Last year a little book called “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” made us realize just how much stuff we’ve been hoarding and holding onto all these years. It also reminded us of the fact that our living spaces are supposed bring us the kind of zen pleasure that we get from looking at design magazines, as opposed to resembling something from a scene of Storage Wars. If your kitchen makes you feel like running away rather than getting creative, it’s time you do some purging. Here are 20 things that will get the ball rolling and make it a lot easier to part with some of that treasured junk:
I think every kitchen probably has a few of these laying around. Perhaps it’s that “I heart Mom” mug that got cracked but you can’t seem to bear the thought of parting with, or maybe a teacup whose handle broke off and you vowed you’d fix it (but never did.)
Either way, cracked, chipped or otherwise broken glassware is just taking up valuable kitchen real estate for sparkly new glasses which are totally intact.
This is kind of a gross one, but I think we’ve all been guilty of it at one time or another. Sponges are meant to clean your dishes right? So why would you hang on to dirty, dingy old sponges and keep using them on your dishes and kitchen surfaces?
I chalk this one up to force of habit…or maybe laziness (or maybe a little of both) but try to make a habit of replacing your sponge frequently as it definitely ups your kitchen’s clean factor.
Don’t get me started on plastic storage containers unless you want to hear an hour-long rant about BPA’s, the plastics industry and ultimately leading to rambles about the sorry state of our consumer-driven society.
Do your kitchen (and your own sanity) a favor and get rid of the old, cracked or discolored containers wasting space in your life, and FFS get rid of any that are missing lids!
If I get handed another trade-show freebie water bottle or travel mug I might scream (unless it’s a really good one of course) Many people face the same problem, a cupboard full of old water bottles and travel mugs (which may or may not have lids) that don’t even get used because of their sorry state.
Purge water bottles and travel mugs from your life, keeping only a couple of the ones you actually use on a daily basis and send the rest to beverage container heaven.
I know it’s tempting to save those disposable chopsticks, forks, spoons and sauce packets that are left over after a tasty takeaway meal but how often do you end up using them afterward?
If you look in a kitchen drawer and have some from months ago then it’s not only time to get rid of them but also to stop saving them all together. And if you have a stack of paper takeaway menus sitting around, throw them in recycling because this is the 21st century and that shits online.
I know, you went to Cabo and had the “beeeessst time ever!” So you bought a souvenir shot glass to remember your trip forever. Where is that shot glass now?
I’d place a bet that it’s collecting dust in the back of some cupboard or cabinet alongside other neon reminders of your travels. How often are you taking shots these days anyway?Just let them go, and never buy another one again. Remember memories are the best souvenir 😉
If you love cooking and getting creative in the kitchen, you probably have a whole collection of herbs and spices representing various cuisines from around the globe. I know I get excited about finding new and exotic spices and adding them to my collection, but as for how much they actually get used…well that’s an entirely different story.
If you have herbs and spices in your collection that could be considered ‘vintage’, it’s time to give them the old heave-ho. Spices do have a shelf life before they lose their punch and become stale. For ground spices it’s about 2-3 years, for herbs it’s 1-3 years and for seasoning blends, it’s more like 1-2 years.
We’ve all got those appliances in our kitchen that just sit around collecting dust until we take them out for their annual or even bi-annual test run. For me, it’s a breadmaker (I make bread by hand all the time but for some reason, I still can’t bear to part with this thing!), but for you, it could be a slow cooker, raclette machine, panini press or whatever.
The point is if you only use it once a year (or worse, even less) than it’s probably not worth taking up sacred space in your culinary kingdom. If you’re keeping it for sentimental reasons like it was a gift or given to you, well sometimes you just have to get stone-cold heartless.
Oh, the refrigerator, for many it’s the place things go to die…both inside and out. We’ll save the inside for another article and just focus on the outside for now. Things get posted on the fridge with the best of intentions, wedding invitations, ticket stubs, postcards, greeting cards and all those annoying lovely print things your friends keep sending you of their kids, but do they ever come down after their date has come and gone?
If your fridge door looks more like a collage than an art gallery, it’s time to purge. Get in the habit of checking the posts monthly and removing any that aren’t relevant or have been up for a month already. Keeping things neat and simple will mean you actually see the important things that do go up on the door.
Kitchen organizers are great…when they work. Drawer organizers, bag holders, and storage baskets can make for the kind of kitchen organization that people like us dream about (seriously, we do), but seeing broken organizers still in use, over and over again, just steals a little piece of my soul each time.
If it’s cracked, broken or missing a handle, for the love of cookies, just get rid of it. If you want, replace it with a crafty DIY version instead of buying another piece of plastic.
