Zone Defense: Organizing Kitchen Equipment

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This year we are on Zone Defense, tackling one area of home and life at a time, until we’ve beaten back clutter and disorder. We are going to regain our lost ground. This month? We’re in the kitchen.

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This month we’re tackling the kitchen. Since I couldn’t very well post about food storage without sprucing up my own. While I had given it a pretty good overhaul back in January, it was due. Someone has gotten a little lazy about putting things in their proper places.


I spent time last week rearranging the cupboards and checking out my inventory. It was a huge help to my grocery planning, too. I discovered that we’re pretty well stocked on most things, except brown and powdered sugars and canned vegetables. I seem to be moving away from canned veg with the produce box coming each week, so I guess that’s okay.

But, those sugars? Hmmm…. But, I digress.

Earlier this month, we talked about organizing your food. Next on the plan is to organize your kitchen equipment, the things you use to prepare said food. How you do this will depend on several factors:

  • how often you cook
  • how complicated your cooking gets
  • how much storage space you have
  • how much you own in terms of small appliances, gadgets, bakeware, and cookware

Get rid of extra kitchen stuff.

But, as you approach your kitchen cupboards, ask yourself these questions:

Do you use it?

If you haven’t used it in the past year, it may not be a necessary player in your life. As I recently went through my appliance cupboard I found a small food processor that I’ve had since we got married 18 years ago. It’s a mini chopper that I don’t really use anymore since I also have two larger food processors (yes, really) as well as a Magic Bullet and a blender. It wasn’t as difficult to say goodbye as I thought it would be, and I feel freed up. I know that it doesn’t make sense to keep things I don’t use.

Do you like it?

In her book, Organized Simplicity, Simple Mom Tsh Oxenreider expounds on the wise William Morris quote, “Have nothing in your home that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.” It’s a wonderful saying to keep in mind. If you don’t like it, then why do you have it?

I had to come to grips with this when looking at the two hand mixers I had. One I love. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE. And the funny thing is that I bought it in college 20 years ago — it was the cheapest model available at the local KMart. It is a champion, the motor still going strong after all these years. However, the beaters are rusted and metal is flaking off into the food. Ick!

I bought a cheapo replacement (< $10) at Target back at the holidays, but the two just don’t compare. The newer mixer will be going the way of Goodwill.

I would love to find replacement mixers, however, google could not tell me much about the Kitchen Creations brand. It may be completely obsolete. A new, quality mixer is around $40, so I’m going to wait and see if I can find replacement beaters anyway. Because I like. that. mixer.

Would this bless someone else?

This question helps me to part with a lot of “stuff.” If I know of a better home for something, I can focus on the blessing rather than the hoarding.

Is this a unitasker?

Alton Brown taught my husband that phrase. And he is not afraid to use it. I, obviously am a gadget and small appliance girl. You have no idea what else I’ve gotten rid of in years past! Anyway, if a gadget or appliance only serves one purpose, it may not belong in your home.

This is why I’ve said goodbye to fondue pots. We rarely have fondue and the frequency, or lack thereof, did not justify the space to store the pot and its equipment. When we do make fondue, we use the small slow cooker to keep the chocolate warm.

Dejunk the kitchen.

We’re using the same general method for dejunking the kitchen that we did in the previous zones.

  1. Empty a cupboard or drawer.
  2. Ditch the trash.
  3. Vacuum out the space.
  4. Remove items that do not belong in this zone.
  5. Categorize like with like.
  6. Organize new items in a way that makes them easy to use and even easier to put away.

Organize what’s left.

Consider storing the items that you keep near the place where you use them. Take a good look around your kitchen. This week, as you cook, think about how often you walk across the kitchen for something? Could you move that something closer to your work space? You may be surprised that you can!

Often we do things the way it was done in our childhood homes, but that might not fit how we actually live today. And who knows? Maybe your parents organized the kitchen the way that their moms did.

There is no fool-proof way to clean and organize your kitchen. You have to do what fits your family and your style of cooking. But, if you stick with it and move methodically through your kitchen, you should be able to purge the stuff that gets in your way. I’ve got four gadget drawers and a plethora of pots and pans calling my name, so you know what I’ll be doing this weekend.

How do you decide what kitchen tools stay and what can go?

