For me, a kitchen is not just a practical place for my Le Creuset pots and pans and noise and steam – it’s also a place of sanctuary to gather with loved ones, to bond, relax and of course refuel.
As a lifestyle expert I have been in many kitchens and it seems that in 2016 they will increasingly become places of co-habitation as well as cooking. With this in mind my ‘New year kitchen audit’ is as much about gadget must-buys as it is about how to make your kitchen an organised, peaceful and personal happy place.
Where to start?
I am not about preaching (I know you are already super-savvy around your home and garden) but I do have some solutions for de-cluttering your kitchen.
•Be ruthless. Kitchens have more unique kinds of clutter than other rooms. You don’t need that ice-cream maker (still in its box) that someone bought you as a wedding present two decades ago.
•Unpack. Take everything out of their cupboards and sort into three piles:
Never use – ditch immediately or give to charity
Sometimes use – put in a box in a cupboard away from the kitchen
Always use – the only items I will allow you to keep in the kitchen.
•Put the Always Use items in locations near where you do your tasks.
Who has time to make bread?
I recently bought a very expensive bread-making machine. I had visions of our home smelling delicious and therefore welcoming. I even bought special flour, yeast, salt… the works. However, once I opened the instruction booklet it all looked so complicated I couldn’t be bothered and it has sat in a cupboard for a year. Lesson learned: only buy essentials I will use every day.
When it comes to gadgets, for me, the following are not essential, unless perhaps you have a huge kitchen and a staff of at least ten:
•homemade butter maker
•beef burger press
•pancake batter dispenser
•spaghetti measuring tool
•strawberry huller… green bean slicer… fruit cushion… and banana bag.
The things that matter
However these I do consider essential buys, especially as healthy cooking is important to me now:
•olive oil sprayer
•vacuum wine pump (seals an already opened bottle – not so healthy but money saving)
•vegetable cleaning brush
•portable fat draining grill
•oval roaster and rack
•microwavable fish steamer and egg poacher
•scalloped-edged tongs (to flip food, pull pans, lift lids, serve pasta)
•high quality chef’s knives.
For me, these are a daily part of my cooking routine. Think about what you enjoy cooking and eating, and your own essentials list will write itself.
A keeper or a flash in the pan?
The latest kitchen gadget to have is of course the Nutribullet Superfood Nutrition Extractor. It is basically a very efficient blender, but the difference is that it breaks open seeds and stems and shreds the skin of even the hardiest fruit or vegetable. Basically it means you eat every part of whatever you choose to chuck in it. All those nutrients can’t do any harm so this one gets a thumbs-up from me.
Kitchen Quick Fixes
You don’t have to spend this weekend in a kitchenware shop. Here are some instant improvement you can make today.
•Move essential cooking tools so they live next to the cooking space they are used for.
•Put plastic containers and tops in zones within the same drawer.
•Group objects by purpose – eg baking, storage, dinner parties.
•Store sticky or spillable food items on an easy-to-clean Lazy Susan (honey, ketchup, oils, jams).
•Put snacks in wire baskets so you can see what you’ve got easily.
•Take spice containers out of the cupboard, where they are stacked too deep to see, and put them in a drawer top down with labels on.