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Messy Counter Tops are a Big Barrier to Cooking & Eating at Home

Here’s Help!

Almost everyone has messy counter tops sometimes, if not all the time. When our counter tops are full, we can’t easily prepare foods and clean up. I think full counter tops is the #1 barrier to cooking and eating at home. Well, maybe it’s tied with having a clean, well-organized refrigerator.

How Do Counter Tops Get Filled Up?

This will be a long list. Have you ever noticed that horizontal surfaces are really inviting? They say, “hey, set that thing down here, it’s easy, there’s room.” Here are some of the things we “set down” on kitchen countertops and islands:

  • backpacks
  • homework
  • bills
  • groceries
  • purses
  • junk from your pockets
  • loot from shopping
  • recycling
  • dirty dishes, pots, and pans
  • books you want to read
  • tools
  • things you don’t know what they are or what they go to
  • things that might be useful if you had a minute
  • projects you want to do
  • pet supplies
  • mending
  • appliances and gadgets
  • decorative platters, vases, and mug wracks
  • broiler ovens, microwaves, and juicers
  • leftovers
  • baskets of produce (yes, make room for these)
  • fresh flowers (and these)
  • vitamins and other supplements
  • magnifying glass

I think you’re getting the picture that I could go on, and on. Open spaces invite you to set things down….for now. But “for now” can turn into weeks and months.

What Do We Need Counter Space For?

Counter space is prime real estate. If you don’t have open space for a few really important items, your kitchen won’t be able to do the great work it’s designed to do. Here are some things we need to make space for:

  • showcasing baskets of produce (to encourage munching and cooking)

  • inviting nature into your kitchen through bouquets of fresh flowers and plants (to encourage enjoyment)

  • setting down bags of gorgeous groceries you just brought home from the farmers’ market or grocery store

  • providing a landing space for things you’re taking out of the refrigerator or pantry so you can prepare a healthy, fast, delicious meal
  • washing, cutting and chopping produce
  • filling and emptying the dishwasher – this is really important because most people don’t like to empty the dishwasher (kids especially hate this job for some reason). A crowded counter top make this task really repulsive. If you don’t empty it, you can’t fill it. And if you can’t fill it, the counter tops get full. It’s an endless closed loop unless you always empty the dish washer… and keep your counter tops clear and clean.

If you have an inefficient kitchen, you’ll be much much much more likely to go out for fast food. Trust me, I’ve been there, done that. Consider clean counter tops a top priority and you’ll be almost home free!

How Can You Succeed at Keeping Your Counter Tops Clean?

  • Evaluate all of your counter-top appliances. If you don’t use them often, they aren’t earning their keep. Consider storing them someplace else, selling them, using them, or freecycling them.

  • Make a house rule, that most nights, (perfection will age you prematurely) the dishes get washed and put away, the dishwasher gets emptied, and anything else on the counter top that shouldn’t be there gets put away. If you keep this system up, these tasks will be easy to do.

  • If there are other family members in the household, give them these tasks and pair them with a nod of appreciation, allowance, and reciprocal thoughtfulness.

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    Cheryl Miller is a wellness expert and life coach. She specializes in helping people take action to live a healthy, happy life . . . in this lifetime.

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