Often a room may be improved not by buying new furnishings but by rearranging those we have.
Jennifer McKnight Trontz
More often than not, when looking at our kitchens everything has a place in some sense. Most likely it is where ever we decided to put it when we first got it and it hasn’t been moved since regardless of its ease of accessibility, the space it takes up, the frequency of use, or its necessity. Once something has found a home in our kitchen it is often very hard to change its placement without totally disrupting the cosmic balance of things, particularly when you are not the only one adjusting to the changes. More often than not when I can’t find something in my kitchen it is because my beloved has put it away in the place it belonged when we first moved into the house.
They say old habits die hard.
As we simplify, and find we have less time for even the simplest things, it is prudent for us to organize our lives to suit their necessities. Eating is a necessity therefore cooking is a necessity. And if cooking is necessity, then cleaning up afterwards is certainly a necessity as well. Wouldn’t it behoove us to make the whole process a bit more user friendly?
According to Heloise, reaching up for something takes a lot less energy than it does to squat down. I am here to tell you it is true. And yet out of habit, almost everyone puts their pots and pans in a cabinet under the counter. Why go through the extra effort and steps to get it out and then be forced to go through it again after it is clean? Hang those pots!! They are easier to get down when you need them and easier to put away when you are done washing– you can hang them to dry (just be sure there are no puddles in those pots.)
Now I know what you are thinking…”I can’t afford a pot rack, nor do I have the space for one!” That is okay. Neither can or do I. But I can afford plant hooks. These can be screwed in over windows, under cabinets or right into the ceiling if it suits you.
By moving out your pots and pans you create extra cabinet space, you make your most used items easily accessible and you give yourself a chance to evaluate what you have and what you really need. Do you really need the Wok you got as a wedding present that makes enough stir-fry to feed the Chinese army? After years of reading research about the dangers of Teflon™, do you really want to keep that old omelet pan with the flaking liner? Does your canning pot really need to stay in the kitchen all year long or is it an occasional use item? Evaluate and remove anything that is not used on a regular basis. Canning pots can be stored in the pantry with spare mason jars. While you are at it stick your jar lifter, lid lifter, lid tightener and jar funnel all inside the pot and you will be ready when canning season comes around. Ask yourself how often something is used and if the answer is less than once a month, put it in storage or sell it or donate it or give it away or re-purpose it. Anything to get it out of those cabinets.
With the pot and pan cabinet tackled move on to your bake-ware. Be honest with yourself. Do you use the Sam’s Club size casserole set you got as a Christmas gift or do 1.5 quart-2.5 quart size casseroles work better for your family? Do you really need 10 casserole dishes? If you are big on make ahead and freeze meals, you may need all 10, but if you are not that type of person, maybe only 2-3 are needed. Do you bake casseroles weekly or they an occasional item on your menu? If you only use them once in a while, maybe they can be relocated to a less handy cabinet, making room for storage containers in the easy to reach places. This same rule can be applied to cookie sheets, pie plates, tart pans, cooling racks, etc. If you are a daily or weekly baker keep the most used items in an easily accessible place, but for goodness sake, put the Christmas Cookie-cutters away with the Christmas decorations. They are a once a year item and should not be taking up precious space in your baking cabinet.
Empty every cabinet, high and low, evaluate its content, accessibility and how it will best serve your needs. Don’t be afraid to move things, store things, and yes, dispose of things. Don’t keep the bread machine from 1989 if you never use it. Never use that motorized whisking robot that you got for Christmas? Recycle it. No good comes from keeping extra junk in the kitchen. It is a much used space that often requires quick movements and a lot of tools. Why add more things to move around that serve no purpose?
Feel guilty about getting rid of wedding and Christmas gifts? It is understandable, especially when you find you have passed something along and then you are asked about it. “Have you tried your suction cup lettuce leaf bowl cover yet?”
“Uh… no, I just haven’t had a need for it yet…”
Both of my families (in-laws and birth) know that I love to cook and I get a ton of kitchen stuff for gifts. I have spent years feeling guilty for returning and tossing gifts that I will just never use. I am sure you do too.
Stop feeling guilty. It was a gift for you, and you chose what you wanted to do with it.
While it is true, some folks maybe offended if you sold, returned, or tossed their gift, but the guilt you will feel will pass and in the long run you will be happier. And to avoid that feeling in the future, try explaining to friends and family what your wishes are regarding gifts and that you are happier receiving one gift that you really wanted than a bunch of gifts that you can’t really use. Or, if you really don’t need anything, ask them to donate your gift money.
Sorry I got a bit off track there. Back to the rearranging.
To shorten what could potentially be a very long article I am just going to finish with this. Frequency of use and accessibility are the keys to a happy kitchen. Put things out in the open if you use them and save yourself the effort. Before you know it you will have a happy, easy to use kitchen and will be cooking your heart out with ease.