live with less: kitchenware

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Decluttering your kitchen makes a big difference, because it’s one of the most task-orientated spaces in our homes. I enjoy cooking, but wasting time digging around for a missing lasagne dish in a cupboard of overflowing bakeware is most definitely not a part of that. Tidy cupboards, with lots of empty space, make it all quicker and easier, and somehow more pleasurable.

Compared to 2 years ago we probably have around half of kitchenware we previously owned. We cook from scratch pretty much every night; I bake a lot, and we often have friends and guests to stay, yet we never struggle, or miss the things we parted with. It really was just clutter.

Here is my checklist for paring down the kitchen clutter.

  1. Throw away any dedicated gadgets. For the most part these are total nonense, dreamed up by marketers looking for new crap to sell. If it takes you longer to dig out your egg slicer that it does to actually slice an egg, it’s definitely redundant.
    Exceptions: a spaghetti spoon, a garlic press (chopped is not the same as minced).
  2. Pare down the duplicates. How many can you use at once? There is no reason to have more than one grater, colander, paring knife, whisk, ladle, etc. It can be useful to have a couple of some things, like chopping boards & wooden spoons, but most of us have far too many of these too; plus an assortment of wooden utensils that came in the spoon set, and never get used. Lose them! (sidetone: the wooden-spoon-set marketers know you don’t use them – they just throw them in their to make the bundle bigger and fancier so they can charge you more. Buy one or two good quality ones instead).
    Exceptions: Rory & I each have our own potato peeler, as we can’t get the hang of each other’s at all. Also, if you’re on Instagram, you may also need a small selection of what my friend Emma terms unusual spoons… 
  3. Think flexibly. What’s the main difference between a frying pan and a heavy baking sheet? The handle, mainly, I have decided, so now I just keep one really great copper frying pan, and on those rare occasions when I need more frying space, I use a baking sheet too.
  4. Buy less, but better quality. It’s a slightly tired blogger/minimalist adage, but it makes more sense in the kitchen than anywhere else; a great cast iron stockpot lasts a lifetime, and cooks better than the cheaper alternatives (& also great for baking bread in, as it turns out!) We’re saving to buy two really awesome handmade knives, and throwing all of our cheap plastic-handled rubbish ones away.
  5. You don’t need all of the mugs. No really though. It’s somehow become normal to have an entire cupboard dedicated to mugs and cups: twenty or so seems to be perfectly normal. I don’t know about you, but I have never, ever had 20 people over for coffee at one time, and if that did happen, I hope I’d have enough prior warning to allow me to buy a packet of polystyrene cups. Mugs are the home of sentimental clutter in the kitchen – funny mugs, novelty mugs, mugs you got as a gift or souvenir or with a company logo on. In a somewhat radical move, we cut down to six favourite mugs – now eight, since TOAST gifted me a couple of irresistible ones. Eight people for coffee is just about conceivable, and the great thing about a limited supply is, people reuse their original cups rather than reaching for a clean one. Less mess, less washing up. More free cupboard space. 
  6. Different drinks to not require special different glasses. It is a lie! Since visiting Venice, we drink everything out of Duralex tumblers anyway – infinitely more practical and like, totes continental. I’m donating our cheap wine glasses and pointless champagne flutes to charity, and R’s discarded his strange little whisky glasses (saving me the job of accidentally breaking them all πŸ˜‰ ).
    Exception: if you’re one of those people who can taste the difference. We are not; probably because we drink it too fast…
  7. Really big storage jars. Never buy a storage canister that cannot hold at least one-and-a-half packets of the intended food contents. (e.g, these). Anything smaller, and you end up having a full jar and a half-open packet in the cupboard, defeating the entire purpose.
  8. My patented spice drawers. A set of Ikea mini-drawers and some blackboard labels, & cluttered, messy spice racks of doom are a thing of the past. Whatever style of food you’re cooking, just pull out the drawer and have it beside you.
  9. Simple maths. No more cutlery than you have plates; no more plates than you have friends, or space at the table. If I suddenly become a social butterfly and invite the entire village over, I’ll buy some paper plates.
  10. Bleach + kitchen spray + washing up liquid. The rest is all superfluous. Use the space in your under-sink cupboard to hide the bin.
  11. (The kitchen drawer of random shite. Burn it. Just burn it all)

kitchen declutter check list

What have you got lurking in your kitchen cupboards that you could probably part with? & what’s your mug count? I’ve love to hear any of your own tips or ideas below

See the other posts in my live with less series here.

