19 July 2011

A New and Improved Kitchen

Awhile back, I posted about making pumpkin muffins in the springtime because I had several cans of pumpkin that would not last until next Thanksgiving.  Now, I don't mind making pumpkin muffins "out of season," but you must understand that I had four large cans of pumpkin.  Why?  Do I love pumpkin so much?  No, unfortunately, I have a truly disorganized mode of operation, and things just get shoved in the pantry, and then I forget that I got something and get it again, and it madly repeats itself until one day I find four cans of pumpkin, or even worse, 6 huge bottles of mustard.

This madness had to be stopped, and right about the time that thought was going through my very little brain, Katie at Kitchen Stewardship was posting about buying in bulk to save money and then storing the bulk items so that they could be used and not wasted.  It was a Providential moment for me.  Don't you just love it when random things, like pumpkin, mustard, and someone else's blogpost, converge to point you in a direction?

To further boost me along my well-intended path, Burt took the boys on a week-long vacation to visit his mother, and I was given a week at home to do as I pleased.  Despite all the advice to get a massage, loll in bed all day, or whatever, I knew that my mind would be most at ease if I could get a handle on the chaos that I was calling my kitchen.

It was a three-day event, lasting about 12 hours each day, and I am extremely please with how it is working out one month later.

Burt learned a system at work with something called 5S.  I have used this system in the past to organize other parts of the house, specifically the basement, now rec-room/art center, and the spare bedroom, which is now study room/classroom.  Despite my boys' best efforts to return things to their former crazy states, things have been manageable for over a year now, due to the thoroughness of the initial 5 S-ing.

You, lucky reader, have the privelage to follow me through each phase of 5 S, as applied to my kitchen, in the next 5 posts.  I hope that you can take something away from this.

S #1: SORT

Again, I had this golden opportunity while the guys were away for a week, in that I wasn't required to produce anything in the kitchen.  Therefore, I was able to pull everything out of every cabinet, drawer, etc., and sort through it all.  I had things piled up on every horizontal surface in the kitchen.

Luckily (I suppose) we have moved a lot, and so I did not have 25 years' worth of things accumulated.  Stuff becomes a lot less precious when you have to find a place to put it.  Nevertheless, there was a lot of stuff socked away.

I evaluated what I had when I pulled it out.  Do I really need three bottle openers?  600 twist ties?  Since I'm the only one who cracks and picks nuts, one of each will do.  The extras were boxed up for charity.  If I really felt that I needed a "spare," it was put in another box to live in storage in the basement.  Anything broken, and likewise, anything that I really knew I didn't use or could live without got pitched.  That left me with a lot more room for when I put things back.

In addition to sorting out what to keep and what to toss, I also tried grouping like things.  For instance, baking stuff all was together, and cooking stuff, and you get the idea.  I would figure out optimum placement later.  For the time, just deciding what went together was enough.

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