In keeping up with our site, you may have noticed that Jeremy, Joshua, and I do not really have a lot of stuff. (I'll just point you to our Archives section rather than trying to linked to each post we've written about that!) Although, as I type this sentence, I can spot 5 toy construction vehicles. But at least they do help out around the house!
Recently, when I did my quarterly sweep of the kitchen cabinets to look for donatable items and, having done a thorough job last quarter, found nothing to donate. I was both surprised and proud. Admittedly, there are some things I regret donating: a few pieces of clothing, a couple of books, a big pitcher. Alternately, I am surprised by some of the things I nervously donated, but have not missed at all.
Crock pot (and the crock pot specific cookbook I just HAD TO HAVE): I always wanted to use my crockpot, but I just never did. I wanted to be the kind of person who just threw a few ingredients in the crockpot at night and magically had a super-delicious, super-healthy breakfast in the morning. It is just not me. And it never will be. I used my crockpot to make chili which, by the way, can be simmered on the stove. I have a feeling most crock pot recipes can be adjusted to slow cook on the stove top or in the oven. And, hey look, a big open space in my cupboard where my crock pot used to be!
Muffin pan: I have a secret...instead of putting paper liners in muffin tins and painstakingly filling each little spot in the pan, just dump the batter into a small cake pan and bake it! I've had great luck using a 8x8 square baking dish or one of my oven-proof pots baking muffin batter (plus then you can call it a cake). You have to experiment with the cooking time a bit, but for me, that is much less frustrating than cleaning out a muffin pan or storing it!
Baking dishes: I used to have 4 or 5 baking dishes. Talk about taking up a lot of cupboard space! Now, I have 2. The 8x8 square baking (or "muffin") pan and a 9x13 rectangle pan. A few years ago, I invested in a decent set of cookware that can be used in the microwave, stovetop, or oven. So, I've whittled the baking dishes down to these two (although I was very sad when I broke a 40 plus year old red Pyrex baking dish a few months ago, a family heirloom!). And, I have to admit, really the only time I use the 9x13 pan is to make Joshua's birthday cake. Mmm...when is the next donation bag getting filled???
Double sets of cooking utensils: I used to have two of everything—spatulas, slotted spoons, scooping spoons, even ladles! I've completely disposed of the ladles, we don't eat gravy and soup can be served with a big spoon. But, otherwise, we have one of each. If I am sauteing vegetables in one pot and cooking pasta in another pot, I have no problem using the same utensil to stir both. (If I cooked "fancier" recipes, I might feel differently about this.) Recently, I had to get rid of our one spatula. I will replace it...I think!
Set of dishes with more than 8 place settings: Seriously, if there are more than eight people eating at my house, we are using paper plates. Maybe that makes me a disagreeable hostess, but I'm not cleaning more than eight place settings per meal! We are a family of 3 and have a set of dishes with six place settings (minus one large dinner plate). We use our "salad" plates for our dinners and our "dinner" plates as our serving pieces. It works for us and will hopefully continue to as our family grows. Have I had to quickly wash a dish or two before setting the dinner table occasionally? Of course, but not enough times to make having more dishes worth it.
I highlight these things because, at one time, I thought these were essential items. They ended up not being essential at all. Either I really never used them or have found ways to replace them with existing items. This saves space (now I have a place to put my rarely used, but deemed necessary toaster away) and lots of cleaning/upkeep (who really enjoys cleaning all those little openings on a muffin pan). And, for me, that makes my kitchen more COMFY.
POSTSCRIPT: Do you have things you consider parting with, but can't quite do it? Put them away and see how long it is before you use it again. If three months go by and you haven't used it, donate it! If you've used it occasionally, think if there is another way to achieve the purpose of the item with other things you have. If you've used it frequently in that time, keep it.
Need some more motivation? Check out these two articles:
You Have Too Much $&*!, an article by Chris Thomas
9 Common Myths About Clearing Clutter, an article by Gretchen Rubin