Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Shedding of Innocent Stuff: The Kitchen Cleanout

On Saturday, I found that I was at home and had some free time to ponder and consider a few things regarding our kitchen. There are certain things that we do and certain rituals that surround our cooking, and because of those rituals, we have accumulated a small army of wares that, many times, do not get used or have just sort of piled into our cabinets. I think it was when I was looking to get a griddle out of our corner cabinet and having to fight all of the stuff surrounding it (and skinning my knuckles in the process), that I decided enough was enough, and that we really should take a look at what we have in here and why.

To be fair, I asked Christina if it was OK to embark on this particular journey, since this is one of those times when my decisions were going to have a possible radical effect on her life and reality, too. We both spend time in the kitchen, but it can be argued that she easily spends three or four times the amount I do there. Thus, I couldn’t just arbitrarily impose my ideas of what would work or why, it had to be something we would both agree to and with.

To this end, we went through all of our cupboards and drawers and we pulled out everything. We put these items on the kitchen table and we looked to see what we had. In the process, we discovered that we had two large nonstick cooking pans that were absolutely identical… and this totally baffled me. Why did we have two of the exact pans? Would we really have a need for two large pans like this at the same time for the same meal? We both decided that the answer was no, and we let one of them go.

We had a number of pots and pans that were holdovers from many years back when we still had an electric range. These items had thin walls and are really not suited for use on a gas range (you have to watch them like a hawk or the contents get scorched and then cleaning is a nightmare!). We decided to let most of these items finally go, but we kept one of them as an experiment. We jokingly refer to this as the Mac and Cheese pot, so we will see how often it gets used and see how many times we have to go to great efforts to clean it. If the answer is more than twice, then we will downsize it in favor of one of our other pots.

We found that we had a bunch of mismatched lids… they didn’t go with anything. Time for them to go.

Somehow, we had accumulated a copious amount of low grade plastic storage containers. Having storage containers in and of itself is not a problem, we just had way more than we would ever practically or realistically use, even if we were to fill the fridge and freezer with various dinners. Many of these are being repurposed rather than thrown away; Since they are clear, they make for great storage options for small items in the garage and in my upstairs closet.

A nice surprise was that we really hadn’t accumulated too many “unitaskers” over the years; though we had a few odd items that we decided just didn’t make sense to keep around, such as a small plunger operated chopper, the electric can opener, a bevy of manually operated can-openers that had just lost effectiveness over the years, and a slant type cooking device that looks surprisingly similar to a George Foreman Grill. We also have a salad spinner that, while I questioned if it was actually worth hanging onto, Christina swears she uses it every time lettuce is used for anything, so it’s cool, it stays :).

What we ultimately kept is as follows:

1 2 quart reduction Sauce Pan w/ lid (Viking)
1 2 quart Dutch Oven (Lodge)
1 3 quart Sauce Pan w/ lid (Viking)
1 3 quart “Mac and Cheese” Sauce Pan w/ lid (Revere)
1 6 quart Sauce Pot w/ lid (Lodge)
1 8 1/2 quart Sauce Pot w/ lid (Viking)
1 3 quart Saute Pan w/ lid (Viking)
1 11” Fry Pan w/ lid
1 3 quart Casserole Pan w/ Lid (Viking)
3 Pyrex casserole dishes (various sizes)
3 Corning Ware casserole dishes (various sizes)
2 bread pans (small and medium)
2 cookie sheets
3 muffin tins (2 small, 1 large)
1 13" Flat Bottom Cast Iron Wok
4 Stackable storage and mixing bowls with lids
A bunch of various plastic ware containers for storing leftovers (enough for about 6 full family meals)
1 Waffle iron
1 Griddle for pancakes and cooking bacon and eggs (we’ve had this thing forever and anticipate having it for just as long :) ).
1 food processor
1 rice cooker/steamer
1 blender
1 standard 2 slot toaster
1 toaster oven (honestly, I could see the day when we just kept the toaster oven and dropped the standalone toaster, but Christina is not seeing it that way at the moment (LOL!))

The great thing about doing this was that we liberated a lot of cabinet space that was not being used efficiently before, and we consolidated all of our regular use items into a simple to access area, and all right near the range where they can be of the greatest use. As always, it’s the pieces that actually get used that make the most sense to keep handy, the occasional items can be stored elsewhere, and if it’s really just occasionally, perhaps a case can be made that it shouldn’t be there at all. We’ll see how this more minimalist approach works for us (and truth be told, it’s still not all that minimalist, but it’s a lot better and easier to access than what we had before (LOL!).

1 comment:

~pollyanna said...

I have been doing this same process... so far I have "liberated" a LOT of cupboard space and I have a was to go...