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When we really start to declutter and get organized we normally start with clothes and accessories because they are the possessions we tend to accumulate the most.
Now in theory, it doesn’t matter whether you are letting go of books, clothes, ornaments or crockery the process is the same. You pick up the item, look at it closely and ask yourself; does this item bring make me happy or is it something useful? If you say no to both questions then you get rid of it!
It’s a simple process that really works.
Yet decluttering the kitchen is still avoided.
It sparks overwhelm in the most determined minimalist and even when the rest of your house is an organized dream, if your kitchen (the most used room in the house) is a disaster zone the rest of your house may as well be, because that’s the impact it has!
But it’s okay. I get it! Whilst this crazily, simple decluttering and organization process is brilliant, and you know it works, decluttering different parts of our homes (and lives) needs a slight shift in our mindset because our relationship with different possessions can be very emotional and deep rooted.
So once again I’ve brought in the queen of decluttering, my Mom, to help us answer that burning question how to organize your kitchen!
How To Organize Your Kitchen
I’ve always loved the word paraphernalia especially kitchen paraphernalia.
I could never wait to get my latest kitchen paraphernalia purchase home, convinced that this one would definitely turn me into a domestic goddess worthy of Bake Off.
Guess what – it never worked!
Is there another room in the home where so much paraphernalia is accumulated?
We love it don’t we? Those appliances we must buy to whizz, chop, whip, simmer, slice. Different knives, different spoons, pans for this and pans for that. Plates, bowls, baking trays and casserole dishes of countless sizes and uses.
Phew I am exhausted just thinking about them all! From here on I’m referring to all kitchen paraphernalia as ‘kitchen stuff’ because that’s exactly what it is. And the more cupboards we have, the more stuff we accumulate.
Stuff that brings us down, sapping our time, energy and money. I mean how many times have you not been able to find that particular pan you needed or felt guilty that you haven’t used the $500 juicer you brought.
Take an honest look around your kitchen.
- Are your worktops crammed with stuff because there’s no more room in the cupboards?
- Are your kitchen drawers so full you can never find anything, do you even know what’s in there?
- Are there mountains of teetering crockery, saucepans, baking tins in the cupboards?
- When was the last time you saw what was in the back of those cupboards?
- Does it drive you mad that other people in your home leave stuff on the already cluttered work surfaces?
(Interesting fact, research shows that people who wouldn’t normally throw rubbish on the ground often do so if there’s already rubbish there or the bins are full. It happens in our homes too, if there’s stuff everywhere people don’t know where to put anything so they just dump dirty mugs and other stuff wherever they can find a space. So you more clutter you have, the worse it will get!)
- When did you last go through your food cupboards, do you buy things you’ve already got just because you didn’t realize it was there?
- Do you often throw food out because there’s so many bits and pieces in your refrigerator it goes out of date before you can use it?
- Could there be food in your freezer that is unrecognizable? (The label has fallen off and you haven’t a clue what it is and when you put it there.)
But really, how often do you honestly use that stuff in your kitchen cupboards?
I’m guessing less than a quarter on a regular basis…
I think it’s time for a declutter and some kitchen organization!
If you’re thinking, well actually my kitchen is quite tidy, things don’t fall out of my cupboards when I open the doors and I can usually find whatever I need. Do I really need to declutter?
My answer is that for some reason you were drawn to reading this post, perhaps because you want to simplify your life and are feeling the way too many possessions can hold us back and stop us realizing our dreams.
Even the tidiest house can be decluttered and better organized. After all there is no such thing as perfect!
Now close your eyes and picture your kitchen where the worktops only have a few necessary items. The stuff in cupboards is accessible and everything has its own place.
I bet that looks and feels amazing. Well I’ve broken the process down into easy steps so you can create that dream kitchen easily!!!
Enough Chit Chat, Let’s Organize Your Kitchen!
Step One: Schedule and Prepare
- Pick a day that you will have plenty of time and as few interruptions as possible allowing you to focus.
Preferably there should be no one else around. If you must have help, make sure that person will not undermine your decluttering and organization decisions. You really, really don’t need anyone who says things like “Oh no, you cant get rid of that, Granny gave it to you”.
Pick your decluttering buddy very carefully.
- You will be emptying every cupboard, shelf and draw in your kitchen so make sure you have snacks and drinks available to graze on and keep that kettle handy if you’re a tea drinker.
- Have plenty of strong bags or boxes available for items you no longer need and consider how you will dispose of them.
If they are sellable you could use eBay, Facebook or craigslist or donate items to charity/ thrift shops.
However you choose to dispose of unwanted stuff, we all have a responsibility to care for our environment so please make sure you recycle as much possible.
- Stock up on storage containers that will help keep your kitchen organized once you have decluttered.
