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GETTING ORGANIZED: HOW MANY POTS AND PANS DO YOU NEED?

There are very few books that I can say changed my life in a practical way. Sure, Pride and Prejudice melted me, and anything by Pema Chodron inspires me, but changed me on a day to day level? Marie Kondo’s The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up has that unexpected distinction. 

If you haven’t read it, do. If you have, remember the first time that she mentioned sparking joy. Every item in your house, when you pick it up and feel it in your hands, should spark joy. If it doesn’t, get rid of it. The goal is to have an entire house full of only things you love. 

If you have never tried the “spark joy” principle it will make decluttering your house so easy. Instead of debating whether to keep or toss based on arbitrary principles like how much you paid for it, and whether you think you will use it again in the next year, try just asking yourself, “Does this item in my hands spark joy?” 

Pans you needPANS YOU NEED & LIKE

How do pots and pans spark joy, you ask? Feel them in your hands and you will find out. 

Open your pan drawer or cupboard (notice if the cupboard/drawer itself spark joy) and take each item out and place them on the counter, noticing as you hold each in your hands if it sparks joy. Then evaluate your inventory. You generally will need these pans: 

  • Large skillet / frying pan
  • Saute pan with straight sides
  • Grill pan 
  • Saucepan
  • Stock pot 
  • Dutch oven

Looking through your cupboard or drawer might reveal three or four versions in different sizes of each of these pans. As you evaluate whether to keep a pan, consider if you have actually used that mini fry pan any more than once a year, when you did use it if you could have just used a larger pan, and if you want to keep it just because it is a matching set and feels like a sin to throw it out. Or are you tempted because the mini size is just so dang cute?

Separate all of the pans that you don’t regularly use and don’t spark joy. Give them to Goodwill, and if it really breaks your heart too much to give them away, pile them in your garage or basement to then throw out in a few years when you then have to clean out your garage or basement. Your choice!

I highly recommend throwing out any lightweight aluminum pots and pans dating back from college, all mystery lids, and that pan with teflon chunks hanging on for dear life. 

THE POT CUPBOARD

No, not THAT kind of pot cupboard. The clanky metal kitchen kind. You just evaluated whether your pots and pans cupboard sparked joy. Now that you have thrown out anything you don’t need or that doesn’t spark joy, your cupboard is probably more manageable already. Let’s improve that further. 

Your pots and pans cupboard can be the bane of your kitchen organization. All of those heavy metal things clanging into each other and stacked with and without lids aren’t conducive to sparking joy. 

Because your pots and pans cupboard is one of your most frequently used cupboards, I recommend you take this sparking joy thing seriously. I moved my pots and pans to prime real estate in my kitchen; from a cramped cupboard where they were stacked, into two large drawers. One drawer is just for the lids, and the larger drawer is just for the pans. It feels luxurious to open the drawers and not need to sort through clanging pans to get dinner started. 

I moved my plastics over to the cramped quarters (and then ended up throwing most of those out when I replaced them with glass snap-on dishes!). You could also hang or display your pots and pans. Don’t be afraid to be unconventional. 

spark joyCOOKIE SHEETS

Where and how did we acquire enough cookie sheets to make cookies for the entire block, all at once? I don’t know where America’s obsession with cookie sheet hoarding started, but I would be willing to bet that you have at least ten in your kitchen right now. And two of them are rusty.

Have you ever used more than two cookie sheets at a time? If you are roasting veggies every Sunday like we recommend you might need three at a time for a lot of leftovers, but I don’t see a reason to have any more than that. 

Here are the sheet pans you need. Please toss the rest, basing your decision on, you guessed it. Does it spark joy? 

  • 2-3 cookie sheets
  • 2 jelly roll pans (often used for serving and/or sledding in a pinch)
  • Pizza pan

Kitchen extrasKITCHEN EXTRAS

Now that we have spent the week throwing out anything you don’t need, I am going to encourage you to buy a few things. Here is a list of less-used items that can make cooking much more enjoyable: 

KITCHEN SPLURGE

You have just spent all week cleaning out your pots and pans, one very small step at a time. That is the beauty of doing things slowly, with habits. Keeping your kitchen clean, organized, and sparking joy is something you do a tiny bit at a time every day, not one day in one huge push every three years. Habits, not goals!

It’s time to reward yourself with a kitchen splurge. I have an emerald green Dutch oven that I keep on my kitchen burner at all times. We have a white backsplash and white cabinets, so every time I walk into the kitchen, I notice the beautiful green pot against the white. It’s a mini spark for me that makes the habit of walking into the kitchen and cooking dinner just a little more joy-induced. 

What is something you could add to your kitchen that would spark joy? Maybe a small wine rack? A new pot to put your utensils in? That pretty pink mixer? Splurge on yourself a bit today. 

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