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How To Stock Your Minimalist Kitchen + List: 16 Pantry Staples

The term “minimalist kitchen” is a bit of an oxymoron, isn’t it? After all, many of us love cooking and the kitchen is one of the most complex areas of our home. Even with a tiny house, my kitchen is my “command center.” I like cooking. I keep my kitchen organized and clean it every day–it’s small and orderly…but does mean it’s a “minimalist kitchen?”

kitchen staples

At the heart of it, minimalism is all about embracing simplicity. When we have a bunch of expired ingredients on hand and storage for a small army we’ll never need to feed, it gets stressful. Rather than working through a cluttered kitchen and sorting through expired jars of who-knows-what, a minimalist kitchen list consists of items you use regularly for meals you enjoy. Stock your minimalist kitchen with the equipment you’ll use and the items needed to prepare your favorite foods. That’s it.

When it comes down to it, all you really need to store in your pantry or kitchen are the ingredients to tide you over until your next trip to the store. Now, that said, there are a few staples that are helpful to keep on hand. This is especially true if the weather gets bad or life gets busy and you need the components of a meal, fast.

So what items should go on your minimalist kitchen list? What are the basic guidelines for stocking a minimalist pantry and what ingredients will maximize your meals in a minimal amount of space, clutter, and stress? This is what I’ve discovered when it comes to keeping a small, but useful kitchen and pantry.

Guidelines for Stocking a Minimalist Pantry

If you’re ready to start cutting out pantry clutter, especially if you have a small storage space, there are a few guidelines you should follow:

1. Buy only what you like

buy food you like

One of the biggest mistakes people make when they stock a small pantry is storing extra food for special meals or occasions—from cake mix to cranberry sauce. Some people get a “food storage list” and assume they should buy every item on it. Only buy foods you like to eat and eat regularly. If you don’t bake, then don’t keep baking supplies on hand. If you aren’t a fan of beans, don’t feel like you should buy beans for your storage. This is especially applicable if your space is at a minimum.

2. Watch for items that go with many different meals

Ingredients like broth or canned tomatoes go with all sorts of dishes. It’s a good idea to keep a few cans on hand. The same goes for items like pasta, oil, spices, and rice. Look for simple ingredients that work into many of your favorite meals.

3. Stick to a meal routine

taco tuesday food planningJust like wearing similar outfits every day, sticking with a regular meal routine cuts out a lot of stress. If you know you’re always going to enjoy Taco Tuesday or fish on Friday, then you don’t need to spend time planning and ensuring you’ve purchased a bunch of different ingredients. Treat yourself by going out when you want to enjoy a meal out of the routine or plan a dinner at home for a special occasion. The rest of the time, stick with foods you enjoy and put them in a regular rotation.

4. Purchase shelf-stable items

Stocking a pantry, whether big or small, calls for shelf-stable items. When you purchase foods requiring cold storage like freezing or refrigeration, it takes up a lot of room. This is a problem if you don’t have a much fridge or freezer space. I have a very small fridge (a 4.4 cu ft bar fridge), which I use to house the basics: milk, meat, cheese and fresh vegetables. Many items (like eggs, butter and produce) are easily and safely stored right on the counter or on shelves rather than in your fridge.

5. Watch expiration dates

If you’re decluttering and organizing your pantry, watch your expiration dates! Anything past the “best by” date, get rid of! If you don’t plan to eat it (but it’s still good) consider donating it to a food bank. Don’t keep items you don’t like or won’t eat before their expiration date. Chalk it up to a good life lesson and toss it out.

when do food expire chart

6. Store only what you’ll need until your next trip to the market

You don’t need to store weeks or months of food in your pantry, especially if you’re applying a minimalist approach. Store only what you’ll use before your next trip to the market. Keep a few basic ingredients on hand to pull together meals you enjoy.

