Organizing and Decluttering Kitchen Utensils

Like many of you, I have spent most of my life with family or a roommate, sharing utensils, then getting married, cramming all utensils in a few drawers, and not paying attention to the fact that we have way too many of kitchen utensils, like having three meat thermometers. Decluttering parts of your kitchen is a great first step in organizing your house. People tend not to be too attached to kitchen utensils, so it shouldn’t be as big of a mental battle as say getting rid of clothes or accepting the fact that certain hobbies will never be a part of your life. (“Yes I know I haven’t played tennis in four years, but this year will be different”) Also, reducing the amount of times a spatula gets wedged into the top of an overflowing drawer, preventing you from opening it, and then you aggressively slamming the drawer back and forth is probably good for your overall stability. So whatever life stage you’re in and whatever your living arrangement is, if you’re in any need of slight overhaul of your kitchen drawers, just keep reading.

utensil before

Assess your circumstance: before ripping your kitchen apart, decide what kind of organizational pieces would improve your kitchen drawers and counter. If you’re lacking organizers or a container for your wooden spoons and spatulas, first look around your house. Any old vases from flowers? Something your grandma gave you that’s collecting dust? For the utensils going in drawers: How about a container that you used for pens or makeup brushes? Or my favorite: Tupperware with missing lids. If you’re still empty handed, here’s what I suggest:

  • One large, tall container that will store your spatulas, spoons, and other larger utensils that you use for everyday cooking.
  • One-two typical silverware holder. Having two with different depths and widths will make it easier to decide what should be stored where.
  • 2-3 containers of different sizes that will easily fit in your drawer to help organize different sized utensils.
    • Think pizza cutter, cookie cutter, measuring spoons, meat thermometer, chip clips, a few pens, scissors, ice cream scoop. The list goes on. Look at what you have and the shape of them and go from there.
    • Check in the office supply section of a store. There are usually more size options than in the kitchen section.

Time to dump your drawers: and countertops, boxes and whatever else is holding kitchen utensils. Simply organize by item, keeping everything on display.

Decide where you want to store your items. Giving yourself a boundary is key. Saying to yourself, ‘if it can’t fit in two drawers and a container on my counter, I’m not going to keep it’. Each person will be different. How many people are in your household, how often you cook, and what you cook will all play a role. But determine your new storage before you get to organizing. And of course, make it at least slightly smaller than what you’re starting out with.

A consideration on the one-purpose items: Cherry pitters, melon ballers, four different peelers to make four different cute designs on your carrots. We all have some of these items. So put all these one-purpose items together and really think if they’re worth the space. I had both an olive pitter and a cherry pitter…. So yeah, I can get rid of at least one of them. If there’s a dish you love to make that would be super difficult to make without your quirky utensil, keep it. If you have a melon baller and have no idea what it even does, part ways.

Remove excess or broken items: Grab a shoebox, cardboard box from the mail, or even a used plastic bag. Any item that’s not broken that doesn’t make the cut goes into here for donation. All broken items, try to upcycle or recycle. But know your limits. If you planned on fixing it for a year, but haven’t, let it go. Now onto the excess items. First, consider how often you cook and do the dishes. For example, say you cook most nights and do dishes every other night. If that’s the case, what is the max number of [insert utensil] you would use in that timeframe? That’s how many you need, not three times that amount, not twice, just enough to get you through until the next time you do dishes. Pick your favorites of that item and get rid of the rest. When Sam and I moved into together, we had six of those rounded spatulas that are good for scraping bowls when baking. We have two now.

Something broken but no backup? When you take your box of good utensils to your favorite donation center, go shopping. Did you throw away your only can opener during this project, well find one secondhand. Wow, what a sustainable, thoughtful person you are! Can’t find any at a secondhand store? Realize most people have an utensil hoarding problem like yourself. Ask a family member or friend. Chances are you can easily get a free replacement. Oh, and tell them about your organization project and how good you feel from it.

Now rinse and repeat with your desk drawers, entry area storage, and nightstands as you feel motivated.

utensil after

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