Out With The Old
According to an article from Patt Morrison with LA Times; in 2014 Americans were “throwing away 15% to 40% of our food.” That’s not counting the holidays! We need to get it together and stop living in constant chaos, waste and clutter.
Keeping a cluttered, chaotic kitchen can cause our lives, especially meal planning, to seem like a daunting task. We have all experienced a time in which we go to prepare a meal and wouldn’t you know, the food you intended on cooking, was expired. I hate that!
The problem is, we go on shopping trips after planning the perfect meals, only to change our minds come dinner time.
In our household, we have a habit in planning for one thing then, by dinner time, that meal is no longer appealing. So, we set the items for that meal back in the pantry or fridge, and go for something else.
Today, we are going to take some steps towards improving this issue, as we continue to tackle the clutter and uncomplicate this part of our chaotic lives.
Get Rid of the Old Stuff
In order to get our kitchens more organized (and less likely to bounce back into chaos), we must first get rid of the old stuff. In this post, you’ll learn how to avoid these meal time dilemmas, as well as more clutter, by cutting out; what is old and expired, taking up unnecessary space, and has ultimately become useless.
One way I get my kitchen clean and organized, is by doing a full clean out. A full clean out, takes a little more time and attention but is so incredibly worth it! We have gone over cleaning out the broken, worn or missing pieces. That was the easy part. Now you need to get through the rest of the chaos so that you can have a simple, organized and well managed kitchen area. You will appreciate your efforts very soon!
I have broken the process down into a few simple steps to help you get going. Below you’ll find two categories for managing this part of the process of decluttering the kitchen: Non Food and Expired or Unwanted Foods
1. Purging the Non Food Items:
- Recipe Books– We all have at least one. Most of us anyway. Either they’re given to us or usually bought during a holiday season. You are never going to use all, or likely even half, of the recipes in those books. Have a few favorite recipes? Grab some index cards or a note book and copy them down. Only the ones you don’t know by heart. Hole punch the cards and add them to a large key ring to hold them together.
If you want to get a little more creative, get some sticky tabs to divide them by category. Then throw the recipe books into a donate pile and send them out the door for the next person. Whatever you do with them, get them out of your house.
- Paper clutter– Similar to the use of the recipe books, is paper clutter in your kitchen. The kitchen is a place for meal planning, food prep and creating wonderful memories with your loved ones. It is not an office. I used to keep my mail sorter in the kitchen to hold coupons and box tops for the kids. Man can those things pile up quick. One day, I finally decided to go through it all and over half were already expired. Completely useless! They sat on the counter, creating more clutter. Find another room for your paper collections or another method of storing them. (Saving that topic for another day). Just keep paper out of your kitchen and you’ll be fine.
Dishes & Non-Paper Goods
- Collective and Decorative dishes and décor: Many people collect specific items when traveling. Shot glasses or mugs from truck stops or even magnets, are a few popular items. Stock magnets and postcards end up covering the fridge. The most common method in which these items enter our lives, however, is in the form of gifts. Be honest, are you really going to keep every single mug, glass, decorative plate, magnet and post card you are gifted through the years? No! (If so, you’re officially a hoarder)
You’re not going to because some will have little to no meaning to you. Have you ever been given things that you hate, yet feel obligated to keep just to avoid hurting someone’s feelings? You need to end the vicious cycle. Just Say No! I know this isn’t easy. Truthfully, I find it the most difficult thing for myself to do. Kindly inform these “gift” givers that you’re decluttering and prefer not to receive anything else for your home. Tell them you greatly appreciate everything, but have no room for anything else. Period.
- Empty or half empty Jars and bottles: You go to the store to purchase a new bottle of cleaner after noticing the current is running low. Pour the remainder of your old cleaner, into the new one and toss the empty one. The same applies to storage containers: cereal, pasta, seasonings, etc. If it looks like there’s too much in the old container to add to a new one, finish what you have before buying new.
Note: when low on an item rarely used, finish it up or throw it out and do NOT get another one. Borrow from someone else, if you find yourself needing it. Stop taking up space in your home with things you don’t actually need.
- Bottles and Cups that serve no real purpose: Once children enter the “big kid cup” stage, toss out those sippy cups. I know, often, it’s safer keeping one on hand for trips. That’s fine. No more than one!
Also, enough with the sports bottles already! If you use them, great; keep one per person. Refer to the “Rule of Three” and count it as one cup. No one needs that many sports bottles: this goes for your excessive coffee mug collection as well!
The previous step, oddly, is the most difficult for many. I don’t understand what it is that keeps so many under the grasps of “stuff”. Why do we feel so obligated to have and keep it all? You do NOT need them and I promise, you CAN live without them!
2. Expired or unwanted foods:
- Expired food: I’m not even going into why you should throw these out. Most “non perishable” food is super cheap. Replace it. If you have “non perishable” food items that are expired, you should realize that it’s REALLY OLD! The shelf life of most canned food is a little over one year. If you’ve had the same box of macaroni over a year, you’re not going to use it. You have yet to use it. Stop trying to convince yourself that you will; “one day” and chunk it.
- Food stuck in the back of your pantry, fridge or freezer: Come now, having food you don’t recall buying in the back of your fridge, freezer or pantry, is a little nuts. I’ve been there and admitted to having a problem. Luckily, there are two solutions: pull it to the front and use it within a week; throw it out. Realistically, you’ll never use it. It’s that simple.
- Left overs: Oh my gosh, leftovers! UGH! In my parent’s house, they were a staple. There were always leftovers, and you didn’t cook another meal until all the leftovers were finished. I’ve seriously eaten on the same brisket, burgers, ribs and soup each four days in a row. No one wants to do that! Learn how your household eats and prepare your meals accordingly. You won’t have as much, if any left over. On the occasion you do, use it the next day, or freeze it for later. There’s no sense in shelling out money on storage containers (or cluttering up your cabinets with butter bowls) for unused left overs. Face it, most of us aren’t eating the leftovers anyway.
Time For A Good Cleaning
Once you have accomplished decluttering your kitchen, go ahead and give it a good clean. Wash your curtains and blinds. Really clean out your fridge. Sanitize your trash can and clean up your oven. Give it a good sweep and mop and look around with pride at what you’ve accomplished! It feels amazing!
To help you get through these steps, I created another printable for easier access. Leave a comment or subscribe with your email and I’ll send out the download. For further insight into organizing your kitchen, see my previous posts: Getting to Simple, The ‘New’ Rule of Three, and the most recent, Decluttering| Kitchen Clean Out which is the Part One to this post.
As always, I am incredibly grateful you take the time to read and engage in my posts! God has truly blessed me! If you want to keep up with Uncomplicating Chaos on a regular basis, follow me on Pinterest or Facebook by clicking on the buttons below the post.
I’ll see you soon!