Un-Clutter Your Kitchen Before the Holidays (cont.)

7. Be a Paperwork Purist.

Once you begin piling up papers, there's no turning back. You WILL lose papers in the piles, and you WILL spend precious minutes trying to find a particular paper you need. The first rule is to keep paper in the kitchen to a minimum. The paper that does pass muster should be sorted into categories (takeout menus, coupons, recipes ripped out of magazines or newspapers) and stored in some sort of organized system. I use small decorative baskets that sit on the shelf above my kitchen desk.

8. What a Difference a Shelf Makes.

Just by installing one shelf in your garage, pantry, or mudroom, you can free up valuable space in your kitchen. Such a shelf is the perfect place to keep appliances and large cookware you don't use often. Does a large roasting pan or deep-fat fryer ring any bells? Perhaps it's the espresso machine you asked for three Christmases ago, or the bread machine you bought to make cinnamon rolls once or twice a year. Banish these rainy-day appliances to the new shelf - be merciless.

9. Purge Your Pantry.

It's time to go through your pantry and throw out those cereal boxes with a quarter-cup of cereal in the bottom. Look through those cans and packages of stuff you thought you would use last year, but didn't. You can donate these unopened items to the holiday canned food drives in your town. Don't forget to look in the back of the shelves and cabinets, because this is where bags of hardened, dried coconut and stale crackers and cookies reside. When going through my pantry, I keep six words in mind: When in doubt, throw it out.

10. Can Cookbook Clutter.

Face it. We can outgrow all sorts of things, even cookbooks. If you have a cookbook you haven't opened in a few years, it may be time to donate it to your local library or Salvation Army. If you need to look up an obscure recipe, Internet recipe sites make it easy (and don't take up kitchen space). If you aren't actively using some of your cookbooks, but you want to save them as a reference, find a place to store them so they aren't cluttering your kitchen. (Remember that shelf from Tip No. 8?) And what about the cookbooks you are using? I have a cookbook holder I keep front and center on my kitchen island. This is where I put my latest cookbook (right now it's Comfort Food Makeovers), and you can use a similar setup for whatever cookbook is inspiring you at the moment.

Published November 2, 2006.

Elaine Magee, MPH, RD, is the "Recipe Doctor" for the WebMD Weight Loss Clinic and the author of numerous books on nutrition and health. Her opinions and conclusions are her own.

©2006 WebMD Inc. All rights reserved.

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