September 26, 2022 14 min read

Welcome to week three of the Good Vibes Clean Kitchen Challenge.  If you have been following along week by week, you should be starting to see your kitchen transform.  If you had a lot of unnecessary kitchen clutter, you should have also taken several trips to the thrift store.  They should know your name by now. This week we will be taking inventory of what's in our cabinets and we will clean our refrigerators thoroughly in preparation for holiday meal prep and leftovers.  By doing the heavy lifting now, you should only have to do a light decluttering of the fridge come the holidays.

 

picture of a kitchen

Cabinet Inventory

Open all your cabinet doors. Step back as far as you can and take a good look. What do you see?  How do you feel when you look at it?  If you feel any anxiety or overwhelm, you have some work to do.  You shouldn't feel that way when you open your cabinets.  Let's work on one area at a time.

 

  1. Remove everything from the shelf.
  2. Clean the shelf.
  3. Replace only what belongs there.
  4. Toss garbage and put donations in a box.
  5. If there are miscellaneous items that don’t belong in the kitchen, put them where they do belong. If they don’t seem to belong anywhere, then ask yourself: Do I even need this thing? If it is important enough, then make a space for it, so it has a home. If not, get rid of it!

 

Now, let’s take “inventory” and check to see if the arrangement makes sense:

  1. Are your drinking glasses near your water source?
  2. Are the pots and pans near the stove?
  3. Are your mixing bowls and baking items near where you mix and bake?
  4. Are your coffee mugs or tea cups near your coffee/tea station?
  5. Evaluate each area and rearrange as you see fit.

 

Now lets go through each cabinet one by one.

 

 

Drinking Glasses

Drinking glasses always seem to be in abundance.  We have tall water glasses, short water glasses, juice glasses, many different types of wine glasses, beer glasses, cocktail glasses, glasses for dinner parties, holidays, not to mention the mugs. (I could go on!) Don’t let your fantasy life rule this area: Keep only what you use.

 

  1. Remove ALL drinking glasses (except coffee mugs and tea cups, we’ll tackle those next).
  2. Put back 1 glass per person, plus 2 extras, depending on how much entertaining you do.
  3. Look at the rest and ask yourself: Do I use these? How often? Do I love them? Should I keep them?

 

Make it a rule in your home that each person uses the same glass all day long. In the evening, when everyone is headed to bed, put them in the dishwasher with the last load, so they are all fresh and clean for the next day. If you hand wash, wash them when you wash the dinner dishes and set them back out for everyone to use in the morning.

An easy way to keep track of glasses is to color code them. Purchase glasses in different colors and each person only drinks out of that color glass.

Stemware. If you use it, keep it. But only keep the amount you need. If you have 4 of each type of stemware only because one day you may have a party, donate them. Keep only what you use. If you drink wine regularly, consider stemless wine glasses that can double as regular drinking glasses.

 

Coffee Mugs

Coffee mugs are always in abundance. They are often the typical souvenir and they make an easy gift when you don't know what to give. Don’t feel guilty about getting rid of mugs from secret sisters, students, or co-workers. Keep the ones you enjoy and use the most. If that means two character mugs, so be it. If you prefer a set of plain white ones, have at it. If it means getting rid of all the mismatched mugs - then do it! Guilt free permission granted. Only keep what you use and enjoy.

 

Teapots and teacups:

If you use it several times a week, keep the teapot. If you are an avid tea drinker, then yes, keep the teacups. But, if you only have them and don’t use them then let the teacups go. Use your coffee mugs instead; there is no need to keep 2 things that accomplish the same purpose.

 

Actual coffee and tea

Some people keep their coffee and tea right in the same cupboard as the cups/mugs. If that is so in your house, then ask yourself, how old is the coffee and tea in your cupboard? No one wants to drink a stale cup of coffee or tea… so get rid of expired drinks and simplify your selection to only what you would serve to your guests and what you like to drink often. Are you a loose-leaf tea drinker? How is your supply? Would it be considered excessive or minimal? Do you have jars that need to be consolidated or gotten rid of?

Make hard decisions. Be relentless and take all donations straight to the car.

 

Dishes

Let's evaluate your life real quick.  How many place settings do you need? How many people are in your home? How many chairs do you have at your dining room table.  Do you entertain regularly? Do you host family gatherings? Do you have friends stop by for coffee often?

