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Toss These Kitchen Items, Feel Instantly Better

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One quick and easy strategy for decluttering the kitchen is to focus on duplicate items. You may have a perfectly good reason to need more than one carrot scraper—like maybe a houseful of kids that (are supposed to) help with dinner—but I’ll bet you don’t need four or five scrapers!

Don't throw any of these guys away!
Don't throw any of these guys away! Photo by James Ransom

I’m not the expert on your kitchen, but here are some questions you can ask yourself on the path to (or in your quest for?) kitchen “enlightenment.”

What’s in your drawers?

First, ask yourself...

  • Are you up to your ears in single-purpose items?
  • Do they really work?
  • Are any of them so specialized that you never use them? (I tossed my barding tool—I barely remember what barding even means!)
  • Could their functions be replaced with a knife? Did you know that improving your knife skills not only saves space in the drawer, it also makes you feel powerful and accomplished in the kitchen? Seriously.
Starting a Knife Collection

Starting a Knife Collection by Brette Warshaw

R. Murphy Reclaimed Wood Carbon Steel Knife

R. Murphy Reclaimed Wood Carbon Steel Knife

Now, move on to the specific items...

  • Vegetable scrapers: Do they all really work or do you reach for the same one every time?
  • Rolling pins: Are you a collector? If not, keep the one or two that you actually use.
  • Cookie cutters: If you no longer bake with or for kids, is it time to give away your cookie cutters? If not, keep the great shapes and lose the ones that are blobby or boring.
  • Graters: Do you need more than a good box grater, perhaps a Mouli, and a fine rasp? Did you know that the latter also works for nutmeg (so you don’t need a nutmeg grater) and that the good scraper you kept above is also good for shaving Parmesan?
  • Ugly plastic utensils: Do you need these? (Okay, this is a thing with me.)
  • Measuring cups: Do you need all of the bent or rusty extras?
  • Corkscrews and church keys: Why keep more than one (or two) good corkscrews? Ditto for church keys. Do you actually know how to use that Ah-so opener?
  • Wine and Champagne bottle stoppers: Some of these are nice and tight; others, not so much. Why keep the ones that are loose, too tall to fit in the fridge, or otherwise dysfunctional? And, did you know that Champagne in an opened bottle keeps as well or better without a cap than with a cap?
  • Citrus squeezers: The colorful ones (with paint that inevitably peels off) are pretty—I fell for them, too—but who needs three sizes? The orange one works for lemons and limes as well as oranges. When it finally breaks, replace it with unpainted stainless steel.
  • Thermometers: If you have a good digital thermometer with a wide temperature range—especially one with a probe that can go into the oven—do you need that old mercury meat thermometer and candy thermometer?

More: If your thermometer is not accurate, it doesn't deserve a place in your kitchen.

How to Check the Accuracy of Your Kitchen Thermometer
How to Check the Accuracy of Your Kitchen Thermometer

What's on your counter or in your cabinets?

  • Knives: Which of them never get used?
  • Platters and serving pieces: Do you have any that you dislike enough to never ever use?
  • Is that big crock of utensils on the counter too crowded to get things in and out easily? Purge the duplicates and any miscellany that you forgot you even had.
Spatulas and Wooden Spoons: A Primer on Stirrers
Spatulas and Wooden Spoons: A Primer on Stirrers

What’s in your freezer?

  • Are you really going to serve frozen food that is unlabeled, more than a year old, or so poorly wrapped that the contents cannot possibly retain any flavor or nutritional value? Just asking...

What’s in your pantry?

  • Are you really going to feed your family the contents of ancient canned goods?
  • What are your plans for items that you know your family doesn’t like or won’t eat?
  • How many plastic containers without lids do you need?
  • When do you wear the really ratty aprons?
  • Do you ever use the more disgusting dish towels in the pile?
Our Guide to Freezer-Friendly Foods
Our Guide to Freezer-Friendly Foods

Nervous about purging and/or hate to waste? Put any still-functional duplicate items in a bag out of sight. When you don’t miss them, make yourself and others happy by donating to a women’s shelter or the Salvation Army. Or, help start a new kitchen for a college student who is fed up with dorm food and ready to move into an apartment.

We originally ran this article last January, but it's kitchen clean out season again—so we brought it back.

What will you be disposing of or donating this season? Tell us in the comments!

Tags: Tips & Techniques, Alice Medrich