Hello, friends! It’s already week three of the Holiday Decluttering Challenge, which means it’s kitchen week! We’ll be focusing on decluttering the kitchen so we’re ready for Thanksgiving and all the holiday cooking and baking we have ahead.
The first kitchen task we’re going to focus on is decluttering the counters. If your counters are anything like mine, they’re clutter magnets. Sometimes it seems no matter what I do, clutter reappears, and nothing makes cooking less enjoyable than not having any room to work.
By clearing our counters, the room will feel a lot better, and we’ll have space to sort out other areas.
Questions to ask when clearing your counters
What typically accumulates on your counters?
Are these ingredients that don’t get put away, appliances you use frequently, or mail that needs to be sorted?
Why are they accumulating on the counters?
Are you lacking a system or appropriate storage place for these things? Does putting them away feel like too much trouble? Are you always feeling rushed so putting things away is something you plan to do later?
Where else could these items go?
Do all of these items belong in the kitchen? Do you have enough room? What could you permanently remove from your home by either donating or discarding?
Try to figure out the most common clutter culprits and find new homes for these items. If these things have a designated spot to live, it will be easier to put them away, keep them organized, and your counters clean.
When you’re thinking about where to store an item, as yourself how often you use it. If you’re looking for a place for a holiday platter you love but only use once a year, that item may best be stored either in a high cabinet or in a different room entirely, maybe a dining room hutch or storage area. Keep items you use most frequently in the most convenient to reach locations to make day to day life easier.
If you’re struggling with mail piling on every flat surface (here’s looking at you, kitchen island!), create a sorting station with different sections for bills, things that need your immediate attention, things that need to be filed, shredded, and can wait until next week. Junk mail gets its own special filing cabinet… called your trash can. Creating a system for handling your paperwork means there will be no reason for things to gather on your counters because every single piece of paper has a home to return to.
Once your counters are clear and clean, it’s time to focus on the refrigerator and freezer.
Organizing the Fridge & Freezer
This is a task that’s best done on a regular basis since food is always coming and going and can quickly expire, but it’s especially important to tackle before the holidays. With Thanksgiving only a week a way (say what?!), we’re going to get our fridge in tip top shape so it’s ready to be stuffed with leftovers and other holiday goodies.
The first step is clearing everything out of your refrigerator. Yep, everything! Get all the veggies, meats, condiments, drinks, and leftovers out of there, and give your fridge a good cleaning.
Once everything’s clean, think about how the fridge has been functioning for you.
- Is it easy to find what you’re looking for?
- Does everyone in your home know where to find things and, more importantly, where things go when they need to be put back?
- Are you making the best use of your space or do you need to move some shelves around?
Identify any issues you’ve been running into and figure out ways to solve those problems.
Next, go through the contents of your fridge (this is why we did out counters first!) and get rid of anything that has expired or you know you’ll never use. If you feel guilt creeping in because you hate to waste things, please know that the reason we’re decluttering is to stop the waste cycle once and for all.
Waste is a horrible byproduct of clutter. When we live in cluttered environments, we end up wasting time looking for things, we waste money buying duplicates, and we waste the items themselves when we end up not using them. Letting these things sit it our closets or refrigerators unused because we “don’t want to waste” does absolutely no good. It’s actually harmful because it keeps us feeling guilty and the cycle of waste going. So I guess you could say the first thing you need to declutter is any guilt you’re feeling. Remember, the first rule of this experience is only positive self talk! Everything you’ve done up to this point has brought you to this place of being ready to improve and change. Embrace it!
Next, create zones in your fridge for like items. One of my biggest pet peeves is opening the doors of our fridge only to find things scattered everywhere! Yogurts on every shelf, multiple containers of cottage cheese or almond milk scattered across various shelves… it just doesn’t make sense!
Instead of creating your own cold, kitchen scavenger hunt, group like things together. This will not only make them easy to find and keep track of, but you’ll be able to tell when you’re running low on something so you don’t find yourself out of it when you need it. I really love using Fridge Bins to keep our shelves organized and tidy too. They’re also a great place to store chicken or any other food that may leak or spill because all that yuck is contained, which makes for a super easy clean up!
If you (or those you love) need help remembering where things go, label, label, label!
You can find a lot of great labels on Amazon, Etsy and other organizing websites, and you can even make them yourself with a Cricut or Silhouette machine. I’ve even used painter’s tape in a pinch, and while it’s not necessarily the prettiest option out there, it does the trick! It may even be the best way to start since it’s inexpensive, temporary, and easy to change if your new system ends up not working well. Either way, labels can be a sanity saver for sure!
