It’s the end of the day. You’re hungry, the kids are hungry, and you have to do something with these vegetables before they go bad. Distracted by the sounds of arguing from the other room, you reach into a cupboard for the colander.
Huh, it’s not there.
Hollering at your children to settle down, you fumble through a second cupboard for the colander. Nothing. Then a third.
Suddenly, you smell dinner starting to burn.
Is this a familiar scenario?
Preparing healthy meals for you and your family is difficult enough without also having to battle with your kitchen every step of the way. Cluttered drawers and cupboards make it impossible to quickly and easily locate the items you need, and disorganized storage spaces mean you might buy duplicates without even knowing you have.
But there’s good news! You don’t have to be a professional organizer to make positive changes in your spaces. You can streamline your kitchen to work for the entire family – you just need a little guidance to get you there.
Five Ways to Declutter the Kitchen Right Now
1 . Find those duplicates!
How many bowls, cups, serving utensils, and colanders do you actually own? In the hustle and bustle of everyday (not to mention big life transitions like moving homes), it’s incredibly easy to forget what you have. It can be daunting, but the only way to truly know what you have is to pull it aaaaall out.
Emptying out every cupboard, shelf, drawer, and kitchen utensil jar will help you see exactly what you own. So make the time, clear the counters and kitchen table, and get your head on straight. Then start emptying, and set everything out onto your kitchen table, counter, or some other large space (even a sheet on the floor can work). I’m talking about everything: cooking tools, baking accessories, pots, pans, knives, cutting boards. Everything must come out.
Next, categorize your items. Place all of the slotted spoons together, all of the tongs, all of the mixing bowls. This will give you a full picture of what you’re dealing with.
Look at your stuff. I mean really look. Surely you don’t use it all. Anything extra, anything that you do not use, and anything that you haven’t used in a very long time, go ahead and separate it out. These items are excess, and it’s time to let them go (for the sake of your space and your sanity).
For rarely-used items, keep in mind: If you can easily buy it again if you find need it again, let it go.
2. Purge specialty appliances
Specialty appliances and kitchen gadgets are humongous space thieves! Countertop quesadilla makers, gummy worms makers, banana slicers, the list goes on. While these novelty items sound like they’ll make your life easier, generally any time you save doesn’t make up for the space the tool takes up. Plus, the vast majority of them get used once and then set aside to gather dust.
To determine if any of these gadgets are worth keeping, here are a few questions to ask yourself:
When was the last time I used it? If this truly is an object that is a valuable time-saver, then it is something that you will use often (looking at you, George Foreman Grill).
If the home pasta maker hasn’t made an appearance since five Christmases ago, then it’s probably time to donate.
Is it something I would buy again right now? If this particular kitchen accessory deserves a permanent spot in your cooking arsenal, then it will be something that you would automatically spend the money on again.
But if you wouldn’t go out tonight and spend $50 on that NuWave Oven, it can probably go.
Does this make my life easier? These kitchen novelties all advertise how much easier they make your life. Make perfect omelettes, cut avocados evenly, precisely dice vegetables. You name it, there’s a gadget that does it. But does it personally make your life easier? Or does it take more time to clean than is worth it?
If these items don’t save you amazing amounts of time, or make whatever task so easy that you can’t imagine preparing a specific food without it, then it’s time to let it go.
We’ve all got them: the lids without bottoms, the stained plastic, the leftover butter containers. Tupperware is notoriously difficult to keep organized, especially if you are dealing with a lot of different brands and/or sizes.
To start, throw out everything that is cracked, worn, or stained. Then take whatever is left and take the time to make sure that everything matches, and throw out the extras.
To store tupperware, you have a couple different options. The most convenient option is to stack the bottoms by size, then place them on top of the matching stacked tops. Then place them in an area of the kitchen where you normally pack up leftover food.
4. Thin out the dinnerware
While it’s not a bad idea to have a couple extra place settings for guests, sometimes it can get a little out of control. From hand-me-down silverware that well-meaning friends and family have gifted you to the holiday promotional mugs from the office, these things can add up. And all of those extra dishes that just sit in the china cabinet clutter up your shelves and make it more difficult to store the things that you really love and use.
Anything that is broken, chipped, not part of a set, or has just not been used recently can go to donation or the trash. That will free up cupboard real estate so you can reorganize the items you do use.
Place dishes and glasses in cupboards near the dishwasher or sink, so that they can be quickly put away and encourage dishwasher unloading. Putting silverware in a convenient drawer also near the dishwasher will make loading and unloading more efficient. Simple steps like these will help your kitchen become a little more streamlined and prevent you from running all over the room, ultimately saving you time during meal preparation and cleanup.
5. Cut back on hand towels and potholders
Hand towels and potholders, while vital to a functioning kitchen, can really accumulate. Whether you pick up more than you need by accident, or the old ones just don’t make it to the donation pile, these accessories can hide in some of the most unassuming places.
First take the time to gather all of your hand towels and potholders from every part of the kitchen and group them on a large, flat surface. This way you can really see how many you actually own. Categorize them by their wear and tear, size, and whether they are decorative or practical.
Keep one decorative set that goes best with your color schemes (and one set for each holiday if you have holiday themes), and keep one or two practical potholders and about ten hand towels that will be used for wiping surfaces and drying dishes.
Whether you choose to follow all five tips or just implement one, you’ll have taken a step towards a more comfortable, efficient kitchen.
Have your own kitchen-organizing tips and tricks? Tell us in the comments!