Kitchen Purging–2 Stories

Story 1:  One reader got right on the ball after reading the last post on “Getting, Giving and Purging,”  She wrote,

Simple Math: In came the NutriBullet, out went the old blender

“I recently took over the NutriBullet I’d given my son.  Compared to my current blender, the NutriBullet is far more effective, less hassle to use, easy to clean, and takes up little space.  Know anyone who wants a blender?”

Talk about action!  And she gets to benefit by having a lot better tool for blending, without having to stumble over the old blender.

But what if you’re not ready to give up the old blender completely?  Here’s a handy organizer’s tip:  store it off site (basement, closet, garage).  Attach a note with the date.  If you’re living fine without it after a year, you can put it in the Goodwill box without regrets.

Story 2, or “How to Make Equipment Decisions without Undue Angst or Buyer’s Remorse”

Interestingly, another reader was wondering about blenders, too.  But she was weighing whether to replace her regular blender with a Vitamix.  This is a question I get a lot and no wonder:  We’ve all been wowed by the Vitamix ads and all the cool things a Vitamix can do.  (I admit to buying one, although I later returned it.)  Here’s how I advised her:

Vitamix There are so many neat kitchen tools and gadgets.  But unless you have money to spare and don’t mind getting submerged in clutter, keep your plastic in your purse until forcing yourself to answer two key questions.

1) “What’s your objective?” and
2) “What’s the best tool for the job?”

In this reader’s case, she was attracted to the Vitamix so she could start vegetable juicing, and for this objective, a Vitamix would be perfect.  But then there’s the second question:  Is it the best tool? What’s “best” isn’t just a matter of function (where the Vitamix clearly excels), but also one of

  • cost ($400 to $600 for a Vitamix),
  • what you already have on hand (a regular blender that can achieve her objective just fine),
  • storage and counter space (a Vitamix takes up more room; her kitchen is on the small side), and
  • ease of use and ease of cleaning (probably a toss up.)

Based on these factors, it doesn’t seem worthwhile to shell out the price of a Vitamix.  But I asked one more question that sealed the deal:  “Does she juice regularly now?”  No, she is just getting started, it turns out.  All the more reason to wait on the big, expensive juicer.  Commit first to the juicing and see if you can make it a regular habit and if it produces the desired health benefits.  Then assess whether something more than a regular blender is needed–and when you weigh all the factors, especially price, the much less expensive NutriBullet might be the best choice if juicing is the objective.

Faced with a really cool product ad, you may not want to make this kind of hard-nosed assessment.  You just want the cool tool and want to find a way to justify it.  Which is a good way to get a case of buyer’s remorse.  That’s why I said, “force” yourself to answer the two key questions above.  That way you won’t end up with stuff that ends up being cupboard clutter instead of the valuable tool you hoped for.

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What Are Your Holidays Missing?

Getting, Giving–and Purging

Gifts are so much fun. As kids we loved getting them. As adults we learn the joys of giving them. But few people know about the final piece in the triad: Purging. Probably because it’s a fairly new piece of the puzzle. Purging wasn’t so vital before the Age of Stuff.

The slow cooker has become my new best friend as I’ve discovered more and more ways to take advantage of its convenience, from stewing chickens to roasting vegetables and making meatloaf. Because I use it so much, I gifted myself with a second one. The wide, round shape offers different cooking options than my first cooker which is taller and narrower. But, I don’t want to initiate clutter creep by leaving it on the counter.

But with houses stuffed with stuff, receiving a gift can trigger dismay as easily as delight. “Where am I going to put it?” you wonder before the wrapping paper even hits the floor.

Happily, the Christmas season of giving is followed by ringing in the New Year, and its motto offers just the advice we need: “In with the New, Out with the Old.” Professional organizers and clothes closet gurus have been saying the same thing for years: For each new item, eliminate one old thing.

A bottom cupboard houses my old slow cooker on the top shelf; below it would be a logical and handy place to store my new cooker.

Following this rule is especially valuable in the kitchen, where clutter builds slowly and imperceptibly. Bit by bit the counters become overrun, cupboards bulge and everyday meal making becomes unbearably time consuming and annoying.

So resolve this year, at the very least, to eliminate one old gadget for each new one added.This advice isn’t just theoretical as you can see from you CrockPot story to the right.

But what about the mixer, sifter and pitcher? They were used a lot when my kids were young and baking was a big part of our lives. Now they are rarely used and are an easy target. But no need to toss completely; instead I’ll just relocate to the basement storage shelves where I can retrieve them for occasional baking. Meanwhile, a perfect spot is opened for my new cooker.

In with the New . . .  Out with the Old

Simple mathematics.  But what if it’s not so simple to actually do?

