Fourth Thursdays with Deb J ~ Pots & Pans

Deb J

Deb J

We have a plethora of pots and pans as you can see by the picture (see below). This is an area I feel needs to be decluttered. Does anyone need this many cooking pots? Maybe a gourmet cook, which we are not. There are 3-4 of these we use on a regular basis. We make a lot of soups in the stock pot. We water sauté veggies a lot in the big skillet. We use the medium pot for steaming and the smaller one for cooking individual veggies. So why in the world do we have all the rest? Because Mom says we might need them. Mind you, we also have a microwave we use with a couple of covered glass dishes for cooking. Most of the things we usedf to do with the medium and small pot we now do in the microwave. This is one of the holdover areas for Mom. I’m still struggling on this one with her. I’m thinking a move to an independent living life care unit is on the horizon. They provide at least one meal. Maybe that will be the trigger that gets much of this decluttered.


How are you doing in this area of your kitchen.

Today’s Mini Mission

Declutter  something that has wiring in it. An old lamp, excess cables, jewellery, computer gear, a small appliance…

Eco Tip for the Day

Investigate mopping with microfibre. All I have used for the last 10 years at least is a microfibre mop and a little water (not a bucket full and no detergent).

For a full list of my eco tips so far click here

It matters not how fast I go, I hurry faster when I’m slow

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Continue reading with these posts:

  • Mini Mission ~ Friday 22Dec2017 Declutter a couple of old shabby shoes that you no long choose to use.
  • How little we really need Every time I go on a long vacation I am reminded of how little one really needs to live a comfortable and functional lifestyle. My husband and I often stay in Airbnb places when on […]
  • Getting the stuff out of your home It has come to my attention, both through comments on my blog and through real life experience, that one of the issues people have with their clutter, once they finally decide to be rid of […]
About Colleen Madsen

Colleen is the founder of 365 Less Things and lives in Newcastle, Australia.


  1. I was terrified of decluttering my kitchen. Both my husband and I do cook a lot both to eat (obviously!) but also for pleasure. How would I manage if I cut the clutter by 50%. Well it’s six month’s later and apart from rescuing a tin opener when the one in the drawer died not one thing has come back in. In fact now we are going around again to see what else can go!

    • Gillie, isn’t it great when you conquer a fear and find that you didn’t need to fear. I think it is great you were able to make such a big change in what you have in your kitchen.

    • Gillie, so what pans/cooking pots did you keep?

      • Big stockpot, three le cruseut casserole pans of varying sizes (huge, big and medium) 2 le crueseut milk pans (big and very small) and one med sized le cruseult non stick pan I was given for Christmas. One steamer with two steamer layerrs One jam pan. I also have a fish kettle which is on warning. Husband is a keen fisherman but I am not entirely sure I really need the fish kettle. Two frying pans one very large and one very small. All are used at least once a week (except stock pot and jam pot but they are essential for specific duties)

        • Gillie, the way I look at it is if you use them regularly keep them. But we have many we don’t use. See when Mom moved in with me 20 years ago we combined households. She wanted to keep everything.

  2. Thank you for posting this!! When my partner and I moved in together years back, we had double everything. He couldn’t understand why I was getting rid of pots and pans. We rarely cook and when we do we don’t really use more than one or two at a time! We’re down to nearly just one of everything, finally. And our kitchen thanks us!!

    • Nikki, Isn’t it funny how we seem to end up with opposites in the house? I’m glad you were finally able to get the decluttering of all that stuff done.

  3. Pots and pans – we are mostly good, but I got rid of a set of four vintage drink glasses and a covered pottery tortilla dish that I had never used. This morning I was reorganizing the cabinet with our extra bathroom stuff (toothpaste, shaving cream, soap, medicines, etc.) and found some Benedryl that had expired in 2010. Good grief – I thought I had already gotten rid of the old stuff.

