It’s usually New Years that causes us to reflect on the past year and look forward for what is to come. For me, it’s March that has me looking back on the past year and where I was merely 12 months ago. And, when I do it totally and completely blows my mind! Never in a million years would I have expected to go from the hustle and bustle of Oakland, CA to embrace the calm, quiet (and occasional crowing rooster) in Shermans Dale, PA. It’s been quite a ride!
You see, this time last year I was doing a MAJOR overhaul of my belongings to prepare for a move from a 2 bedroom house into a cozy studio apartment (the PA move came a bit later – it’s a long story!). I was determined to not have a storage space and this called for a serious assessment of all of my stuff – from books and craft supplies to clothing and decorative items. I went through every little piece of my life and decided what to keep, what to donate and what just needed tossed. It was a tedious and exhausting process but I felt incredibly light and free after it was all over. That is, after I slept for nearly an entire week to fully recover 🙂
The hardest area for me to dig through was my kitchen. I had collected an array of kitchen gadgets large and small that I felt I absolutely NEEDED in order to be a good cook.
Aren’t a juicer, dehydrator and ice cream maker essentials to everyone’s kitchen pantry?
My new kitchen was incredibly tiny with a 2×3 foot counter space, 3 drawers and 4 cabinets for storage and so the juicer, dehydrator and ice cream maker found new owners through Craigslist. My wine bottle openers, spatulas and other tool multiples found good homes in other kitchens. I haven’t missed them since. Are there kitchen tools or gadgets you haven’t used in months? Or, probably ever will?
I learned a big lesson when it comes to creating a successful and stress-free cooking environment. It may sound cliche but even in the kitchen “less is more.” I cooked some incredibly delicious meals for myself and my friends in that itty-bitty kitchen and I have to say…I kind of miss it sometimes! It forced me to be more creative, innovative and organized with my preparation and cooking. I couldn’t let dishes pile up in the sink or leave a trail of food scraps on multiple countertops.
5 Reasons Your Kitchen is Stressing You Out
I often hear people say that cooking is totally stressful and takes up way too much time. If that’s the case it’s because their kitchen isn’t serving them in the best way possible.
A few minor changes will turn cooking from stress inducing to stress reducing.
1) Your Sink is a Dirty Dish Parking Lot
Having a full sink of dishes at the end of the day or at the end of just one meal is a total downer! Make it a priority to take the 30 seconds to wash your dishes as you go or put them in the dishwasher right away. It also helps to create a dishwasher routine. Run the dishwasher after dinner and then empty it before bed. Being able to put breakfast dishes right in the dishwasher in the morning will totally make your day!
2) Your Trash Can (and Recycling) are in a Bad Location
If it’s not conveniently located it will feel like total pain in the behind to use it. Put your trash and recycling close to where you do most of your cooking preparation. If you have the space get it out from under the sink – opening that door every time can be annoying and you’re just getting chicken juice all over the handle, right? I like to use a compost bowl while cooking where I put all my kitchen scraps. It keeps my workspace clean and I’m not walking back and forth just to throw out an onion peel.
3) Your Cleaning Supplies Are Not Accessible (or They’re Gross!)
No matter how clean of a cook you are you will make a mess. So, if you have to get down on all fours to dig out your spray cleaner from under the sink it’s going to feel like a total bear. I keep my kitchen cleaning supplies in a basket under the fridge. This includes Barkeepers Friend for my sink, Mrs. Meyers Countertop Spray for countertops and the stove and a cleaning sponge. If your sponge tends to get stinky be sure to wring it out really well and put it where it dries quickly. A wet sponge will breed germs and smell to high heavens. You can also put it in your dishwasher every so often to give it a good cleaning.
4) Your Drawers Are a Clutter Chaos
Organize your drawers into “everyday use” and “occasional use.” Make sure your “everyday use” drawers are located where you do most of your prep and cooking. Go through all your tools and get rid of the triple wine bottle openers, 5 wooden spoons and 3 vegetable peelers. You can either donate them or put them in a box for later use. Then, buy simple drawer organizers and non-skid pads to keep everything in the right place.
5) Observe How You Work
Once you’ve de-cluttered, moved the trash and got your cleaning supplies in order pay attention to how you function in your kitchen. Are you walking back and forth multiple times to get frequently used tools? Then move them closer. Or, are you running laps just to put the dishes away? Maybe the plates and glasses should go in the cabinet above the dishwasher. Pay attention to what is frustrating you and then find a way to fix it. Cooking should be an enjoyable experience, not a total frazzle-fest!
Do you have ways to make cooking an enjoyable and stress-free experience? Please share your ideas in the comments below!