How to set up an organized, kid-friendly kitchen: tips to engage your little ones and foster independence

May 18, 2020

I spend a lot of time in kitchens. Yes, cooking in my own for sure, but also working with clients, designing a system that works best for them. The key in making the space most efficient? Customizing the set-up for all family members, including the kids.

If you’ve read some of my other kid-related blogs and posts, you might know that I’m passionate about setting up organizational systems that kids can use on their own. That means art supplies in accessible containers, books on low shelves, and labels that they can understand (check out these graphic labels for the pre-readers!). Playrooms are obvious ones to make kid-friendly, but kitchens? You bet!

It only takes a few tweaks to make your kitchen kid-friendly.  Read on for my top tips to encourage independence in the little ones.

Organized snacks

Bottom cabinets

Yes, the could grab a step stool and tipy-toe themselves to reach the bowls, but why bother? Instead of keeping the kid dishes, cups and utensils with the adults ones, take out the kids’ stuff and move it to a low shelf or cabinet. Include a napkin stash, as well. Not only will they be able to help themselves, you can add setting the table to their list of home responsibilities, which instills helpful habits at a young age. Even toddlers can get on board on a regular basis.

Organized kids pantry

Organized kids breakfast

Snack stations

Encouraging kids to pick out their own snacks is a healthy way of teaching them positive eating habits. Make visual distinctions between the regular options and the “sometimes” treats, so that they learn how to pick a well-balanced snack. It’s up to you and your family’s eating habits / rules to determine how this is organized, but the trick is to compartmentalize the choices to help eliminate snack-time battles. Are cookies an okay, every-time option? Awesome and all the power to you. Won’t swing in your house? Do your kids a favor and keep them apart from the pretzels – preferably on a separate shelf. The goal isn’t to make the sweet stuff inaccessible; it’s to remind them, visually, that there’s a distinction.

In our house, snack time usually involves a crunchy snack, a protein, and a fruit or veggie, so our snack bin is organized in that way: the “crunchy” bin is where  you’ll find all the salty, snacky goodness, with the nuts and dried fruit in other bins. It helps them pick a selected amount from each section of the pantry, so that their plates are well balanced.

Organized snacks

Organized snacks

Organized kids snacks


Instagram-worthy pantry goals? The number one way to get your pantry looking amaaazzzing is also the best way to get your kids to get their snacks without making a mess: decanting into reusable storage containers. If you are going to decant one area in your pantry, start with your kids food. Need convincing? Here are some reasons why:

  • It’s easier to pour / grab from a resealable container than from a ripped open bag of chips.
  • No need for clumsy, chunky chip-clips.
  • Snacks stay fresher, for longer. (No more “Mommmmmm, the crackers are stale”).
  • It’s easier to see when a package is almost empty: refill and keep the kids happy.
  • It looks prettier. OK, that one is for you, but come on, you buy the snacks, so you need some motivation too.

Organized snacks

Organized snacks

Step stools

As I mentioned above, accessibility is key. Keep step stools accessible so that the kids can bring them when needed: helping cook at the counter or use the sink, for example. This is a great opportunity to teach them kitchen safety, especially around the stove and hot water faucet.

Shop the look

How you organize your pantry and kitchen cabinets is not a one-size-fits-all solution; what you choose to buy depends on the size of the cabinets, your food habits, decor preference, and so much more. But, some products are just so popular for a reason that I use them in almost every client project. Here’s a list of my favorites:

Stuck on what products will best fit your space?

Message me to get a personalized curated shopping list, customized for your home.

Let’s stay connected!

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