Holiday Kitchen Purge
This year for Thanksgiving, my housemates and I chose to stay at home for the holidays instead of travel to or congregate with family. As heartbreaking as this new reality seems, it is imperative that we all work together to make the best of the situation. Homesickness in the air, we all decided to have a traditional home cooked dinner anyways because we still have a lot to be thankful for. For example, a view of sunny Los Angeles from our balcony in Hollywood Hills is not the worst spot to be stuck in. Our big ol’ house is spacious so we are separated by bedrooms and busy lives. The kitchen is the one common area that allows us to catch up, exchanging cooking ideas as well as words of encouragement and well-wishes for the day. However, it can also be a hub for clutter.
Maintaining a clean kitchen is certainly time consuming and can even seem never ending, especially if little ones share the home. In these times, many more families are cooking at home more often than they used to. The more you cook, the more you need to clean. A properly organized kitchen will make cooking more efficient and the clean up much easier.
When you move into a shared space with someone, you typically combine kitchen materials. All of us housemates have brought a variety of utensils, dishes, pots, pans, small appliances, spices, etc. Many of which are multiples. One of my rules in kitchen organization is to only have handy what you’ll need. The point is to have a spot for each item that makes sense. If you cohabitate, choose the item of best quality to keep out, then put the other(s) away in a back up storage space; otherwise, let go. Side note for the ladies: ever notice that guys tend to have an overflowing drawer of forks and spoons? I call this “utensil overkill” and my theory is so they don’t have to wash them as often! I joke but overkill can be smart for occasions of feeding many mouths at once, however the drawers should be able to shut on any other day. We should create a storage space for any and all extra items accessible only when necessary (e.g. a bin atop the fridge). The better system for daily routine is to keep a constant flow of washing and putting away dishes. I personally prefer hand washing but totally agree with families utilizing dish washing machines.
Most people tend to think of organization as a process of rearranging, combining, and purging after items become a collected mess. This is absolutely true, however when it comes hosting holiday dinners (or any family meals for that matter), it is best to practice pre-purging. Pre-purging is the act of preparing for new items entering your home. This makes life in general more efficient because you’ll know what you need and what you already have before making your grocery list as well as creating space for the new arrivals. Remember when I mentioned every item having a spot to reside in the kitchen? These spots will eventually rotate as you replace items with new ones. Moreover, a constant rotation of food items is necessary to prevent overspending and waste.
One of my aforementioned housemates also happens to be my best friend here in Los Angeles; we’ll call her Bestie. We cohabitate very well because we value the same ideas of cleanliness, organization, and personal health. We especially compliment each other in the kitchen because she’s an outstanding cook (and I’m her sous-chef) and vice versa, she’s my cleaning assistant.
I am a huge fan of lists in order to be the most efficient shopper. Having a grocery plan is a must. *Joy of Lists and Grocery Planning blogs to come* Not only will this help to eliminate expired food waste but also cut your time spent in the store in half (a huge bonus these days). In this instance, Bestie needed not only a list for ingredients, but also specific cookware. To prepare for her multi-dish meal, I first took inventory of utensils we already own then made a list of the ones we still needed (ie. potato masher and turkey rack).
To make space for incoming cookware, I laid out all of our pots and pans then purged the scratched/multiples as well as unmatched covers. Remember: purge doesn’t always have to mean trash. If you want to move out unscratched multiples, the storage bin or a donation pile is recommended. To make pantry space, I laid out all spices/oils/staples, combined multiples, tossed expired, then added to the list whatever was missing that the recipes called for. To prepare for leftovers, I laid out all food storage containers, tossed mismatched tops and bottoms, neatly returned in an orderly fashion.
Fridge flow is one of my favorite specialties (I know, cuckoo but we don’t choose our passions). I’ll save this concept for a more detailed blog post but the main aspect is rotation to keep the flow of tossing expired items to make room for fresh food. Taking time to get a visual on all items in a particular space is helpful with keeping the flow of out with the old, in with the new (aka leftovers). If this were a cooking blog, now would be the tangent I go off on about creating recipes with leftovers for the rest of the week.
The holidays tend to be an extra busy time of year but keeping an organized home does wonders for one’s stress level! My goal for this blog is to teach you the skills to maintain a healthy, efficient lifestyle in order to keep the inevitable stress low in a time it is unavoidably high.