 

If you live alone or with 1 person and rarely entertain, it’s safe to go down to 2-4 place settings. If you have children, it would be wise to keep 1 setting per person and 1-2 more settings for guests.

Also, think about how often you are home. Do you need to be able to use a setting at breakfast, lunch, and dinner before you start the dishwasher? Can you quickly wash the one dish you use and place it back in the cabinet? 

  1. Remove everything from the shelves where you store your dishes.
  2. Clean the shelves, put only the place settings you need back in.
  3. Put all extras in the donate box and take it out to your car.

 

The Good China

Let's talk about the good china.  If you're not using it everyday or hosting elaborate dinner parties often, then the good china is only getting used during the holidays, right?  So, when you do decide to use it, you have to wash everything first because it’s been sitting in your china cabinet, collecting dust for a year.  Sounds like work. After it gets used, you have to be extra careful handling it.  Got kids?  Well, you may not be using the good china at all because you certainly don't want it to get broken.  So, you decide to save the china for when the kids are grown, then boop! Grandkids! So that doesn't work out too well either. What are your options? 

If you love your china, how about getting rid of your “everyday” dishes and just using the “good china?” If you don’t love it and it makes for more stress (hand washing, fear of breaking) then, let it go without guilt. You may be able to sell it on eBay or Facebook Marketplace and get some money for it. 

If it is a family heirloom, maybe ask other family members if they would like it, but if no one wants the burden of keeping it, be the strong one and let it go. Or, just use it. Life is too short not to fully enjoy the things and people you love. You are worthy of eating on your good china everyday, for every meal. Give yourself permission. 

If you want to keep some items, like a platter, teapot or just the dessert dishes, allow yourself that. Many people are on the lookout for their own missing pieces and will be happy to find whatever pieces you decide to let go. 

 

Serving Dishes

Serving dishes can be beautiful. But realistically, we don't use them very often.  And transferring food from pots, pans and ovenware to serving dishes, creates more dishes that have to be cleaned later.   Instead of having a lovely set of serving dishes, we could use beautiful, yet functional, baking dishes that double as serving dishes. Or serving dishes that double as food storage dishes so we can pop a top on that bad boy and put it in the fridge. Unless they are enjoyed and used on a regular basis, they really do not have a function to justify having a bunch of them taking up valuable storage space and creating more work than is necessary.  If you're not using them regularly (like every Sunday), consider letting the serving bowls go. 

Serving dishes include:

  • Dessert dishes
  • Relish dishes
  • Chip & salsa platters
  • Soups bowls
  • Platters
  • Gravy boats
  • Candy dishes
  • Seasonal salt & pepper shakers
  • Luncheon plates
  • Bread baskets

 Keep only what you love to use and take the rest out to the car. 

 

Food Storage Containers

We know that storage container cabinet is a hot mess. There are tops with missing bottoms and bottoms with missing tops.  You can never find what you need and when you go to grab something, you open the cabinet door and shit falls out all over the countertop... ask me how I know. 

Take it all out and pile it all on the counter or table. Clean the drawer or cupboard out with cloth soaked in Good Vibes APC. Find your matching tops and bottoms and put them together. Those are the only ones you will consider keeping. 

If you still have too many storage containers, use this as a guide.   Keep 2 large containers, 4 medium containers and 4 small containers. The more containers we have, the more space they take in the cabinet or the fridge. By keeping a smaller amount of storage containers, you will force yourself to stay on top of cleaning out the fridge, which should be done at least once a week anyway.

Put the containers you are keeping neatly stacked or nestled in the drawer or cupboard.  Put the unsellable items in the trash or recycling. Put the usable unwanted storage containers in the donate box and take it to the car. 

 

Pots and Pans

No one can tell you how many pots and pans you really need.  The number of pots and pans you actually need depends on how much you cook. Only keep the ones you use on a regular basis. The rest is clutter.  Keeping a minimum amount of dishes, pots and pans means you will always have to keep them clean so that you can use them again. 

