Friday, August 26, 2011

Living With Less: Kitchen Utensils

You know what's not convenient?  Things that are supposed to make life easier.  As a general rule, anyway.

Maybe that's a little over the top, but it does hold true with most of the things that you find yourself tripping over in the kitchen.

In other words, "convenience" items like melon ballers and orange peelers and cherry pitters--things that are only good for one task (and typically a task that you don't encounter daily)--are not deserving of space in your kitchen.

Consider the following:

Your cooking utensil drawer (or vase or wherever you store spatulas and stuff).

Is it overflowing with layers of utensils?  Does it get all jammed up with the big end of spatulas sticking the wrong way every time you try and close it?  Are you cringing right now?  If so, you're not alone.

I'm sitting here trying to remember the contents of our kitchen utensils drawer as it was about a year ago.  I think it went something like this:

  • Spatulas (the flexible kind you scrape bowls with): 5 or 6
  • Spatulas (the kind you flip pancakes with): 7 or 8 --one of which was plastic and partially melted on one side
  • Whisks: at least 4 (some of which were getting rusty down inside the handle bit)
  • Melon ballers: 1 or 2
  • Orange peeler thingys: 1 or 2
  • Cherry pitter: 1
  • Wooden spoons that were actually made of cheap plastic: 4 or 5
  • Wooden spoons: 4 or 5
  • An egg slicer
  • Measuring cups: 3 sets (1 complete set, 1 complete set with one of the handles broken off of one of the cups, 1 set with only two measuring cups remaining)
  • Measuring spoons: 2 complete sets (maybe 3?) and some extra random orphaned measuring spoons
  • Cheese graters: 1 really nice one, 1 really old one that was literally rusty
  • Knives: an assortment of mismatched knives (these in addition to the set on the counter in the knife block)
  • Ice cream scoop: just 1 I think
  • Pizza slicers: 3 (at least) which we never, ever, ever, ever, ever used

There were surely additional things I'm not thinking of.  But you get the idea.  It was ridiculous.

Post-purge, we were left with the following:

  • Spatulas (the flexible kind you scrape bowls with): 4 (three in graduating sizes, and one red one that I love)
  • Spatulas (the kind you flip pancakes with): 2 plastic, 1 metal
  • Whisks: 2 (one small, one large)
  • Wooden spoons: 3
  • An egg slicer
  • Measuring cups: 1 complete set
  • Measuring spoons: 1 complete set
  • Cheese graters: 1 really nice one
  • Ice cream scoop: 1

You know what happens when I open the drawer with all our kitchen utensils inside?  I can see everything.  At the same time.

Also?  It doesn't get all jammed up with spatulas when I try to open/close it.

Also?  We wash a lot less kitchen utensils.  Yes, I may have to rinse out a measuring cup while making cookies once in a while.  But it's better than having to wash four of the exact same size cup once I'm all done.

My general rule for sorting kitchen utensils is this: 
If it only gets used once or twice a year, it's not worth keeping.*

*Obviously that rule should be amended for things like canning supplies (if you're into that--I'm not) that are truly useful things that you do need to have once a year, but not all the time.  Although those things should probably be stored elsewhere.  Like, you know, in the basement with the rest of the canning supplies.  Not where you have to deal with it every day.


See the entire Living With Less series HERE.


Kathy Haynie said...

Here here! And along with purging, may I just say that I LOVE those drawer dividers you can pick up inexpensively in the housewares section? Oh, it makes my heart happy to open my utensil drawer and have everything (more or less) lined up in the drawer. It really does make it easier to find things in the long as the drawer isn't crammed full, that is.

The Jessee Journal said...

I get so sick of washing the dishes by hand that I've actually taken all of the dishes out of the cupboard except one bowl, plate and cup per person. The rest are tucked away where it is inconvenient enough that I don't grab them in a moment of weakness, but still within reach if company drops by. Do my kids keep better track of their cups now? You bet :)

Erica said...

LOVE those drawer dividers!

1 Year Old Birthday Party Ideas

Unknown said...

Wow Jessee, that is a pretty bold move, one that I have considered but never got the nerve to do it.

I admit I am a kitchen gadget junkie but I had to laugh at your drawer contents because I have all that, including the broken sets of measuring cups, melted spatula and 3 pizza cutters +++ much more. My kitchen is huge and has lots of cabinet space and drawers and I have reached the point where I can't wedge another spatula or tongs in anywhere. So here is what I have started doing: when I open a drawer or cabinet to get something out or put something away I will just start with that drawer on the spot and start cleaning it out and paring it down. I don't take a lot of time to do it, I just quickly make my decisions about what needs to hit the trash, what could be donated and what I know I will use. Voila, one down. Then I continue what I was doing before. This breaks it down so that I don't feel overwhelmed with a big organizing project. It is like they say about eating an elephant, you can do it one small bite at a time.

Really enjoying your series and looking forward to hearing more!

Koko said...

Cute blog and good ideas! Just on the pizza cutter thing...I was shocked when you said you have never used it...are you un-American? jk But we eat pizza A LOT and I also use it for cutting up quesadillas (cut them into triangles for easier eating). They're also great for cutting dough for breadsticks etc. haha

Katie Lewis said...

Koko- We still eat pizza (though, admittedly, not a lot). But I grew up using an ulu knife to cut pizza. It's just way easier. And since my parents gave us an extra they had, we never used our pizza cutters anymore.

As for being American--I had to laugh. My husband and I are both American, but his family lived in Germany during many of his growing up years and I sometimes tease him about "American" things he just somehow never picked up on. :)

But pizza wasn't one of those things.

Caroline said...

One thing that changed my life (maybe a little overdramatic here, but still) is an immersion blender. We have two blenders, but any time a recipe called for blending something I would skip it because the idea of getting the blender out (heavy and bulky) and washing it when I was done was so off putting. An immersion blender is so small, easy to wash, and cheap. I make soup more (no more transferring hot liquids from blender to pot and back again), and make smoothies every morning in a big mason jar, which doubles as a drinking vessel. It wouldn't crush ice, but it does frozen fruit just fine. I am now tempted to get rid of both of our real blenders and just keep the cheap immersion blender I got at the supermarket. Can't wait to actually make butternut squash soup with it this winter.

Unknown said...

You inspired me this morning! I went through the kitchen utensil drawer, the plastic containers and lids, unused cups and plate, and even mixing bowls , and pans that aren't getting used AT ALL. I suddenly feel like I've lost about 10 lbs! (If I actually weighed this stuff it's probably more like 25!!) :)

Lisa Lou said...

HAHA! I aquired your cherry pitter, melon baller, AND peeler... I want to try them all out at least once, and then they'll go to DI.

StarHaus said...

Yes! We're minimalists. We would do fine with a fork and spoon and knife and be set. Theres no need for 10 kinds of spatulas. (: