Nostalgia is a wonderful thing, but it can also make you cling to things you really need to bag and burn. Maybe the Chornobyl dust finally traveled stateside in 1990 and everybody was craving potassium, but banana-slicing gadgets were all the rage. The kids don’t need to be encouraged to eat their fruit anymore, they’re ordering smoothies on UberEats.
Eating paella made with a dash of old, clumped-up paprika isn’t going to kill you. They last forever, but lose flavor and color over time. You know you and your culinary adventures deserve better than that! Throw away the older tubs you haven’t touched in a while, like the garam masala you bought to make a katsu curry one time.
It’s impressive how tight some materials cling to life but, at some point, you need to take them to the mug farm upstate. Most ceramic mugs and cookware aren’t cladded, and scientists don’t even know what glass is. These are both common kitchen materials that warp with heat and can go from cracked to shattered in a second.
Any old mats
These are a lifesaver for certain kinds of floors, but they’re often forgotten when laundry day comes. You definitely want to wash it separately, because it’s so gross, and that just doubles the workload. Now is the time to break the cycle, throw out the old, mildewy bath mats and grab one that’s hand washable, so you can just scrub and dry as needed.
The extra-extra Tupperware
Some good quality food storage will save you a lot of effort and money in the long run. Tupperware is a great option for that, but they’re not all created equal. The odd takeout place will shell out for the good stuff, but most of the ones you hold onto are likely just wasted space. Chuck any mismatched lids, cracks, or long lasting ragu stains.
If you were in a desert island meets Chopped scenario and you were only allowed a couple of cooking instruments, a chef’s knife is the first thing you go for. It’s a good size for basically anything if you learn to handle it and keep it sharp, and a good quality knife can cost less than $30. You’ll notice the difference immediately.
Novelty one use kitchen gadgets are a problem that affects us all. For a while, vegetable noodles were a big trend in food, but you’d need some fancy knifework to get anything close to it without an alternative. That’s where gizmos like the Zoodler come in, get used once, and forgotten about. Use a veg peeler instead, the strips are equally pretty.
Delivery sauce packets
This falls under the same category as those tiny-little milk cartons you steal from hotels, it should probably all go in the trash. Very few recipes are ever going to call for something like a tablespoon of the sweetest tamarin sauce known to man. They don’t really taste great outside of their expected sodium and fat-rich takeout environment.
Unless you’re making guacamole on the regular, and so few of us are living the dream like that, this is just clutter. Surprisingly expensive clutter at that, and a knife does the job just as well. You won’t want to use your chef’s knife obviously, but that’s what every other knife in the drawer is for.
Behind the appliances
That’s right, we’re spring cleaning while we’re at it. If you’ve ever lived (rented) in a place with rats, you’ll know they love these little hideaways. That’s because there’s just so much trash for them to eat, and they see you sweeping it under there. They think it’s for them, they’re your pets now, all because you didn’t want to bend over and clean properly.
Baking is one of the most wonderful hobbies and skills you can develop. You won’t have this issue if you stick at it, you’ll be going through flour like Betty Crocker, but, if you’re someone that picks up and drops hobbies regularly, be mindful that it does actually go off. Depending on how it’s stored, you can get around six months out of it, meaning that this year’s Christmas cookies won’t taste so fresh.
Cast and non-cast iron pans can rust. So can stainless steel, contrary to the name, so good pan management is essential! You can of course remove rust with a little alchemy and elbow grease, but it can take a while before it’s back to new. If you go for a new set, be sure to season the iron with a neutral oil every few weeks.
The odd kind that work usually cost a fortune, and the rest are just a waste of good trees. A good old-fashioned cloth rag is reusable and usually comes in a cheaper set, so a couple are going to last you years, potentially. The fact they’re so durable means you can clean them thoroughly, and you’re saving the planet whilst you do it.
