Kitchen Purge 2019: Days 1-7 “Let’s Drink to Us!”
Before you get started on this post, you might want to read last week’s post: http://organizeperfectly.com/kitchen-purge-2019-are-you-ready/
Day 1: MUGS/TEACUPS
First, answer a couple questions for me. How often do you use mugs? How many people use them at a time? What is the largest number of mugs you ever use at one time? Now, get out every mug in your house (including travel mugs and the cup & saucer sets that came with your dishes), set them in one place, and count them. Do you have more than you need?
In my experience, both in others’ kitchens and in my own,most people have far more mugs than they actually need. I might go so far as to say that many people are mug collectors, even if they have not recognized themselves as such. As far as cabinet space goes, you can do yourself a great favor by only keeping the mugs you need. They don’t stack, and are often of varying shapes and sizes. The kitchen is not a great place for displaying collections.
Now, stop and think. Which mugs really get used? Which one is your favorite to drink out of? Are you keeping that flowered mug you never use because a granddaughter gave it to you? Is that the only thing she’s ever given you or could you part with it?
Try to get yourself down to the largest number of mugs you ever use at one time. Wrap a plastic grocery bag around the rest and put them in your donate box.
Day 2: GLASSES/CUPS
As with mugs, pull out all your glasses and cups. Count them. Always count. Somehow the act of counting makes us realize the unreasonable number of things we own.
Some things to think through when deciding what to keep: When you have company, do you pull out plastic cups and a marker, or do you actually use that set of 16 matching glasses? Do you have any glasses/cups that stack? (These can be great if you’re short on cabinet space.)
Day 3: WATER BOTTLES
Count them! All the water bottles you have! How many do you need? Each member of my family has one that belongs to them and we have a few extras for friends or refills. Do you like to keep water bottles in the fridge and rotate them so you always have cold water? Be realistic, you probably only need 3 or so if that’s the case.
Do you have any mismatching lids or unused straws you hate? Don’t hesitate to throw them away. They’re too specific to donate.
Day 4: SPECIALTY GLASSES
Most glasses in this category are designed for specific types of alcohol. How often do you drink wine? Often enough that you need wineglasses to enjoy it, or could you make do with an ordinary water glass?
Day 5: SERVING DRINKS – PITCHERS, ETC.
Get ‘em out and count ‘em!
Do you really need 5 pitchers for different occasions, or could you keep one all-purpose glass pitcher and live happily ever after? The same goes for decanters and anything else I’m missing. If you want to minimize in your kitchen, then be realistic and don’t feel bad about getting rid of that Christmas pitcher you use once a year. I kind of doubt that your guests will notice its absence.
Day 6: PANTRY
When going through your pantry it is especially helpful for you to remind yourself of your replacement limit. Before you proceed, I want you to acknowledge this limit and remember to use it when you’re standing over the trash can with an expired package of yeast, wondering if you’ll wish you’d kept it when it’s a rainy day and you decide to find a science experiment that uses yeast. Will it cost less than $5 (or whatever) to replace? Throw it away, and move on, making a mental note not to buy any more of that item until you actually need it.
Get out your pantry items and check expiration dates. While it’s true that food is sometimes usable past its expiration date, I have also known people who got sick from eating expired food. Why risk it? Even food banks will not accept expired food. Please do take a good look at all the food you’re wasting and remember not to buy so much of it next time it’s on sale. You have now thrown away any money you saved with that sale.
This is also a good time for you to realistically evaluate the food you store. Assuming that you’ve already discarded expired food, put anything you don’t like or use to the side and give it to a friend or donate it to a food bank.
Now, categorize everything you have left. There is no right way to do this. You might divide your pantry items into container type (cans, boxes, etc.), or container size, or by food type (flours, legumes, sweeteners, etc.), or you might choose to put beans and corn together because you use them in chili. There is no wrong way to categorize your food as long as you know your system and can find things later.
I do not have a pantry closet in my current kitchen, so right now my things are organized by the container size. I have one lower cabinet where I stick things and one upper cabinet. This is not ideal because I often have to pull out multiple things and my family forgets where things are. There’s not much I can do about this in our current kitchen, which I otherwise love.
Day 7: PLASTIC & PAPER GROCERY BAGS
I am devoting an entire day to plastic grocery bags because most people have too many of them.
If I ask you to count your grocery bags and you get a glazed over feeling in your brain, then you probably have too many.
If you have more than one place where you store your bags, you probably have too many of them.
If you feel guilty about throwing plastic bags away, then don’t accumulate them in the first place. You cannot reduce waste by turning your house into a landfill. You have simply relocated the waste to a place where it also consumes your time and energy. (You can quote me on that.) Get reusable bags and keep them in your trunk, or ask for paper bags (which are easily recycled), or shop more frequently in places that recycle their boxes by sending them home with you.
Choose one place to store your plastic bags, be it a tubular cloth bag, a bucket under your sink, or a drawer. Once your bags have filled that spot, don’t keep any more. (I actually have two places I stick bags, because I use produce bags and grocery bags for different things and don’t want to have to sort through them when I need them. But, once one place gets full I don’t keep any more of that type of bag!)