RIGHT AT HOME: Storage for the urban kitchen

  • Jun. 6, 2018 11:50 a.m.

For city dwellers, adaptability comes in handy in the kitchen. Urban kitchens are typically tiny, presenting storage challenges.

And for food storage, there’s also the frequent problem of unwelcome houseguests, like mice or bugs.

Luckily, there’s a lot of great gear to keep perishables and pantry goods organized and protected, much of it pretty stylish too.

Alex Weibel, senior food editor at Rachael Ray Every Day magazine, spends a lot of time cooking and developing recipes in her tiny Brooklyn, New York, kitchen. When her cookbooks began to buckle her cabinetry, she realized it was time to triage the collection.

“I moved my aspirational cookbooks to shelves outside the kitchen,” she says.

And then she used the same approach with everything else.

“Anything not vital to daily activity doesn’t belong on kitchen shelves,” she says. “I disguise visible pantry storage in attractive vessels, like vintage Pyrex containers which are easily stackable. And I live by the ‘first in, first out’ mantra I learned in culinary school, strategically positioning perishables in the front so they get used first.”

Weibel went to Home Depot for a large wire shelf to mount on an empty wall, and stows her hundreds of spice containers on it. “Now my spices are easily accessible, and look charming,” she says.

You can also mount metal-lidded jars under cabinetry by affixing a sturdy, strong magnetic strip.

Yamazaki Home’s under-cabinet white metal storage shelf is a handy place for resealable bags or tea towels.

Rolling chef’s tables or carts with wooden tops provide more surface and storage in tiny kitchens with limited counter space. The cart’s shelves and baskets can house hand mixers or other small appliances.

Don’t forget about the inside of cabinet doors. A short curtain rod attached to the inside of a cabinet can hold small tools on ring clips; put a peel ‘n’ stick cork panel behind it for a message board. A larger rod under the sink can stow spray bottles, paper towels and trash bag rolls.

Lowe’s spokesman Matt Michaels has a pro tip for keeping the fridge functioning well: “Clean door seals regularly with soap and water.” He says dirt and grime can prevent a tight seal, so the fridge doesn’t stay cold. “Test your seals by sliding a piece of paper in the closed fridge door; if it falls out, it’s time to replace them.”

For countertops or cabinets, consider a system of matching containers that stack and stow seamlessly together. Rubbermaid’s Brilliance storage set, made of BPA-proof plastic, is leak-proof, air-tight and stain-resistant, with sturdy latches. Vents allow for microwaving, and the pieces not only stack but are freezer and dishwasher safe. There’s also a system for produce, called FreshWorks. Its containers have trays in the bottom and a vent on the lid that keep moisture away and increase airflow to keep fruits and vegetables from spoiling too quickly in the fridge.

Glasslock’s Slimline low-profile lidded set is made of tempered microwave-safe glass. And the Pyrex sets can go straight from fridge to oven. Identify all the containers using erasable food storage labels.

Target has a set of sleek stainless steel canisters for cereals, pasta or baking essentials. A steel rack stowed in a cabinet will hold pot lids, pie pans, and baking and roasting sheets more efficiently than stacking. There’s also a collection of glass storage cylinders with decorative stained wood tops.

Pest removal and prevention services may be provided by landlords, or you can try some non-chemical methods, like those Katie Voytasek, of LA Best Pest Control, posts on http://www.forrent.com.

As soon as you bring food home, for instance, transfer it out of its paper, cardboard or Styrofoam packaging and into pest-proof receptacles.

Cleaning is key to keeping a small urban kitchen prep-ready and pest-free. Attend to dishes and counters right away. That includes the dishwasher. If it’s got dirty dishes in it for too long, roaches and ants will find their way in.

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