When you simplify the kitchen, everything gets streamlined and the days flow easier. Since so much of life is lived in the kitchen, paring things down so that it’s completely manageable simplifies life on pretty much all levels.
When the kitchen is streamlined it’s easier to prepare meals and whatever mess happens through the rest of the house isn’t as overwhelming, because there is one area that is simple and easy to do what you need to do in.
The kitchen is the best place in the house to begin simplifying because it’s a utilitarian space. Most of the objects in the kitchen are tools or consumables and take much less thought to sort and know what is important and what isn’t.
When decluttering your home, always save the sentimental items to declutter last. If you set out to declutter your kitchen and come to a stack of birthday cards or children’s artwork, if these items bring up those sentimental feelings, then set them aside somewhere else in the house to deal with after you’ve decluttered your main living spaces.
Here are 10 areas to declutter in your kitchen for the biggest results:
Pare down the Tupperware. Pull all your food storage containers out of their drawer or cupboard and immediately discard all the cheap plastic containers (think: yogurt, sour cream & cottage cheese containers). If they can be recycled, then great. But if not, don’t worry about it – you need to just get them out of your home and cupboard. Look at what’s left and pick out enough containers to last you a week: approximately 10. I keep only 10 containers and there are 7 people in our house. Keeping it down to this amount means that when you see there are no more containers available it’s time to clean and fridge and have a left-over night for dinner. This prevents containers from being pushed back in the fridge, forgotten and growing.
Evaluate the decorations. Do you love the decorations in your kitchen? Or are they there because “that’s what should be there.” I see this most with cupboards and tall ceiling: most people feel that there needs to be plants or ceramics or some cute shabby chic decoration. If you love these items, then keep them. But if they are just there because “there is supposed to be something up there,” and the dust on the plastic ivy annoys you… then take those suckers down and be free of them. It will give your kitchen some breathing room and there will be no more “I should dust that” thoughts running through your head.
Minimize the dishes. Getting down to only the dishes you use daily is a tremendous help. It forces one to wash dishes consistently, which means that the dirty dishes never take over the kitchen again. You know… the ones when you’ve waited for 4 days to catch up on dishes and now it’s going to take 3-4 hours to do them all? When you pare down to only what you use each day, they can all be done in a few minutes and you can start fresh in the morning. Forcing yourself into a new routine is one of the best ways to develop it: there are no other options.
Let go of the excess pots & pans. I’m sure you know which pots and pans you gravitate for and which ones you keep in the back of the cupboard “just in case what you need is dirty or breaks, etc.” Instead of being helpful to you though, these pots and pans mean the dishes pile up easier. It means you have to do more work when getting them out of the cupboard and putting them away again. Keep only the ones that you like using because they fit your needs. Get rid of the rest of them.
Papers. Do papers rule your home? Many people have such fear of throwing out something that is important, it often paralyzes them from throwing anything out. And then the piles begin. Papers get stuffed in drawers and cupboards, on top of all the flat surfaces. Seeing piles of papers cause stress and feelings of shame, you don’t want to have to sort them, but you don’t want to look at them either. Dealing with papers is a 2-step process:
- Gather all papers and sort. Have 3 boxes: trash, deal with (this includes bills or anything that needs a response), keep (warranties, insurance papers, etc).
- Change your mail routine. As soon as the mail comes in the door, it needs to be sorted. Stand over the trash or recycle bin and discard junk mail immediately. Have a designated place for bills and file anything received ASAP. Dealing with it this way means that there will no longer be “paper piles of shame” that build up in your home.
Sort out the cooking utensils. This is one of those categories that can easily become overwhelming. Especially if you’re one to attend Pampered Chef parties on a regular basis. 😉 Sure, tools make our life easier. There are some great ones that make a big difference – and we should keep those. For example: If you eat fresh pineapple on a regular basis, then, by all means, have a pineapple corer. But if you have fresh pineapple every couple years, at best, then there is no need for a pineapple corer to take up so much space in your utensil drawer. Pull them out and as you pick up each item, ask yourself: when the last time you used it? Does it make your life easier? Do you like using it? If the answer is “I don’t know” or “rarely”, then free up that space in your utensil area and give that item to a new home.
Thin the coffee mug collection. Coffee cups are easy to come by, people give them as gifts or prizes. Some are fun, some are practical jokes and some are like Christmas sweaters from your great-aunt, so you shove them into the back of the cupboard, keeping them out of guilt, but knowing that you never want it to grace your table. Gather all the coffee cups from every area of the house, set them out so you can look at them and pull out the ones that you love and use, and the ones that people in your home love and use. The rest can be given away. No need to keep these “just in case.” Don’t worry- if you only have 2 coffee cups and 1 breaks, it’s pretty easy to get another one. 😉
Large Kitchen Items. How often do you use your rice cooker? Crockpot? Griddle? Turkey roaster? If it’s been years, then you can free up so much space by letting them go. But, how will we cook the Thanksgiving turkey?? If you rotate who hosts the family gathering, there is no need for every family to own a turkey roaster. On the year you need it, borrow it from someone who is not cooking the bird. Think through all the large items you have in your home and honestly ask yourself when you used it last and if it’s realistic that you will use it again. It’s ok if you jumped on the home-made bread kick 10 years ago and now have no desire to make your own bread. Give yourself permission to let go of the items that aren’t serving you in this stage of your life.
Serving and Entertaining Items. Few people entertain in the traditional sense. The upcoming generations are choosing low-key gatherings with regular dishes and sharing everyday meals. This simplifies so much!! It means that having people over to share a meal is easier and you don’t have to put on a show. There is no need to have beautiful platters, fancy crystal bowls, and seasonal place settings. (Unless of course, that is your thing.) Invite your friends to share a meal, set the soup pot in the middle of the table and enjoy the company. Let go of the serving dishes you don’t use and don’t love and just be yourself around your friends.
Purge the cleaning supplies. So many companies have made us believe that these supplies are all that’s needed for a tidy home. Spray it on, spray it off and boom! Your house sparkles. We all know that’s not how it works, but when we’re desperate for order, it’s easy to pick up that bottle and try it out. When it doesn’t work, it ends up in the cleaning supplies graveyard under the sink. But when you set up cleaning routines in your everyday rhythm, you don’t need to rely on heavy duty cleaners. Simple soaps and cleaning cloths are all that is needed to maintain a clean house because it never gets out of control. Pare down your supplies to only the few you use on a regular basis. Box up the rest and either donate them to an organization that helps set up homes for people getting back on their feet or call your local waste management company and asks how to dispose of excess cleaning supplies.