Select-an-Effort: Kitchen Utensils

Select-an-Effort: Kitchen Utensils. Seana holding kitchen whisks.

Today is Monday, and that means everybody is probably busy. It also means the kitchen is likely to be active, as people come and go at all times, looking for food. Therefore, today on “Select-an-Effort: Organizing Tasks for 2023” we are going to consider your collection of kitchen utensils.

Depending on how much you cook, and on how big your kitchen is, this category might contain the following:

Large Utensils

  • Spatula
  • Cooking Spoon
  • Wooden Spoon
  • Ladle
  • Slotted Spoon
  • Spider Strainer
  • Whisk
  • Tongs
  • Pasta Spoon
  • Knives
  • Potato Masher

Small Utensils:

  • Vegetable Peeler
  • Measuring cups
  • Measuring spoons
  • Zester
  • Micro plane
  • Grater
  • Melon Baller
  • Nutcracker
  • Can Opener
  • Small Whisks
  • Pastry Brush
  • Lemon/Lime Squeezer
  • Egg Separator
  • Meat Mallet
  • Rolling Pin
  • BBQ Skewers
  • Apple/Strawberry Corer
  • Knife Sharpener
  • Bench Scraper
  • Avocado Slicer

You may have some other tools as well.

As always, you can put in a bit of time or a lot of time, depending on how you are feeling. Here are the options:

Low Effort

If you only have a few minutes, take a quick look through your large cooking utensils. They may be in a drawer and/or in a container on the counter. See if you can find a couple that have “yucked out;” the plastic has melted or discolored, the handle has cracked, etc. Pitch these.

Medium Effort

Gather all of your large cooking utensils to a sorting surface. Sort them by function, so you can see how many you actually have, and compare them to one another. First remove any that you never use. These items take up a lot of space, so it is important to keep only the pieces that you truly need. Also, as in the “Low Effort” task, remove any that aren’t in good shape and throw those away.

Now look at the sorted groupings of the utensils you use, and mindfully select which to keep. There is no rule for how many is the “right” number. However, carefully consider how often you use each one. For example, you may have bought or received a 3-pack of whisks, but do you really need three? Perhaps one will suffice.

Once you’ve made your selections, reload them into your storage locations. If you have large drawers with no dividers, something like this bamboo organizer or this plastic organizer might come in handy.

Note any large utensils that you need to replace and make a plan for how and when you will do this. You might be able to get some good deals with the holiday seasons recently concluded.

High Effort

If you have a bit more time, dig into your collection of small utensils. These may be scattered throughout your kitchen, so you might need to open all the drawers to find them all. Bring them all to a sorting surface (e.g., the kitchen island) and group like with like. This takes time because we tend to have many small utensils, including duplicates (e.g., three sets of measuring spoons).

Once everything is sorted, the process is the same as it was for the large utensils. Small utensils tend to have more specialized purposes, so make sure that the pieces you keep “justify their real estate” in your drawer. For instance, if you seldom eat avocados, you probably don’t need a slicer.

When returning items to your drawers, make sure you have sufficient structure to keep things from sloshing around. There are many options for kitchen drawer inserts. A simple cutlery organizer can be great for small utensils, or an expandable organizer with lots of compartments. Even small boxes tucked into your drawer can do that trick.

I always wipe drawers down when they are empty, and then reload. You can also add drawer liner to keep things clean and in place.

*     *     *

This project is usually very rewarding. Will you give it a try?

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Select-an-Effort: Organizing Tasks for 2023

18 thoughts on “Select-an-Effort: Kitchen Utensils”

  1. Seana, I’m loving your daily posts and appreciate how you’ve given everyone options to do a task with a little, medium, or high effort. Today’s post really resonates with me. I can’t tell you how many clients’ kitchens I ‘ve worked and found multiples of practically every kitchen utensil. It’s important to have them but how many of each type is a crucial question to answer.
    Diane N Quintana recently posted…Paper Decluttering Tips For People With Mounds Of Paper, Mail & DocumentsMy Profile

    1. I hear you on the clients with many utensils. It’s easy to have those pile up, and then they jam up the drawer. Definitely a project where a little effort can pay a big reward!