Once your fridge is restocked and your counters cleared, it’s time to tackle the freezer.
Organizing the Freezer
You’ll want to repeat the steps we just went through above. Clear, clean, declutter, sort and label, and restock, but with the freezer, I like to add one more step… inventory.
As a family of eight, things don’t really live in our fridge for long. Little hands are always reaching in for snacks and, since we homeschool, we’re in and out of it multiple times a day. The freezer, however, is another story. In our home, it sometimes seems that the freezer is where good food goes to die!
It’s easy to lose track of everything that’s in there so keeping an inventory is a great way of seeing what’s frozen at a glance. This will help us plan meals, keep us from buying food we already have, and use things up before they expire. You can do this for your fridge too, of course, but in our own it’s the freezer that really benefits.
Whew! This was quite the post, and I know for some this will be an overwhelming week. That’s okay! As always, focus on progress, not perfection. If things get even just a little bit better, that’s great! All of these little improvements will add up to a huge difference in a relatively short period of time, and implementing systems along the way is what’s going to help us maintain those successes long term.
Now for the most exciting part… I promised giveaways. In the first week, I gave away my favorite book about organizing and decluttering, What your Clutter is Trying to Tell You. Last week, I gave away a $50 gift card to The Container Store, and this week it seemed only appropriate to giveaway my most favorite kitchen appliance… an Instant Pot!
I LOVE my Instant Pot because it can do it all! It can cook things extremely quickly (think rock hard frozen chicken to dinner on the table in 30 minutes or less!) and keep them warm for hours (perfect for stews, soups, chili, and other dishes perfect for winter). You can even do prep work like browning meat right in the cooking bowl. It’s the best thing ever!
How to Enter
There are four ways to enter! Find the Instant Pot Giveaway Image in one of the four places below or enter in all four places for four chances to win.
- Leave a comment on this post about your biggest kitchen clutter issue.
- Join the Declutterathon group on Facebook, find the Instant Pot Giveaway image in the post in the announcements, like the post, and leave a comment.
- Like and comment on the pinned Instant Pot post on my facebook page, Happy Organized Life.
- Like and comment on the Instant Pot Giveaway post on my Instagram feed @happy_organized_life
The winner will be announced next Tuesday, November 20, and have 24 hours to claim their prize. I can’t wait to see who wins!!
Happy Decluttering, friends!
Other Posts in this Series:
Decluttering the Family Room
Decluttering the Guest Bathroom
Decluttering the Dining & Guest Rooms
Entryway Closet Organization
Holiday Decluttering Challenge Begins!
Holiday Decluttering Challenge 2018
The counters have become catch-alls for everyone junk!! I clean them off and by the next day they’re cluttered again!
My biggest clutter in the kitchen is mail on the counters. I swear it appears all by itself! ?
HI, I’d love the insta pot but I cannot see any post about it on either your instagram account or your facebook page. My worst Kitchen clutter is PAPER!!! mail, printed recipes, books, receipts…all stuff I should file and instead just leave it to pile up and it drives me crazy!!!
My biggest kitchen clutter issue is my Tupperware cabinet storage!
I have too many “butter bowl” type bowls. Some I have no lids too. Some I have the lid but no bowl. This is my goal to go through the cabinets and get rid of what doesn’t have a match.
In the past when I’ve tossed either the lone bottom or top, later I’d find its mate and hate that the match was now gone. My solution to that is to put all singleton pieces together in stray box and put it out of my way. But when the other matching piece shows up I can pair them back up. Eventually I toss the remaining odds and ends. This has helped me eliminate regrets from decluttering.
Kitchen drawer clutter is a big one for me. Whisks, big spooons, cheese grater, etc…
L Darlene Nichols
Kitchen counters are my biggest kitchen clutter issue. My kitchen is small to start with so not much room to put anything. I like to cook so there is always something on the counter and I like my spices close by for use.
Tysm for this post where i found your info on the instant pot i am so in love with this little gadget that i now whant one very badly lol.
to many small appliances on counters
Misc crap on my counters. Mail, jackets, purse, books.
The freezer is small so its hard to keep it organized and the kitchen counters get cluttered with every day items. Use to be mail but we take care of it each day. School papers have their own tray in my office now.
My biggest issue in the kitchen is that I have so much counter space and it just collects everything – mostly paperwork, random items to be put away later, somewhere else, things that need to go to someone else, and it’s so hard to keep up with. Thanks for your suggestions – now off to clean kitchen counters! 🙂
Yes, my freezer bugs me. Gotta fix!
I’m looking forward to decluttering the kitchen. I notice my stress reduce a lot when just the kitchen is clean. I need to find ways to make that happen on a regular basis.
