This post has been in the works for awhile. Being a minimalist in the kitchen took me what feels like forever. I’m still working on it actually. I knew that my kitchen cupboards were full. Full full. We had so many cups and glasses, appliances and kitchen utensils that I honestly couldn’t even tell you what was in there! But when I went into the cupboard to clean it out, I felt like I needed everything. So instead of reducing the amount of items I had, I would *organize* them.
You’ve all seen the pintrest boards dedicated to organizing kitchen stuff. There are pages and pages of tips and “amazing” organizational methods, all where you end up buying more stuff to juggle around all the stuff you currently have! Lets be real here. I tried it all!
The command hooks for pot lids? – tried it (they fell off).
Shoe holder for water bottles? – tried it (it was really bulky, and really did I need 24 spaces for water bottles???)
Baskets everywhere to *hide* the stuff? – totally tried it
Use a spice rack to store all your junk drawer stuff somewhere *else*? – tried it.
Dish drying racks for cookie sheets? Cutting boards? – tried it
Cooling racks for Tupperware stuff????? – yeah, we tried that too
Anyway, I am sure there are about a million more ideas that are out there. The thing is, NONE of them address the fact that if we just had less stuff, we wouldn’t need to buy gimmicks or extra stuff to store it.
There are only 9 of us in our family, so why did I have 2000 water bottles? 48 billion sets of dishware? 17,000 mason jar glasses? The tupperware was everywhere, I swear the lids bred when we slept. Why did I keep all that tupperware anyway? Of course I couldn’t get rid of it! No! It was my precious.
I think it may have been the day that my toddler used a measuring cup to pour flour in every one of my lower cupboards, that I finally realized I needed to reduce the volume of stuff. Or maybe it was the afternoon I opened our tupperware cupboard and it all fell out on my head. Or when I spent 20 minutes hunting for a spatula because the kids would put the dishes away and they would just put them where they fit. But it could have been when I couldn’t shut the drawer that held all the cooking utensils, and so I forced it shut and broke one of my 1000 slotted plastic spoons. That I never actually used.
Whatever the final reason, thankfully I realized that I could probably have a few less items in there.
And so it began.
THIS is what I was working with. I pulled things out of my pantry. Then got a big box and a garbage bag. And started. I don’t know if you realize – but this was JUST stuff in my pantry. The cupboards were so so full, you can see the corner cupboard actually unable to close. I’m pretty sure I cried and wanted to give up. I for sure didn’t feel joyous about this task. I think the biggest overwhelming thing in my home to minimize (next to the toys) was the kitchen.
The problem with the kitchen, versus the laundry or say paperwork, is that it is almost all hidden. And we have conditioned ourselves to think that we need it all. So I kept it. I would have so many dishes that both my sinks would be full, the dishwasher was running, there were plates and cups in random places in the house, and the cupboard was still full.
I decided to go drastic. I cut our dishes down to 1 plate, 1 cup, 1 bowl, 1 set of cutlery, 1 mug/glass per person. I even posted about it in a social media group for accountability. You can only imagine the naysayer comments that it got.
People had much to say about the idea. Mostly about how we couldn’t have guests (not realizing that being prepared, I had set 4 full sets aside for company) or how we would end up using paper products. I tried to defend myself, explaining how when we had company it was usually other homeschooling families – with large families of their own. How an average get together would have 25 or more children alone. I tried to explain how we don’t buy processed food, all our food is cooked from scratch, so using compostable paper plates on occasion was balanced out by not having all the plastic packaging on our food that we buy.
But people didn’t want to hear any reasoning. They wanted to validate reasons why they couldn’t do it by convincing me that I couldn’t do it.
It almost worked. I felt defeated before I even tried. Despite the support that some people offered, the overwhelming notion that I was not environmentally responsible or thinking rationally ahead, filled my mind with doubt. But my amazing and handsome husband supported me in my efforts and encouraged me to just try. We didn’t actually get rid of any of the excess, we were just going to try it and see if it was okay. I could do that. I could try.
And do you know what? IT WORKED!
Can you guess how many times we have used paper plates (even with company) since that date of November 6th? Twice. Twice in 6 months. The first time we had in excess of 30 people in the home for a meal. The second time was yesterday, when we had a wonderful homeschooling get together for lunch and it was hot and I was tired, so I pulled a few out. When my parents come, or other small families, we have the four extra sets in the cupboard above my fridge. We have used them many times!
Since the initial purge, we donated ALL of our plates and cups with the exception of the ones we have for us and for company. Not once have I wished we didn’t. Not only does my sink stay clean, but all my dishes fit in a single load in the dishwasher and I have learned new habits. Our whole family has learned new habits. The kids reuse the same glass every day, all day. If they need a fork and one isn’t clean, they wash it. None of this is inconvenient as I first feared. And so I kept going. I did the same to my reusable tupperware containers. To my appliances. To my cookies sheets.
So what did I keep? I’ll show you the inside of my cupboards. I have two cast iron pots. I really only need one, and even then I so rarely use them I probably don’t need any. I haven’t gotten to a place where I am ready to get rid of one yet though. And that is okay.
Under my stove, I use the drawer to house my 4 baking sheets and 2 muffin pans. We actually have 4 completely empty cupboards in the kitchen. My kids love to hide in them!
We converted our empty back hall closet (right off the kitchen) into a space for appliances, so I don’t have to have them on the counter! It houses my blender, food processor, kitchen aid mixer, toaster, flour and sugar bins (almost empty! Yikes!), dehydrator and our bag of bottles to recycle!
And that is the tour of my minimalist kitchen for a family of 9 that extensively bakes and cooks meals from scratch. We have everything we need, and there is no need to constantly clean or do dishes!
Having less stuff has freed our family, allowing us to do spontaneous trips, and live again rather than being slaves to our homes. We feel like we can pack up and leave or have company come without days of advance planning. It feels so good!
My next post will go into some more details of how we started, and continued on our journey to minimalism! Thanks for spending time with me <3