decluttering the kitchenEvery year in January, thousands of people around the world jump on the bandwagon to divest themselves of unwanted pounds with a better diet, more exercise and a commitment to wellness.

Your kitchen wants to get on that train.

This is definitely the case if you have kitchen drawers bursting with paper goods, cabinet doors barely holding back their contents and countertops too cluttered to be functional. Instead of a happy place for meals to come together, your kitchen is becoming a source of frustration, anxiety and embarrassment. And when the heart of the home is strained, everything (and everyone) is affected.

It’s time to whip your kitchen into shape, and we’ve got just the tips to help you make it lean and clean.

Dish it out.

As we go through life, we seem to collect glasses and dishes like we do socks; sometimes they match, sometimes they don’t, and sometimes we keep them far longer than we need to. If you find yourself constantly moving things out of the way to get to the things you use most often, it’s time to take a hard look at your dishes and how you use them.

Start by getting rid of the dishes you hardly use as well as the ones that that don’t stack well, are hard to clean or are in poor shape. Then look at function. How do you use these dishes? Which ones do you use most often? Do you really need 20 plastic cups?

You may find that just two sets of everything for every person in your family gives you plenty of dishware and silverware to last you until you need to unload the dishwasher again.

Make a date.

When was the last time you cleaned out your fridge and pantry? Now is a great time to check expiration dates and take stock of the items you haven’t used in a while. Spices tend to lose their flavor after 6 months (some sooner than that), and oils can turn rancid if kept close to a heat source. Pare these down as much as you can, and restock only in sizes you can reasonably use in 2-4 months.

Most people find it easier to pull everything out and only put back what’s necessary, organizing their pantry as they go. Canned goods with the nearest expiration dates should be placed in the front so they can be used quickly, or donated so others may enjoy them before they expire.

Do it by the book.

You know that trending closet trick where you hang all your clothes in your closet backwards, only righting them once you’ve worn them? This trick, which helps you see exactly which pieces you wear, and which you don’t, is also how you should handle your cookbook collection. Take a good look at your recipe books. Which three could you not live without? How many are more sentimental than useful? Are there a few that only contain one or two go-to recipes?

Consider copying your favorite recipes into a binder with plastic sleeves or making your own family cookbook with your favorite meals (along with anecdotes, if you have them). You can also rethink their location; cookbooks are beautiful on coffee tables, bookshelves, guest rooms, and wall ledges, and they’ll stay that way longer if they are not subjected to the grease, flour and heat of the kitchen.

Get real with your small appliances.

Small appliances should make your life easier, not harder. If your timesaving kitchen devices are a headache to work around, store or use, it’s time for them to find a new home. You can take this literally (donate!!) or you can place them in a closet or storage room for when you really need to use them. If you choose to keep them, tape a note to them with the date you put it into storage. If you haven’t used the appliance in a year, it may be time to part ways.

De-Junk Your Trunk.

We all have a little junk in our trunks or, more specifically, our kitchen drawers. Make it a weekly project to sort and redistribute the items that find their way in there (it’s a great chore for older kids!).

Keep tabs on how many items you are keeping for sentimental reasons and challenge yourself to channel that love in other ways. For example, don’t mourn the loss of your fondue pot, treat yourself to a fondue restaurant once a year and celebrate your spacious, organized kitchen. The goal with these kitchen organization tips is to give you the space to keep a few cherished memories, while creating more room and time to make new ones.

Have any before-and-after pics you’d like to share? We’d love to see them!

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