15 Things in Your Kitchen You Should Throw Out Today

By Laurel Randolph on 3 November 2014 7 comments

Kitchens can easily become cluttered with less-than-useful gadgets, tools, and food items, but it's important to keep your kitchen tidy and organized for the health of your family and for your sanity. Stop fighting rarely used kitchen items for counter space. Get rid of the following things and cook with newfound peace of mind. (See also: 25 Things to Throw Out Today)

1. Sponge

Your sponge is where kitchen germs live and thrive. The moist nooks and crannies are a perfect breeding ground, so switch your sponge out often. Even with a new sponge, microwave it daily in an inch of water for a minute to disinfect. You'll keep from spreading lots of germs all around your kitchen and will help keep your family healthier.

2. Meat Mallet

Tell the truth: how often do you use a meat mallet? Most people use one once in a blue moon, and a number of tools can take its place. Putting the meat between plastic wrap and using a heavy skillet is a good alternative. An unopened canned good and rolling pin are other options.

3. Old Plastic Storage Containers

Studies have shown that plastic food storage containers with recycle codes 3 or 7 and many made before 2010 may contain BPA, a harmful chemical that can leach into food. If you own some of these containers, toss them. You can often end up with bottoms and tops that don't match or missing pieces, so throw out or donate any without partners.

4. Panini Press

Make paninis on a daily basis? Then ignore this one. But for most of us, this common wedding registry pick isn't a necessity. You can easily imitate this kitchen gadget using a regular skillet and a heavy skillet or pan (a cast iron skillet works great) to press your sandwich on top.

5. Old Dried Spices

Spices can accumulate, get pushed to the back of the cabinet, and crowd your storage space. But spices don't last forever, and can lose a lot of their flavor after a year or two passes. According to McCormick, ground spices last three to four years, leafy herbs for one to two years, and whole spices for four years. Dried herbs and spices should smell and taste potent, and should be stored in a cool, dry place away from sunlight and heat (including your stove).

6. Bread Maker

Unless you are living the dream and making bread on a weekly basis, you probably don't need this clunky appliance. It's awkward to store and isn't required for making homemade bread. Flex those muscles and do a little kneading, get a dough attachment for your mixer or food processor, or try no-knead breads.

7. Jigger

Unless you're an amateur bartender, you don't need this awkward tool crowding your junk drawer. You can use regular measuring spoons, with two tablespoons equaling the small end of a jigger (one ounce) and ¼ cup equaling the large end of a jigger (two ounces). Or you can just relax. You're at home — just eyeball it and enjoy.

8. Expired Canned Food

It may seem like canned food lasts forever, but they can actually go bad. Canned fruits and tomatoes last 18 months, while other items can last up to five years. Be sure to check your emergency kit and replace those, too.

9. Open Canned Food

Leftover canned foods are easy to store by just leaving them in the can and shoving them in the fridge, but the metal can leach into the food and create a metallic taste. This is especially common with acidic foods like fruit or tomatoes. Take the time to transfer your leftovers into a storage container and you'll be rewarded with better tasting food.

10. Toaster Oven

This appliance takes up a lot of valuable counter space without making up for it. If you're a frequent toaster, get a more compact and easily storable toaster. Everything else can be done in the oven, and if you only make toast now and again, you can do that in the oven, too.

11. Rice Cooker

Most people don't cook enough rice to make this large appliance worth the storage space. Although you can make a few other things with it, it's largely a unitasker. Rice can easily be made on the stovetop or even in the oven, so donating your rice maker is likely the right move.

12. Mandoline

This is another unitasker, and rarely used by most households. Most recipes don't require fruit or vegetables sliced paper thin, making a regular knife more than adequate. Most food processors also offer a mandoline attachment.

13. Pastry Bag

Unless you are making cakes and fancy desserts left and right (and if you are… can I come over?), you can easily create your own pastry bag with a plastic freezer bag. Just cut a hole in one of the bottom corners, attach the tip, spoon in your filling, and close the top. You can also use a cone of parchment paper wrapped closed and folded down at the top.

14. Electric Kettle

If you're a heavy tea drinker, then ignore this tip. Otherwise, a stovetop kettle doesn't take that much longer and doesn't take up space on your counter. Donate this one.

15. Leftovers

Leftovers always start with good intentions, but can often end up pushed to the back of your refrigerator. Periodically clean out your fridge, and get rid of leftovers that are more than a few days old. They can contain bacteria and cause illness, and simply aren't worth the risk. Always throw out food that has become moldy.

What's cluttering up your kitchen?

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Guest's picture
Guest

I'm surprised that toaster oven is on this list. It is much more efficient than an over, which the author recommended using to make toast! Keep your oven off and use your toaster over to roast small batches of veggies or reheat food without getting it soggy with a microwave. Toaster ovens are great!

Guest's picture
Guest

I agree with most but I use my toaster oven and rice cooker all the time. The toaster oven is so much more efficient than using the large oven and the rice cooker you can toss the rice and broth in and forget it.

Guest's picture
Guest

This could have been summed up in a single thought - "I was lazy and never used these items enough to justify purchasing them, but keep them if you use them." I really don't know what to say if eliminating a meat mallet or jigger has a significant impact on how you organize your kitchen or your mental state in general.

Guest's picture
PurchaseWisely

My first thought on reading this list what that the author must not cook much. My breadmaker and rice cooker are used regularly and my spices don't have a chance to go bad, I use them too quickly. Leftovers are always consumed before they go bad, and tossing an open can in the fridge is fine if you're going to use the rest of the contents the next day - I routinely use a half can for something and finish it the next meal. The toaster oven, as others have pointed out, is much more efficient than heating up a large oven for small items. A reusable pastry bag is better than using and throwing out plastic bags and takes almost no space in the utensils drawer. Isn't this site about frugality and cutting down on waste? You're advocating wasting resources with some of these.

Guest's picture
Beverly

Maybe my kitchen is in better shape than I thought. I've never owned a panini press, breadmaker, toaster oven, rice cooker, mandoline or electric kettle. I gave all my cake decorating things to my daughter a few years back. I don't keep left overs and I certainly don't keep open canned food items. Try to clean out my spices once a year as they tend to lose efficacy. I am guilty of old plastic food containers still in use . . . ordered some new ones for my husband for Christmas!!! Also, we no longer drink so the jiggers, booze and glasses were disposed of several years back. So would someone please tell me why I think my kitchen is still cluttered??? I'm keeping my coffee maker and bean grinder!

Guest's picture
Betty

I love my toaster oven, and use it almost daily. And I don't really eat toast! I use mine more as a mini oven/broiler.

Guest's picture
Stacy

A toaster oven is very energy efficient comparatively to cranking up a big daddy oven! Also, this is on WiseBread??? ...A wise person may use a bread maker to save a whole lot of dough over time--those machines are simple to use, cheaper than running an oven, and there a many recipes online that can be made with very inexpensive ingredients...they also, make pizza dough and that will save you as well. You can pick them up for a few bucks at a thrift store--you cannot typically find a nice mixer for pennies on the dollar. Leftovers! Really? Soups on is all I can say!