I knew I had my work cut out for me the week the uncluttered course moved to the kitchen. Tending to fill the available space, stuff had taken over my cabinets, drawers, and pantry. Not only was there too much stuff, but the organization I set up twelve years ago was not serving my needs today. Lastly, some shelves had not been cleared and cleaned for a long time. We had some serious grime on our hands.
I started on one side of the kitchen and worked my way around, saving the pantry for last. I followed the general sequence of taking everything out, decluttering, and organizing what was left, one drawer and cabinet at a time.
The first place I looked was a source of one of my worst organizational frustrations. The cabinet where I kept cookie sheets, griddles, etc. had no vertical dividers so everything was just stacked. When I needed something on the bottom, I usually had bonus items spilling out also, right onto my head:
One positive side of decluttering is that it forces me to take the time to rethink what I have put up with for years. I searched Amazon and found this nifty organizer:
I bought three of them and lined them up next to each other to create dividers, then organized what was left after decluttering:
Instant elimination of a daily source of frustration! Why didn’t I do this years ago?
This same side of the room also included my spices, on a shelf in a deep cabinet by the stove. Whenever I looked for a spice, I had to pick up nearly every one before I found the jar I was looking for, since I could only see the ones in front. Another search for solutions yielded these drawer liners:
After tossing old and duplicate spices, my resulting spice drawer is a dream. The liner strips keep the bottles from rolling around. Imagine! I can spot what I need at a glance!
Of course, that spice drawer did not start out empty. Here is what had to go to make room for the spices. Yep, it was one of those drawers, and my kitchen had more than one:
The problem with this drawer is that it was across the room and around the island from the dishwasher. When the baby of the family was unloading the dishwasher, sometimes the measuring cups and spoons ended up here, and sometimes they ended up in two other drawers containing flatware and serving pieces. All of this means I had to open up to 3 drawers to find what I was looking for. I was constantly buying new measuring spoons, because I couldn’t find the right one. Enter the bamboo organizers I have seen at relative’s houses. I also eliminated lots of broken items and duplicates (how many 1/3 cup measuring cups do I need?).
Then I bought an expandable organizer (love it!) and combined my utensil and serving piece drawers into one, after eliminating mismatched pieces (we are decluttering, after all, not just organizing, but I do have a lot of mouths to feed, so didn’t go overboard).
Another awesome organizing tool I got was an in-drawer knife block. I went from too many knives loose in the drawer to just enough knives with a slot for each. Moving along, I had lots of cabinets to clean out, and found a couple of things I had forgotten I owned: a bundt pan and an electric fondue pot. I got rid of them, along with extra cutting boards, a griddle, casserole dishes, serving platters, knives, plastic pitchers, and cookie cutters. I donated all the extras to Hope Family Thrift Store. Next I tackled the food storage containers. I do go through these and ditch bottoms without tops and lids without bottoms every so often, but obviously it had been awhile.
With two walls of cabinets and an island, I could go on and on, but let’s move on to the pantry, which took me most of a Saturday to conquer. My daughter had tried to organize it for me a year ago, which meant I had a lot of clutter in some pretty containers. I had a few rules to help me:
- If the food was past the expiration date, I threw it out.
- Almost everything had to be off the floor.
- I had to be able to see everything.
While it was painful getting rid of food, I determined to plan better and avoid waste in the future. Some bigger items from the pantry that I donated included two table mixers: an old one of my mom’s that I never used, and a dough mixer that I had not used in over a decade. A hand mixer will do the trick most of the time. One thing I kept was my bread machine. It had been a long time since I used it, but at the start of the course I dragged it out and experimented. After a few weeks, my eleven year old was making loaves of einkorn bread on his own, so keeping the machine was a no-brainer.
At long last, a front view of the pantry, before and after:
Aaahhhh. I’ve been grocery shopping twice now since I decluttered the pantry, and making my list was a breeze. I could see what was there, and could tell what was missing. The family was properly appreciative and eager to learn where things go, so we can keep the things we need and use organized.