    • Michelle, no matter what there always seems to be things that get past us. I have not even looks at all the stuff in the cabinets under my mother’s sink. It wears me out just thinking about it. Plus she will probably not let me get rid of things anyway.

      • Deb J – you have made such incredible progress already. I know you have been working really hard with your mom, so she’ll eventually get there. 🙂

  4. We had three fry pans, five pots and a skillet. I just got rid of one of the fry pans. Actually we could maybe do with one or two fewer pots, but at the moment we haven’t replaced our electric kettle which broke a couple of months ago and use one of the pots just for boiling water, so it’s okay the way it is.

    • Sanna, our many years old kettle got a hole so we tossed it a while ago. Now we boil small amounts of water in the microwave and larger amounts in a pan like you.

    • Our brand spanking new kettle died after less than two weeks service and has been returned for a refund. We have an aga so are used to heating water in an old fashioned whistling kettle anyway. Now if the aga is a bit slow we just put the kettle on the electric hob. I have no intention of buying another kettle now.

      • Gillie, I totally understand that. We were given a new electric kettle and it only worked a short time. We took it back and got the money for it but didn’t buy anything new.

  5. Deb J…was thinking about all those pots you don’t use. Would your Mom be agreeable to a “trial separation” by putting the ones you know don’t get used into a box and storing them for a time? That would prove your theory of not needing them. Having less of them hanging would also make your kitchen feel bigger and lighter. Good luck! 🙂

    • Ah Ha! Kim you are giving the same advice here that I was going to give. I would also suggest the trial separation. Put them out in your back shed and see how your mom gets on without them. Surely yshe would be agreeable to that idea. If successful she might be willing to try it out on other items you would like her to part with. It is such a gentle way of prompting people to realise that they have moved past certain phases in their lives and don’t need the accoutrements that supported those phases.

  6. Kim, I like your idea very much. I have tried it before but maybe it is time to try it again. As you can see in the photo that front frying pan needs to be replaced and Mom got a gift card from a friend expressly for that (my idea). So I want to go get the replacement and maybe that will help get the talk and the task going.

    • Deb J, I didn’t want to say anything but since you brought it up, yes, that fry pan in the front has seen better days. 🙂 I suspect, if that is teflon that is worn off, it must have food sticking to it all the time. Maybe by replacing it, that will get the ball rolling for reducing the number of pans down to what you really use. Good luck!

      • Kim, yes it is a teflon pan. I can’t get her to change on that either. This one isn’t flacking off pieces yet but is very close.

  7. Deb J – I realize this is your mom’s kitchen. However a few years ago, I too had probably that many pots and pans. What I did was clean out the drawer beneath the stove (everything = out). I then placed everything I used on a regular basis (about four pans) in that drawer (with a few other regularly used kitchen items). The rest I put on a shelf in the basement.

    Over the last year – I have not touched those pans to cook. BUT I have given away pans to people who happened to need them more than me (mainly family). I don’t even miss them. I have a few “just in case” pans – but otherwise I’m down to about six pans total in my house. Also just a thought – getting rid of that pan rack would probably open up your kitchen. I know your mom might not like change like that – but I think it would make a nice one 🙂 Good luck!

    • Michaela, I’m trying to figure out how to suggest we get rid of that rack. It was here when we came and Mom found it very convenient. Too convenient because it makes it easy to hang onto all those pots and pans. Hum! I just really have to strategize and get this done.

    • Hi Michaela. I really like your “clean out the drawer” method. I know there are things in that drawer that I have never used, so I’m going to do that this weekend. For sure, I could clear out part of my cupboard space by putting the pans in that drawer. It would be more convenient too, to have them right where I need them. Thanks!

      • Michelle – I too never used that drawer under the stove for anything other than cramming unwanted items in there. Then it hit me one day (trying to jam a pan in the cabinet and somehow close it) – I needed to use it instead of keeping it as a junk drawer of sorts. It was so obvious it took over 10 years to see it. But it works great now. I basically have four different sized pans, cookie/pizza sheets, and a few other smaller baking items – ONLY things that get used. Plus the family NEVER asks where this stuff is anymore, they know its under the stove. A big win in my book!

