You’re Due for a Bypass
The kitchen is the heart of the modern home. But we’re clogging our arteries. A simple plan to get it—and your family—ticking like new.
By Laurie Palau
It’s where dinner parties find their identities. It’s where families find safe harbor following overloaded days. It’s also where the homework’s done, the bills are paid and, of course, the meals are made.
We ask a lot of our kitchens, and we give very little in return. Drawers designed for Japanese-forged knives are handed over to flashlights without batteries and half-used lint rollers. Large chunks of granite countertop are lost to a rat’s nest of charging phones and tablets.
That kind of scene goes from cozy to suffocating overnight. Before long, your family’s bound to start avoiding it—and each other. But it’s easily remedied by streamlining a few pulse points.
Everything that’s expired gets tossed in the garbage, even if you believe that those dates are merely suggestions. And don’t look past the spices. They’re only good for a year. Then, approach the pantry like it’s your personal market. Labels should face forward and foodstuffs grouped by kind. Corralling the bagged things—potatoes, onions, sugar—in a bin or two like the Sterilite Ultra Basket ($6 for the medium) will spare you shelf space and headaches.
Anything you haven’t used in the last year, donate. Anything that’s scratched or burned beyond recognition, trash. Nest the remaining pots and pans within each other. (Largest on the bottom, smallest on the top.) As for those always-uncooperative lids, they’ve finally met their match in the Organized Living Lid Organizer ($7). Now, start plotting what to do with all that extra real estate.
Every container that doesn’t have a lid, and vice versa, goes. Holding out hope doesn’t make it any more likely to surface. If that really narrows the field, or if your set is less a set and more a collection of old takeout containers, invest in the Rubbermaid 40-piece Easy Find Lid set ($21). And prepare to have your mind blown: interchangeable lids, easy-peasy stacking.
How many meals have gone up in flames while you dug (and dug) for the peeler or the small wooden spoon? And don’t forget those supposed friends of yours who very obviously rolled their eyes while you lost your patience (and theirs) chasing a corkscrew. Cut your arsenal down to no more than three of any one tool. You’re not employing line cooks, so you’ll never miss them. Then, insert these bamboo drawer dividers by Lipper ($20 for a set of two) to create a very basic order. As with everything else here, like with like.
If you must have one, and I’ve come to accept that every kitchen does, at least pare it down to the useful stuff. Holding on to a Whole Foods receipt from seven months ago is hoarding. Get a drawer organizer like this adjustable one by Lipper ($16). But what about the things that don’t fit, you ask? They probably don’t belong anyway.
Laurie Palau is the owner of the New Hope-based simply B organized, a home and life organization service.
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As if having a seemingly endless stream of recipes at your disposal (for free!) wasn’t enough (it sources from all over the webiverse), you can filter by allergies and ingredients. And that’s not even the most impressive feature. This is: Plug in what’s in your fridge, leftovers included, and Yummly will tell you what’s for dinner. Or late-night snacking. —LP