This is where professional organizers come in. An outside eye can make clutter easier to spot, can help decide what to keep and what to toss, and can make lighter work with more hands. Plus, as a master organizer, I can work with you to create kitchen spaces that flow efficiently and smoothly, supporting rather than hindering. This year, I’d be happy to help get your kitchen under control–all or even just a part. Call or email to arrange a time–or order a copy of my book, Take Control of Your Kitchen, for a DIY solution.

Another January Giveaway: Control of Your Kitchen!

Cover of Take Control of YOur Kitchen

Tips, Tricks and Strategies to Make Everyday Meals Healthy, Easy and Enjoyable

While on the subject of organizing, I’m giving away a copy of my kitchen organizing book, Take Control of Your Kitchen.

How many times have you wished your kitchen life could be more in control?  This is the year when it can happen!  Divided into very beginner, intermediate and advanced sections, this book will walk you, step by step, to the land of a sane, supportive kitchen.  Besides discovering how to tame your kitchen spaces, learn to manage your shopping and cooking time for smooth, stress free meal making.

My New Year’s gift to you:  Experience the magic and see how tasty, healthy meals really are achievable for ordinary home cooks.  Just complete the form below

6 Reasons to Love Tupperware Cupboard Organizers

Why Make the Plunge and Invest Now

Reason 1 : If you’re interested in healthy eating, Tupperware makes it a lot easier.  That statement may sound pretty far-fetched.  I certainly wouldn’t have bought into it–until I got Tupper-ized 20 years ago!

Whole Grain Brown Rice

Whole grains, like this brown rice, are one of the healthful foods experts recommend

Think about it:  What do all the experts tell us to eat for good health?  Fruits and vegetables  get top billing, but close behind are whole grains, legumes and nuts and seeds.  And how are we advised to flavor our foods?  With healthful, no-calorie herbs and spices instead of overly sugary, salty and fatty flavorings.

I took this advice seriously and used all these ingredients while feeding my two pre-toddler children many years ago.  But what a pain in the neck!  Little paper bags of herbs and spices stuffed in a drawer.  Ten unmarked  jars of grains stuffed into a top cupboard shelf alongside seven types of flour.  Flimsy bags of nuts and seeds, stuffed into a bottom cupboard.  Beans in more jars in another cupboard.  Each meal, I could spend five to ten precious minutes searching for things, with hungry kids nipping at my heels!

Then I met “Tupperware lady” Donna Davis, and discovered why Modular Mates are perfect for storing healthy foods, explained below.

Reason 2: Modular Mates’ design makes everything readily and quickly available while maximizing cupboard space. Unlike other containers, Modular Mates provide “front-to-back” rather than  “top to bottom” storage.  That means everything can be accessed from the front of the cupboard, so there’s no digging for containers, bags and boxes that get stashed and shoved

Tupperware's Front to Back Design

Note how Modular Mates utilize the entire cupboard depth, from front to back.

to the back of a cupboard.  It also means every square inch of air space gets used, from the bottom clear to the top.  And with units available in 2″, 4″, 6″ and 8″ heights, there is a space-maximizing container for whatever quantity you buy.

Reason 3: Modular Mates keep freshness in and unwanted visitors out. Things like nuts, seeds and whole  grains and flours are attractive targets for bugs and small critters.  Modular Mates are virtually air tight, however, so they can’t be invaded by outside pests, and the contents inside stay fresh.  (And if bugs should come home with you from the grocery store, at least they will be trapped in one container rather than spreading throughout the kitchen. )

Reason 4: Modular Mates are convenient time savers. Label containers if you can’t readily identify the contents and get top seals with flip up lids for anything that can be poured, like grains and beans.  Then, it’s a snap to find just the ingredient you need and measure them out.

Labeled Tupperware

Take a couple minutes to label containers for easy recognition.

Reason 5: Modular Mates are a life long investment. In my work as a professional kitchen organizer, I’ve found most kitchens could benefit from a Modular Mate investment.  I use the word “investment” deliberately because Tupperware, which lasts for life, should be viewed as a lifelong purchase rather than a consumable or passing fad.

I remember feeling completely ridiculous spending $500 to outfit my kitchen.  But that was 20 years ago and honestly speaking, that purchase has repaid me every time I cook. That means I really bought time savings plus a tremendous amount of convenience for 7,300 days, at a cost of 7 cents per day.  That is the kind of long-term investment thinking we need to get good meals on the table despite our busy and hectic lives.

Flimsy Bags of Beans

Is this what you're facing to make a healthful meal? Time for organization!

Reason 6: Modular Mates are on sale! This could be the best motivator of all.  From January 15 to February 11, 2011, Modular Mates are 40% off.  So take a look around your kitchen.  Could you make better and more frequent use of healthful ingredients if they could be found and pulled out quickly and without a hassle?  Then take some action!

