6 Tips To Transition Your Kitchen From Full House To Empty Nest

6 Tips To Transition Your Kitchen From Full House To Empty Nest

A well-organized kitchen is the heart of any home, but well-organized looks different depending on your stage of life. Let’s explore transitioning from an organized kitchen with children in the home to an organized kitchen as an empty nester.

Kitchen Layout

With Small Children

When young children are in the home, use open shelving at lower heights to store their plastic plates, sippy cups, and plastic utensils. This helps you to teach tasks such as setting the table and clearing the dishwasher at an early age. Childproof your kitchen as appropriate, with safety locks on drawers and cabinets to keep little ones away from dangerous items.

With Older Children

As your children grow, you’ll remove the childproofing features and won’t keep their dishes in a separate location any longer. Instead, focus on avoiding overfull cupboards and pantries to remove friction when putting away groceries and clean dishes. The easier it is to use the kitchen, the more likely it is that tweens and teens will be helpful. Labeling where things go can also be beneficial.

As Empty Nesters

Empty nesters often transition into more minimalistic kitchen organization. Key items to pare down are pots and pans as well as mugs, glasses, water bottles, and storage containers. You may be thinking, “What happens when the kids come back to visit?” as you consider paring down. Recognize that you will probably operate differently now that the kids aren’t living with you. Will you tend to eat out/bring in food when they’re visiting? Will they visit for relatively short periods a few times a year or will they be ‘home’ more frequently? Answering these questions helps you figure out how to organize your kitchen. If your kids live across the country and will only be home once or twice a year but you intend to cook when they’re there, box the pots and pans you don’t use regularly, store them in an out-of-the-way place such as the garage, basement, or guest room, and bring them out when you need them. If you plan to cook relatively minimally when they return, you are free to give away your extra pots and pans.

A mother washing dishes in the kitchen will her young teenage daughter clears the dishwasher

Pantry Organization

With Kids In The Home

When kids are in the home, you need more space allocated for food and snacks. It is easy to overfill pantries which leads to food being pushed to the back of the pantry and not used. Avoid this by being careful about buying in bulk. If you do have food that isn’t being eaten, have an eat-down-the-pantry week occasionally where you don’t grocery shop for a week and make a game out of only eating whatever you have on hand. Menus may be a bit crazy but have fun with it AND enjoy a less cluttered pantry and freezer.

As Empty Nesters

One of the hardest things about transitioning to empty nesting is the need to cook less food. Consider how you feel about leftovers. If you love them and appreciate cooking less often, you may want to invest in good storage containers. Freezing leftovers can be a good way to avoid eating the same entrée 4 days in a row. If you don’t love leftovers, cook smaller portions. Either way, plan to buy fewer groceries to avoid overfilling your pantry and letting food spoil before you can eat it. Buying less and making more frequent trips to the grocery store allows you to buy more fresh food and rely less on canned goods and frozen foods.

Woman in the background slicing food on a cutting board to put in crock pot which is in the foreground

Small Appliances


With Kids In The Home

Busy parents appreciate the convenience of small appliances such as slow cookers, food processors, and microwaves. They help prepare meals efficiently to accommodate the demands of a busy family.

As Empty Nesters

Empty nesters, however, do well to streamline the kitchen with fewer small appliances. Prioritize quality over quantity and focus on enjoying the cooking process rather than getting through it quickly. Consider donating appliances that work best for larger groups of people and adding a high-end coffee maker or sous-vide machine.

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to kitchen organization. The best approach depends on your specific circumstances and needs. Because so much of life is lived in the kitchen, determining what you need for each life stage is a worthwhile investment. If you don’t know where to start or have tried but haven’t figured it out yet, working with Unjumbled is an investment you will truly appreciate.

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