  2. I love your “Select-An-Effort” series! The topics are excellent, but I’m also enjoying the visuals. So fun!

    Isn’t it funny how utensils seem to collect and grow overnight? Not only do they occupy a lot of kitchen real estate, but they can be oddly sized, which can make them challenging to store. It’s also rare for them to be stored in the same drawer or location because of factors like space or usage.

    We have an open bin near the stove with large spoons and spatulas, more utensils (like whisks and scrapers) in the baking drawer, and other assorted tools in another large drawer. Every so often, we do an edit to release the ones we don’t use or aren’t in good shape.

    I love the process you offer based on the time you have to spend on organizing. So smart.

    1. I give credit to Hazel for my inspiration! It was a fun challenge to consider how to make progress, even if you only have a little time. You can always come back later and do more, right?

      The visuals are supposed to be funny. My daughter gets the credit for this idea:)

      Utensils both pile up and “yuck out.” I have them in a few places as well, and every now and then I’ll pull one out to use, take a good look at it, and think, “It is time for this to go!”

    1. I did the wooden spoons once. Somehow I had a collection of way more than I would ever use. I think they must have arrived in a multi-pack or something. Fortunately, kitchen utensils in good shape are typically welcomed by most charities, so I could let go knowing they would go to good use.

  3. As I’ve reported often, I don’t really cook, but I have most of the implements of cooking you list — just to ensure that I can properly fake being an adult. (OK, I don’t own a melon baller, but I don’t eat melon. I don’t have a meat mallet, but I don’t eat meat. I don’t have a potato masher because a) I’ll never actually mash potatoes, but b) more importantly, as with most kitchens, my drawers aren’t tall enough to accommodate a potato masher without everything getting stuck! But I’ll admit I don’t know what a bench scraper is, but since I don’t have a bench, I think I’m OK.) I have everything I do need, and because I have very narrow kitchen drawers, I’m not tempted toward excess.

    However, kitchens are a delight for me when I organize clients because of the exact process you walk through. I go through the high-effort part, and once I’ve sorted into categories, I help my clients apply low- or medium-effort energy to small sub-sections so it isn’t overwhelming. Your post makes me want to organize a kitchen today!
    Julie Bestry recently posted…Paper Doll Helps You Find Your Ideal Analog Habit TrackerMy Profile

    1. Kitchens are my favorite!

      Your comment is making me laugh – you have such a delightful sense of humor!

      A bench scraper is typically used to pick up dough scraps, like when you are making bread. For the record, I don’t have one either. Meanwhile, the potato masher fits in practically no standard kitchen drawer. It is giant. I use a hand mixer to make mashed potatoes, so I don’t need that one either.

      I do have a melon baller, for that one time a year when I make a fancy fruit salad. I could live without it LOL!

      1. I have a potato masher with an oval “bottom” so it fits in a drawer. However I usually use a small hand mixer for mashed potatoes.
        But what is a spider strainer?

  4. I love the low effort, medium effort and high effort strategies. It is important to do what you can based on the time you have at the moment. If you only organize when you can do it at a “high effort”it is easy to fall behind and things can get very disorganized.

    1. Exactly, Julie. Some days we are “in the mood” and others, a few minutes is all we can squeak out. That’s okay. We can always come back later and do a more thorough job, but in the meantime, it feels great to have accomplished something, right?

  5. I recently decided to clean and reorganize the drawers and base cabinets in my kitchen. It was a highly satisfying chore (if I can even call it that LOL) with a mix of all three efforts. As I’m not the only chef in the house (I’m not even the main one) , it was a little tricky to get rid of some utensils. In the end, we reached a happy compromise and everything has a home. Win! 😊
    Deb Lee recently posted…Brilliant Books for Business Owners (Yes, Audiobooks, Too)My Profile

  6. I love this idea of low, medium, and high effort! It’s like a choose-your-own-adventure in organizing and decluttering! I definitely need to get my bootie in gear when it comes to kitchen utensils, so I am going to make sure and save this article for when the time comes. Love the challenge!

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