CLASS #1 – Defining Your Kitchen Challenges
This may be the most important and the most difficult class for you. Anytime you are
asked to face your challenges and be honest with yourself about these it can be
uncomfortable. Don’t fret. I have some outline subjects that will get your gears turning.
If I don’t address your personal concerns specifically, it’s ok to head on over to the
Facebook group and brainstorm it with us. Listen in on my story and what I was facing
when I started a kitchen detox. Trust me, it was not pretty!
I hope I put you at ease now that you know that challenges are not unique only to your
kitchen. One important thing I have learned throughout the years is that my health is a
continuing education. I have taken great steps to improve it, but being a champion of my
health doesn’t stop there. I will always be a student of my own health, learning and
adapting in an effort to create a healthier lifestyle.
1. The Clutter
So now it is time to take stock in the kitchen and see what belongs and what does not.
One of the biggest complaints I hear is my kitchen is not big enough. When I found
myself in a kitchen recently to do a kitchen detox, the biggest complaint I heard was
there wasn’t enough counter, cupboard or drawer space. Let’s be crystal clear. I am not
an organizational expert. But from the outside looking in I could see where all “the
space” in this person’s kitchen had gone. Here are the action steps we took to make
more kitchen space.
- We took everything out of the kitchen that was not a tool for cooking, not a food item,
not for kitchen cleaning or serving pieces. This included phone chargers, sunglasses,
mail, decorations in workspaces, and even the trashcan!
- We allowed for one junk drawer (practical) to store things like small household tools,
pens, scratch pads, sunglasses, and the usual type of clutter we find in our kitchens.
We designated the drawer for extra things but waited to fill it until we were sure that
we did not need it for real kitchen tools.
- We removed all small appliances off the counter top.
These few steps made a huge difference, especially since a tennis racket, track shoes,
and a scarf collection really do not belong in the kitchen. I could see the lightbulb go on
when we finished and found a home for all the stuff we removed that did not belong in
the kitchen. I could feel the pushback of not having a charging station on the counter top
in the kitchen, so we made a neat little basket where the cords could be rolled up and
the phones could sit right in the basket while charging. One of the real eye openers was
removing non-functional decoration off the cabinet tops. They were beautiful and if it
were a model home for sale I would have recommended leaving them but in a
workspace where they had no function and were eating up valuable counter space, they
needed to go.
2. Over Tooled and Under Spaced
This is such a common problem. I love the kitchen store! I used to be guilty of wanting a fast fix for prep work in the kitchen. Gadgets are dear friends of this author. When I
detoxed down to the basics and cleaned up my workspaces, I found it was way easier
and time efficient to just use a cutting board and a nice sharp knife instead of a fancy
slicer gadget. Huge lightbulb moment for me.
So being over-tooled is the affliction of many. The slicers, dicers, cookers, mixers, and
makers seem so attractive. They all promise to save you time and money. But the truth
is they are shiny objects that are taking up valuable space in your kitchen. We will
discuss basic tools to get about just any job done in the kitchen in another lesson. You
don’t need a lot to make the kitchen an amazing, efficient space. Here is the
Kitchanatomy rule. If you are not using a tool at least every 2 weeks it is time for it to go
and free up critical space in your kitchen. Remember, I said this might be the hardest
lesson in this entire class? Well this is where the rubber meets the road!
3. Everything Has a Place – The Easy Reach
Tell me if this has happened to you. Your utensils are normally within reach, you open
the drawer and fumble around looking for your favorite wooden spoon. You open the
next drawer and no spoon. You look in the dishwasher, hoping that someone did not
make a mistake and put it in there. Nope, not in there. Two days later you are getting
flatware out for dinner and you find your favorite wooden spoon. Your husband put it
there when he was putting dishes away. Makes sense, it is a spoon and there are other
spoons in that drawer, right?
Before you blame the person that was trying to help you out with kitchen chores, think
about establishing the EASY REACH rule. The Easy Reach rule is this:
- Everything in your kitchen has a space.
- Everything in your kitchen is within easy reach for your designated workspaces (we
will cover defining workspaces in Class #2).
- If you have kitchen helpers show them the ropes or make labels for things so they
know where everything goes.
The Easy Reach Rule will change your relationship with your kitchen. You will find prep
work, cooking and clean-up woes will disappear in a hurry. The frustration of unloading
the dishwasher becomes a thing of the past and you’ll never have another misplaced
wooden spoon again!
