Decluttering Sparks Memories of Past Cooking Trends

Decluttering in the kitchen: good-bye to all my mismatched lids.

Decluttering is obviously part of the New Year. When I drove past Deseret Industries thrift store to drop off a load of donations this afternoon, there were at least 10 cars in line head of me. Ring out the old, ring in the new.

But when you’re decluttering, how to you decide what to keep and what to toss?

After working as a food writer for 25 years, I’ve accumulated a lot of kitchenware. It’s hard to say good-bye to old tried-and-true friends. I’m pretty frugal: I don’t feel the need to toss out perfectly good stuff just to re-stock with new, nearly identical items. So when it’s gone, it’s not likely to be replaced.

But, I always feel better about giving something up to a good home where it will be better used. I know that Deseret Industries not only gives people a chance to buy second-hand goods cheaply, but it offers on-the-job training to people who need to learn skills for future careers.

And if it’s not in good enough shape to donate or give away, it’s probably something that should be tossed in the recycling bin or trash.

Some of the kitchen items I’ve been going through this past week brought back memories of cooking trends over the years.

 

My electric frying pan hasn’t been used in 10 years, so I’m saying good-bye in my decluttering project.

* The electric frying pan that we got as a wedding gift in 1983 hasn’t been used in at least 10 years. The person who gave it to us has passed away, so he’s not likely to get his feelings hurt that it’s gone. I don’t do a lot of frying anymore, although an electric pan is  great for keeping foods hot at a party. But since the electrical cord is missing, that made the farewell easier.

 

Punch bowl from yesteryear.

*One of my TWO cut-glass punch bowls will need a new home. It was given to me in the  1980s, when church parties or weddings usually featured some kind of fruity slush drink, ladled out of pretty punch bowls. (My parties were pretty tame, I never had to worry about someone messing with the punch bowl.)  Nowadays, people tend to use drink dispensers at parties, and I have one of those too.  I’ll hold on to one punch bowl, but there’s no reason to have both.

*The Lifetime stainless steel cookware  that I bought soon after graduating from college and getting a full-time job. A door-to-door salesman came through my apartment complex with a great sales pitch. But instead of falling for the whole bazillion-piece set, I chose just four pots/pans that I thought I would use.  I was right; 40 years later I’m still using them. When I did a soup-cooking class a few years ago at a Home Show, I was stationed near the Lifetime pots & pans booth. I was using my 35-year-old Lifetime soup pot, and the  sales guy showed it to his audience as a testimonial on how well the product holds up.

But now that I’m just cooking for two people, I’m sending the large Lifetime frying pan off to Deseret Industries. I’ll bet someone else can get another 40 years of use from it. (And no, this was not a sponsored post for Lifetime; it just happens that their pots last a long time.)

 

The George Foreman grill was the hot new small kitchen appliance in the early 2000s. I’ve decided to give it another try before saying good-bye.

*The George Foreman Grill was the hot new small appliance in the late 1990s and early 2000s, before Instant Pots, and Blendtec and Ninja blenders came on the scene.  I bought one of the basic grills  (on my own dime) to do a story on it. After developing some pretty good recipes for the story, I thought I’d use it often at home.  But I had a family of six, and the small size could only fit one burger, panini or chicken breast at a time.  Now there are just two of us at home, I’m pulling George out of storage. We’ll see if I get enough use to keep George around for more than a few months.

*The bread machine was also a big deal of the 1990s.  I still use my bread machine almost every week (mainly to make whole-wheat rolls). So it’s not going anywhere.

 

Decluttering in the kitchen: getting rid of all the mismatched lids.

*Lots of mismatched storage lids got tossed today. Funny how the actual containers wear out quicker than the lids. Wish I could think of a good use for them, but I can’t.

*Plastic, divided relish trays…I have three of them! The Tupperware one refuses to die, and its handy lid can be lined with ice to keep the veggies cool.  Then I have a pink, daisy-shaped one that is great for picnics. And a red one for Christmas gatherings. Do I have to pick just one? Still thinking about it.

Downsizing my cookbook collection is part of my decluttering project.

*Cookbooks. I had a cookbook sale in December and raised $120 for the LDS Humanitarian Center. But, I still have about 200 of them. With recipes floating like grains of sand on the Internet, people aren’t as excited about buying hard copies. But I still feel cookbooks are valuable if you want a collection of recipes on a certain topic, or by a particular author, or instructions for a particular cooking skill. Cookbooks are more valuable when you know the author is trusted, and the recipes are well-tested. If you’ve ever been disappointed by a recipe you found on Pinterest or someone’s blog, you know what I mean.  I’ll keep divesting myself of cookbooks by giving some of  them away on this blog.

*I thought I had three Crock-Pots. These must-have appliances of the 1970s never really went out of style for busy home cooks wanting a make-ahead meal. I used them often when I was giving out soup samples at book signings for my “Soup’s On!” cookbook. And it’s been convenient to have several slow cookers when you serve three kinds of soup at a family party. But one of those slow cookers has gone missing, and I’m OK with that. If I left my green Crock-pot at your house, consider it yours.

*Early in my career as a food writer, I shelled out $30 for an apple peeler. It has never worked very well, as apples are never perfectly symmetrical. But I kept it all this time because I hated to give it up and “waste” that $30. Now I see that it’s simply taking up precious space,  so it’s kind of wasted anyway. Good-bye apple peeler!

*Baskets. While doing food photo styling, I accumulated a variety of baskets for rolls, Easter eggs, treats, etc.  How many do I need? Will someone else enjoy using them? I guess I can divest them by using them as gift baskets.

I have lots of interesting soup/salad bowls that I’m keeping.

*Soup bowls. I accumulated a lot of these while writing and photographing my cookbook, “Soup’s On!”  My husband has a thing for cold cereal, and we have soup or salad several times a week, so the bowls do get used. We probably don’t need 20-30 different ones, but I continually whittling down the surplus as they chip and break. No replacements necessary.

*Heirlooms. This washboard belonged to my mother-in-law, and possibly her mother before that. I found a brief history of the Columbus Washboard Company, which has been in business since 1895, and still makes vintage laundry boards. I’m not going to use it to do a load of laundry any time soon, but there’s some

This old washboard is a family heirloom. Should I keep it or not?

family history involved here. So, for now, it stays.  I also have some glassware that belonged to my Grandma Koyen, and some embroidered doilies that my Grandma Sagers made. They don’t take up a lot of space, and they are part of who I am. So, they stay.

When I’m working so hard at decluttering, it’s hard to even think about buying any other kitchenware! Although I keep flirting with the idea of an Instant Pot.

What are your tips for decluttering? And which kitchen items did you decide to keep or throw away?

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