When January 2nd rolls around, my kitchen is a mess. The fridge is stuffed full of random leftovers, and the pantry is overflowing with half-full boxes of crackers, cereal and snacks left behind from having all of the kids home 24/7 for almost a month.
As daunting as it may seem, cleaning and organizing your kitchen is a great way to start the New Year off on the right foot. I’m sharing the 7 things I do on January 2nd to get my kitchen back in order. The rest of the house… is another story.
Before you get started, make sure you have bags and boxes to throw things into. I like to set up three stations: garbage, recycling, and donations. I prefer to use biodegradable bags for big projects like this, but you can also check with your local waste management company and see if they have preferred ways for you to recycle cardboard, glass, and even food scraps.
Speaking of food scraps, I have had my eye on this Lomi Smart Waste Kitchen Composter that turns food waste into dirt in four hours. That is pretty amazing.
Cool Mom Eats is a reward style affiliate.
Clean out that fridge!
First things first, the fridge and freezer need a good sweep. Christina shared 7 easy steps to Konmari your fridge and I actually printed out these steps and taped them to the inside of the cupboard next to my fridge.
The most important thing is to toss anything that is expired. If you pull out an item and can’t remember when you made it, or what month you bought it then it needs to go. There is no room for guilt or food poisoning in the new year. Let it go.
Toss uneaten holiday food gifts
It is so wonderful to receive home-baked goodies from neighbors and friends over the holidays. But one thing I have learned is that if those goodies are not eaten in the first few days after receiving the gift, they will absolutely not get eaten if they sit on the counter for 2 weeks after receiving them. The joy in giving and receiving has come and gone, let go of the guilt and toss the uneaten food sitting on your counter.
Toss or combine half-full boxes and bags
After having all of the kids home for the holidays, it is always a mystery to me where all of the half-full boxes and bags of chips, crackers, granola, cookies, pasta, etc come from. First, check the dates and if staleness of those half-full bags. If they have lost their crunch, toss them. If they are still fresh, dump those half-full boxes and bags into one container like my favorite OXO Airtight Food Storage Containers. These are great because not only are they clear so you can see what is in them, they are airtight so keep the items fresh for a bit longer.
Get rid of broken or unused kitchen gadgets
Inevitably those silicone kitchen tongs got melted when you set them on the side of the hot pan while you were salvaging the cookies you forgot you put in the oven at one point during the holiday (it’s not just me right?). Those tongs (insert any other kitchen gadget here) served you well over the past year (or years), and it’s okay to toss the broken/burned/unused gadgets rather than keeping them in the drawers. Trust me, you won’t use the broken ones again and if you have a random set of salad forks that you haven’t used once since you received it as a wedding registry gift put them in the donation box. Someone else may actually use them.
Clean out the pantry
Having a well-stocked, clean, organized pantry provides a sense of security that you can handle anything that comes your way. It may not be a country-wide pandemic that drives you to your pantry for survival, but you could be snowed in for a few days, and being able to keep your sanity while your kids complain that “they are starving” is worth the time it takes to clean and organize your pantry. Jump over to this post the fabulous Laura Stone wrote for us during the Covid pandemic for a practical, helpful guide on how to clean, organize and stock your pantry.
Make sure you double-check all of your baking products as well. Toss out expired baking mixes, shortening that you can’t remember when you bought it, or anything that smells funky. Don’t toss that old baking soda though! Check out these great uses for expired baking soda.
Organize that space under your kitchen sink
Last year, I organized the space under my kitchen sink with 4 easy products. This is hands down the best thing I ever did in my kitchen. If you tend to just shove cleaning products and miscellaneous items under the sink like I did, this organization will change your life. I have so much more space and I can actually find the Windex when I need it.
Toss old coffee, tea, and chipped mugs
Over the holidays, it seems like the coffee maker does the heavy lifting. Come January, it is in need of a good cleaning. It’s super easy to clean the coffee maker (and the pot). My favorite tips for how to clean the coffee maker are from Katie Berry over at Housewife How-Tos. I also toss any coffee beans, tea, or hot chocolate mix that have been on the shelf for more than 6 months (3 weeks if they are not stored in an airtight container). If you haven’t used them in 6 months, odds are you will not use them in the next few weeks.
Additionally, if your mugs and cups were heavily used, odds are they are chipped and cracked, and I don’t know who needs to hear this, but you can afford to start the mornings in the new year off without cutting your lip on a chipped mug, so recycle or toss the chipped ones (don’t donate broken mugs please).
There are plenty of mugs and cups out there that are probably on sale right now, or get yourself one like the Best Mom Ever mug from Sweet Water Décor on Etsy, because you are indeed the best mom ever.
Top Image: Photo by Anna Syla on Unsplash