I’m sure many of us want to get rid of clutter in our lives. We all wish to live a simpler life without being surrounded by unnecessary stuff. The kitchen is one place where so many things find a place to gather unused.
Many of us are guilty of eating way too much takeout. Thankfully there are many healthy options to choose from; but it still brings extra clutter we don’t need. I’m talking condiments and disposable cutlery. Go ahead, open any drawer and you’re likely to find countless little envelopes ranging from ketchup and mustard to hot sauce and soy. Not to mention tons of little plastic wrapped knives and forks. Why do we save these? I always think I will use them and hate to waste anything. But stop yourself, purge, and get rid of all of them. From now on, tell restaurants to skip the extras, you’ll end up with less waste and mess. Another clutter builder are menus, how many do you have? Every take-out place on the planet has menus online. They also have up to date prices, so you won’t be surprised.
The refrigerator is another repository for the old and hardly ever used. Whether we like it or not, condiments don’t last forever. Take out everything in your refrigerator door. This is a good excuse to clean it too! Check dates on everything and throw out anything out of date. But it’s good to replace any condiments that are ¼ full or less, especially if it’s something you use infrequently. Buy fresh, tastes better anyway. Toss out any pickles, olives, and such where the liquid has turned cloudy. Wipe clean all the lids and collars of the condiments you save.
For those of us that don’t cook very often, the spice rack often holds many items that can literally be 5+ years old. Dry spices do last a while, but anything older than a year should be discarded. They will not make you ill, but their flavor will be all but gone. I’ve decided to buy fresh spices and dried herbs every thanksgiving. I’ll have fresh for the holidays and they will last till next year. it’s always best to store these in a dark cool place, like a pantry away from the heat of the stove. The pantry itself may hold old canned goods, better tossed than used.
While you’re in the pantry, go through all your pots, pans, baking sheets, and dishes. If you haven’t used an item in a year, consider getting rid of it. I’m sure you, like me, have old crusty cookie sheets and pans that you wouldn’t want anyone to see. If they are presentable, donate them. I know there are some things only used at holiday time, but I know you have a lot that can go!
Let’s make this year one to lighten our lives, literally and figuratively!
KATHLEEN WEAVER-ZECH & DEAN’S TEAM CHICAGO