Sunday, November 13, 2011

Reduce, Reuse & Recycle: The Kitchen Edition

I've been thinking about our kitchen for a few days, wanting to take stock of what we've got squirreled away in the cabinets. I want to try to eat through what we have in the house & reduce our grocery purchases down to just perishables like dairy & produce. Partly this is a way to save money for a little while, but it's also to just reduce the amount of stuff we have in here. I think being better able to get at this stuff will encourage us to eat it. So in a fit of organizational energy, I pulled everything out of my upper kitchen cabinets this afternoon.

After pitching a few things (found something a decade past it's best before date--EEK!), I decided on a new plan for where everything would go back. One of the biggest problems I saw was that ridiculous corner cabinet. About half of it is essentially a black hole--once things go back there, they disappear forever. I picked out some other items that are more or less long-term storage & stuffed them in the back: the extra dishes & cutlery for the occasional barbeque (so we don't have to use disposables), some lovely sushi plates that were a gift ( although we've never used them, I can't bear to get rid of them), our massive stainless cleaver in its box, as well as various other things that we really should just donate. Sigh. Still, I did make some progress.

I amalgamated all the dishes, glasses & mugs into one area. The canned goods are in one place & more accessible now. I've moved all our baking stuff into one cabinet, so next time we want to make banana bread or whatever, it won't require zigzagging all over the kitchen pulling ingredients from cabinets, shelves & counter tops. The frequently used hot drinks that aren't tea are now in the cabinet near the stove & kettle, as they ended up just sitting around there anyway. Our tea shelves (Yes, plural. We have ridiculous quantities of tea) are looking a little less crowded without the cocoa & Krakus. My long term goal for the tea shelves is to use up as much of the tea as we can over the winter & then move all the counter top-hogging canisters up there.

Many of Sprout's 'toys' are now in cabinets out of his reach. We'll have to find something else to put on the open shelving near the floor. His favourite pastime in the kitchen was to pull every bag of pasta, every tetrapak of soy milk, every box of crackers onto the floor. Most of the time he didn't sit on them, but they're all looking a lot worse for the wear. Maybe I can move the lidded bins we use for recycling & root veggies onto that shelving to free up enough space for a dishwasher.

Having a dishwasher has been a dream of mine for over a decade. We did briefly have one when we lived in our condo. It was a tiny hand-me-down, leaked water on the floor & required so much pre-rinsing/washing, that it wasn't really worth using, as I recall. We sold it with the condo. Sadly, not one of the other six places I've lived since I moved out has had a dishwasher. Even if I had bought a portable & lugged it from rental home to rental home during my semi-nomadic 20s, most of those places had tiny galley kitchens with nowhere to put a dishwasher. Now that we have a kitchen where we may be able to squeeze one it, my dream could come true.

So, to sum up, today's reducing wasn't exactly ruthless, but I did add a few things to the pile of household goods earmarked for donation. I think my organizing might just make it easier to reduce even more by eating our way through all this stored food. I think it's going to be a long process to whittle down the mountain of stuff we've accumulated. The few little spaces that have opened up on the counters & shelves make me happy.

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