My biggest kitchen clutter issue is mail and papers on the kitchen island. I have all kinds of files and even a desk in my office but that mess just always seems to be there… no matter how hard I try! 🙁
Mary Beth Wickham
My biggest kitchen clutter issue is clean dishes and where to put them! I have limited cabinet space ( I live in a small apartment with a husband and two small boys) and it seems my cabinets are overflowing with cups and bowls and Tupperware.
The problem I have with counters is dirty dishes piling up, especially glasses. The papers cover the table!
The counter by the door has become the landing spot for anything that is in our hands when we walk in. One of the biggest culprits is flasks.
Surprisingly my biggest issue is putting clean dishes away. I don’t have a dishwasher so I hand wash and use the counter to let stuff air dry and there they sit for days! My sister has an insta pot and after seeing it in action I’ve wanted one!
My biggest issue with clutter seems to be the kitchen bar area–everyone’s keys, mail, gloves, lip gloss, gum packages, pens, cups, etc. get dropped here and I just don’t even know where to put things up so I leave it there!
My biggest issue in the kitchen are the counter tops…daily mail gets dropped off there, papers, everything!
My biggest clutter issue in my kitchen is the pantry and freezer. They always seem to be unorganized and it’s hard to find what I need.
Biggest issue is getting out too many cookbooks and leaving them on the kitchen counter! Finally started a bookshelf just for cookbooks, in another room.
My goodness this hits a nerve! It’s amazing how much JUNK MAIL accumulates on our dining table. I would say 90% gets separated into the recycling or shred bin. It’s not like I can throw it all in one bin because that will either be too much offers (credit card offers) that I have to shred. I wish there was a way to “unsubscribe” from getting junk mail. Sigh. Definitely need a filing system, that’ll be my goal this Thanksgiving break. Our fridge needs some organizing too. I feel like half my groceries go bad because they aren’t stored right–we just throw them in the two bins below. I think our problem is that we don’t have a big enough fridge. Boo. Anyway, love the post about declutter, I certainly need the reminder!
My counters! I feel like I have no place to put anything so a lot stays on my counters and its frustrating!
Keeping my counters clear and emptying / refilling the dishwasher are my biggest kitchen challenges.
The two biggest issues I have with my kitchen are the pots/pans and the sauces/dressings area in the fridge. My pots/pans aren’t one full set. They are all different sizes/shapes. I need a good way to display them and make them look orderly on the shelf. The problem with my sauces/dressings, I always go to the grocery store and can’t remember if I have enough so I buy another bottle just in case. I have so many different ones that are half full.
I would love to win that instant pot! I’ve collected a few recipes for using one, but haven’t been able to buy one yet. I recently retired – suddenly – due to health issues, and hope to cook meals that I can freeze individual serving leftovers for days when I am unable to cook.
They are wonderful!!
My biggest challenge is a spot for everything. It is challenging when you have multiples of different appliances, like 3 crockpots. Where do you put the others when the holiday is over?
Do you have a basement, attic, or an out of the way space?
My biggest clutter is mail, small items, and things that belong to other people that are left at my house. It all accumulates on my kitchen counter for some reason, and I don’t have a lot of counter space in my small kitchen. I’ll put it away later, is what I’m thinking at the time, but that time never comes. Before I know it, all kinds of little items are piled up. I think I need a Lost & Found for the stuff that belongs to other people! Thanks for your tips! I really need to declutter my kitchen more than anything!
My kitchen issues are all the utensils/ for cooking. I feel that i use them all. But I have special use items that are used infrequently. thinking about moving them into pantry.
That sounds like a good idea!
My pots and pans, space above my cabinets and my pantry.
Pot and pans can be tricky!
My biggest clutter area is our big kitchen island. Mail, dog leash (that’s probably not sanitary) and various and sundry things end up here. It is very very visible when you have a new house with an open floor plan. So I’m going to take this challenge and get this looking like it’s suppised to. Will buy hook and install by door for leash., and forbid myself to dump things in this area.
Thanks for helping us!!!!!
A hook by the door is a brilliant idea! Thanks for joining me 🙂
Without a doubt, mail and coupons just never go away.
And BILLS!! They just never end. 🙁
My largest struggle for counter clutter is my 8 children. They will leave school papers, wrappers from food, food left out, dishes and anything you could possibly think of. One of the littles even brought a worm in and left it for me. Aren’t they so sweet? ?
lol That is very sweet!
I need to work on decluttering my cabinets. Pots and pans and food storage.
Decluttering makes such a huge difference! I did a few cabinets in my kitchen a couple months ago, and it’s been wonderful to not have to wade through things we weren’t using.