I love using reusable shopping bags and even more, I love that victorious feeling when the cashier asks “do you need bags?” and I whip out my reusable bag stash and proudly declare “Not today!” but things don’t always go this way. Sometimes you’re in a rush, you forget your bags and have to sheepishly accept the plastic ones because you weren’t prepared.
The result is a home stash of plastic bags that you hope to re-use to get some earth-loving karma back, but it ends up being a bag of bags that seems to grow rather than dwindle. Your options here aren’t pretty; either downsize to just a couple of extra bags and keep it that way or suck it up, accept that you’re a horrible person and throw away the plastic bags after you get your shopping home.
Whenever you go to clean out your fridge, one of the most difficult areas to purge is the condiments. But why? Well, for example, you are about to throw out your ketchup bottle but think about the fact that you aren’t grocery shopping today, and what if you want to have grilled cheese tonight for supper? You can’t have grilled cheese without ketchup. Suddenly, every condiment seems like a risk if there’s even a little bit left at the bottom.
In reality, we don’t check out condiment expiry dates often enough, which can really help us clean out fridges out effectively. Even if that ketchup has a drop left inside, if it’s expired, you don’t want to be eating it anyway!
How disgusting are the cloths you have in your drawer in the kitchen that are stained and ragged? They’re absolutely revolting! How many messes have you cleaned up with those cloths and then hung on your tap or stove to dry? Probably hundreds of messes.
Did you know that bacteria can continue to grow on your dishcloths as you sleep overnight? They can even contribute to contaminating your food while it’s being prepped. If you wipe your counter with an already used dishcloth or clean up a spill, anything on that counter afterward will pick up that bacteria. While it may seem a little counterproductive to spend money on an item that is meant to get wrecked, your body will thank you for it later!
It’s so hard to throw out food you simply haven’t gotten to eat. It tasted perfectly good the first time you ate it, so what’s a little freezer burn? Well, if you’ve ever tried to relive a delicious meal with freezer burnt leftovers, you’ll know that it’s basically a completely different meal. It tastes bland, icy and limp.
Take all of that freezer burnt crap out of your freezer and toss it! You don’t want to eat it and neither does your family. It lacks nutrients and has basically lost its original zing of flavor. Just say goodbye.
Portion control is really important when you’re snacking on a food that is a treat and doesn’t offer very many health benefits. That’s why there’s a half-eaten bag of chips in your pantry, and that’s okay! But you have to remember that after a while, that half eaten bag of chips is going to go stale and just take up space on your shelf.
What about when you want to try a new recipe and you buy a full bottle of sesame oil, only to use one tablespoon of it and then never use it again? These items in your cupboard are just taking up space that could be used for foods you actually regularly eat. Take a deep breath and toss them out!
Stale cereal is the worst! That puffy crunch is gone from the cereal along with the majority of its original flavor. The sugar has maintained the state of cereal but has definitely not preserved its freshness.
Take all those cereals your family has already moved on from and toss ’em. They’re not useful for any kind of baking at this point and will only contribute to the beginning of a bad day if you eat it for breakfast.
Wooden spoons last forever! How many of us know that the wooden spoon in our parents’ kitchen is the same one that was used ten years ago? Maybe that’s you! While wooden spoons are a fantastic tool in the kitchen, they have one downfall.
Wooden spoons can harbor bacteria as the years go on which can then add bacteria to your food. You can tell that it’s time to replace your wooden spoon when the wood becomes soft, dark or the wood is cracking. These are indications that the wood is rotting from the bacteria covering it.
Rubber spatulas are one of our best friends in the kitchen. Used to scrape the inside of bowls and bottles, this is definitely a kitchen must-have. If you treat them well, spatulas should last for an extremely long time, but that doesn’t mean that you should keep them for that long!
With all the use they get, you want to replace your spatulas every two years. Getting a fresh scraper every two years will not only help your scraping abilities, but also make sure nothing bad is transferring from the spoon to your food.
Remember when canned spaghetti was on sale a while ago and your kids were going through a phase? Well, the phase doesn’t last as long as the cans do! That doesn’t mean you should keep them for another meal either.
There are thousands of families who could benefit from the food in your pantry that you aren’t even considering eating. Make sure none of the cans are expired yet and then donate them to your local non-profit charity. If you have cans that are expired, toss them right out – no one wants expired food!
Remember when your pan was so incredibly new that you didn’t even need to spray cooking oil on it to keep the food from sticking? Well, those days are long gone for some of your cookware and you just need to let go.
Toss out the pots and pans that used to be nonstick and replace them with new ones. Not only will you enjoy having new cooking accessories, but you will also have to spend way less time scrubbing in the kitchen.