An over cluttered kitchen is awkward to work in effectively and difficult to keep hygienically clean. If you haven’t had a good sort out of your kitchen units, fridge and freezer in the last year it is likely that you will find outdated food items and an assortment or gadgets, utensils and equipment which are no longer current. In order to be really organised and declutter effectively use a selection of boxes labelled up as follows:
1. Kitchen (for items that are staying).
2. Transit (for items that belong elsewhere in the home).
3. Sale (be realistic about what is actually worth selling, otherwise I recommend gifting).
4. Charity (for decent items only); it isn’t fair to offload damaged, dirty or ‘past it’ items; bin them.
5. Recycling (for the things your local authority collect, or you can take to your local recycling centre).
You will also need heavy duty refuse sacks for the real rubbish.
Set aside time when you won’t be disturbed. If time is limited do one step at a time and come back to the next another day. Stay focused on what you do actually use and how many mugs, spoons, plates, etc. are really necessary. Machines and gadgets are all very well, but they clutter up counter tops, and if stored in cupboards they tend to get forgotten. Ask yourself when you come across 2 or 3 of the same item ‘How many graters, bottle openers, fill in the blank, do I really need?’ Are you keeping them in case? If yes, then ask yourself how often these items break, get lost, or ??? Keep the best one and dump the rest. Then there are those simply ‘must have’ items you thought would come in so useful at the time; such as the banana slicer, chilli corer or vegetable spiral cutter. You could probably just as easily get away with a good knife, especially if space is limited. Please don’t buy new containers before you start this process. You have big containers called cupboards to put things in; containers take up precious space, and the amount of Tupperware and empty cartons, jars and plastic containers most people have in their kitchens is usually more than enough for anyone. I also discourage using ‘decorative’ containers in which to store food on the countertops. Counter space is great kept clear, makes food preparation easy and pleasurable and a breeze to keep clean. It really will save you time too.
1. Start by emptying the dishwasher and clearing a decent amount of space on the counter top so that you have an area on which to work. Fill the sink with hot soapy water ready for wiping things clean and have a pile of tea towels to dry things thoroughly.
2. First address the area above of the high level cupboards. I find this can often be a dumping ground for old gadgets, cake tins, Tupperware, and things we no longer actually use in our kitchens. Take everything off and clean the tops well as these will be particularly dusty and probably greasy too. Aim if possible to keep this area clear in future. I know it is tempting to display decorative items up here but they really just end up collecting dust and grease. Sort items into the appropriate boxes.
3. Next move down to the high level cupboards, completing one cupboard or shelf at a time. Resist the temptation to re-house an item in another cupboard at this time or it will get messy. Stay with the job in hand and use the ‘keeps’ box for things that need to move around. Check the dates on tins of food and dry goods. Clean and re-stock these cupboards and if you find you have too many mugs or anything else for the space, keep the favourites and set aside the rest. If you fear that you may need a few more in future you could do a trial box up of the excess and set aside for a few of weeks and see how you get on without them.
4. Then move on to the low level cupboards. Most people have far more pots, pans and oven tins than they could ever use at one time, so keep the best and ditch the rest. Use the cupboard immediately below the sink for cleaning materials and if you have more than will comfortably fill the space you will probably find you only use a fraction of the ones stored there, so ditch the excess. Be mindful of how you dispose of chemical cleaners; possibly taking them to your local recycling centre or giving them to someone who can use them.
5. Counter tops are next. Keep them as clear as is possible, aiming to house all food containers in the high level cupboards. Keep out important items like mixers, toasters and juicers that get used regularly, but be realistic and fairly ruthless over what these actually are.
6. Lastly remember the fridge and freezer. These often become home to numerous dubious looking off or out of date food stuffs; Not exactly healthy! Many of us have the tendency to stock pile food ‘just in case’ and end up keeping things so long they go off. This is a habit we have adopted from our parents and grandparents, a legacy from war time, when food really was in short supply. Not so now! Most of us are hardly wasting away! Yes, I know we have had to negotiate the COVID situation, but even so, we haven’t starved from lack of food supplies! Why not buy a bit less food each week and use what’s in the fridge, freezer and cupboards before cramming in more? It can actually be a fun exercise seeing how creative you can be with just a few ingredients. It will save you money on your weekly food bills too. Take everything out, check use by dates and clean thoroughly before restocking.