You may already have some around the house, but grabbing some of these from Amazon could be a good idea:
Step Two: Clear The Countertops
If your countertops are cluttered, clear them completely. You will need clear countertops to empty all your kitchen cupboards onto.
As you remove each item ask yourself does this item bring me happiness or is it useful? If you don’t get a positive answer for one or both of those questions then it’s time to get rid of it!
Paperwork often piles up on countertops so have a quick sort through it and get rid of any trash.
Do not get distracted by reading everything in detail. Make a neat pile of papers that need action, take it out of the kitchen, put it somewhere safe and obvious so that you can work through it another day.
Put unwanted paper like freebie newspapers and takeaway menus in your recycling bin.
Also move any clothes, toys or non-kitchen stuff to more appropriate rooms.
Now you should have completely empty countertops, congratulations!
Step Three: Take Everything Out Of The Cupboards
As you get stuff out of the cupboards it’s helpful and ultimately time saving if you can put like for like.
For instance you may have lots of dishes and bowls in various cupboards, so try to put all your desert/cereal bowls together, all the ovenproof dishes together, all the serving dishes together etc.
We generally accumulate multiples of possessions and by gathering together everything of a particular type you can see duplications that you weren’t aware of and probably do not need.
There is no need to be overwhelmed by all this stuff because you will be getting rid of a lot of it soon. Your beautiful calm and organized kitchen awaits!
Step Four: Take The Opportunity To Clean Those Empty Cupboards
Now is the perfect time to give all those empty cupboards a good clean.
You want your decluttered cupboards to look beautiful don’t you?
Step Five: How You Want To Organize Your Kitchen
Now that all your kitchen paraphernalia is out in like for like groups it’s time to start thinking about where you want things to go and you don’t necessarily have to put stuff back where it was before.
Did you ever wish your crockery was in the cupboard next to the dishwasher so that you could empty it straight in? Now you can!
Think about how do you use your kitchen. Are you always walking back and forth for things when you’re cooking?
If you love making cakes, does it make sense to keep all the baking stuff together in one cupboard?
Is there stuff in different rooms that really belongs in the kitchen but you’ve never had space? As after decluttering you will definitely have space, so go and get those items and incorporate them into your like for like piles.
Step Six: Declutter Each Category Of Like For Like Items
Always, always, always focus on one category or type of item at a time.
You might start with plates.
Pick up each piece, check for chips and cracks and ask yourself, is it useful, do I use it? Or, do I love it?
For example, I have 4 pretty Christmas plates that I only use for serving mince pies and other festive foods. For 51 weeks of the year they are not used, but I get such pleasure from them at Christmas they earn a place in my kitchen.
Now look at all the plates you have decided to keep.
Obviously you need enough to cater for your family and friends. But enough spares for a 50 person party? Probably not! So make sure you don’t have too many duplicates.
On a side note, we often inherit things from family that have passed away, especially tea sets and dinner services. Please don’t feel guilty if you decide you no longer need them. Give it to a charity that was dear to that persons heart, that way you get space in your cupboards, the charity makes some money and the person that buys it is very happy, win, win, win!
Now work your way through each of the kitchen categories. Cooking pans, utensils, electrical appliances, cutlery etc etc.
Don’t keep something just because it was expensive. For example have you ever spent a lot of money on a something like a juicer (who hasn’t?) then never used it past the first week because it’s such a pain to clean?
We live and learn, don’t perpetuate the expensive mistake by continuing to give it precious cupboard space. I used to volunteer in a thrift store and I can’t tell you how many small kitchen appliances were donated every month. Top of the list were juicers!
So don’t feel bad if you have some unused kitchen gadgets. Appreciate the memory of your anticipation and happiness when you bought them, they owe you nothing further, so let them go.
I’ve said it before, but keep checking on the quantity of items you have selected to keep, of course you must be able to comfortably cater for your family and friends but do you really need so many spares?
WARNING: There are phrases that will pop into your head that can sabotage your decluttering dream. Any sentence that ends with “… so I’d better keep it”.
You know the ones:
“It may come in useful one day, so I’d better keep it.”
“It was a present, so I’d better keep it.”
“It was expensive, so I’d better keep it”
“It’s brand new, so I’d better keep it”
If you catch yourself saying any of these, strengthen your resolve and let that item go. Stick to the criteria, does it make you happy or is it useful? Decluttering is about giving yourself permission to let things go with a light heart.
And no one has an organized kitchen if they hang on to unnecessary objects!
Step Seven: Put Those Decluttered Items Away In Their New Places
You should now only have left carefully and consciously selected kitchen items for each category, these are your keepers, the items you will use regularly or those that make you happy.
This is the exciting part, putting them away!
Make sure you don’t overfill the cupboards because everything should be easily accessible.