  • Loved reading this, and totally get it! We’ve just fitted a new kitchen and I need to sift through a lot of our things, the last one 100%!!

    • Ah, have you unpacked the old stuff into the shiny new kitchen? This was breaking point for me – I couldn’t face putting all the grimy, unnecessary old crap into my gleaming white cupboards! We got rid of so much I had to sneak round to neighbour’s skip and put some of it in there – before Rory spotted it by the bin and ‘rescued’ it all! Shh, don’t tell! x

  • Spot on! We having been buying just the necessities while we live in London and I’m started to realize I didn’t need all those gadget and extras in the first place! Less works completely fine πŸ™‚

    • Yes! And I may even argue, makes you a better cook, as you’re not depending on the equipment to do all the work for you. I’ll say that quietly though, to avoid any kitchen-gadget-lovers… x

  • Great points… #11 cracked me up – it would certainly be the easiest and most satisfying solution! πŸ™‚

    • & it would work, if only we didn’t open the drawer first to check what’s inside. ‘Oh, I can’t get rid of this…. and this might come in useful!’ Doom and despair. A flamethrower is the only way πŸ˜‰ xxx

  • Rachael Smith

    Awesome post! Not long ago I cleared out mugs, I mean Christmas mugs?!? Come Christmas I can’t even remember they are there and never end up using them! And don’t even get me started on the kids plastic juice bottles, they need 10 each right?!? Madness. I definitely need to have another look through pans and trays, we have 4 hob rings, so more than 4 pans is crazy. I’m inspired to have a more thorough clear out, we are moving house soon and I’d love to have less to pack!!

  • Becca

    Loved this post. I love cooking and that seems to be an excuse for accumulating more and more kitchenware – duplicates, pretty things, the lot. I don’t buy into gadgets, but still there are only so many wooden spoons, beautiful wooden chopping boards and pie tins you can use. And then the things bought because they are beautiful get lost amongst the general enormity of the rest. Time to strip it all back – thanks for the prompt!

    • Yes! It’s tough when all of your duplicates are really quite nice – but then, what luck for your friends or local charity shop shoppers! It’s a brilliant feeling knowing everything in your kitchen is there because you chose it, use it and love it. Total luxury! x

  • Katie May

    This is brilliant! I especially love point 11. Tupperware is my nemesis!

    • Haha! So many lids, so little tuppaware! Where are all the boxes? Why don’t we just throw it all out when we can buy a whole new set of 6 gazillion for a couple of quid in Ikea?? Somebody should find out! x

  • Mia S

    Ha cannot tell you how many times I’ve tried No. 11…perhaps not burn…but bin…it keeps mysteriously coming back…I really have no idea what any of it is…or was…or should be!:)

    • It breeds in the night, I swear. I’ve found the only way to truly banish it for good is to lose all drawers and hiding places for said clutter. I feel your pain! x

  • Helen Stephens

    Oh my god, come and sort out our kitchen! We have SO much stuff!

    • Well I *do* love a good declutter! Pop the kettle on, and pull out the avocado de-pitter! πŸ˜‰ x

  • Old Fashioned Susie

    Oh my god- the mug thing and the glasses thing apply to my house. The sentimentality of the bloody things *sigh*
    Great post lovely x

    • We repurposed a few of R’s sentimental mugs as scoops for dog food or ‘work mugs’ to disappear into the ether of the school staff room. What’s funny is, when they break or are lost, all you actually feel is relief, that your obligation to keep and look after them is over!

      • Old Fashioned Susie

        Yes I’ve repurposed some as pen pots but need to edit more for sure. Totally agree about the feeling of relief if they get broken… In fact there could be an idea there!

  • Sheona

    I’m really good at plates, cups, glasses, wooden spoons… I am not good at having every spice known, every flour imaginable and 10 kinds of sugar. Do you have ideas for that? Also, zoflora. I have lots of zoflora instead of kitchen spray πŸ˜€

    • You could try getting some ants and flour weevils – that would probably help you to clear it all out quick! πŸ˜‰ Then you can use up all the zoflora decontaminating your cupboards.
      You are welcome. x

  • Jo Crawford

    Ha! Brilliant post. Your shelves are beautiful. Tupperware is taking over my life…I was going to throw it away but what if I need that little plastic box that can hold 2 baby tomatoes?!

