“The mental and physical space we create by letting go of things belonging to our past gives us new energy for our next chapter.” – Organize for a Fresh Start: Embrace Your Next Chapter in Life (Sue West)
Organize to Eat Better: Simple Ways to Get Your Kitchen Ready
You’ve made a decision to focus on your nutrition. Good. How does that make you feel? Courageous, afraid of whether you can really do this, hopeful for a new chapter? All of these probably. Let’s get your kitchen and its systems ready to support you on your journey.
There are two parts to getting your kitchen ready:
- Purge the past: Getting rid of what you know won’t serve you;
- Reorganize what’s left, fine-tuning systems as you reorganize, so that the kitchen stays decluttered and ready to help you.
Purge the Past – Out with the Old
What do you need to leave behind on this trip to the land of extreme self-care? Will you pitch these things? Or can you easily identify family, friend or organization who might take them?
Supplies: trash bags (and/or “give away” box, a timer, a notebook. Add music to the mix if you find it motivates you. Add a friend if you’re finding it difficult to get started.
Grab your timer: Some of you will want to work in 15 or 30 minute increments, because that’s all the time you have these days or because this sounds so big. Others will want the fast pass, taking a few hours to get a lot done all at once. If you don’t know which approach will work, experiment: start with 15 minutes on your timer.
How to start: As you’re cleaning up after the morning routine, open one food cabinet door and purge just from there. See how much you can get done in 15 minutes. Return tomorrow for another pantry shelf, refrigerator shelf or appliance shelf. Or you may prefer to do this at night as you prep or clean up from dinner.
Next steps: Keep your donate box in the kitchen until it’s full. And then move it directly to your car. Call and set a time to drop off your box, or ask family to take it for you.
Questions to ask:
- Which foods or ingredients do you need to move away from?
- Any vitamins, supplements or medications which are not in use or expired? (Please dispose of responsibly.)
- Which appliances are never used? (Or if an appliance is used, but rarely, move it to your highest shelves, or to the basement shelves, so it’s out of your “everyday” space.)
- Which cookbooks and recipes don’t get a seat on this journey?
New Horizons – In with the New
See all the space for your new things you have now and they’re all about taking care of you! This is the start of making changes to get you where you want to go.
Supplies: New recipes and meal plans, notepad for ideas.
Kitchens are efficiently organized around two main ideas:
Zones, meaning: preparation space– cooking – serving – storage – cleaning;
Look around your kitchen: When you work in it, do you crisscross the room a lot? You may need to reorganize based on those zones. You shorten the amount of time spent in the kitchen, find things faster, make it easier to put them away, spend less money on duplicates, and you take better care of yourself.
“Everyday” space: Items/food you use frequently
If you find you’re constantly moving items out of the way to get at what you need, that means reorganizing items on the shelves. Make frequently used items stand out for easier access and efficiency.
Next, what new items do you need for your journey?
- What new foods, ingredients, spices and vitamins do you need to move towards?
- What do you need more of, so you have easy plenty when needed?
- Are there new appliances, kitchen utensils or pans needed for new recipes?
- Where and how will you keep your new recipes organized, so you can find what you want – and not default to old habits?
Keep it up Easily – Systems to Support
Meal planning center: Designate on spot to sit each week to review meal plans and create a grocery list?
Cooking in bulk: Which recipes are you most fond of? Can any be made in bulk? Make an appointment with yourself for make-ahead time as a routine. Invite a friend and cook together.
Grocery list: Keep a list accessible in the kitchen. As an item runs low, add it to your list. Keep a list of frequently bought items so you won’t need to rewrite it or remember.
Keep shelves organized: Does anyone else put away the groceries or cook? Labeling is the easiest way to invite support that works.
Shopping: Add your best day and time to your weekly calendar. Besides saving you time, this makes it easier to stick with new habits.
Mail: Creating a landing spot for mail, recipes, meal plans and blog articles you review when you plan meals. A daily review means papers won’t take over counters.
Kitchen counters: Items without homes? Focus on one item at a time to figure out where it could reside. Then clear counters daily.
The key is to believe in yourself and the journey you’re on, while making it simple to take that very first step. Let us know your wins and questions along the way!
Do you have enough time for you? Enough time for what’s becoming more important to you? Sue’s clients are and because she’s an organizing coach, her approach is practical. Her specialties are organizing through change, ADHD and time management. Her clients have called her: insightful, wise, inspiring, filled with hope, gentle yet productive. Sue works privately, by phone or in person and is also the author of Organize for A Fresh Start: Embrace Your Next Chapter in Life, a book about reorganizing your stuff, your home and your time to move onto your next chapter in life. Get to know Sue by signing up for her blog, visiting her on Facebook, or signing up for her newsletter.