9 Ways to Simplify Your Kitchen
When we set up our kitchen, there were a few items we got that we thought we should have because, well, that’s what you do. One of those items was a set of china. We thought we’d be more practical and picked an “everyday china” set that was more simple in pattern, but still more fancy than regular plates. Well, within a month, this set that was supposed to uphold the everyday use and dishwasher cleanings started to chip and the pattern started to fade off. Within a month! Thankfully, we were able to return them and exchange for a true everyday set of dishes. That was my first main turning point toward a simpler kitchen.
So much of how we run our homes is based on things society tells us we should do, or things we saw others doing, or things that are pretty, but not practical. Sometimes it’s okay to give into these traditions, but sometimes it makes more work for us. Especially, in a kitchen where you need to get work done, if you can simplify your kitchen, why wouldn’t you?
- Have everyday dishes you can use year-round. We ended up buying a set of white porcelain dishes that were really cheap. Over the years, we’ve replaced any that have broken with other white dishes that are of different shapes or styles – but all white. Now, we have an eclectic collection that still looks intentional. We also can use them any time of the year because they are white AND because they are cheaper, we’re not emotionally connected to them when they break.
- Store unused appliances somewhere else. My husband grew up in the South and has a killer fried chicken recipe. So, one year we purchased a small fryer. The thing is, we only use this fryer a couple times a year and because of that fact, it doesn’t live in our kitchen. It lives in the basement.
- Organize in bins. We had a mouse problem a few years back and one tiny mouse destroyed our entire pantry because it contaminated each item. Within 24 hours of this experience, I went out and bought clear plastic bins to store my items in. Now, I have a bin for pasta/rice/quinoa, a bin for baking items like flour/sugar, and other smaller bins for smaller baking items like chocolate chips/sprinkles. Now, 90% of our pantry is either in a bin, or is in a container like glass or aluminum. My motivation was this mouse problem, but since doing so, I’ve discovered that I love having all my baking items in two bins because I can pull them out when I’m doing baking. It keeps my counters cleaner and the bins have all the non-refrigerated items in one spot.
- Get rid of a mug. How many mugs do you really need? Odds are, you have one or two mugs in your kitchen that are cute, yes, but you never use. Find a new use or a new home and free up some space.
- Store some rags near your sink. This is a tip I learned from another blogger, but the idea is to keep a vase near your sink filled with rags you can use to wipe up counters quickly. This works well to cut down on paper towel usage, but it also makes a great spot to store your dish rags that you probably have anyway.
- Store things near where you use them. One example is our smoothie blender. We use this almost daily and based on where electrical outlets are and where our smoothie cups that fit the Magic Bullet are stored (near our other glasses), it made sense to keep the Magic Bullet in the same cupboard as our glasses. We also have our protein powder for smoothies stored in this same cupboard too. It makes the task to make a smoothie much easier than digging out a blender from our lazy susan and has made it easier to make a healthier snack. All this is, is eliminating barriers to make it easier to use the items we know we need.
- Clear the clutter of your fridge. I’m talking magnets here. You don’t need 200 magnets creating visual clutter in your kitchen, especially if it’s a tiny kitchen. I’ve seen people who get magnet boards to display collections of magnets and those can hang in hallways or other rooms and use their fridge face to highlight the most important items instead of all the things.
- Simply pare down. The honest truth is that you don’t need all those gadgets. Our pizza cutter broke a few years ago, and we’ve survived just fine with one of our large knives for cutting our pizzas. That ice cream maker we’ve been storing for years from our wedding gifts doesn’t need to stick around if we aren’t using it. My solid white serving plate can work for any holiday, so I don’t need all the special platters for each holiday of the year. You get the idea. My guess is you can look around your kitchen and see fancy do-dads and gizmos you thought would solve all your kitchen problems, but they actually just created more to store and make it harder to get at to actually use.
- Clean out food you don’t and won’t eat. Get that stuff out of your pantry and into the hands of someone who can actually benefit from it (and do it before the food expires!). Be honest with yourself about if you’ll actually eat this food and then remember to avoid buying it again in the future.
The kitchen is a hard space because you are constantly bringing new items and food into it and constantly taking them away. It’s always changing. This makes it even more important to simplify and streamline so that your kitchen can actually work for you.