Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Whole House Purge: The Kitchen

The kitchen is one of my favorite places to find things to purge.  There always seems to be something, no matter how many times I've already gone through it.  Most of my cupboard painting happened after some thorough pre-garage sale cleaning but I still found more to get rid of with almost every cupboard I emptied and painted.  Especially cups.  Those seem to almost multiple on their own?  Even with adding sippy cups we probably have half the cups we did a few years ago.  And it's fine!  Our cupboards used to be a lot more crowded than they are now, a pain when everything was clean.  Now everything has a spot, things are used frequently, and I know where everything is.

The Kitchen (and dining room)
This can be a big project so I usually don't purge cupboards the same time I'm doing my big kitchen cleaning (cleaning out the fridge, scrubbing the stove top, etc.) but if you have the time and kids out of the way, it is really nice to knock everything out at once!

1) Empty a cupboard.  Wipe down the shelves.  Paint them if you wish (and can tolerate having everything spread out somewhere else for a few days, that was the worst part for me).  I'm a HUGE fan of starting with a blank slate.  Every time I do I end up with better results.  I will be mentioning this more than once.

2) Figure out what you can get rid of.  This will vary greatly person to person because of skill levels and what you actually use.  I generally would rather get rid of something and figure out a way to live without it.  Here are things we've gotten rid of in the last few years:
  • salad spinner (I wash lettuce, put it in a clean kitchen towel, and step outside to fling it around.  Dries it well and takes up no extra space!)
  • double 9x13 casserole pan
  • extra pie pan
  • extra cutting boards (kept 3 different sized bamboo ones)
  • mismatched/extra rubbermaid type containers (Keep the ones you use the most and stack together the best)
  • waffle iron
  • edged cookie sheet
  • small springform pan
  • extra spatulas (I had at least 10.  Kept 5.)
  • extra stirring spoons (kept 1)
  • slotted spoon (kept 1)
  • non slotted spoon (kept 1)
  • SO. MANY. CUPS.  A lot of coffee and travel mugs (have 5 of the former and 2 of the latter).  Mainly narrowed it down to the ones we use daily, Luke's sippies that we use, and a few (FEW) different sized ones.
  • complete extra set of dishes that didn't match our main set. 
  • cocktail shaker (kept 1)
  • extra 10" frying pan
  • snocone machine (hadn't used in years)
  • ice cube trays that were hard to get the cubes out of

General rule: if you haven't used it in a year you can get rid of it.  Besides seasonal items (Christmas cookie cutters & dishes, summer BBQ stuff, etc.) you can probably get rid of most anything you haven't used in the last 3 months.  No matter how good your intentions, if you haven't used that fondue pot recently, you probably won't anytime soon.  
3) Reorganize what is left!  Every time I've emptied a cupboard I try to forget how I had it put together and focus on how it would be best used.  Sometimes it's exactly how it was but not always.

4) Repeat with drawers, especially junk drawers (there is a reason they are called junk drawers) and any utensil/kitchen tool storing drawers.  I can almost always find something in those to get rid of too.

5) Empty the pantry.  Painting or relining shelves is always a good motivator to start fresh and with fewer things.  Toss anything expired and donate unopened items that you aren't going to use.  Make note of half used things and work those into your menu plan soon.  Group like items together like snacks for kids, baking items, and meal ingredients (like pasta and rice).  I prefer decanting and love using a glass jar instead of an ugly box.

6) Donate/trash/recycle whatever you decided to get rid of.   Besides extra rubbermaid type containers (recycled), most of our (non-food) extras go in the garage sale pile.

I remember one of my sister-in-laws telling me 10 years ago that no matter how I organized the kitchen I would change my mind and redo it many times.  I didn't believe her then.  Now I do; I most definitely do.  I can't count the number of times I've gone through the cupboards, trying to get them organized and failing.  It didn't seem to all click (and stay clean) until I painted and really pared down.  It's amazing what some fresh paint and some major purging can do!

I will never cease to be impressed by the results of a little work!  Good motivation to stop buying stuff and keep painting.  

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