10 Steps To Kitchen Space & Clarity; Part One

By Raederle Phoenix

If your kitchen is cramped and cluttered, it's hard to prepare healthy meals. Your surroundings affect your attitude. A cluttered environment subtly sends the message that your life is cluttered. The following ten steps will guide you in cleaning up your kitchen, clearing some counter space, and creating some sanity in your meal preparation.

Step One: Create More Cupboard/Shelf Space

Many articles on "creating space" talk about building shelves. This is an excellent thing to do, but often building shelves doesn't match up with your schedule, comfort zone or available tools. Or, perhaps you already have lots of shelves, but have trouble utilizing them.

A great solution is wire inserts that you put into your existing shelves.  If a shelf is taller than necessary, you instantly create two shelves.

 

Metal or wooden inserts are excellent for dry goods as well as produce. The air flow beneath a shallow layer of goods makes it less likely for pests to nest in your food unnoticed, and also makes fruit ripen more evenly.

Step Two: Create Priorities

If your counter is cluttered by a tea kettle, a juicer, a blender, a food processor, a microwave, a microwave oven, a knife block, a some dirty dishes besides, then creating priorities may be the most powerful shift you can make in your kitchen.

Prioritize smoothies, juices, salads or salsas. You can choose a different priority for each week of the month.

If you choose to prioritize smoothies, find a shelf or cupboard for your juicer, cutting boards, food processor, microwave, microwave oven, toaster, and so forth so that all that is left on your counter is your blender. During the work week when you're busy, make smoothies.  Soak figs overnight and add them to make an extra-sweet smoothie with a dose of calcium, or add a teaspoon of chia seeds for time-release energy.  If you want your smoothie to give you a 'pick-me-up' like a morning coffee, use cacao powder or maca powder.

During the weekend, use the toaster, tea kettle, and so on, as you like, but just keep putting them back away and leaving one appliance on your counter.  At the end of Sunday, decide whether to keep the blender on the counter, or trade it out with a different appliance for the work week.

If you choose to prioritize salsa, leave out your food processor and put everything else away. During the week, throw in tomatoes, avocados, garlic, onions, kale, and so forth, and enjoy salsas and sauces all week long. You can try guacamole on Monday, spicy salsa on Tuesday, a apple-oatmeal porridge pulsed in the food processor on Wednesday, a spicy guacamole on Thursday, and a bruschetta on Friday.

If you choose to prioritize juices this week, then put away all appliances except your juicer. For breakfasts during the week you could have kale-pineapple juice Monday, lettuce-celery juice Tuesday, apple-broccoli juice Wednesday, parsley-lettuce-cucumber juice Thursday and orange-grapefruit-lemon juice on Friday.

If you choose to prioritize salads, leave your largest cutting board clean in the middle of your counter with a salad spinner beside it. With a clean counter, knives, cutting board and vegetables waiting on display on your counter, you'll feel more motivated to make salads. Try apple-walnut-kale salad, citrus fruits and spinach salad, cabbage and chia seeds salad, cauliflower, hemp seeds and sprouts salad, and so forth.  Get creative and make it a game to make a salad you've never made before each day.

By choosing to prioritize juice, smoothies, salads or salsas, you automatically make your weekdays healthier. If you only pull out the toaster and microwave on weekends, you'll find yourself eating more fresh produce and less processed foods. If you're working toward raw foods, perhaps it's time to giveaway the toaster oven, microwave and crockpot. You can use your stove if you get a hankering for a bowl of quinoa or oatmeal.

Step Three: Consider Trading Out Your Oven & Stove

If you don't bake often, and often feel frustrated by cooking, perhaps you're interested in more raw food, and less cooked food.

Or, if you're considering becoming a raw foodist, perhaps you rarely use your pots, microwave, toaster, oven, and so forth, at this time.

If either of these is the case, take stock of how much space cooking devices take up in your kitchen.  

A small induction burner costs $60 to $100 a takes up hardly more space than cutting board. It heats up faster than a stove, is easier to clean, and can be put away to create more counter space.  

To create a massive addition to the space in your kitchen, you can replace your oven and stove with a single induction burner plate. If you occasionally want to bake a yam, potato or squash, you can still do so on the single burner.  Simply use a large iron pot and put a wire grate in the bottom. Put water beneath the metal grate and put the yams, potatoes, squash or other item to bake on the grate inside the pot. Put on a lid and cook at 700 on the power setting.

An induction burner can be put away and forgotten if you're aspiring to raw food, but then be taken out at a time when you want to cook something, either for yourself or someone else.  Or, even if you cook daily and have no aspiration of being a raw foodist, it still has many advantages over using the typical stove top and oven.  

