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Living Space: 6 clever kitchen storage ideas to steal from restaurants

Kelly Dawson, Tribune Content Agency on

By nature, home kitchens have always been a more casual and more intimate version of a restaurant — but that doesn’t have to mean that they can’t be as efficient as a bustling restaurant kitchen.

To make your kitchen as efficient as you are, it’s a good idea to look to the pros for ideas. Between prep, serving, ambiance and cleanup, even the smallest diners have to stay nimble, and creating the right storage solutions are key to that success.

“A successful storage system suits your needs and your space,” says Monty Koludrovic, the award-winning chef and culinary director at Botanical Hospitality. “If you have something that you use on the regular, then make it super easy to find. If it’s there for safekeeping, then make sure it is safe. This sounds simple, but you’d be surprised. Kitchens are busy, and they possess a mystical ability to swallow up esoteric pieces of equipment just before you need them.” Follow these six restaurant-approved storage tips to ensure that your kitchen runs smoothly, no matter what’s on the menu.

1. Place your prep in plastic containers.

There are countless ways to use the clear, plastic containers you often see stacked in restaurants for your own prep. Tall ones are perfect for large quantities of stocks and ice creams, while shorter ones can hide pestos and dressings away. As you are well aware, dinner routines are an essential part of the week, and storing your food prep in easy-to-see containers should help. The best part? These lids are interchangeable, so you don’t have to worry about a stray topper.

2. Label everything you eat.


You know that tasty tomato sauce you made a while ago? Its leftovers are now sitting in the fridge, and you can’t quite tell if that smell means it’s still good or not. This would never happen in a restaurant — and for good reason. All ingredients are promptly labeled, making it easy for anyone to see what’s still fresh and what’s past its prime. Get in the habit of writing the contents of your leftovers on masking tape with a permanent marker and include the date. It’s a fast and cheap way to keep your fridge clean.

3. Use bench seating to maximize space.

There are likely two reasons why banquettes are a classic part of the dining experience: They fit as many people into one space as possible, and it simply feels cozier than individual chairs. If your kitchen has a breakfast nook, consider the possibilities of creating a banquette of your own, or at least adding a bench. Either option provides the chance to add storage underneath the cushions as you also expand seating. A drawer would be perfect for linens, but open-air baskets would pull off the same trick.

4. Create zones for flow.


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