Kitchen Purge 2019: Days 15-21 “Serve It or Store It”
Haven’t checked out past weeks yet? You might want to start at the beginning: http://organizeperfectly.com/kitchen-purge-2019-are-you-ready/
Encouragement: I genuinely hope you are finding this guide helpful. I have never tried to help someone clean out a room without being present, so please don’t hesitate to give me feedback, even if it’s negative!
Day 15: SERVING DISHES
Before you start collecting your serving dishes I want you to stop a make a list (either mental or written) of the times you use them and what you typically use them for. Do you routinely take a dessert to church potlucks? Use that Santa platter for cheese and crackers every Christmas when the family comes for dinner?
Okay, got your list?
Now, pull out every platter, bowl, buffet, popcorn bowl, casserole dish, Pyrex carrying bag, trivet, etc. Try to separate them in terms of how you use them (at home, for potlucks, etc.).
Do you have five different dessert plates? Why not keep the white one and donate the other, holiday-themed plates that limit their use?
Holiday-themed serving dishes can be a lot of fun, but they’re not very practical. You certainly don’t have to be practical if you have a large kitchen, but in a small-medium sized kitchen you’ll need to think about your cabinet space. I once knew a woman whose kitchen was carefully packed to the brim. She was very organized and kept all her things in good shape by placing a towel or tissue paper between them, but you literally had to move three or four items every time you wanted something.
Do you have four salad bowls of varying size? Do you even like taking salad to potlucks? Have you thought about keeping your favorite and donating the others?
Personally, I have found that I don’t like to transport hot dishes and I avoid it at all costs, so I got rid of the carrying containers that came with my Pyrex and crock pots. I also don’t like to take glass other places if I can help it, so there’s a good chance I will use my plastic mixing bowls (with lids!) as potluck dishes. At home, I serve the food in the pan I cooked it in. My housewifery skills might not meet 50’s standards should they come under scrutiny, but I’m not about to create extra dishes for myself to wash later. (If I did things like that, when would I find time to read?)
Remember that the excess from your kitchen might be a real blessing to someone else who hasn’t yet accumulated everything they need. Donate your underappreciated serving dishes to a shelter or thrift store!
Day 16: FLATWARE
You probably don’t need to count your flatware if you only have one set. And, honestly, if you have one set it’s probably nicely contained and organized in your flatware holder and cleaning some of it out wouldn’t do you much good, anyway.
But, if you have more than one set or a lot of miscellaneous pieces you might want to give them a quick count. What need might you have for forty forks? When company comes over do you use plastic cutlery to cut down on dishes, or do you actually use those forty forks? If you never run out of spoons or forks you might have too many.
Another indication that you might have too much flatware is if it’s difficult to open the drawer you keep it in.
Day 17: DISHES
Get out your china, your plastic, your everyday, and your holiday dishes.
I am a firm believer in having unbreakable dishes for young kids, and in having a good solid set of stackable, dishwashable dishes for everyday use. That’s all I have, and I know many in my generation have said goodbye to Christmas dishes and fine china. Not that you have to follow suit, but ask yourself the following questions:
Do I use this set of dishes?
How often do I use them?
Do I enjoy using them enough that the work is worth it? (The potential work being getting out a stepladder, clearing off the fridge, getting all the china out from above the fridge, discovering it’s dusty and needs a rinse, and carefully handwashing afterwards, not to mention another trip above the fridge with your stepladder.)
What would I use this cabinet space for if it wasn’t taken up by extra dishes?
Do I feel that I should keep them because they belonged to a grandparent? Was it a prized possession of that ancestor, or do I have a lot of memories associated with this set of dishes? Could I keep just a few special pieces, like a dessert bowl on my dresser for earrings, or a teapot?
As the most-used room of the house, I would argue that the kitchen is not a place to keep collections or mementos. Most of us just don’t have the room for that and keeping those things in the kitchen gets in the way of everyday life.
Day 18: LINENS ‘N SOFT THINGS
Today is the day for everything soft! Aprons, towels, washcloths, napkins (cloth or paper), tablecloths, table runners, placemats, potholders, hmm… I’m sure I’m missing some things. Do me a favor, look around your kitchen and grab anything I missed.
