Jun 24, 2016 · 5 minute read

By: Colleen Valles

Creativity doesn’t have to be all about painting masterpieces and composing an opus.

Sometimes, creativity is about whipping up a new, tasty dish in the kitchen. After all, we commonly hear excellent chefs referred to as artists. When we exercise this type of creativity and share it with those we love, it can give us an immediate connection with others that can be really satisfying.

But like any other creative endeavor, having too many tools in the kitchen can get in the way of making something truly unique … or even good.

Decluttering the kitchen can clear your cooking canvas, making room for your mouth-watering creations — or even just a Tuesday night dinner you want to whip up quickly. It can also make cleanup much easier.

The kitchen can be one of the most difficult places in the house to declutter, because chances are you have used that single-task tool in the past year. Maybe you’ve used it only once, but that can seem like justification enough to hold on to it. I swear, it’s really not.

I recently helped a friend pack up her stuff for a move, and found her kitchen cabinets to reflect the situation in so many kitchens. She has pots and pans that are hers, pots and pans that are her husband’s and pots and pans they bought together. Of course they don’t use all of them, but they hang onto them for the same reasons so many of us hang onto stuff: we paid a lot of money for it; we might need it one day; we’ve used it once in the past year, so it must be useful, right?

I get it. I’ve moved too, and I am beginning to believe that the items in my kitchen get together and multiply right before I have to pack them up. I swear — it has nothing to do with me having bought too much stuff. Nothing at all. Ahem.

But I’ve decluttered and even as an avid cook and baker, I’ve learned you really don’t need much to have a fully functioning kitchen. Here are some steps I’ve taken that might help you make room in your kitchen:

Get rid of the broken-down items

We all have those nonstick pans where the nonstick coating is coming up. That’s unhealthy — no one wants to be eating that. Don’t try to donate those; just throw them away. If you have anything that’s chipped, cracked, peeling or otherwise in disrepair, get rid of it. That’s an easy place to start with kitchen decluttering.

Purge the single-taskers

I’ve mentioned the importance of limits to creativity before. Making do with what you have can inspire your creativity, and the same holds true in the kitchen. Do you really need that fancy apple peeler? I mean, wouldn’t your standard potato peeler work just fine? Is there some other tool you have in the kitchen that can do the duty of the one or more single-taskers you have on hand?

I have a NutriBullet which I use all the time, and had a blender, which I never used because cleaning it was a pain. So I ditched the blender and kept the NutriBullet, and voila! One less tool.

One single-tasker I’ve held onto is my waffle iron. I’m still waffling on this one, (Heh. See what I did there?), but I’ve kept it because waffles are a nice break from pancakes on Saturday mornings. If I can find other uses for it, I’ll definitely hold onto it.

Figure what you like and don’t like to use

I held onto a tagine for years because it was pretty; I thought it made me seem cool (who knows?); it was a gift; and I had used it a couple of times. But it was a colossal pain. It wasn’t big enough to hold the recipes I made, and always bubbled over. It was difficult to clean, left a mess on my stove and didn’t make enough for left-overs. I found myself making the same recipes in my Dutch oven, so I got rid of it.

Which leads us to what I like to use: the Dutch oven. Seriously, Best. Thing. Ever. They’re good for soups and stews, sauces, desserts, baking breads, pasta, beans, meats, anything. They go from stovetop to oven to campfire without even a whimper. You should totally invest in one. It’ll be your faithful kitchen companion for years to come.

Or better yet, find out what is your own personal go-to item, your equivalent of the Dutch oven to me, and stick to it. Go with what works for you.

Consider your eating habits

Do you have lots of pots and pans, but mostly eat salads? Maybe you have six cookie sheets but don’t like sweets and never bake. Track your habits and get rid of the things that don’t fit in with how you eat. You can keep a few — you don’t want to be totally with out any pots and pans at all – but just as many as you need. As someone who cooks every night, I can get by with two sauté pans, a small pot, a medium pot, a spaghetti pot (used for canning and cooking beans as well), and my dutch oven. You really don’t need much more than that.

Get rid of a few items, clear up some counter space, and you’ll continue to whip up dinners that impress your friends and family – you’ll just do it with more space and creativity.

What item can’t you live without in your kitchen?


Colleen Valles
I'm Colleen, a writer, mother, knitter, pet mama and tiny house enthusiast who truly believes that everybody should slow down and simplify to make room for the things that are most important in their lives. I'm on a journey to do just that, to be able to spend more time with family and friends, riding my bike and working in the garden. Sign up to get awesome content right in your inbox, or follow me on social media.