In a 2015 post, the Kitchn asked its readers for their best tips on downsizing utensils, cookware, and other kitchen-related clutter. Commenter cook_at_home suggested the box method, which is as easy as it is effective:
Take everything and put it in a box. Only take something out when you need it.
Before you take something out, think if there is another way to do the task with what you have.
After a month move the box to the basement (or other ‘distant’ storage). After 6 months, donate the box.
The box method works so well because it forces you to get realistic about your cooking habits. This makes it pretty easy to separate the true necessities from the heap of clutter. Giving yourself a strict time frame is also key: If you haven’t used something in six months, do you really need to keep it around?
Feel free to adjust this process to suit your needs. For example, if chucking everything into a box sounds a little too chaotic, try breaking your kitchen supplies down by category. Start with bulky appliances, oversized cookware, and anything else that takes up a lot of space. Narrowing down the big stuff first might free up so much room that you won’t need to be so ruthless with your smaller tools. You can also adjust the waiting period to be longer or shorter, depending on how much “distant storage” your home has.
We all have kitchen tools we bought to make that one thing that one time and then never made it again, even though we swore we would. Consider this a friendly reminder to clear them out from time to time. All those unused tools are just taking up space you could be using to store other things—preferably ones you actually use.
This article was originally published in March 2015 and was updated on June 14, 2021 with new information and to meet Lifehacker style guidelines.