Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Retirement Planning – Clearing the Kitchen and Pantry

I’m not much of a cook, but I expect to do more of it after I retire. In preparation, I’m clearing out the kitchen and pantry to see which items are worth keeping. I’m finding things that haven’t seen the light of day since they made the move with me 18 years ago. To get started, I set out storage boxes labeled “Donate,” “Keep” and “Now What?”

With my kitchen foray, I’ve developed a theory that you can tell when someone was married by the wedding gifts they received. For my first marriage, we received at least three fondue pots during the decade of “Do you fondue?” (Did you?) Two of them turned up on the top shelf in the butler’s pantry—one for cheese, one for beef cubes. I can’t remember when I last used either of them. Gobs of melted cheese. Deep fried red meat. Cholesterol. Need I say more? I move both fondue pots to the Donate box.

There are countless cheese boards, so per my wedding gift theory, I married in the ’80’s, but I didn’t (either time.) Cheese boards must be like picture frames—the universal wedding gifts that transcend time and styles. Whatever the reason, though I use as many as three of them at a time for holiday entertaining, I need to get rid of some cheese boards. I put six in the “Now What?” box and change the label on it to read “Re-Gift.”

I also have more salad bowls than I need. The large stainless one and the wooden one get regular use, so they’re keepers. The glass one with the silver-plated rim was a gift (Re-Gift.) The plastic one matches all that picnic ware I bought and used once. Will we picnic when we’re retired? Keep, just in case. These hand-painted pasta serving bowls can also be used for salads. Keep, Keep, Keep.

One of my miscalculations is a mini crock pot that goes into the microwave so it cooks faster. My microwave is called the Half Pint; that’s not just a clever nickname; it’s close to its capacity. The mini crock doesn’t fit in it. Even if I have a standard microwave in our next abode, I’m as likely to be crock potting as fonduing. Into the Donate box it goes.

Be still my heart—it’s a pull-out shelf full of Corningware, the new bride’s best friend. I have everything from serving-sized bowls with plastic covers for leftovers to huge casserole-sized ones that are missing their glass lids. I rarely use any of it, but retirement will likely change that. Sorting through all of this will be a project in itself. I find another storage box, put back the label “Now What?” and fill it with the Corningware.

Another shelf has been hiding a similar trove of Tupperware. Pie holder—Donate; my mother was the baker; I can never compare, so why try. Iceberg lettuce holder—Donate; I’ve moved on to romaine and it won’t fit. Some sort of cheese or pound-sized butter holder—Donate; I have one that holds a single stick; I don’t need to encourage milk fat consumption. All the Tupperware has been dispatched, but I don’t feel smug. I know there’s another shelf with Ziploc bowls and used deli containers that still need sorting.

My Donate box still has a lot more room. I wonder if there’s a show like The Biggest Loser, but for people who need to get rid of stuff, not pounds. I could use someone like Jillian to be my tough-as-nails coach. “Don’t you dare put that in your Keep box! It’s Donate or the trash or you’ll never reach your goal. You can do it! Focus. Lift. Push.”

I’m exhausted just thinking about it. I need a glass of wine and a snack. I grab a cheese board from the top of the Re-Gift box. Hmmm… This is kind of cute—just right for one serving. Maybe I should keep it. Jillian is shouting something vile at me, but I turn off my mental TV, lean back and relax. I carefully stack slices of artisanal cheese onto gluten-free crackers. Who says I don’t know my way around the kitchen?

1 comment:

Ann Stokes Neff said...

Hmmm, you might hold on the crock pot designation. In our retirement, I cook all but breakfast. Anything to make it easier is welcome.