        Deb J – I think once you get the pans down and get a good look at how its in the ceiling, it might be easy to take it down. I only suggest it because we had one at one point, and we took it down. The kitchen felt less oppressive without it there, and my kids couldn’t hang random items on it anymore. I have never regretted taking it down 😉 It just felt less cluttered LOL!

        And just a random note, I really struggled with my kitchen until I removed stuff that didn’t belong. I never realized how many kitchen gadgets, knick-knacks, and just STUFF I had until I began removing what didn’t belong or didn’t get used. A lot ended up in my basement – and eventually got donated or found new homes. I like having only what fits since I don’t have a huge kitchen. It drives my mom batty – she thinks everything needs a unitasker gadget – but I like getting creative with what I have.

        • Michaela, when we bought our house, we bought a new stove and it came with a broiler pan. In 13 years, I have used it once. That’s crazy to keep storing that thing. I have no clue what else I’ve shoved in there (perhaps a dust bunny or two). I know there are two glass lids and two cookie sheets that I use often, but what the heck is the rest of the stuff??? 😉

          And while we are on the subject of pot racks, when we recently repainted our kitchen, we removed our old pot rack. It was one that attached to the wall instead of the ceiling and it was matte black. We do not have a vent over our stove, so it had gotten terribly grimy. Of course I can clean it, but I don’t want a black rack anymore. I was looking at stainless or brushed steel, but can’t decide. The wall looks so nice with nothing up there. Do I really want to put holes in it? I have ruled out a ceiling pot rack. If I can get the more used pans in the drawer, there could be room in the cupboard for the sauce pans that I had originally on the pot rack. Solution!! YAY!!

        • Michaela, I agree with taking down the pot rack but Mom loves it. Some things I will work hard of getting changed and some I won’t. I’m not sure how long I will keep the subject active. I guess I should be glad we are rid of as much kitchen stuff as we are. When I think of what we had when Mom moved in with me I’m very thankful where we are now.

  8. A while back I got rid of quite a few pots and pans including not one, but two woks we never used. Now we’re down to just those pots and pans we regularly use. Once we move into the new house and start unpacking I think the other cooking gear is something I need to look at. I know we have more knives than we use and 4 glass pie plates when we probably only need 2. Cutting boards is another area where I think we could pare down a little more.

    Good luck on getting this conversation going with your mom.

    • Melissa, I think the kitchen is our worst area and it’s because Mom is a “just in case” kind of person. We have more knives than we need too. Gradually though, we are getting rid of things. It’s just not fast enough for me. Grin.

  9. Unfortunately, I cannot comment on pots and pans lest I incriminate myself. : ) However, I do want to discuss my underwear. : ) Drawers, that is. Drawers in the drawers. Anyway, a comment to Doodle’s section. It just so happens, that day before yesterday, I cleaned out and reorganized my and my husband’s underwear and sock drawers.

    Now, I have good intentions regularly of throwing out old underwear after I wear it. However, I always forget, then it gets washed again and back in the drawer. So, this time, I devised a new plan. I laid aside all the old, ratty underwear and socks and reorganized the drawers with the new and good. I put the old in a travel bag with the underwear on the outside pocket and the socks in the main body. Sat it on the floor in my closet. (I am currently not working, so can wear the old stuff at home with the 4 dogs and hubby.) I have determined that every day I will wear the old underwear and socks, then throw them out. I have enough underwear for 2 weeks and enough socks for a month!!! (this included some of my hubby’s socks that I thought I could wear.) There will be a little less washing in the meantime, and I will get one last use out of them all. I am hanging a grocery bag in my closet to put the “used” underwear and socks in, then it will go straight to the trash can for the week’s emptying. Perhaps this system would work for someone else who hates to throw out something that’s washed and ready to wear.

