A cluttered, messy commercial kitchen is every business owner’s, cook’s, and kitchen employee’s nightmare. You can’t find any of the utensils you need, don’t know where the last shift put any of the food, and can’t make heads or tails of what items are in which storage bins. This not only makes your workers’ job more difficult, but it slows down your kitchen and—in turn—slows the service you can provide your customers. And nobody wants that.

Instead of letting yourself get stressed about the disorder in your kitchen, follow these tips!

Tips for Keeping Your Commercial Kitchen Organized

    1. Label EVERYTHING. Rather than leave it to your employees to guess what food is in which container or what bins contains which utensils, clearly label everything on the outside, even if the containers are transparent. This can help avoid confusion and slowdowns, and keep disastrous food cross-contamination to a minimum. You wouldn’t want to accidentally serve regular pasta to a customer to ordered gluten free, for example.
    2. Plan your storage carefully. Avoid keeping goods and supplies above hot or greasy areas (like above the stove). Don’t put heavy items on high shelves, and make sure everyone who works in the kitchen can access everything they’ll need without having to drag out a ladder. Utilize racks with lots of shelving so all pots, pans, and utensils can be stored out of the way when not in use. Leave items like spatulas, ladles, tongs, etc. in drawers or organizers next to the stove and other cooking areas to limit movement as much as possible.
    3. Organize your refrigerator for maximum freshness. We’re not just talking about neatly stacking items when not in use. Foods that need to be cooked at higher temperatures (like poultry or ground meat) should generally be stored at the bottom of a refrigerator to prevent cross-contamination. Foods that may wilt (like fresh herbs) or harden (like coconut oil) if allowed to get too cold should not be kept in the back of the fridge, which is generally colder than the front.
    4. Practice FIFO (First In, First Out) with your food storage. This will help speed up your staff and minimize food waste in your kitchen. Organize your pantry and fridge in rows, with newer items behind older items so the foods that were opened get used first. When in a rush, your staff will likely reach for whatever is at the front of your fridge or shelves, and with older food in front, you can ensure nothing gets forgotten and buried in the back.
    5. Set up workstations ahead of time. Line cooks typically only have a few feet of space to work with, so it’s critical to set up this limited space for maximum productivity and ease. Provide each workspace/cook with a large cutting board (or multiple smaller cutting boards to avoid cross-contamination), knives, and other tools they need within arm’s reach.
    6. Communicate with employees. This is probably the most important part of keeping your commercial kitchen organized. Since the people working in the kitchen will be the ones upkeeping and managing your organization, it is important they know exactly what your expectations are. Be transparent in regard to how you’d like them to keep their workstations, organize goods and tools, and put items away in storage. Request feedback from your employees and ask them what they think will work best. Since they are ones working in the kitchen, they’ll have great insight to offer in terms of their workflow and what might interrupt it (even if you think your new organization system is helping!).

You not only want your commercial kitchen to be a clean and sanitary space, but you need it to be efficient and functional too. These kitchen organization tips should be able to help you maximize your kitchen’s productivity, reduce waste, and improve operations.