4. The Dirt on Clean Up
Above I just referenced clean-up, probably the most dreaded of all dreaded kitchen
tasks. It’s so much fun to cook, if only we had Jane Jetson’s futuristic kitchen where the
whole mess just disappeared in the wall like magic! I will admit this is the worst part of
cooking, even for me. I firmly believe that more and more people are eating out just to
avoid doing the dishes after a meal. Is this you? I have helped minimize my anguish
with just a few simple rules that I want to impart to you.
- So you have heard the relationship rule of never going to bed when you are angry,right? The same theory applies in my house except with dirty dishes. We never go
to bed with dishes in the sink. I have been up until 2AM doing dishes. If you leave
them they will stink up your house and double (or triple) your workload when you
“have time” to do them. Just remember an undone task always has to BE DONE at
some point. Chores, like cleaning up after a meal, have a way of haunting you. So
do the dishes before you go to bed.
- I’ll be the first to admit I am a messy cook. I tend to have stuff everywhere as I cook
through a recipe. So to help me with this problem I do one simple thing. I clean as I
go. Here is a great example. If I need to prep veggies for steaming, while they are
steaming I clean my prep workspace. This means I’m prepared for the next step
such as prepping the chicken I might be cooking. My knife is clean, my surface is
clear and I’m ready for the next task. When all is said and done, I have less work to
do at the end of the meal. Perfect, practical and simple!
- Always make sure your dishwasher or dish strainer is emptied or has enough room
left to handle the dish load you are about to create. There is nothing worse than
starting to do the dishes and discovering that the dishwasher is full. Then you are
left with 2 choices, turn on the dishwasher and let it go through the full cycle or do the
dishes by hand. Neither is ideal. SO before I even start cooking I make sure I have
adequate space in my cleanup workspaces to handle all the dishes.
- Over-tooled – once again we talk about too many gadgets in the kitchen. In Class #8
you will learn about the top 6 tools you need in a healthy kitchen (no peeking, it’s #8
for a reason!). If you are over tooled you will find yourself with a mess to clean up at
the end of a cooking session. This is why if you have 6 stainless bowls instead of 3
you will find it is quite easy to just reach for another one instead of washing the one
you already used. Then you have twice as much to clean in the end. If you have
only 3 stainless bowls and only one is right for the task and you already used it, you
will be forced to clean it right then and reuse it. There are many examples I could
use for this. Just be conscious about how you are using your tools as you work.
Focus on doing more with less.
These tips are designed to give you less sink time and more time doing the thing you
love. It also takes the stress out of cooking if you have a few steadfast rules in place
that are aimed at helping you WANT to be in your kitchen. See what works for you.
Keep in mind, nothing in these classes are hard and fast rules but merely suggestions of
things to try.
5. Even the Trash Needs a Good Home
The last principal in defining your challenges is the trash. Now it might surprise you that
I would even address this subject. The fact is we all need a trashcan in our kitchen.
Most of them are out of site of the public eye. My question is, is it convenient? In the
next class we will be talking about workspace definition and your trash is part of that.
The worst of the worst is a kitchen trashcan that does not have a hands free lid. After
all, you don’t want to be touching a dirty trash can lid while you are cooking, right? So
here are some ideas to solve trash disposal problems.
- Check the Bag – In the same way we make sure to have enough space in our
dishwasher to handle the dishes we are about to dirty up we should check our trash
can before any cooking task starts. I hate doing prep work only to find my trashcan isfull and needs a new bag.
- Leave it Out – I understand why we hide our trashcans away. Common places are
under the sink, a pullout drawer or in a pantry. While I am cooking I have my trashcan
at my prep station. This allows me to dispose of trash right then and there. Then I
don’t have it in my sink or on my counter. I won’t drip icky stuff from my prep space to
my trashcan. This method is so efficient and the trashcan is easy to put away when I
- The Full Bag – Leaving full bags of trash even in the garage or near the back door is
asking for trouble. Critters love smelly trash! Take it right from the can to the
designated final disposal spot. We have two outdoor cans, one for recycle and one for
bagged garbage. They sit near the garage door and we have a routine to dispose of
household trash. No worries about creepy crawlies because we have an easy system
I love having simple systems in place. I bet one of these hit home with you. Now taking
out the trash will be simplified and you are one step closer to a detoxed kitchen.
Time to put all you have learned to work for you. Use the worksheet as your guide.
Remember there are no hard and fast rules. Everyone’s kitchen is unique. This
worksheet is downloadable and printable, so don’t be afraid to brainstorm and do as
many rewrites as you need. . Remember, this is ALL ABOUT YOU! Do what works for