I know I’m a bit of a kill-joy, but I only have one tablecloth. You do not have to emulate me, but I would advise you only keep the tablecloths you like and use. If you use a tablecloth, do you really need to keep your placemats or vice versa? If you do use placemats, do you really need to keep four different sets? Why not just keep your favorite and use them again and again?
Do you wear aprons? I do, and I have decided two is the perfect number for me. That way I can rotate them and have one in the laundry, but they’re not pushing each other off the hook like they would be if I had three. Once upon a time I had three aprons and I got really tired of picking them up off the floor, believe me!
We are sometimes mistaken in thinking that more of a useful thing is still useful. I use cloth napkins and thoughtful people used to buy them for me when they saw them on clearance somewhere. However, cloth napkins don’t need to be replaced as often as their paper counterparts, and I soon had an overflowing drawer. It was difficult to open, and they often feel out the back into the cabinet below, making a mess. “This,” I thought, “is ridiculous!” I wash towels a couple times a week, so one day I counted the number of napkins in the laundry and decided to keep that number plus a couple more. The same concept could apply to towels and washcloths.
A note on potholders: Most of us don’t need many potholders because they don’t get washed frequently. I like to have a few really thick ones for hot pans to sit on, and a handful of potholders capable of getting a hot pan out of the oven. If you have any thin ones you don’t use because you get burned when you use them, just clean them out! You don’t have to throw them away if you have a donation place (like Savers) that shreds old fabric for insulation.
Day 19: FOOD STORAGE
Do you use color-coded Tupperware for food storage? bowls covered with shower caps? Ziploc bags? serving dishes with silicone lids? Pyrex? yogurt and margarine containers? It doesn’t really matter, just go ahead and get it all out. Pull out your ice trays, too. They’re kind of a food storage item? Sort of? Whatever. (I admit it, I didn’t know where to stick ice trays.)
Match every container up to a lid. Do it. Get rid of excess lids. (Unless, of course, you are like me and have a favorite size of Pyrex bowl that gets used so often the lids eventually crack and you have to replace them and you’re fully convinced that you will use those extra green lids once the current orange ones have finished cracking and you have to throw them away.)
Even if a container does have a lid, you might not want to keep it. There is a small-sized Tupperware container that I only kept a couple lids for because we almost always use them for snack cups and the lids were just cluttering up my drawer.
There might also be containers you just don’t need. Sizes or shapes you don’t use or have too many of. Don’t be afraid to pass these things on. If you are struggling with putting something in that donation pile, remind yourself of your replacement limit and act accordingly.
If you’re using disposable yogurt containers or something like that, keep in mind they were not designed for long-term use and the plastic will eventually break down and end up in your food. (I have not done actual, scientific research on this, so don’t believe me if you’d rather not. It’s just information I have heard and am repeating because it makes sense to me, but there’s a chance it’s not accurate!)
Day 20: MEDICINES
Medicines and vitamins do not technically fall under the category of kitchen items, but I include them in this purge because most people keep them in the kitchen. As with pantry items, do not keep anything that’s expired or that you do not use.
Check out the FDA’s disposal recommendations for prescription meds: https://www.fda.gov/drugs/resourcesforyou/consumers/buyingusingmedicinesafely/ensuringsafeuseofmedicine/safedisposalofmedicines/ucm186187.htm
Day 21: MISCELLANEOUS & HOBBIES
Hobbies such as canning require a lot of accessories, as does cake-decorating, etc. Miscellaneous things we may not have covered include coffee or tea accessories, and anything else you see that I can’t think of because I’m not standing there with you. This is your last day of minimizing, so if you haven’t pulled something out yet, do it now!
Hobbies that require specialty items need to be carefully evaluated. Do you like canning, do you do it every year? Or, do you like the idea of canning and wish you’d gotten around to it for the last five years? As with most of this process, there is no right answer. Just be honest with yourself and be willing to abandon things you no longer need. Just think! If you donate your unused canning apparatus, then someone else who wants to try canning can do so with a minimal investment! You’re saving them money and saving yourself time and guilt. It’s a win-win situation!