Here's what to do:

  1. Remove any pots or pans that rarely (if ever) get used and place them in donate box.
  2. Think through your daily routines; organize the pots and pans you constantly use in a cabinet close to the stove. (No storing any inside the oven since you have to move them every time you want to use it!)
  3. Evaluate what is left one more time. Do you hang onto these to use only if everything else is dirty? Do you keep them because they came from your grandmother and you remember them in her kitchen? Are they just taking up space in your cabinets and cluttering your mind? You can still love your grandmother without keeping her pots. Donate them to a family member who is just starting off or to your grandmother's favorite thrift shop. 

If you are unsure about getting rid of certain items (I understand emotional attachments to things, believe me), box them up, label the box and place it out of the way in your garage, or basement for now. If you don't end up digging them out, between now and the next 6-12 months, you know you don’t need them anymore. 

Go ahead and let them go. 

 

Ovenware

If you store your cookware in the oven because there is no where else to put it, that means you have too much! If you're storing items that you never use in the bottom drawer of your oven, then you have too much ovenware. We're not doing this anymore. Take a look at all those casserole dishes, ziti pans, muffin tins, baking sheets and cake pans. Assess which ones you actually use and which ones you promise to use if you're every invited to a potluck with Snoop Dog and Martha Stewart. The latter is your fantasy life. Let it go. 

  1. Remove all items from the oven and the oven drawer.
  2. Wipe out the oven or use the self-cleaning feature. Clean the drawer.
  3. Put the large baking sheets that you actually use in the oven drawer.
  4. Organize the items you are going to keep and store them in a cabinet near the oven or store them in a dedicated area of your pantry
  5. Get rid of extra disposable tin pans, and fancy cake pans you never use.
  6. Toss out the trash and put the items to donate in your car for your Saturday thrift store drop. 

 

Spice Cabinet

What does your spice cabinet look like?  Do you have spices or herbs that you haven't used since you moved in? Spices are one of those things that we tend to hold on to, just in case we might need to make that recipe again. Did you even like that recipe? Let's minimalize the spice cabinet a bit. 

Pull out all the spices, place on a countertop and sort. Toss all expired spices and spices you don’t care for; keep only what you use.

Get rid of the spices that you purchased for a special recipe but discovered you don’t care for the flavor. Get rid of anything that has caked up so hard you could hit it out of the ballpark without it breaking.  Get rid of anything that makes you feel guilty for not using it. You can donate them to a food kitchen if it makes you feel better. 

Arrange the spices to suit your needs. You can place what you use regularly towards the front, or you can arrange them alphabetically, or by size. It doesn’t matter how it’s organized, as long as it makes sense to you.  To make sure you can see what you have on hand (and avoid buying spices you already have), get a small Lazy Susan or one of those tiered spice racks from Bed Bath and Beyond. 

 

The Pantry

Let’s take a look at the pantry or any other cabinet or space you use for food storage! Is it organized?  Can you find what you are looking for with ease? Has your pantry become a home for items that do not belong in there? Until Today! Get ready, this may be quite a job for some of us 

Here's what to do:

  1. Remove all items from the pantry space.
  2. Wipe down all the shelves with your favorite Good Vibes All Purpose Cleaner solution.
  3. Look at each item and ask: Has this expired? If yes, throw it out. Do I use this? If no, throw it out. Do I like this? If no, throw it out.
  4. Consolidate duplicate items, like the several bags of rice you purchased because you thought you ran out when you couldn't find it in your pantry.   Or the several half-eaten cans of salted nuts that just won’t get eaten.
  5. Purge the junk food. Do you have food that makes you feel guilty or gross? Get rid of it. We don't need that energy in our lives.
  6. Put food items back, in an organized way: all canned goods in one area, all pastas in one area, etc.
  7. Evaluate any non-food items. Do they belong in the pantry? Do you really use them? Do they belong somewhere else? Put away any “rejected” items where they actually belong.
  8. Toss any unused clutter.
  9. Take donations out to the car. 

Take a look at your organized pantry and vow to never allow it to get cluttered again. 

Tip: Take a before picture and hang it on your pantry door as a reminder of how far you have come.

 

Under the Sink

What gets stuffed under your kitchen sink? Vases? Chemical products that are bad for you and your family's health, old Brillo pad boxes?

Now, what should you store under your kitchen sink?

For most people under the kitchen sink tends to be a chaotic mess (kind of like the junk drawer). Let’s change that today! 