Fresh herbs have become quite old-school, as kitchens get smaller and access to greenspace shrinks. It doesn’t take that much effort or expertise to keep a few common herb sprouts alive, but you certainly don’t need these throwbacks anywhere near the process. This kitchen nightmare is made redundant by a sharp knife, as are most pointless gadgets.
Nowadays, there are plenty of products designed to make chopping or other strenuous kitchen tasks more accessible. They’re usually pretty good, but certain products try to turn the activity into a game and, as such, are built like cheap toys. Anything you roll, grind, or slap probably can’t be sharpened, and dull super fast.
We all know onions can be tricky, and nobody likes crying in their own kitchen, that’s what the bathroom is for. Again this is an issue for a sharp knife, which can top, tail, and half the onion for easy pealing. It’s also the reaction of cell walls being torn open by the knife that causes the tears, and a cleaner edge causes less damage.
These are pretty much a waste whether they’re mechanical or hand-cranked. The old-school acoustic domes need to eat a good few oranges before you get anything next to a serving, and lots of flesh gets wasted. Electric ones are far too bulky for most kitchens and would take a while before they pay for themselves in pulpy nectar.
Although there aren’t many tools better for scraping a bowl of cake batter straight into your mouth, plastic spatulas aren’t suited for much else. Along with nylon cookware, cheaper plastic tools have a much lower melting point than silicon. That means frying at high temperatures runs the risk of contaminating food and giving off awful, potentially toxic, fumes.
These are often pitched to help you remember food hygiene rules, and add a splash of color to the drawer. It’s a shame they’re all awful and, outside of a professional kitchen, you don’t really need different colors or sizes of knives. Slicing, dicing, pairing, and carving can all be done with a chef’s knife. Take a shot every time you read that.
Unless you’re often drinking champagne, in which case you probably don’t have leftovers, decorative wine stoppers are next to useless. Sealing off wine certainly does preserve the flavor, but a corked red or white already has a hat you can put on it, which does just as good a job as the ones you buy.
When other gadgets, half the size of a bread maker, do everything under the sun, it’s time to set aside the titanic machine. While they do their job well, particularly with access to proofing settings, there’s nothing you can’t do with an oven and a loaf pan. You’d be surprised how many low-effort or even no-knead recipes there are online!
Now here’s a blast from the past. Pie birds are just one of the more popular versions of a basic pie vent. Novice bakers will pick up on the fact that pies pies need to breathe or they explode, and will probably just prick the pastry with a fork or knife. At no point is the bird necessary, except to instantly age the pie and surrounding décor.
Deep fat fryer
Fried foods are the most delicious food group, that’s just a universal law like gravity and Cher’s ability to never age. Home deep frying is a completely different beast and requires constant nursing and maintenance anytime you want 10 pounds of funnel cake. Then there’s the disposing of the oil and cleaning up the thick, greasy slick across the kitchen. Wait for the County Fairs!
Unless it’s the 70s, or a 70s-themed party, you really don’t need a fondue set. You can absolutely still melt all the cheese and chocolate your heart desires, and they are enjoyed together across the world… so go crazy. You can get exactly the same result with a Dutch oven or stainless steel skillet, with a low and gradual heat.
These are all pointless in a pretty obvious way. We have been eating eggs for around 6 million years and cooking them for around 1 million, so in that time we have perfected cooking eggs with nothing more than water and heat. The only tricky part is knowing your stove and the timing, or deciding how much butter to use for the scramble.
Children have mostly moved away from Easy-Bake type toys, they take instructions like “wait 30-45 minutes” very literally and complain about being bored. As a wise and powerful adult, not only are your cupcakes 1000 x better, but they deserve to be bigger than two inches in circumference. They’re also a nightmare shape that doesn’t stack anywhere easily.
So many useless kitchen items are simply trying to get you to stop touching food. There’s nothing about the burger press shape you can’t sculpt with your hands! Steakhouses know this well, using more premium cuts and loosely packing them for that crumby, oozy texture. You use your hands to put the meat in the press anyway.
