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Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Project Simplify For Fall: Kitchen

One of my favorite blog families (because there are several sites within this one, and I read pretty much all of them), Life Your Way, is hosting a "Simplify for Fall" challenge this week.  While some of these areas either don't apply to me (or I just finished recently, like clothes), there was one that immediately stood out to me: kitchen.  There are several little things in the kitchen that have been bugging me, as well as a few quick cooking projects I wanted to get done.  So yesterday, I started the kitchen challenge.  And it's a work in progress...

One thing you should know about our kitchen - there is not much counter space at all.  So to help with that, we got this microwave cart.  It has been pretty much this cluttered since we moved in (end of June), because it's really easy to just set things here "for a minute", (toothbrush holder anyone?) and then they get stuck.  It bugged me, so I finally did something about it.  Here's before...

 ...and after!
It's not perfect, but it's better.  Things that didn't belong were put away.  The cookbooks still look a little crazy, because I'm searching for bookends to hold them up (they'll move to the top of the fridge) so I can have them all upright instead of in a big stack.  And our blue snack tub on the microwave looks a little crazy, but only because of the package of Teddy Bear Crackers that my boys love.

Another one that bugs me is this little spot of counter.  I had dreams of putting my coffeemaker here, but there's not a plug near enough. This would be the perfect fit for it too.  Since that didn't work out, I put my utensil holder here.  I thought this big jar would work better than it does, because I can't put shorter items in here, or they get lost, so those still clog up a drawer.  So I might have to break down and get one of these fancy Pampered Chef ones, which I like because they hold a lot, but don't like, because they're plastic and huge.  I also don't love our bottles of vitamins clogging up the counter.  I put away the allergy medication and one extra bottle of vitamins, but we still have 3 bottles there.  I don't know where else to put them where we will still remember to take them.  So this is still a problem area for me...

While I was working on those two spots, I cooked up some mushrooms, which I put in the freezer for future meals...

...and made a pot of Veggie Lentil Soup for future lunches (I freeze this in individual portions, which are easy to grab for a quick and healthy lunch).

Here's one area that doesn't need work! My meal plan. I plan everything on a piece of notebook paper, with more specifics about what goes in what recipe and also my grocery list, and once it's done, it goes on the markerboard.  Then I just erase the items as we eat them, so we always know what's coming next.  Dinners are assigned to specific days, but lunches are not.  The stars by the dinner items mean I need to prep something ahead of time (like cooking up beans for the Enchiladas or making English Muffins for breakfast sandwiches).  The items in red are extras that I want to make this week.  I'm really loving my menu planning system right now.

While we're over by the fridge, take a look on top:

Again, more items without a home.  Behind those few things in front are all of my husband's tools.  They landed there for easy access when we moved in and never left.  To the hall closet with them!  Once I get my bookends, the cookbooks will go up here, and the pitcher will probably move down below on the microwave cart.

Here's after:
Much cleaner!

And finally, to the left of the refrigerator, we have our donations box, along with our paper and plastic bags.  I save the paper ones for wrapping packages to mail, and the plastic ones for our little garbage can in the bathroom.  Before:

And after:

I gathered the bags neatly, and put up a 3M Command hook for the plastic bags to hang from.

So while things in the kitchen still aren't perfect, I did fix a few things that had been bothering me for quite some time!  As for the rest of the Project Simplify list, I have a few other things to take care of this week, mostly under the "Paper Clutter & Budgets" category, but that's for another day.

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