The kitchen is arguably the most hardworking room in the house. These "why didn't I think of that?" tricks will keep things flowing smoothly every day.

1. Stack Smartly: Many people pile up a stack of saucers and then pile up a stack of nested cups. This results in lots of unused space (plus, teacups and coffee cups don't stack very neatly). Instead, store cups and saucers the same way they're used: saucer, cup, saucer, cup. They not only look better, but they can also be safely stacked higher, and when you pull out a cup and saucer they are ready for use.

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2. Conserve Space: Install tension rods vertically between shelves, and use the space to stash cutting boards and baking pans upright.

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3. Switch Screens: Prevent clogged drains by using a fine mesh drain screen, sold at hardware stores or plumbing-supply stores. It catches more than traditional baskets do, and mesh drain screens are available in several sizes. Remember to always keep them clean!

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4. Scrub with Ease: Because salt is absorbent and a natural abrasive, it is an excellent antidote to grease. Rub salt into especially dirty pots and pans with a dry sponge until greasy residue is gone.

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5. DIY Your Drawer: Crisper drawers help keep produce fresh by allowing less air to circulate, which draws out less moisture. If you don't have a crisper drawer (or any room left in the one you have), mimic one by wrapping produce in slightly damp paper towels and then placing it in a plastic bag, which will keep air out and moisture in.

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6. Try This Cool Strategy: The temperature control in your refrigerator should be set between 37 and 40 degrees Fahrenheit, and your freezer between 0 and 5 degrees. If you want everything inside to be colder, adjust the setting in the refrigerator section, not in your freezer. Cold air originates in the freezer. A very high setting (meaning a low temperature) in the freezer will only cause the machine to close the baffle between the two sections so that the cold air stays in the freezer, leaving ice cream rock hard and drinks too warm.

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7. Adopt a Helpful Habit: If your freezer has an ice maker, stir the ice up at least once every few days. This circulates the air, keeping the ice fresher and without clumps. If you don't use much ice, empty the ice bin once a month so the machine will make new ice. Ice that sits for long periods can pick up odors from the air that circulates through both the freezer and the refrigerator.

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8. Make a Smooth Move: If you keep everyday appliances on your kitchen countertop, use felt glides underneath them to protect the surface. This will also make them easy to slide back and forth.

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9. Solve Your Storage Woes: A stainless steel grab bar and several S-hooks will turn a few square feet of ceiling or wall space into a convenient rack for kitchenware. Grab bars are better than towel bars for the job because they support more weight.

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10. Cut Down on Cleaning Time: Have a hanging pot rack? Regularly using an exhaust fan while cooking will help to keep your pots and pans cleaner longer.

11. Put a Cork on It: When hand washing knives, rub off stains with a clean wine cork dipped in mild dishwashing liquid; a mixture of coarse salt and lemon juice or vinegar also works well.

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Credit: Diane Fields

12. Label Wisely: When transferring rice from its box into a jar, tape the instructions for cooking that type of rice to the inside of the lid.

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