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Your kitchen is the heart of your home, where family and friends are nourished holistically–body, mind and soul! But if the kitchen is cluttered, unorganized and chaotic it ends up being inefficient and stressful to you, your family and guests. If you’re overwhelmed with the thought of decluttering your kitchen, here are 5 simple ways to minimize your kitchen today!
1. Duplicate Cooking Utensils
Utensils stir, serve, whisk, swirl, ladle, skim, flip, scrape, blend, slice, peel, and mash. So many uses, and often, we have so many of them! First, take a hard look at that container by your stove that you have them jammed into. How many spoons are stuffed in there? Be honest with yourself–they can’t all be your favorites. How many spatulas, whisks and tongs?
Then open up those drawers where you have the rest of your utensils stuffed away. Depending on what you find yourself cooking on a regular basis, your number of needs may vary. But even the most avid cook will usually admit there are a few utensils they rarely grab.
- How many variations of each type do I own? Pull them all out and put them in piles (tongs, spoons, spatulas, etc.)
- Do my variations have different uses? (Slotted spoon, serving spoon, bamboo and metal spatulas for non-stick vs. cast iron pans)
- Which ones do I really need and could I get by with just one or two of each type?
Be honest with yourself and challenge yourself to set aside the extras and just keep one or two of each type. I found myself donating piles of extra utensils and sticking with the best quality.
I choose to have 1 whisk, 2 bamboo spoons, 2 bamboo spatulas, 1 metal spatula, 1 tongs, 1 potato masher, 1 slotted spoon and 1 serving spoon. You can tour my minimalist kitchen here.
2. Speciality Cooking & Baking Accessories
Unless you’re a chef or baking enthusiast (and really, even then), many of the items cluttering your drawers and cabinets are probably rarely used.
Chances are, you’ve been given a handful of “kitchen accessory” gifts over the years from well-meaning friends and family. Maybe you’ve inherited trinkets from yard sales or relatives.
There is an entire wall at department stores of “specialty” accessories, ranging from slicers, dicers, scoops, “spoontensils” (yep, that’s real), dippers, dishers, spreaders, and the like.
If you’ve got a drawer crowded with melon, mango, berry, cookie, ice cream, and canning tools that you have never, or rarely use, those one-task items are not serving you.
In “The Minimalist Home”, Joshua Becker states “multi-taskers do many things, while unitaskers do only one… few of them complete a task that can’t be done just as well by a far more common kitchen tool, such as a knife or skillet.”
Ditch every specialty tool you don’t use on a daily or weekly basis from your kitchen drawers and if there is a special tool, such as cookie cutters or seasonal uses, put them neatly in a labeled container in a cabinet or pantry.
3. Cups & Mugs
I’m a reformed mug collector. I totally get it. Cute mugs are amazing. All the inspiring quotes, logos and pictures. Seasonal ones. You’ve got them from past jobs and places you’ve volunteered. They might say you’re the world’s greatest parent or some other personalization.
But here’s the thing. You only use one mug at a time. One.
So why do we need twenty?
This is an easy place to see real progress and minimize your kitchen. Instead of grabbing a new cup every time you want a drink, limit yourself to using just one, and wash it daily. Donate extras or store them out of daily reach so they won’t be tempting!
Pull out each mug one at a time and ask yourself:
- What does this mug currently mean to me?
- When was the last time I used this particular mug?
- Does this mug evoke a meaning for me? (Inspirational, negative, indifferent)
If the mug makes you feel inspired and happy, keep it. However, I would seriously challenge you to select your 2-3 absolute favorites to keep. Donate or gift the others.
My husband and I keep 2 mugs each in our cabinet, though I do have a complete matching set of 8 that go with our dishes. The extra 6 are stored in a cabinet above our fridge along with our extra dishes for company.
If you have a set for company that don’t get used often, store them out of the way so they don’t get used on the daily and add to the dishes pile.
4. Duplicate Bakeware & Cookware
Open your packed cupboards and peek at the contents. How many pie plates do you see? How often do you bake pies? Never? Donate them. A few times a year? Keep one or two.
How many baking sheets do you have? How many are rusted and in poor condition? How many do you truly use in a baking session? Keep those and let go of the extras.
How many muffin tins do you really use at once? How many casserole dishes can you use at once? Pay attention once again for specialty items you may have bought and used once (like that springform pan I had the best of intentions for…and ended up donating) or were gifted in years past.
Often we are scared to let go of things because we fear we might need them in the future and regret getting rid of the item. However, the truth is that in most cases, we can use another item we have instead, or we can borrow that particular item from someone we know.
In generations past, communities relied on each other to borrow things and help each other out, but our self-reliant society has us believing that we have to own everything we could ever need in our homes. Instead of creating a close-knit community, it’s made us overly-attached and dependent on the estimated average 300,000 items in our homes.
That’s an excruciating number of belongings to pack into cabinets and drawers. No one should be burdened by that many physical items. Start letting go today.
5. Expired Food & Spices
In the area of consumable foods, most of us have hidden things in the back of our cabinets and pantries that we rarely access. When was the last time you went through your spice rack or collection? Just how old are those bottles?
While many spices do last for years, they still expire. If your bottles are so old that they don’t have expiration dates on them, please, please toss or replace them. Your health isn’t worth the risk of twenty-year-old spices!
Consider if there are spices that you purchased to make a particular dish and have never it since. Let it go. It may be difficult to let go of full or even unopened containers, but the result is worth the twinge of guilt.
Having a really hard time letting go? Check out my pro tips for letting go of buyers’ remorse and decluttering guilt-filled items here.
Yes, it takes time to go through each can or box and look for an expiration date, but I can guarantee that if you take an hour to do this, you’ll find your shelves automatically clear themselves.
Don’t forget to go through your medicine cabinet and vitamins, supplements, coffee, tea and drink packets. Responsibly discard unused medications.
Declutter With Intention
In my years as a Professional Organizer, I’ve helped a lot of people declutter their homes. Each of them have had a unique reason or approach to why they wanted to declutter. Some were moving, some making room for a new baby, some to simply downsize their way of life. Many of them had decluttered their home over and over in the past, but still, more stuff just kept coming in.
In her book “Soulful Simplicity”, Courtney Carver wrote about the powerful mindset change that she had to make to switch from that twice a year decluttering that “was just making room for new stuff” to instead “getting rid of things to make room for something much more important than more stuff”. It was a massive change of intention.
When you decide to get rid of the stuff and not replace it with more stuff, you decide to be the gatekeeper of your home and keep the clutter out.
Yes, you’ll still need to declutter consumables and things that inevitably will wander into your room (especially if you have kids and a family!), but you will be making intentional choices to buy less, use less, and hold onto l-e-s-s. That’s freedom. That’s space. That’s breathing room.
Choose to let go of the excess items in your kitchen that you can really do without and you’ll enjoy the benefits of less crowded counters, shelves and drawers. You’ll be able to find what you need in less time and may find you enjoy cooking a little more (I did!).
Let me know in the comments below what you are letting go of from your kitchen today!
Related Decluttering Articles
- Quick Start Guide to Decluttering
- Pro Tips to Declutter Guilt-Filled Items
- Clearing Clutter with the Quick Win Areas