Having material possessions is a blessing, and I’m so thankful for the things I have. But, maybe you can relate to this, I definitely have stuff that I don’t even use. Cleaning out things that go unused (and let’s be honest, sometimes it’s just plain junk) is so freeing. Plus, it can help you save money. Say what? I’ve simplified the process into 5 steps that will set you on your way to feeling free from kitchen clutter, with the added bonus of saving some moolah!
1. Clean out
Going through stuff is a process, but the key for me in keeping from being overwhelmed is to focus on one step at a time. When I recently went through my kitchen, I focused on going through one drawer or cabinet at a time. I just opened one up and pulled everything out where I could see what all was hiding in the back of that extra deep cupboard. A bread-maker, seriously? How ironic, now that I’m saving $50 a year baking bread from scratch!
2. Clear out
Once I had everything out in front of my eyeballs, it was easy to identify what I was using regularly and what I wasn’t. It was also pretty easy to divide stuff up into categories like “actually uses” versus “haven’t even seen that in 4 years.” I mean, why keep something you don’t use or even want, especially if it’s taking up valuable space? (I’m looking at you, bread-maker.)
And then you might just happen to find something good that was inadvertently shoved to the back into the dark recesses. It’s like a brand new find. I knew I had a hand mixer in that kitchen somewhere!
Stuff I cleared out… Good riddance!
So now that things are cleaned out, some prime real estate has likely opened up in those cabinets. The most frequently used stuff can go in the most easily accessible spots. You know, spices near the stove, imagine that. I cleared out a bunch of extra mixing bowls that I wasn’t even fond of, and that allowed me to be able to conglomerate the sets I kept so I know exactly what I have available at any given time now. How frustrating is it to be in the middle of cooking something and you think you have that other clean bowl or pan you need, but you don’t? Not anymore, get those babies organized where you can see what you’ve got!
It you’re like me, it can be hard to let go of stuff. I mean, what if I need that giant, hard-to-clean bread machine later? Chances are if I haven’t used it for the last 5 years, it’s not going to happen. And now that I bake homemade bread, can I just say I’m still sooo glad I got rid of that contraption.
But don’t be too hasty if you’re not sure about whether you can part with something. I’m one of those people who has sentimental keepsakes, and sometimes those can be kitchen items. Memories of helping your grandma or your mom. That’s so me, I get it. So give yourself permission to go about cleaning stuff out in intervals.
That has really helped me. And having had a mom who had borderline hoarding tendencies, I’ll take all the help I can get. I get rid of the easy stuff that I know I absolutely won’t miss, be it junk or even something useful (just not useful to me). Then I choose a couple items that I’m pretty sure I won’t miss. And then call that good for now. It’s all about being good for now, not forever.
Then I’ll go back and do the same process 6 months later. (By the way, this is a great chance to do a quick cleaning of your cabinets and drawers and kill two birds with one stone.) This lets me see what I’ve actually been using and what I haven’t so I feel more comfortable paring things down some more. It’s also great because I like to have a chance to get used to an idea of change before it actually happens. (Not a big fan of change. Starting to get better though. Slowly.)
I always used to give everything to Goodwill or The Salvation Army. I still do give some things away, and usually see if my family or friends want something before giving to Goodwill.
But now that our family of 2.5 (2 people and 1 squishy pug) is living on less than $20,000 a year, selling things can be a great option. I’ve been able to sell a few things on Ebay, which is super helpful in bringing in just a bit more income. Even if it’s sporadic, it’s still something.
Now that you have everything pared down, it leaves only what you will use (or a good chance of using, to revisit later), and it’s all more organized for easy access. And that, my friend, is important. Because if stuff is organized–if you can clearly and easily see what all you have and know where to find things–chances are SO much better that you will use it. No overwhelm means more functionality. And that means you’re much more likely to cook at home! The more you do it, the more it becomes a habit.
And cooking at home = savings. Even if it’s just a pull-from-the-freezer-and-pop-in-the-oven kind of meal, that’s perfectly okay. Eating out at restaurants, going through the drive-thru, it all adds up. And it adds up fast. Trust me, I’m a recovering fast foodie.
And then there are the groceries we already had in the fridge that just used to sit, and sit, and didn’t get cooked whilst we were out chowing down on greasy burgers. That’s money right in the trash, not to mention not the best choice health-wise. But those days are gone!
An organized and cleared-out kitchen is so underrated. It really does feel good that you know what is actually inside all those cupboards. “Oh, the cutting boards, Dear? Right this way!” (That’s to all the husbands who help with supper. Mine is one of the ones that offers to help me and sometimes I take him up on it. I’m very blessed in the husband department.)
It’s freeing in another way too. Increasing the odds that you’ll regularly cook at home? That’s a huge win for the budget. And whether you sell your used stuff or give it to someone in need, it’s a win either way.
What has clearing out your kitchen saved you: time, headaches, money… maybe cutting back on eating out? What’s your #1 tip for an organized kitchen?
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