On the few occasions when I've wanted to cook two things at once, I've been able to cook something half way, keep the lid on and move it to a hot pad and then cook something else halfway and switch back.  The induction burner is faster because of the way the heat transfer works, so even cooking two dishes on one burner in a short period of time isn't an issue.

Whether you decide to ditch your oven and stove or not, you may want to consider the pots, skillets or pans you rarely use. Think hard about the meals that you prepare in them. Are these still meals you love to prepare that make you feel healthy and happy? If the answer is "no" then consider making a "gift pot" (like a gift basket, but in a pot). 

Place other items from your kitchen that you no longer use in tissue paper within the pan or pot and gift to a friend who is short on kitchen items. If you don't have a friend who is short on kitchen items, consider donating to a church or a local "food not bombs" group.

Step Four: Consider Other Possible Gifts

Do you own an extra set of dishes you never use?  Perhaps a holiday mug set, or decorative dishes you like but never have an occasion for?

Get those dishes out that you never use and put them in prominent places for a week or two.  If you still don't use them, consider who else might like them.  Gift them or donate them.  If you're not using them, then they're using your space to nobody's benefit.

If you have "nice plates" you use for special occasions, and "dull plates" for ordinary use, consider the possibility of donating your dull plates and always using your nice plates. For some, this may make occasions seem less special, but you may find that it makes your ordinary day brighter.

When you clear out some excess from your cupboards, you'll create a place for those appliances that you're not prioritizing this week.

Step Five: Be Present

When you're making food while stressing about work, school or family, you're likely to leave your kitchen a mess and make mistakes that are bad for your health and peace of mind.  Try to think about preparing food, creating a clean kitchen, and being healthy while you're in your kitchen.  

Clean the dishes with an intention to be fast, efficient, and unperturbed.  Chop produce with the intention to slice evenly, safely and without spilling anything onto the floor. Prepare and eat with the intention to the enjoy the food and be nourished by the food.  

Keeping these thoughts in mind will help prevent mindless slips of the hand that create extra work and more clutter.

Step Six: Examine Bulk Purchases

Are you benefiting financially from your bulk purchases?  If you buy an item in bulk, but don't get a discount, consider buying less at one time to save space. However, if you get 20% off when you buy produce in bulk, consider creative ways to store it: 

  1. Fruits may be frozen and dehydrated.  
  2. The dehydrator may be used for storage of dry goods in containers while not in use.  
  3. Metal bread pans may be used to store sliced fruit in the freezer; an excellent option if you're buying bananas by the case or picking your own berries in the summer time.
  4. Many items last for a long time on the counter, such as apples and bananas. If stacked carefully, you can make massive fruit purchases decorative as well as out-of-the-way.

Continue Reading For Steps 7-10

~ Raederle Phoenix

6 Comment(s)

  1. Thank you for all these tips. I can use every single one of them in my kitchen. Just finished cleaning up the kitchen and put away all the appliances except my juicer which I use everyday these days for apple juice, apples being plentiful this time of year. The (hopefully being phased out) microwave is also still on the counter, but the other appliances are in the cabinets down under where I would normally use them, near the sink.

    Nancy Hitchcock | Reply

  2. I like the induction burner idea. I do lots of food preparation and cooking but some of the burners aren't working. We're not ready to buy another stove yet. I wonder if a person can use a canner on it.

    Yvonne | Reply

  3. Hi Raederle,
    Came across your great article and loved it! Good ideas and inspiration, as I just finished cleaning my kitchen for the night and am always trying to improve things with the food prep!
    Thanks,
    Donna

    Donna Dudek | Reply

  4. As a County Extension Master Canner & Food Preserver, I'd say no to canning on the induction burner.
    To be absolutely certain, call your local County Extension Office and ask to speak to their Canning Specialist.
    I believe that induction burners are very specific about what type of metal the pans/canner would need to be in order to heat up. An Induction burner may be wonderful for certain applications, but you must play by the rules!
    So, perhaps you should get your burners serviced if canning is something you like to do.

    Marie | Reply

  5. What great ideas to streamline a small kitchen! Excellent article, well worth reading–thank you!

    Roberta | Reply

  6. ***********I use mason jars and pre-mix my oat bran (with chia, hemp, flax, sesame, etc) and the same for my smoothies, that way I do not have bags of different stuff laying around and forget why I bought them. Then I just label the jars. Feels way safer than plastic and never has an odor. Plus I am way more creative when I have ALL of the dry goods out on the table. 

    Heather | Reply

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