Make use of those storage containers and don’t be afraid to leave empty space!
It feels great to see and access everything doesn’t it?
You also need to decide what needs to be out on your worktop.
This will vary person to person, family to family, but try to keep it to a minimum. Personally I would choose kettle, coffee maker, toaster, paper towel holder and some trivets by the cooker.
Oh and the food mixer, not because I use it all the time but its too darned heavy to get in and out of a cupboard when I need it! (In case you were wondering I have a kitchen aid and my goodness it was worth every cent!)
Step Eight: Time To Declutter and Organize The Food
At this point, everything else kitchen related should have been sorted for disposal or put away in cupboards and drawers in their own place, so that everyone can find them easily and replace them after use.
Now you need to go through your store cupboard foods (dried good, packets, tins, jars) and ask yourself if it will get used and whether it’s in date.
If you have foods that you know will never be eaten by your family take them to a food bank. There is no point in having food go out of date in your cupboards when someone else could make good use of them.
Check best-before dates and make sure the oldest packets, tins and jars are in front of newer ones.
Stack neatly so that you can see exactly what you have and check the cupboard before going shopping to avoid buying items you already have.
Always reseal opened packets with plastic clips to stop biscuits, dried fruit and cereals from drying out and going stale
Be mindful of your stock items and plan menus to use them.
If you don’t already, try to get in the habit of making shopping lists, you will be pleasantly surprised how much money you save if you stick to a list. You avoid impulse buys and random items you have no immediate specific use for, six different sorts of pasta are great but only if you eat them!
My downfall is spices. I am guilty of being seduced by exotic sounding herbs and spices, I imagine creating amazing dishes that my family will swoon with pleasure over.
The reality is the majority of pots don’t even get opened, I know they last and are quite inexpensive but it just shows the power of advertising and attractive packaging.
Let’s move onto the refrigerator.
Sorry but you must start by taking everything out and put it on to your lovely clutter free worktops. Now give the fridge a good clean.
Throw away anything that looks unsavory, mouldy, shriveled or unrecognizable! Check best before dates and recommended use by dates when something has been opened, I know everyone has their own ideas on how exact or flexible theses dates are.
Throw away anything that you know won’t be used, like those little scraps of dried up leftovers and jars that have been started but you cant remember when.
I’m always amazed by the amount of food people throw away because they didn’t reseal things like cheese or bags of salad. You can buy plastic clips, sealable food bags, cling film, or tupperware very reasonably and it only take a minute to reseal it.
Here is a list of storage items that I use to keep my food fresh:
Personally I think that keeping a fridge clean and well organized can be a challenge, but the secret is to invest in a few reasonably strong plastic boxes in different sizes that fit on the shelves. You can buy specific fridge organizers, which are great, but cheaper versions will be fine. I really like these.
I’m hoping by now that all the food sitting on your countertop is edible!
Most fridge doors have butter and cheese storage and shelves that hold tall things like milk and wine. So put these items away first.
The idea of plastic boxes and fridge organizers is rather than having lots of individual bits and pieces on the main shelves rolling around and getting pushed to the back, you can group similar things in a box and locate them easily.
For instance I keep small salad stuff like avocados, peppers, tomatoes and lettuce in one box, then I can take the box out and everything is there to make my lunch.
I have another for carrots, eggplant, zucchini, garlic and ginger.
It’s up to you how your fridge should be organized. Put everything else back in and resolve to keep it as beautifully decluttered as the rest of your kitchen.
Most of us have a freezer of some sort.
Whether it’s a huge chest freezer or a small section at the top of a fridge there’s usually something lurking there that we wouldn’t fancy eating.
We tend to think that once something is in the freezer it’s fine, that it can stay there ad infinitum. Technically that may be true, but over time all frozen food will deteriorate in quality and become very unappetizing to eat when it’s defrosted.
If we buy ready frozen food it should have a use by date, but if we grow our own fruit and vegetables, or buy fresh meat and fish to freeze then we need to prepare and pack it well and ensure we mark it with the date we freeze it and the date we should eat it by.
We should always have respect for foodstuffs, for the growers and harvesters of fruit and vegetables, for the animals bred for meat and the process to bring it to our tables, for the hard earned money we use to buy those foods.
Arrange your freezer so that you can easily see what is in there and ensure food is used before it deteriorates.
Step Nine: Dispose of everything you decluttered!
The hard bit truly is over!
But you do really need to move this stuff out as soon as possible.
The danger is that other people, like friends or family may look through your bags and boxes and won’t be able to resist commenting on your decluttering decisions.
Have absolute faith in yourself and your decisions. This is your journey to change your life for the better. You can feel a little smug if you like, you deserve to in your now beautifully organized kitchen.
As always if you have any questions please comment below or email me at [email protected]
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