    • hahaha! Jo, go now and throw away all the stupid little tupperware boxes. Should you need to transport two cherry tomatoes somewhere, I’m sure a bit of tinfoil will improvise just fine. I used to keep them because ‘they will be great for storing leftover wine in the freezer to cook with!’. Leftover wine. Ridiculous! x

  • yes to all of this! i’ve been on a mega declutter mission since we moved out of London. an unexpected house move last year has led to more decluttering. I literally can’t believe the shit I’ve accumulated! Getting rid of it has become almost an obsession. But its hard as I am a recovering hoarder, so many feeeeelliiiingggssss! (but, ultimately, flame thrower)

  • Not exactly sure on the mug count so that means it’s definitely too many, they’re going! Wahoo, I feel free already. We have been meaning to do this for ages and with Dean going away for a couple of weeks, I think I might get the cupboards cleared for a return home surprise! Thanks for the kick up the backside πŸ™‚

  • CaliMel

    We’ve been doing this. When we first moved in, we had TONS of crap kitchenware. Then we got rid of it all and got really nice stuff instead. I think we still have too many graters. My mom collects kitchenware, and growing up, we never used most of it. It just hogs cupboards. I don’t like one use appliances at all because of that! They annoy me because it’s all just marketing gimmicks. I had someone tell me I should get an appliance to cook hardboiled eggs…and had to politely decline their offer to buy us one. When our Keurig broke that was a gift, I threw it away and boiled water on the stove in a pot for months before getting a hot water kettle, and it was completely fine. I feel like people think they need so much more than they really do, and it’s extremely hard to break the programming that marketers have done on us. I’m still working on it.

  • katyatapartmentapothecary

    This is BRILLIANT! My last post was about the KonMari method of decluttering and I have already used that to do our kitchen, which I’m going to share soon. I got rid of ALL OF THE MUGS! just that has made me feel like a new person – a mugless person. Such great tips – I’m off to share it on FB xx

  • I’ve just come back from camping with a mission to get rid of 5% of everything.

    I haven’t needed it this past week or so away so why do I need it in the house? My life has been beautifully simple living with a tent and a few essentials, I want to make it so always.

    On a side (but related note), v tempted to get rid of all crockery and mugs etc in favour of our new enamelware (one of the loveliest birthday presents I’ve ever had). My reasoning for excess numbers of plates previously (children post weaning tend to get through the crockery like it’s their life’s mission to rid you of it) is done away with when you add enamelware in to the equation.

  • Brilliant! Agree with it all – apart from the mugs. I have this thing with mugs… I have edited my collection massively, so only the ones i love remain – but there are rather a lot. I like different mugs for coffee, tea, herbal tea….although I now have a one in one out policy πŸ™‚ We had a massive kitchen sort out when we moved house – I couldn’t believe how many duplicates we had! Things have multiplied behind our backs again already – think we need to have another go!

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  • Vicky Style Made Simple

    Loved reading this. I’m a natural collector but I long to be a minimalist so I spend lots of time decluttering and vowing not to let it build up again… As for that kitchen drawer of total rubbish.. I empty mine on a monthly basis and it always creeps back in

  • Lauren Crowley

    Do you put your spices straight into the drawers? Do you have a picture? I’m intrigued by this new way of storing spices!

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  • Lucinda Buckley

    I have just massively cleared out my kitchen, I now have one double cupboard, a cupboard under the sink and a single on the wall. My sister was astounded as we are a family of five, where on earth do you put everything she cried. My answer, we have only what we need and we don’t hoard food. I too have gone down to just six tumbler style glasses, used for all drinks, six mugs etc etc, basically one for each of us and one extra. I’m pretty confident that I could borrow anything extra I may need from various neighbours. The only foodstuff that doesn’t get used and replenished every week are spices and condiments. I only buy what I know we will eat, nothing gives me greater joy than an empty fridge and food cupboard on shopping day.

  • Amanda

    Inspired by your post (and entire blog which I quite simply, adore), I’ve decluttered our cutlery drawer and utensil jug. Next step is the mug cupboard because as you say, how many mugs does one family need, especially when I have one I use constantly and HusbandMan has his favourite (and LittleDude doesn’t yet drink tea of coffee, thank goodness)?

    Thank you for writing this, it was precisely what I needed to read today x