Even the healthy utensils suck, it turns out. There aren’t too many reasons you’d need extra dry salad and they don’t have enough utility to make cleaning it any less harrowing. Any colander is going to do the job, and you can simply squeeze everything down then wash your hands. Maybe just add veggies into sauces, where they don’t need thorough drying.
Electric salt and pepper shakers
Whatever design genius put a light on the bottom of these things is single-handedly holding us back as a species. They’re a classic case of putting batteries where the aren’t needed, and they look like vacuum cleaners. They’re excellent for anybody with dexterity issues, but otherwise, they’re just chewing through Duracell.
Learning to portion out noodles by hand is a skill that takes a while to perfect, but the journey is more important than the destination. You learn by constantly making too much, over and over again until you learn it doesn’t matter because everybody wants more spaghetti. Measuring cups are a godsend, and that’s where pasta maths ends.
While it’s true that grated parmesan is often coated in tree and plant matter, it isn’t actually harmful to you. We can’t even digest cellulose, it goes straight through our bodies, but it does get in the way of some fine melting action. The same goes for cheddar and mozzarella – with potato starch coating that prevents true liquid gold.
You’ve probably heard of PFAS chemicals and microplastics by now, and the reason they’re so prevalent is in large part thanks to Teflon. The original non-stick material was rushed to market, and chemistry is very difficult to legislate. We know we absorb bad chemicals from these things when they get too hot, so stick to well-oiled stainless or cast iron.
You probably only bring these out for holidays and extra special occasions, so you’re probably only risking poisoning distant relations you don’t know or like anyway. Luckily, the glass we used to use for paint was high in lead and cadmium, which you would have to consume a fair bit of to harm you. It’s probably still best you quit while you’re ahead though.
Of all the thousands of chemicals we have sat under our sink, oven cleaner contains the most harmful ones for its use. Ingesting anything in a spray bottle is probably a bad idea, but the ones that go in the oven are the only ones that get cooked into your meals. You can avoid eye and lung irritation by skipping them and using natural cleaners.
Your dish sponge
Experts suggest replacing your dish sponge once a month… but those experts probably live alone. All the dirty work we get down with using a sponge is multiplied per mess maker in the house, so families might want to shorten that to once a fortnight. Maybe try looking for cellulose-based sponges, as they’re easily compostable.
The junk drawer
Every kitchen has one and, to be honest, there is probably some cool stuff in there. This is your sign to clear out and organize. Separate the batteries, claim the lost 600 pesos, and throw out the mail. If it was important, realistically, it wouldn’t be in there. It’s good to have a nick-nack drawer but maybe invest in a divider.
Your slow cooker OR pressure cooker
Nobody can tell you what to do in your kitchen, but you can’t live life in the fast lane and the slow lane at the same time. There are certain things one does well over the other, enough to keep both crammed in the limited shelf space. Don’t throw it away, but keep the lesser used stored elsewhere.
Most of them are going to be disappointments anyway, so you might as well try and recycle the whole lot. That includes the really good one you use to store the lesser, unworthy bags inside. Unless you use them for a tiny garbage can, a canvas or tote bag has just as much give and much more strength.
While they pose a similar risk of shattering to chipped glassware, plates often hold food, which complicates the matter further. The cracks can look shallow, but they’re the Marianas Trench for microscopic bacteria, who thrive in the kind of sometimes wet and nutrient-rich, often dark and warm lifecycle of a plate. It’s better to throw chipped dishes immediately.
Sadly, the men have had this one right for a while. They don’t know how to build a Lego Star Destroyer without instructions and they’re ruining Christmas, but they are often useless for kitchen appliances. Note the brand and model, and at least 50 people will have had the same issue as you on an internet forum post from 2009.
Scratched-up cutting boards
Cheaper plastic ones are probably worth binning anyway, but as the chips and slashes build up, the board becomes more dangerous. Specifically the risk of contamination from raw food-borne bacteria, like salmonella, E. coli, and a bunch of other nasty stuff. Treating a wood board with food-safe fillers and mineral oils can help it last longer.