A Simple Approach to Living With Less

Minimalist Target: Kitchen Clutter

Clearing out a kitchen is a big job. There are so many areas of a kitchen to focus on that it can be instantly overwhelming. Breaking it into smaller more manageable pieces is definitely the way to go. Today’s target is the kitchen clutter found in your drawers or in those nifty decorative containers that display your clutter on your counter.

When we combined households with my parents, we essentially had two of everything in the kitchen. Some things we even had more of because on our own it’s far too easy to collect kitchen gadgets you don’t really need. I spent almost two hours working on just three drawers. They were packed!

Looking at things through the eyes of a minimalist gives an entirely different perspective. Instead of asking, “How many of these should we keep?” I started asking, “Do we really need to keep this?” It’s a small difference, I know, but it gave me a totally different starting point. One instance began with the assumption we would keep something as long as it wasn’t old or broken and we had room for it. The second question seeks to determine if it’s necessary and if we could manage without it.

With ten people living at home, we mostly cook from scratch. It’s much cheaper and it’s not usually too much added effort to scale up a recipe you were already making anyway. So letting go of kitchen gadgets was somewhat challenging since we use them a lot. But when I reflected on the small amount silverware we managed with, I figured we could make do with a lot fewer gadgets and utensils.

Tips for Getting Rid of Kitchen Clutter:

  1. Start by throwing out anything old, broken, or rusty.
  2. Prioritize by picking out the items you use all the time.
  3. Then pick up every other item one at a time and determine if you use it often enough to justify keeping it. Would you buy it again?
  4. If you have more than one of something, consider only keeping your favorite one.
  5. Pay special attention to the items with only one purpose. See if you have another tool that could perform it’s function and get rid of the unnecessary tool.
  6. Finally, give everything a home, place similar items together, and space items out so they’re easier to see.

Here are the Before Pictures:

I didn’t think to take a picture of drawer three until after I was done. In fact, I didn’t plan to clean out the drawers at all when I did it. I just went looking for something and when I couldn’t find it, I just attacked the drawers. I’d had enough of the clutter!

Here are the After Pictures:

Here are some of the things I threw out:

  • 5 Spatulas (I saved two regular sized and one tiny one for small jobs. No matter how many cooks we’ve got in the kitchen, it’s not likely we’d ever need more than that)
  • Yellow Metal Lemon Juice Press (never been used that I’ve ever seen, yet most of the yellow paint was rubbed off)
  • Plastic Measuring Spoons & Cups with sizes rubbed off (we still have 2 sets but now we don’t have to guess if we grabbed the right one)
  • Wooden Dowel Thing to Press into Pastry Cups (I can’t believe I actually bought this from Pampered Chef. I’m pretty sure a spoon or even my thumb would do the same thing)
  • Giant Red Metal Lobster Claw Cracker (on the rare occasions when we would need to crack into some stubborn seafood, the regular metal nut crackers will work just as well)
  • Marble Slab Cheese Cutter (took a huge amount of room and was difficult to clean)
  • 2 Pairs of Dull Kitchen Shears (when they don’t do their job anymore, they gotta go)
  • Apple Corer & Slicer in One (I have never had this work right for me. I guess I always find crooked apples)
  • Talking Digital Thermometer (I have a digital timer that is also a thermometer so no need to keep both. Plus, there’s just something creepy about a talking thermometer)

The drawers certainly aren’t empty and I imagine I’ll take another pass at them closer to holiday baking time. For this attempt, I threw out an entire laundry basket full of goodies. It sure feels nice to be able to find the item I’m looking for when I’m trying to cook now. Go ahead and try it. Just pick one drawer if that’s all you have time for. Be sure to come back and let me know what silly or useless kitchen gadgets you were able to declutter.


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Article originally published on 09/27/2010

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  1. Karen (Scotland) says

    The egg slicer just had to go… It may have sliced once upon a time but, recently, it just sort of squashed then exploded the boiled egg. Also, the blue silicon garlic peeler. I simply kept forgetting to use it.
    I used to be crazy for all the IKEA drawer dividers in our old house but they don’t fit in our new drawers so everything is just thrown in. I found I could fit three old drawers into one drawer just by getting rid of the stuff we don’t actually use. Because there is less in the drawer, I can usually just see what I need.
    Except the potato masher which is strangely hard to see/find when on its side… 🙂

    • Picturing the exploding boiled egg made me laugh. Those drawer dividers can be a blessing or a curse, can’t they? Taking the time to find some adjustable ones is the best bet. It just bugs me when I’ve used some that create unusable space around the outside of them.

  2. This is one of the major projects on my to-do list. I have basically avoided my kitchen for the past 2 years (worked a very stressful job 80+ hours a week =no cooking).
    Now that I am at home, I am relearning to cook, and desperately need to get rid of so much stuff! Thanks for this guideline to help me in this monumnetal task!

    • The kitchen is a major project for sure. I’m breaking it up into smaller pieces. There is still way too many tupperware/rubbermaid containers in the cabinet along with too many pots and pans from our combined households. One step at a time, right?

  3. I’ve been slowly trying to de-clutter the kitchen, and one thing made a big difference was getting rid of my big knife set that has the butcher-block style holder. It doesn’t fit anywhere except on the counter or top of the fridge and it drove me nuts. And the knives were getting dull. So, I got a set of steak knives (at a yard sale for $.50!) that are small and easliy fit into the utensil drawer, a bread knife, a paring knife for small jobs, and a large boning knife that I use for cutting everything else. Sooo much easier.

    • We got rid of our two huge knife blocks too. The counter space the ate up was too hard to justify. After cutting down the ones we use, I moved them to a drawer. It’s not ideal but works for now. We also installed some magnetic strips like you see in garages for hanging tools from. They work well if the utensils are away from the heat and if there is enough metal on the knife or tool that it can hang without slipping.

  4. Love your blog. I’m a homeschooling mom of 4 kids in the middle of the same process you’re going through. Your posts are an inspiration! Thanks.

  5. Yeah, the lemon press. It seemed like a such a good idea but since you get a ton more juice with the old fashioned reamer AND it’s a lot smaller…

    I recently got rid of the rice cooker. I know people swear by them, but everyone in my house knows how to make rice without it, so off it went.

  6. It’s amazing how many kitchen gadgets are just substitutes for a knife. No one needs a hot dog slicer, banana slicer, or (honestly) even a pineapple slicer if they have a knife. I do own a little device that takes the kernels off corn and slides them into a plastic tube- and I LOVE IT and use it all the time. I could definitely use a knife, but not spraying the counter with corn juice and getting it all off in one pass makes this a worth while unitasker in my kitchen. I have been minimizing for about 3 years now and I’m always surprised that I can *finally* feel done and 6 months later find more stuff to purge.


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