Ten Kitchen tips for the Minimalist

I don’t know about you, but the kitchen is always my most challenging room. To begin with, we have five people in our family who make the majority of our meals right in the kitchen.  There are always dishes to be washed and crumbs on the counters. Please don’t think after all this minimalist talk that we keep an immaculate household here. We live  in our home. Living is a messy business. Minimalism makes it easier to bring order to the mess, but it doesn’t sweep the floors or empty the dishwasher. We still have plenty to do around here which is why keeping the kitchen an easy-to-clean environment is so important. Today we’re going to talk about ten things that can make our kitchen easier and more enjoyable to navigate.

1.) If you haven’t used it in the last 3-4 months, it is time to let it go. I realize that I keep repeating this statement, but there is literally not one other single thing that will clear our lives more quickly or efficiently than disposing of things we don’t use.  Kitchens are full of shelves, cabinets and drawers that simply beg for more things to be shoved in that we can “deal with later.”  Maybe it’s time for later to be today.

2.) Make sure your storageware has mates.  I honestly no longer have a problem with losing sock mates, but I swear my lids get eaten in the night by gremlins. Any stray lids or stray containers need to move on out. Most plastic containers are recyclable. Once you have matched your goods, carefully consider how much you use or need before replacing it. I have found that less storageware forces us to use up leftovers more quickly resulting in less food and money waste. Win-win.

3.) Clear your fridge, pantry and spices of old, stale and expired items.  It’s just clutter we don’t need.

4.) Cut back to one set of dishes and glasses.  We’ve been operating on two sets right up until this summer, when I reconsidered why one family of five needs sixteen plates and bowls with different patterns. The answer is we don’t, and unless you are have a larger family, you don’t either.  We’ve been using one set of everything since July, and we have yet to miss the extra dish washing.

5.) Stop stacking piles of pots and pans on top of each other. If our stoves only have four burners, why so we need so much cookware? We’ve pared down to one set of pots (three sizes) and a steamer, a set of five cast iron round skillets, a cast iron square skillet and a cast iron dutch oven.  I love cast iron. We store lids on pans and don’t stack anywhere. They are easy to get out and easy to put away.

6.) Clear your counter tops. Counter tops aren’t storage spaces; they are work surfaces. Mail, appliances, knife blocks, knick knacks and keys make using the kitchen difficult and visually overwhelming. Clearing cabinets of excess pots, storage containers and dishes should make room for the blender, the crock of cooking utensils and and any other item that belongs in the kitchen. Mail and magazines don’t belong in the kitchen, and nasty keys should never sit on a counter. Ew.  Clear surfaces make a room look neater before we ever lift a finger.

7.) Steer clear of unitasker tools. If it can only do one thing, it’s a space stealer.  Stick with items that can be and are used in multiple ways.

8.) Get rid of your junk drawer. No really. No one needs to keep junk. Stop calling it that and you will stop filling it. We do have a utility drawer for batteries, light bulbs and a few often needed tools. No papers enter the drawer, nor do I gather up things that I don’t know what else to do with and throw it in there.  If you don’t know what to do with it, it’s trash.

9.) Stop buying every new and improved cleaning product under the sun. I find it terribly ironic that one of the messiest places in the house is the cabinet with the cleaners. Most of us only need an all purpose cleaner, a glass cleaner and perhaps an abrasive, dish soap and dishwasher cleaner.  I keep a few Mr. Clean sponges as well.

10.) Create an empty space.  I wish I could remember where I first read this jewel that suggested having an empty drawer, just to be able to say that you have it. I don’t know why it works into helping the mind stay in uncluttered mode, but I have done it for several years and somehow knowing it’s there always helps me stay on track. I actually stepped it up a notch and stopped putting things on the top shelves in every cabinet. I’m quite short, so the only things I kept up there anyway were things I never used because I couldn’t reach to get them down.

There you have it. Ten ways you can start minimizing your kitchen today. These are simple and can be done bit by bit, or you can take a weekend and overhaul the whole thing. I promise once you get started you will enjoy your kitchen more and find it much easier to keep user friendly, the way kitchens should be.

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