Thursday, January 17, 2013

"Spring" Cleaning: Kitchen Edition

Yes, I realize it's not spring yet.  But, here's the deal:  spring is going to be full of gardening and seed starting and goat kidding and maybe bottle feeding (goats, not children -- thankfully, we're beyond all that around here! In fact, this past week was a monumental one in terms of our kids growing up -- we are a Pull-up-free house.  That's right my friends, for 8.5 years, we have purchased either disposable diapers or Pull-ups.  But, no more!!!)

Sorry.  I digress.  Anyway, it occurred to me that I really ought to be doing winter cleaning.  Who wants to be outside right now anyway?  It's CRAZY cold out there, people! 
And, since the guest room closet looks like this, with canning supplies stacked about 5 feet high, I decided to start by cleaning/organizing the kitchen.  My goal was to clear enough cabinet space that I could move all my canning supplies to the kitchen.

My basic plan of attack is . . .
1. empty cabinets/drawers
2.  clean and re-line cabinets/drawers
3.  decide what to keep/what to donate
4.  re-stock in the most organized/logical way I can come up with (based on where in the kitchen I use the items and how frequently they get used)

I use posterboard to line my cabinets.  So that is doesn't peel up during the year, I hot glue it to the cabinet in the front and at corners.  Each year, I remove the old liner and use it to measure and cut the new piece.  I've never used a lid organizer before for my pan lids, so I'm pretty excited about this addition (it's the little things sometimes ;).

If I didn't use an item in the past year, it went to the donate pile.  No exceptions.  Okay, fine --one exception.   And I deliberated on it for awhile.  By scavenging second-hand shops, I've managed to amass 20 of these antique snack trays.  On the right side, they have a raised ring to hold the matching adorable punch cups.  I've used a few through the course of the year (when I want my lunch to feel fancy ;). But, I've definitely not hosted the ladies for brunch to put all 20 to use.  Still, I love them.  And, I just couldn't part with them.  I compromised.  Since the cups look very similar to the ones that came with my punch bowl, I got rid of the punch bowl cups.  Now, I've got just 20 glass cups that can be used with my punch bowl and/or snack trays.  Now, I just have to be sure that I use all 20 before next year's clean out, so that I can justify keeping them again! 

I added these little cup hooks (8 pack for less than a dollar) to hold my measuring cups and spoons inside my spice cabinet door.  This door is directly over the cannisters I use to store my flours and sugar, so it seemed like a handy solution.

Speaking of countertops, my January issue of Real Simple suggests that only appliances that get used at least once a month get to take up countertop real estate.  All others should be stored and pulled out for use.  Ummm.  There's no way I could fit all the appliances I use every month on my countertops!  There'd be nowhere to work! 

So, my rule is if it's super heavy (stand mixer) or gets the most frequent use (juicer) or would make a mess to move (toaster), it gets a home on the countertop.  This relegates the blender and food processor to the cabinet, but they're stored right below where I plug them in, so I don't have to move them far.

Another suggestion:  if you can't figure out a good way to organize the chaos, just settle for corraling it.  See the red bin?  It holds all the weird tupperware-type containers that I send to school in the girls' lunches.  I just toss the containers and lids in to the basket, so it's not exactly organized, but at least it's not visual clutter when I open up the cabinets.

Speaking of Tupperware, I probably have less to corral than the average gal because last year, I splurged and bought us these Pyrex containers instead.  And this girl LOVES her Pyrex!  What's so great about them?
1.  I can see all my leftovers without having to pop the lid and peek in.
2.  Their rectangular design makes them easily stackable in the fridge.
3.  They're glass, so I can pop them in the microwave to reheat things.  (I know a lot of people still reheat their food in plastic containers and live to tell about it, but my husband WOULD NOT have it at this house!  He's not super particular about many things, but microwaving in plastic is a big no-no with him.)

More lid storage -- I think I'm gonna love this!

I've winnowed down my long-handled utensils to just these.  I can't think of any good reason I should have 5 spatulas and 4 slotted spoons that are exactly the same.  For that matter, how in the world did I amass 5 9x13 glass baking dishes? 

This drawer isn't even full.  In fact, lots of drawers and cabinets have extra space now that I'm finished -- even with all my canning supplies moved in.

And, this is the pile (yes, it's in the guest room) of stuff to donate.  Keep in mind, I got rid of just as much stuff during last year's kitchen clean out.  If I'm not careful, there'll be nothing left in a few years!
But, my kitchen is a workhorse.  It's where it all goes down around here.  The last thing I need is extra stuff just taking up space in there.  I can take or leave the cleaning part of this process, but the organizing I LOVE!

Have you got any suggestions for cabinet or closet cleanouts?  I think the pantry is next for me -- it could get ugly!

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