Kitchen clutter…everything accumulates here. Papers, books, crafts, plus stuff that “normal” people just throw out or recycle (stuff like empty yogurt containers) . Those are our biggest problems.
It’s hard to break those “I’ll just put it here” habits sometimes.
Keeping a good system for things in my chest freezer so they get used in a timely manner and not lost in the depths.
anytime I don’t know what to do with something I put it on my grandpa’s old desk that is in my pantry area. Huge clutter trap!!
Sounds like the desk in my kitchen!
The kitchen counters are my biggest struggle. and it’s getting everyone else- who are grown adults – to keep dumping everything there.
It’s just too easy to drop everything there (in my house, at least).
Meri Kay Hendricks
Biggest clutter place, Left hand side of stove as you walk into the Kitchen. All my mail Im responsible for get put their, I’lll handle it another day
lol I say the same thing. Needless to say, when “another day” gets here, I’m going to be VERY busy! lol
my 3 yr old daughter loves to pile her toys on the counter.
Bahh!! Mine do that too!
My biggest kitchen clutter issue is keeping my counter tops free and clear. I have appliances for deep frying and slow cooking. I was actually in the market for a rice cooker, the Instant Pot would be a life saver.
It makes fantastic rice!!
My biggest kitchen clutter is the families’ coats, shoes, and book bags. Our back door opens up to the stairs for the kitchen, so everything gets left on the kitchen floor.
It can be hard to keep things organized without a drop zone, mudroom, or closet.
My biggest trouble with my kitchen is wanting to keep all the funky glass jars for “projects” that never come to be, and then struggling to let them go.
I’m intrigued! What kind of projects? 🙂
My biggest problem is that I buy too much when I shop and I have no decent storage place. I actually have found a solution! Many stores will do your shopping for you and you just order online and the pick it up. This has stopped my impulse buying and allowed me to buy smaller quantities. I keep my grocery list on my phone under reminders and just order what I need. I could use a proper pantry but haven’t figured out a place. My counters tend to be a storage place.
That’s helped us too! It’s so much easier to avoid those impulse purchases shopping online.
Julie K McCauley
My biggest challenge is my kitchen table. I want to move it to the dining area soon, but it seems to be the catch all for evertyhing!
Catch alls can be tricky!
I like the ideas of organizing the fridge and making labels and keeping inventory of the freezer and labeling it too
My greatest battle is keeping things off the counter. No matter what I do, somehow, the next day there are clutter piles and equipment on my counter tops.
Our counters can be clutter magnets too!
My biggest clutter concern in the kitchen is definitely the counter space. Papers end up there that need attention (picture forms, fundraising, etc. ) as well as receipts and my endless to-do lists.
Paper! It can feel never-ending!
My bar top is the worst! A catch all between my kitchen and dining room/homeschool room.
We have a desk in our kitchen that’s become a catch all. Ugh!
biggest kitchen clutter issue: appliances on the counter. I have a small kitchen and very limited counter space. If I put the appliances away in the cupboards, it’s physically difficult to lift them down (or up) because they are very heavy and this hurts my back. So the blender, microwave and food processor live on the counter taking up a lot of space.
I understand that! I feel the same way about some of our appliances.
Storing pots and pans, lids and small kitchen appliances
Those are tricky items!!
Happy thanksgiving and happy clear kitchen!
Thank you, Linda! Happy Thanksgiving!!
Definitely my counters , the dishes simply appear on every flat surface!
My dirty dishes pile up. Massively. We have too many plates/cups for our family and we have considered getting rid of all additional dishes besides one of each for all of us. This and meal prep Tupperware is just sitting there.
Dirth dishes and laundry… they’re never-ending!
I think “access” to what I need is my biggest challenge in the kitchen. Too much stuff takes up valuable space. Once I get rid of unneeded items, I can put the utensils, bowls and tools in their most useful location.
That’s a big issue for sure! It’s so helpful to have the stuff we need, especially on a regular basis, easy to access.
Thank you. I conjunction with decluttering, I’m trying a non-cluttering approach: my family will not purchase anything that is not food (or gas for the car) for a full month, in order to use what we already have. I think of it as a “waiting period” on stuff. If I haven’t forgotten about it in a month, it probably means I actually need it!
Stopping the inflow of stuff is such an important step in the decluttering process! How’s it working out?
We have a kitchen desk area that seems like it was made just to collect clutter. Vitamins, sunglasses, pens, loose papers, you name it, it’s where everything gets chucked. We FINALLY made the decision to do what you advised and find a place for everything. With everything gone, it’s amazing how big that desk is! Thanks for posting.
Yay! Congrats on getting your desk back!