  1. Pick out the usable things: vases, fish bowl, etc., and put them in a donate box.
  2. Throw out the unusable things: old toothbrushes, empty Brillo pad boxes, old fish food. Throw them in the trash (practice your jump shot here)
  3. Box up the unwanted chemicals: These are not healthy for your family or your environment. Contact your local waste management to find out how to dispose of them, each area has different regulations. In the meantime, set them outside on your back porch or patio until you know what to do with them.

What SHOULD you store under your kitchen sink? 

Here are some ideas:

  • Dishcloths, dish soap & dishwasher liquid
  • Dish washing bucket when not in use
  • Trash bags
  • Baking soda for scouring
  • Good Vibes All Purpose Cleaner for general cleaning
  • Disinfectant for killing germs
  • Baskets to hold everything together 

 

Cleaning Supplies

Cleaning supplies! Having a clean house doesn’t require a bunch of different cleaning products or sprays, but rather your own determination and a willingness to change your daily habits.

  1. Gather all your cleaning products and supplies.
  2. Get rid of everything that you don't use regularly.
  3. Purchase or re-purpose a bin/caddy to put your cleaning supplies in.
  4. Put the needed cleaning supplies into the caddy and store them under the sink or near your laundry area.  If you have small children, you may want to store them somewhere they can't get to.

Suggested cleaning supplies to keep:

  • Scrub brush/scouring pads
  • Cleaning/dusting rags
  • Broom/dustpan/mop
  • White vinegar
  • Scouring powder (or baking soda)
  • And of course, Good Vibes All Purpose Cleaner - the bottle that can do it all 

If you are hesitant to get rid of chemical cleaning products, call your local waste management and ask them how to dispose of it. Most have a toxic waste roundup day, or they collect them in a particular area to dispose of them properly. 

 

The fridge

This can be a big job, but I know you can do it!

Today I want you to be honest with your fridge. If there are condiments in there that you didn’t enjoy, but you’re hanging onto them because you spent good money, let them go. Or maybe there is food that has gone to waste, and you haven’t wanted to deal with it. Now is the time.  Here's the plan:

  1. Get a bucket or tub of hot soapy water and a washcloth.
  2. Remove everything from the refrigerator.
  3. Clean all the shelves, doors and drawers.
  4. Sort your items, toss any that are expired, moldy, or won’t get used.
  5. Place all needed items back in the refrigerator.
  6. Clean the front of the fridge: remove garbage, toss unneeded notes and excess magnets. A messy front to the fridge door makes the kitchen look and feel cluttered.
  7. Are you storing items on top of your refrigerator? Declutter and clean the top of the fridge (if it’s too much, do this tomorrow).

Maintain a clean refrigerator by cleaning it out once a week on a day most convenient for you.  Kitchen Monday, grocery shopping day or the day before trash day are all a good time to clean out the fridge.  The key is consistency.

*Tip: If you want to keep the container but toss the food without making a mess, place the whole container in the freezer.  The next day, pop the food out into the trash and take the trash out immediately.  This also alleviates the odor when having to throw out molded food. 

 

The Freezer

Let’s open the freezer up today and get it organized

Frozen food doesn’t last forever. After a certain period of time, no one is going to want to eat it, and it just won’t taste good.  If you have items in the freezer that you know no one is going to eat, just throw it away.  You have my permission.

  1. Pull everything out of the freezer.
  2. Defrost the freezer if necessary.
  3. Wipe down all the shelves, walls and door.
  4. Toss any freezer-burned or expired food.
  5. Get rid of anything you are unsure of: if you don’t know what it is or how old it is, then just toss it.
  6. Evaluate non-food items: Do you need these? Do you use them? (Ice packs, snowballs from the last snowstorm, etc.)
  7. Replace all remaining food in an organized manner. Group similar things together. For example, meat in one area, fruit in another, etc.
  8. Take the trash out to the garbage right away.
  9. If you didn’t do it yesterday, declutter and clean the top of your appliance.

 

Tips:

1. To maintain a clean, organized freezer, make a habit of labeling everything you put in it.  Write down what it is and the date you added it to the freezer. If its still in there six months later, either use it or throw it away. 

2. Adding clean plastic bins to your freezer can help you keep things organized and sorted as well. 

3. When storing meat or bulky items in the freezer, spread and flatten them so they store flat and maximize space.

Ymani Efunyale
Ymani Efunyale

I created Good Vibes because my family deserved better, and so does yours 💚


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