Need some help deciding what to do about your kitchen, where Modular Mates could be of benefit, which containers would be best,  and so on?  Give a call for a kitchen coaching session with Mary Collette Rogers.  Or check out Mary’s book, Take Control of Your Kitchen, the guide to organized, manageable and stress-free meal making.

Ready to order?  Donna Davis has retired after many years as a top salesperson.  But her supervisor, Joannie Flynn, continues in the business after 49 years!  Just email her:  joannie818  @  yahoo.com (without spaces), and she will take care of your order and answer any questions you might have.

Wheat-Free and Gluten-Free Living—Beyond Recipes and Cookbooks


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“Do you have any wheat-free recipes?” As a kitchen and healthy eating coach, that’s usually the first thing I’m asked by people who have been prescribed a gluten or wheat-free diet.  It’s a completely understandable inquiry. We think “recipes” when someone tells us we need to eat differently, whether it’s to benefit the heart, to ease arthritis or work around food allergies.

Don’t get me wrong, cookbooks and recipes aren’t a bad starting point. But they are only part—and a relatively small part of the solution. What’s more, they’re the easy part.

The fact is, there are TONS of wheat-free recipes. They’re all over the place, including under your nose (and on your cookbook shelf): think of all the stir-fry recipes, chicken recipes, meat dishes, vegetable recipes, bean recipes, fruit salsas, stews and soups and rice dishes, to name just a few. A vast majority contain no wheat or gluten products. I have lived wheat free for 20 years and am far from starving—in fact I’m better fed now than ever.

The problem, of course, is that when we are newly diagnosed with a wheat or gluten allergy, we filter the news from our current eating perspective. Likely as not, that eating perspective revolves around A LOT of wheat products: pizza, pasta, tortillas, pancakes, toast, sandwiches, flour-thickened sauces, muffins, cakes, and so on and so forth. Only when you are given wheat or gluten diagnosis do you realize how wheat-centric our diet is.

To begin with, I certainly viewed our wheat (and dairy) diagnoses as tremendous burdens, but it didn’t take long to see what a hidden blessing they were. Being forced to think creatively about food, we had our eyes, minds and taste buds treated to a Technicolor world of wildly different and delicious new foods. Thank goodness we haven’t been saddled with a myopically monochromatic diet for the last 20 years!

Making the shift from tremendous burden to tantalizing blessing, I discovered, was attributable to a whole range of things. Yes, I found a few new recipes to help, but as important were things like:

–being organized enough to find those recipes when mealtime rolled around

–having the right ingredients in the frig

–being open to new tastes

–learning a few basic cooking skills to make decent meals

–knowing where to find gluten-free products at the grocery store

–being willing to invest time in setting up the kitchen for gluten-free cooking

–being willing to give meal making the attention and consideration it deserves, and

–being willing to exercise the parental vigor necessary to prevent a picky eaters from taking root in our house.

This last point is vitally important when kids are involved. If a child is raised from Day 1 with a broad range of tastes, then you will have no problem feeding him well on a gluten-free diet. But if, as so many children, he is allowed to dictate the food agenda and constrict his tastes to a narrow range, he will be consigned to a life of fighting his food limitations instead of reveling in the joy of all the delicious foods still available.

So that is why I encourage anyone newly diagnosed to inquire beyond recipes and cookbooks and examine the approaches and attitudes you bring to the table, so to speak.

Check out my tips on preventing picky eaters (email for a copy), look at how well your kitchen is organized for gluten-free cooking. My book, Take Control of Your Kitchen, can be a big help here. Notice if you have good mealtime habits, like planning ahead for meals, always having gluten-free snack bags for car trips, a lineup of school lunch options, etc. MOST IMPORTANTLY, develop a firm sense of purpose, i.e., that the time and effort you put into feeding you and/or your child is indeed a valuable and worthwhile use of your time.

For families, remember that taising a gluten-free child will be most successful and cause the least amount of stress if it is a family affair—and mom and dad will gain all the health benefits of the child’s good diet. Many parents worry about getting their child into the right schools, pushing them to excel in reading and math, preventing their brains from being corrupted by X-rated movies, monitoring their friends, and so. Yet we think nothing of racing through a fast food outlet and poisoning our children’s bodies with factory created food will few, if any, of the nutrients a growing body and mind needs. As parents, we must dare to be different and take the time to nourish ourselves and our children—body, brain and spirit—with wholesome food. Do not doubt that this is a valuable use of our time—despite what the fast food ads blare out.

I hope these insights will be of help if you face a wheat or gluten-free diagnosis. If you could benefit from some one-on-one coaching and assistance, I specialize in implementing wheat and diary free diets and we can work over the phone and Internet as well as in-person.

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