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  1. Well………I have a bit of a gadget problem myself. I’m a Pampered Chef independent consultant. I actually talk to my customers about this. Unitaskers are useless clutter if they are not used on a regular basis. There’s not much you can’t do with a good knife!

    I dump the contents of a drawer or tool turnabout in to a plastic dish tub. As I need things, I use them, wash and put them away. If it’s still in the dish tub after 2 weeks—-buh bye!

  2. I LOVE your kitchen layout!

    I’ve been reorganizing my kitchen and de-cluttering. I also love gadgets but really try to not have too many unitaskers but sometimes a girl needs her toys. I’ve put off a waffle maker for this exact reason as well as a panini press. But boy would I love those!

    Thanks for this post. It reminded me that I’m doing what I should be doing and that I’ve gotten farther than I realized.

  3. Ok, so not exactly about organizing, but I liked your comment “Often we do things the way it was done in our childhood homes, but that might not fit how we actually live today. And who knows? Maybe your parents organized the kitchen the way that their moms did.” It made me think of the old story about a young wife who was cooking ham for her husband. She cut off the ends before she put it in the pan and oven. Her husband asked her why she did this. She said because her mother always did. He asked his mother-in-law why she cut the ends off of the ham. She said because her mother had done so. The new husband asked his wife’s grandmother why she had cut the ends off of her ham. She exclaimed that she didn’t know why her daughter and granddaughter cut ends off of their hams, but she always had because the ham didn’t fit in the pan if she didn’t.
    That just goes to show that just because our parents did something in a certain way, we should not necessarily go about things in the same way because the situations may not warrant the same behaviors. I had never really thought about applying this same thought to organizing my kitchen.

  4. 2 years ago when we first started trying to sell our house – it was suggested to be to minimize the “things” in our house to make things look less cluttered. Of course I eventually I got to the kitchen, cleaned out drawers to try to minimize. 2 yrs later (and no sold house yet 🙁 that gadget drawer is stuffed full again. I don’t even know what or how I did it (or what was in there before!)

    This advice is great for me at this time. Passover is in in two weeks, and I traditionally go through my kitchen – from top to bottom, wipe down everything, vacuum it all out, clean it all up – not that I think I HAVE to have this done for Passover (I’m not jewish in the traditional sense) but it gives me a great incentive to get started on spring cleaning, and then I know that area of the house has been done once a year! I will try to think these things through while I’m going through everything. I wish that I knew better where to put things in cupboards sometimes. I always wonder if there is a better way, I just can’t see it 🙂

  5. Love the unitasker idea. I try to get rid of things that only perform one task. I got rid of a smoothie maker recently for just that reason. The exception is my Pampered Chef chopper. Normally, I prefer a knife to chop vegetables, but the chopper makes such quick work of onions that it’s worth keeping around.

  6. I have a big problem with kitchen gadgets. Everything seems so great and useful, but all of my great and useful tools eventually become the clutter taking up all of my counter space. I have crock after crock of utensils and tools, but I really do use them all. So really what I need is more counter space instead of fewer tools… right? 🙂

  7. Nice post! As a person with several kinds of arthritis, I appreciate the point you make about there not being one right way to organize a kitchen. I used to feel bad about not having my counters completely clear, but I have realized making the kitchen arthritis friendly is more important because it keeps this mama cookin!

  8. My kitchen is pretty well decluttered except for my junk drawer. I don’t want it to be a junk drawer anymore. I’m working on organizing it. And as for gadgets…my weakness is crockpots. I have three of them all different sizes and I use all of them at least 2 to 3 times out of the week.

    1. I don’t think it’s a weakness if you have so many crockpots, because they are so frequently used. My three are in use as much as yours.

  9. I also have a “gadget problem” and I don’t like unitaskers. Two exceptions: coffeemaker and rice cooker. And today I dug my food processor OUT OF THE BASEMENT where it lives because I rarely use it. When I put it back later, I won’t touch it again for months.

  10. I love this post. After months of getting annoyed that we didn’t have enough room to store the coffee mugs and drinking glasses on the same shelf, and constantly walking from the coffee maker to the mugs to the spoons to the coffee, I finally realize – I don’t HAVE to store the mugs and drinking glasses together, and moved all the mugs to the cabinet above the coffee maker. So much better. Everything for coffee is in one spot. I love it.

    1. Ok. Why didn’t I think of that? I just rearranged my entire kitchen based on all these great ideas. Poor hubby will never be able to find anything. 🙁