Minimalist Kitchen List: 16 Pantry Basics You Need on Hand

Obeying the guidelines above, these are pantry basics most people like to store. Again—follow your own preferences and habits. If you don’t bake, skip baking supplies. If you’re a vegetarian, then you won’t have much use for canned meat or jerky. Keep one or two weeks’ worth of each item on hand.

1. Beans

beans for pantry

Beans are inexpensive, easy store and a great source of protein. If your storage space is limited, beans give you a great shelf-stable option to dress up or dress down. Dried beans and chickpeas are typically softened by soaking overnight. Lentils and split peas will soften as they cook (no need to soak). Beans provide a nice, simple base for many dishes.

2. Rice

rice as pantry staple

Rice is another great, simple item to keep on-hand, especially if you don’t have much space. Store it easily—any dry spot will do. There are tons of meal options using rice as the base. Mexican food, Middle Eastern dishes and Asian meals all work well with rice. There are many different types of rice: Jasmine, Basmati, sushi…but buy basic white or brown rice (white takes less time to cook) if you only have room to store one type.

3. Baking Supplies

baking items - flour, sugar, salt

If you’re a regular baker, you may want to purchase baking supplies (flour, sugar, baking soda, etc.). Buy only the basics you need in between your trips to the store and watch for items like Bisquick or cake mix which are used to bake several different dishes. When space is limited, baking supplies take up a lot of room, but for those who use them often it’s well worth the sacrifice of space. I personally prefer to buy a few pre-made baked goods, so I don’t need to store ingredients like big bags of flour.

4. Spices

piles of spices in spoons

Spices are an area where many people tend to go overboard. After all, they don’t require much space, they’re inexpensive and add flavor, so why not stock up on every spice, right? Well, spices actually have a very short shelf-life. Many ground spices only stay potent and flavorful for a year or two after opening. Dried herbs tend to last even less time. It’s better to buy small quantities you’ll use up quickly and regularly. Salt and pepper are exceptions of course. I keep my grinders along with Texas Pete (the best hot sauce ever–sorry Tabasco) right on hand at all times.

5. Pasta

keep dry pasta in pantry

Pasta is a fast, easy meal to enjoy all kinds of ways. Add peanut butter and soy sauce for Asian peanut noodles. Use pasta as a base for spaghetti or enjoy plain noodles with a little olive oil, cheese and egg. Dried pasta is easy to store, so it’s smart to keep a box or two ready for meals.

6. Canned Tomatoes

cans of tomatoes

Canned tomatoes can be pureed to make tomato sauce. Use them as a base for soup, stir them into pasta, or use them in chili. Canned tomatoes are another versatile and easy to store ingredient, even in the smallest pantry. They add a lot of flavor and stretch many different meals.

7. Oil

olive oil for cooking

There are many oil options. I tent to prefer olive oil because it’s shelf-stable and easy to use in almost any dish. Coconut oil is another good option because it’s used in both cooking and baking. Whichever type you choose, oil is a must-have for your minimalist kitchen list, especially if you’re looking for ingredients you’ll use all the time. Use oil to brown meat, keep vegetables from sticking or in pasta dishes. You can use olive oil as a swap for butter to dip bread. Add lemon juice or vinegar to oil and make instant salad dressing.

8. Dried Fruit

dried fruits

Dried fruit is one of those like it or hate it foods. Some people think raisins are the worst ever while others love them. As far as pantry foods go, dried fruit is pretty versatile. Use it in trail mix, add it to baked goods for sweetness, keep dried fruits on hand for snacking or adding into salads and sandwiches. If you like oatmeal or hot cereal, dried fruit is a nice addition. Again—choose only the type you like.

9. Cereal & Oats

dried oats and oatmeal

Basic cereals like Chex, corn flakes or Rice Krispies are great to keep on hand because you can use them as a coating for chicken or fish. Use them in rice crispy treats or snack mix. Then, of course, you can also enjoy them as a breakfast or snack with milk. You may also want to keep oats in your pantry too. Oatmeal is a great hot cereal and oats are often used in cookies and other baked treats.