    • Brenda – I’m having a good chuckle, because I have a thing about only throwing out clean socks and underwear, others in my house think I’m a bit looney. At the moment I have a bag at the laundry door to outside to the clothes line and items which are too worn out or ripped or torn, the items are going in that back. Yes, after I have washed and dried them on the line or if they have come out of the dryer (the dryer is right by the laundry door).

    • Brenda, it sounds like the pot/pan police could get you just like they could me. Ah well!! Your idea about wearing and then getting rid of your old stuff is a hoot. This is something I may suggest to my Mom. Like Moni she hates to get rid of anything that is “dirty” without washing it. My take is that if it is going into the trash who cares. But then, I guess I just don’t think about it much. I think your strategy is brilliant cause it works.

      • Well, DebJ and Moni, that is hilarious about anyone hating to get rid of something that is dirty. Isn’t that the time to get rid of it????? In my case, I hated to get rid of it when I had already put the effort into washing and folding it.
        So, I’m getting that one last wear and then I don’t have to wash it again. : ) The real problem is convincing myself to throw it out. Some of my worst looking underwear happens to be the most comfortable, But like your Mom, Deb, I’d hate to go to the hospital, or worse the morgue, and be caught dead in it!!!!! Ha! So in the trash it’s going!

        This is so much fun to air out our dirty laundy together. : )

      • Well, I’m bummed out because I just wrote a reply, but I don’t think my computer sent it. : (

        I was saying to Moni and Deb J that I thought it hilarious that anyone hated to get rid of something that was dirty.
        The trash usually IS dirty, isn’t it??? : ) In my case, I hated the thought that I had put forth the effort already to wash and fold it and then just throw it out. This way, I get one more use out of it. The problem is really getting rid of it.
        Some of my most horrible underwear is the most comfortable. But, like your Mom, Deb J, I’d hate to have to go to the hospital or worse yet, the morgue, and “be caught dead in it”. Ha!! So, it’s really going out this time. I have plenty without it!

        Isn’t it fun to air out our dirty laundry together here? I love it!

    • I do that with socks and undies too. Anything that has “one more wear” in it goes into my travel bag.
      And then I leave them there till I go away.
      Many motels and chalets have had socks and underwear in THEIR trash at the end of the day.
      A few years ago my hubby and I toured New Zealand for 3 weeks. We brought home no dirty socks or undies at all, and had plenty of room for our NZ shopping. The amazing thing is that after tossing 42 pairs of socks and 42 undies, we still had some at home to wear when we got back LOL

      • What a hoot, Stephanie. I love this idea of helping add to the trash of someone else.

      • Stephanie, I have read about many people who travel regularly doing this. I think it is a great idea. However, I don’t travel, so the travel bag is just a container to put the things in so I don’t forget to implement my plan.

        I DID use your system when my husband was in rehab last year. I took some older shirts there and after I wore them they went in the trash. (we were having to stay at the facility). I was happy to do a bit of decluttering while I couldn’t be home to do any!

  10. Hi Deb J, interesting post and thanks for the photo, I always like photos!

    Two years ago my husband treated me to a set of pots and pans! When I got home I immediately took out all the old ones and found homes for them. The set comprises: pans – large, medium, small and tiny and pots: large, medium and small and one large rectangular roaster. Also several glass lids. I have never used the roasting pot (I use my slow cooker for large cuts of meat). I have used the tiny pan once. Because they are part of the set my DH is reluctant to let any go – we paid good money for it, there’s space for them, we might need them one day… you know the story!

    So in answer to your question: all I use are three pots and three pans, and if I had to I could manage with two of each.

    • Janetta, oh I so understand this. My mom has been given two sets of pots over the last 20 years and each time she just adds them to what she has. Then she doesn’t use them until the old ones get ratty. Her idea of ratty is different than mine. I have given up the argument about what needs to be replaced when but I do plan to try to get her to let go of some of the pile.

