Clutter in the kitchen can lead to mental clutter while you’re trying to cook a healthy dinner, especially if you’re stuck with a tiny kitchen. Eliminate the clutter to give yourself more space to make healthy decisions about dining. Start with these four tips to gain a fresh perspective on your kitchen and your overall diet.
If you’re like most home cooks, you’ve probably got a collection of utensils, pots and pans and skillets that doesn’t really match your needs. Maybe you’ve been holding on to everything you’ve bought since college, or a collection of roommates has left behind equipment you keep for those “just in case” times. Start with an equipment cleanse to reduce what you don’t need. First eliminate equipment that’s damaged, such as utensils with melt marks or lids that don’t fit pans. Throw out nonstick pots that are damaged, as they release chemicals when heated. While nonstick equipment requires less oil, the experts go back and forth over the larger health and safety implications of using it. Don’t forget to reduce utensil clutter by getting rid of items you never or rarely use. Do you really need a special utensil for serving pasta or can you make do with the same tongs you use for cooking meat? Once you’ve finished cleaning, list out what you plan to keep and donate equipment in usable condition to a local thrift store or charity.
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While it might cost more to buy a set of cookware, you’ll find this often saves space. Since sets are made to be compatible, they’re more likely to stack and to share lids. This cuts down on the amount of equipment you’ll need to store. While sets do store well, only purchase one if you’re likely to use all of its pieces. You don’t want to store saucepans and nesting skillets that you’ll never need. In general, flat pieces are also more practical than large or deep pieces and store more easily. If faced with a choice between a large piece like a wok and a large flat skillet, choose flat.
Compare your list of keepers with the type of equipment you’ll actually use for healthy eating. For example, baking meats is a healthier cooking method than pan-frying or sautéing. Do you have baking dishes and cookie sheets for baking fish and chicken? Likewise, crock-pots allow you to cook healthy soups and stews while you’re at work and require low oil. If you don’t have these items, add these pieces to your list. If you find yourself in a “this or that” situation, think about which piece is healthier and use that to decide.
As part of your practical thinking, consider storage options. If you’re short on cupboard space, can you use a pot rack to store some pieces overhead? Can you purchase a kitchen island with storage options beneath the cutting surface? Include utensil storage in your shopping to stay organized and save space.
This can seem like a lot to do, but you’ll feel like you’ve got so much more space in that tiny kitchen when you’re done! If cooking has become a chore, treat yourself by dedicating a weekend to sprucing up your kitchen.
Lindsey Harper Mac is an Indianapolis native with a love for cooking. In her spare time, she blogs on behalf of Sears and other brands she enjoys.