Kitchens tend to be one of the most clutter-filled rooms in people’s homes. They should be a pleasant space to cook and make drinks; instead, they end up as stress hotspots with rammed drawers, bursting cupboards and barely any space for food prep.
But how and why do our kitchens end up so cluttered in the first place? The answer is simple: unneeded cumbersome appliances, barely used cookware, clones of accessories, an excess of silverware, food or condiments you rarely access, and an overwhelming amount of cleaning supplies.
So much clutter in the kitchen can make mealtimes into a nightmare and make you much more likely to spend money eating out or ordering takeaways. It’s hard to find what you need, hard to access what you use the most, and hard to decide what to cook. Deciding what to cook is an extremely common issue with couples and families, but most people don’t consider that it might be due to decision fatigue and the stress of an overbearing kitchen. To jump-start you in reclaiming back a harmonious space you can’t wait to get cooking in, let’s start off with the simplest place: surfaces.
Surfaces in a kitchen should be spacious with as little clutter as possible as they are used for serving and preparing food, and can even be used to host a spread at parties. Lots of surface clutter is also hard to clean under, so could be harbouring more grime and bacteria than you care to imagine. Things you may want to consider removing are:
- Breadbin -bread can be stored in a carefully curated cupboard.
- Tea and coffee caddies – teabags, coffee and sugar can also be stowed away in a cupboard in their original packaging.
- Keys, notebooks and pens should never grace a kitchen work surface. Instead, invest in a nice wipeable board for the wall, and hang keys up in the hall or keep them in your bag.
- Recipe books or folders – Keep just one and store in a cupboard where it is easily accessible.
- Medicines-These should never be kept out on a surface and should be kept locked up in a suitable container, but I’ve encountered exposed pills and bottles many times. Due to fluctuating temperatures in the kitchen, medicines are perhaps best kept in a lockable bathroom cabinet.
- Hair products – Believe it or not, I’ve come across hair and beauty products being kept in the kitchen. For hygiene reasons, keep styling and beauty products in the bathroom or bedroom.
Things that are fine to keep on the surface include kettle, microwave, and toaster. Although, I could argue that if you have a grill, you could easily get by without a toaster. If, like me, you’re prone to forgetting that you have food under the grill , by all means keep it. Your most used appliances will depend on yours and your family’s personal preferences.
“Are you mad?! I can’t possibly stow any more in my cupboards!”, I hear you panic. If that’s the case for you; you could be pleasantly surprised or even flat-out shocked by how much you’re keeping in your cupboards that you don’t need. Once you’ve cleared your surfaces as much as possible, it’s time to evaluate everything behind those doors and become ruthless.
- Outdated food, spices and condiments (goes without saying).
- Food you don’t think you’ll ever touch but has a long sell by date – donate to a food bank. There’s much less fortunate people out there who could be delighted by your unopened, unused consumables.
- Ingredients you swore you’d get round to using ‘someday’ but are still waiting for that day to arrive.
- Unused appliances that haven’t been touched for over a year. Things like toastie makers, and novelty appliances made to save you time that only end up taking space.
- The partyware that comes out once every few years – that includes cake stands, paper plates, plastic cutlery and beakers etc.
- Cups and glasses which are rarely used, if ever. Think: How many cups and glasses do you really need? Consider how many people are in your household and how many visitors you entertain at any one time. And do you really need a glass for every type of alcoholic beverage? Too many of us keep enough to host our own mini-bar and cafe, and as a result we run out of space.
- Plates and cookware. Evaluate what you use the most and how many plates you really need for your household. For sentimental crockery that you don’t like to use, either start using it for its intended purpose, or display across a wall. Get rid of old pots and pans if you have since acquired new. If you have a tonne of baking equipment, think about how often you use it and for what.
- Cleaning supplies: you’ve probably got spray polish, bleach, a dozen cloths, furniture spray and just about everything you can think of under your sink for every probable scenario. Just like with bathrooms, whittle down your supplies and seek all-in-1 solutions that can do just about every job. You might want to consider using all natural products which are less harmful for the environment, safer if you have kids or pets, cheap, and easily concocted 1.
Lastly, we get to the drawers. When you get to editing your drawers, it might be easier to dump everything out and go through everything piece by piece. Kitchen drawers can be nightmarish to rifle through the dozens of spatulas, speciality knives, cutlery, medicine spoons, bottle openers, cheese graters, pizza cutters, ladles, corkscrews, and every utensil in the cooking world. This is because when people buy new cutlery, they tend to keep the old ‘just in case’, or buy a duplicate because the original was hiding beneath clutter. It’s also too easy bend to the mindset of ‘I spent good money on that’ – cookware can be costly, after all. But, if you’ve been reading my posts up to this point, you already know that is a dangerous and limiting mindset that ensures we remain trapped and weighed down by our possessions. Realise that you’ve had your use out of the object (or that you made a mistake) and either let it go or donate it. Remember: things rarely hold their monetary value, especially once used. And even if there is something of value – if you don’t use it, your time and space is far more valuable.
As with most other rooms that get minimised, one of the immediate benefits you will notice is how effortless cleaning is. And once you know where everything is and exactly what you own, you will likely feel more inclined to meal prep, and therefore, become healthier and calmer. With space to be more creative, you might even discover a new joy for cooking.