  11. Oh and I forgot to say: knives: I have two, yes only two! One large, one small. I keep them sharp and they go on a magnetic rack. I wash them by hand so they are always available. I’d rather have two decent knives than a stack of cheap, bendy ones! (Everyone who knows is horrified that I only have two: now a lot more people do!)

    • Janetta, let me give you an idea of the knives we have. We used to have an entire set of upscale knives that I bought but seldom used. We got rid of them last year. We now have only 5 knives but we really only need 3 of them. One of them is a good meat knife, one is a paring knife and one is a serated knife. We also have a plethera of spatulas. Mom has one for every use. I think we could get by with 3. I think you are smart.

      • Deb J – its funny that you mention spatulas as I only have one and last night my hubby mentioned I probably should have an extra one but I have gotten into the habit of washing it if I need to use it elsewhere while I am cooking and I just pointed him in the direction of the sink.

  12. Deb J – its already been said but I’ll throw my two cents worth in. Tell your mother you want a trial separation of the pots for two months. If anything is urgently needed it will be in the box in the garage or wherever it is. Suggest this as a gift from her to you. Likewise the pot rack. As already said I think it will open up the room a lot. Then arrange for a couple of friends to pop by and rave to your mother how wonderful it looks without it.

    I also have too many pots, I know exactly which ones I’d keep. My son is leaving home soon and I will offer them to him.

    I’m not a fan of pot racks personally and after this week where we had an earthquake at one end of our island and a cycle at our end, I’m all for everything being battened down at the moment.

    • Moni, I am going to try the separation idea soon. I sort of agree about the pot rack. I’m thinking we could take it down and then put it back up if we try to sell the house at some point. I know exactly which things we could get rid of too. We will work on it.

      • Deb J, that pot rack will probably leave some unsightly holes that will need to be covered up. Take that into consideration before you get rid of it. I don’t do well with painting ceilings so you could possibly have an expense involved with its removal.

        • You are right. I can take it off the 4 main hooks and leave them there if need be. I’m sure we could come up with a way to disguise them.

  13. I do think that manufacturers of pots and pans (and knives) were clever to think of selling those items as sets. We think we are getting a better deal and everything matches nicely, but often we only really use a few pieces and the others end up sitting there taking up space and yet feel difficult to discard, or worse, make me feel inadequate because I don’t know what they are for but feel I ought to. Last year I decided to get rid of some of my older nonstick pans and I haven’t missed them at all. I treated myself to a very good quality large pan which I find I use for most of the things I cook so I think that a few more of my other pans could probably go as well.

    • I agree with you Christine. I think there are a lot of things the manufacturers do that end up just this way. I can’t understand why Mom feels we need two pans/pots the same size.

  14. Hi Deb, I totally sympathize with your kitchen clutter problem because my husband is a professional cook, and has a hard time letting any kitchen items go. But recently we have been replacing some of the older ratty items, and I have convinced him that if one item comes in the kitchen, at least two must go out. So far this is working.

    Hilarious that everyone has the same old underwear/socks problem! I have a hard time throwing them out too – what I often do, is when travelling or going away for the weekend, I pack only the old stuff – and throw it away once worn. Then I don’t have to come home with dirty underwear/socks in my bag!

    • Megan V, I can’t even imagine having a professional cook in the family. I’d love having the cook to make the meals but not all the stuff that goes with it. I really do think less is more.

      Your idea of going on a trip and taking your old underwear so you can toss it as it is used is a hoot. My mother would be the opposite. She would wear her best because she might have to go to the doctor or hospital and someone would see her ratty stuff.

