A kitchen isn’t just a place to prepare food. It’s a status symbol, a space to bring the family together and, for some people, a kitchen is a great big storage unit.
In decades past, proud homeowners would invite friends over to see a new fridge-freezer or some other kitchen gadget that would save lifetimes of hard work and effort in the kitchen.
Today, when most kitchen counters and cupboards are jam-packed with gadgets and implements that are seldom used.
Some modern homeowners are more likely to brag about the things they have been able to throw away or recycle, than the things they keep.
Less stuff, they would argue, leads to an easier, more carefree and happier all-round existence.
Melissa Coleman, author of cookbook The Minimalist Kitchen bemoans the state of most modern kitchens.
“We’ve been thinking about the kitchen all wrong,” she explains. “It’s a room, yes. But it’s also the largest closet in the house.
“Closets are natural troublemakers.”
Kitchens have a tendency to collect too many bowls, dishes, never-used ingredients and one-trick pony appliances.
With one of the nation’s biggest food bank charities crying out for extra donations over the summer, now is the perfect time to launch that long overdue kitchen clear-out.
Throw Out Food Stuffs
Everybody has some embarrassing secrets hidden at the back of their kitchen cupboards.
Tinned goods that are older than your children, odd spices that you have no intention of ever using – the list is endless.
The best place to start on your kitchen clear out is to make an effort to throw out or use up everything that would otherwise live in your cupboard for another half decade.
First, check all your use by dates and make sure you throw away anything that isn’t safe to consume.
Next, plan some recipes for the foodstuffs that you have been meaning to use up. Love Food Hate Waste has developed a system to take the hassle out of this. Their Recipe Finder tool lets you search recipes by ingredient so you will always have a recipe to use that old tin of beans with.
If you have a lot of unopened food that you have no chance of using up – multiple bags of unopened rice for instance – then you might want to consider donating excess to a food bank.
The Trussell Trust, an anti-poverty charity, recently called for more donations to help feed families that are short of food over the summer holidays.
The largest food bank charity called on the public to check which items were most in need of donation for local food banks.
They list the contents of a typical food parcel on their website. They also encourage the public to donate non-food items including toilet paper and sanitary pads.
Itemise Your Kitchen
It isn’t just mouldy ingredients that you need to get rid of if you want a clutter-free kitchen.
You don’t need all of that stuff that’s in your kitchen. This might be tough to believe on a day to day basis, but by throwing out some of the things in your kitchen you create more space for people to live and enjoy themselves.
The benefits of losing some unwanted items are clear.
Your kitchen looks less cramped and more welcoming, it’s easier to find what you are looking for and with less stuff to look after and keep clean, it really is a load off your mind.
One strategy for getting rid of all the unnecessary pots, pans, plates, bowls chopping boards and accessories that clutter up your kitchen is to make a big long list of everything that you have.
Once you know exactly what is on each shelf and in each cupboard, you can start asking some difficult questions about how often you use certain things and whether you can live without them.
Be courageous in your cull.
Can you survive with two small saucepans instead of one? When was the last time you used the ‘old’ frying pan instead of your nice new one? Have you bought new chopping boards without replacing the old ones? Could you afford to lose some plates and bowls or slim down the cutlery drawer?
Getting rid of anything that’s surplus and only keeping the things that fill you with joy and passion will give you a nicer life.
Again, you can benefit your wider community by donating any items your get rid of to a local charity shop.
Free Up Counter Space
We see it all the time. Everybody wants an enormous kitchen with acres of counterspace on which to sort, chop and roll all the fantastic meals they will be cooking each day.
But what if you could have maximum counterspace in an averaged sized kitchen?
You don’t need commercial-scale stainless-steel counters, you can survive with a normal sized counter if you use space more efficiently and are more realistic about what you put on your countertop.
Take that large knife block for example. Sure, it is handy for storing some of your most dangerous kitchen tools. But could you not store knives in a drawer, or use one of those magnetic knife holders to store your knives on the wall?
Think about everything that takes up precious square footage on your kitchen counter. Fair enough, you probably use your toaster or kettle every day or at least every few days, but these don’t take up that much space.
How about the microwave? These quick cookers can be useful for defrosting and warming up, but they do take up a lot of space that could otherwise be put to better use.
And how often do you use your toastie maker, free-standing juicer and slow cooker?
If you use these once every few weeks, you should keep them in a cupboard until they are ready to use. If you can’t remember the last time you used it, think about taking it down to your local charity shop.
Redesign Your Kitchen
If you have thrown a lot of things away and your kitchen still feels cramped and cluttered up, then your kitchen may be designed badly.
No amount of culling, throwing out or donating can make up for a kitchen with a bad layout or one with limited counter or storage space.
Increasing storage space should be a key aim of your redesign job. You can introduce space-saving equipment into your cupboards to improve storage capacity.
Another popular strategy is the create a kitchen island in the centre of your kitchen. Not only does this increase the amount of counter space you have for preparing food, but it also gives you room for more cupboard space underneath the island.