered to make healthy decisions.

Kitchen organization and decluttering ideas, tip
Dirty and clean kitchen - before and after concept. Vector illustration in a modern flat style of kitchen cupboards and utensils.

Q: “I desperately want to eat healthier and lose weight, but my kitchen is so disorganized and messy that it’s hard for me to cook. I’m stressed out and overeating. My ADHD makes it difficult to find a kitchen organization solution that works. Can you give me some ideas?” — MessyKitchen

Hi MessyKitchen:

A chaotic kitchen environment can make us feel stressed and lead us to overeat and/or make unhealthy food choices. The good news? You can turn your kitchen into a haven of peace that will help you focus on clean, healthy cooking and put you on the road to weight loss. Here are five kitchen organization ideas to get you started.

Kitchen Organization Tip #1: Purge, Prep & Plan

Begin your kitchen detox by completely purging before prepping for a new organizing system. Toss anything that’s broken, chipped, expired, or missing parts. These items rob you of valuable kitchen space and make it much harder to see and access what you truly use. Donate gently used small appliances, gadgets, and surplus items you no longer like, need, or want. Your kitchen will feel instantly lighter!

Next, create a meal planning/shopping station. Menu planning is one of the essential ingredients for a successful weight loss plan. Create a space in the kitchen to post grocery lists and menu plans for the week. It doesn’t need to take up much space. You can clear a spot on the fridge and post the week’s menu and grocery list on a small whiteboard. I also recommend posting meal plans where you can see them and not tucked away on an app on your phone. When it’s visible, a healthy plan becomes your accountability partner.

The more you plan, the less likely you’ll be caught off guard when it’s dinnertime and more likely you will be to make healthier choices.

[Read This eBook: Declutter Your Life (and Home! and Office!]

Kitchen Organization Tip #2: Pair Like with Like

Most people put away their groceries wherever they can find room. But I want you to think like a librarian when organizing your kitchen pantry and cabinets. For example, all romance novels are shelved together in a library, while travel books are in a separate section. Use the same technique in your kitchen and group related items by use and not by fit. Potential categories may include canned goods, condiments, nuts and seeds, baking items, etc. This will make it a breeze to find ingredients when preparing meals.

Kitchen Organization Tip #3: Make Your Most-Used Items Accessible

In a well-organized kitchen, your most-used items need to take center stage. Place seldom-used items such as holiday dishes or party platters on an out-of-the-way shelf or in another location in your home. Put your most-used cooking tools in an easy-to-reach area. For example, place your kitchen scale front and center on your countertop, so it’s easy to reach.

Here’s my favorite tip: Most of us hide our most nutritious foods — fruits and vegetables — in the refrigerator drawers. Out of sight, out of mind! I switch mine up. I store my less-than-nutritious food in those bins and place cut-up veggies, sliced fruit, hummus packs, yogurt containers, and the like at eye level. This way, I’m more apt to grab them when I open the refrigerator door.

Don’t forget about your countertops. If you are storing food on them (and most of us do), fill storage containers with healthy and nutritious snacks. Remember, we tend to eat what we see.

[Self-Test: Is Your Clutter and Disorganization Out of Control?]

Kitchen Organization Tip #4: Be Transparent

Don’t make food prep difficult for yourself by hiding ingredients in opaque containers. Instead, load the refrigerator and pantry and line countertops with transparent canisters to see what’s inside. My mantra is that if you can’t see it, it doesn’t exist!

Kitchen Organization Tip #5: Evaluate & Adjust

Regularly assess your organizational systems. Do you need more space for meal prep? For your pots and pans? Evaluating how well your kitchen organization ideas work allows you to make tweaks along the way that promote healthy cooking. If you need to sort through a stack of trays and mixing bowls each time you want to access a pan to make roasted veggies, chances are you will get frustrated and overwhelmed. The solution is to try to keep gadgets to a minimum, place what you frequently use front and center, and regularly evaluate your organizational systems so that you’re always ready to toss together a healthy meal.

Good Luck.

And if you would like additional kitchen organizing tips, please feel free to visit our website at

Kitchen Organization with ADHD: Next Steps

ADHD Family Coach Leslie Josel, of Order Out of Chaos, will answer questions from ADDitude readers about everything from paper clutter to disaster-zone bedrooms and from mastering to-do lists to arriving on time every time.

Submit your questions to the ADHD Family Coach here!

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