  15. Oh Deb J you must have been reading my mind this week – I just took a saucepan and frying pan to the thrift store that we rarely use! Hope you have some luck with your Mom on the trial separation thing 🙂
    Another way is to make a fun game of seeing what you do actually use on a regular basis is to try Peter Walsh’s idea of putting all the pots and pans (or whatever kind of stuff you are concentrating on) in a box and take out the thing you need at the time you need it. If there is still something left in the box after 6 months (except for purely seasonal items) then it’s likely you don’t need it in your life.
    Colleen you have totally converted me to microfibre cloths for cleaning! For many years now I’ve used and extolled the virtues of vinegar as a cleaner and would still say it’s better than anything else on mould – but last week I cleaned the house from top to bottom with two microfibre cloths and water if necessary. One cloth for floors and one for everything else.

    • Megan S, I’m sure something will work. We need that stuff out of here.

      I agree with you on microfiber cloths. We use them. I’m working on the idea of cleaning with water for all but the hardest stuff but again that is a sticking point with Mom. She also thinks washing with cold water doesn’t get things clean.

    • Hi Megan S, I am glad you are having success with the microfibre. Vinegar is the best for mould. I read somewhere that bleach only takes the colour out but doesn’t really kill the mould while vinegar actually kills the mould.

  16. I did a declutter of this area about two months ago. My pots and pans were in major need of replacing so we bought a new set and donated the old pots and pans in the process.

    • That’s good Jen. Would you believe that my Mom agreed to get rid of one tattered frying pan?! I’m so excited. Now to get her to do some more.

      • Take an “after” picture of your pot rack without the tattered frying pan and let her see it compared to the “before” photo. Maybe it will provide some inspiration??

        • Great idea Vicki K. I convinced her to get rid of that one and we were given a gift card to go get the pan of our choice so we are going to get a stock pot since ours is as bad as the one we got rid of.

  17. I did a declutter of some kitchen items a few times over the last 6 months. In fact, Monday I was scheduled for a donation pickup and included 2 crepe fry pans that were only used once or twice, at the most, on a yearly basis. I can do the same job with a large square griddle I have (using 2 opposite corners). Funny thing is I set them aside last week, pulled them out Saturday and then ran outside Monday morning and put them in the donation pile again! Whew! almost missed that opportunity.

    • Anna, you did a smart thing. I am trying to use this idea on Mom. There are many things we can use to do the same thing and then get rid of the one-job deals.

  18. My sweetie and I try to go thru our kitchen things (including boxed up) every six months or so. Rule is we can keep anything as long as it isn’t a hazard (like glass dish with chips or a crack or an appliance with exposed wires). First couple of go thrus, we kept a number of things “because I can do x with it” or “I’m going to make y, and I need that”. So while there are still a couple of pieces of aspirational clutter still in our kitchen things, it’s eye-opening to realize it’s been a year or more and “x” or “y” has still not happened.

    We have two sets of pots – the first a nice set of stainless steel, sized to cook for 4 to 6 people (and there are only two of us), and the second an older set with smaller pots from the same company that my MIL gave us when she downsized. Also, we have a large stock pot, a few glass pots for the microwave, and a few cast iron pieces, plus a nabe pot and a wok. We end up using almost every pot except a couple of specialized ones from the newer set. When you start talking about baking pans and the like, however, while a few pieces see heavy use, some things (cough, muffin tin, cough) languish unused. Someday Goodwill will get them.

    • Whisper, it sounds like you have a lot of pots and pans. But if you are using them that is what counts. When we were younger and less disabled we used a lot more than we do now.

  19. Now that I’m working from home, I purchased a treadmill desk to keep myself active. But now I have three desks, which is excessive, so I’d like to get rid of one of my older desks. The challenge is that the treadmill desk has no shelves or drawers, so getting rid of a desk involves figuring out what to do with the stuff in the desk. Definitely less of a challenge with all f the decluttering I’ve done in the last year, but it will be an opportunity for a new spurt of decluttering.

    • RebeccaJ, I like the sound of that treadmill desk. If I ever get to were I can much again I would like to have something like that. Good luck with decluttering and reconfiguring so you can get rid of a desk.