10. Canned Vegetables & Soups

canned soups in pantry

As far as canned vegetables go, some people love them, while others can’t stand them. They’re certainly easy to store, especially if you’re living in a small space. Keeping a few cans of corn or another basic vegetable is smart, in case you need a quick meal or side dish. Similarly, soups are used for all sorts of meals, so storing a few cans of broth or soup makes a lot of sense for most people. To take up even less space, buy concentrated bullion cubes or paste, then just add water.

11. Peanut Butter & Nuts

peanut butter and nuts

Peanut butter is a great high protein snack and it’s also an ingredient in all kinds of meals. Peanut butter is used in Asian or African cooking. Peanut butter’s easy to store and almost everyone loves a PB&J when you need a fast, easy meal. Keeping nuts like cashews or almonds in your pantry is a good idea too. Add them in cereal, use them to top salads, add them to stir-fry and in other dishes.

12. Canned Meat/Fish

chicken for meals

Having a few packets or cans of tuna fish on hand is a basic for most pantries. If you need an easy way to add protein to your meals: just open a can of tuna and stir it into pasta or make a tuna fish sandwich. Canned chicken is also a good option to put together a chicken salad, use in soups, casseroles or pasta dishes.

13. Shelf-Stable Dairy & Sauces

shelf stable sauces

Parmesan cheese is shelf-stable and can be stored unopened in your pantry for a very long time. Soy or powdered milk is also a good idea if you only venture to the store occasionally and run out of regular milk between trips. It’s also used as an ingredient in many dishes. Most salad dressings, mayonnaise and sauces are shelf-stable until they’re opened. If you go through these items fast, it makes sense to add one extra bottle to your minimalist kitchen list.

14. Jerky

beef jerky lasts long in storage

Jerky is easy to store. It doesn’t take up much room and it’s great to keep on hand for a quick snack. Look for individually packaged sticks as well as different flavors and types. There’s turkey jerky, salmon jerky and even jerky with caffeine in it (a.k.a. Perky Jerky). If you need a high protein snack that doesn’t need to be refrigerated, jerky is a good option.

15. Bread & Crackers


Keeping bread and crackers on hand is a smart plan. Bread doesn’t last a long time though, so only store what you will eat within a week or two. Crackers are more shelf-stable and will last for months unopened. Tortillas are another option to keep on hand. If your space is small or if you’re looking for less clutter in your pantry, pick one type of bread you will use in several different ways.

16. Snacks


When it comes to snacks we all have our own preferences. Keep a few snacks on hand, but don’t go overboard. Cookies or chips are easy to store and don’t usually take up much room. Again, the best rule of thumb is to only store what you’ll eat within a week or two (between trips to the store). Most snacks aren’t used as ingredients for another meal, so there’s no reason to keep more than you need (unless you anticipate a snack emergency).

Your food storage is a lifesaver (literally!) if the weather is bad, if you live in a remote area or if you can’t get to the store for whatever reason. Keeping a minimalist kitchen should help make your life and meal planning less stressful. If you store only the basic ingredients you need for your favorite meals, you’ll always be prepared, even if you’re stuck at home or don’t have time to fix something big. Cut out the clutter and unnecessary items in your pantry today!

 Your turn!

  • What are your must-have minimalist pantry items?
  • Do you stick to a meal routine or mix it up?

How to Embrace a Minimalist Wardrobe

I’m a pretty low-maintenance guy, obviously. This translates to my approach across a lot of stuff—living space, cooking and my clothes.

I’m casual in general—and living in a small space doesn’t offer room for a walk-in closet or a giant sneaker collection. In fact, about a year ago I realized I’d inadvertently started wearing a basic “uniform” of sorts: white undershirt, charcoal grey t-shirt, shorts, underwear, socks, sneakers. I was tired of having to think about what to wear. I was looking for something I could throw on and go. For most occasions, this fit the bill.

It turns out a lot of people have embraced a minimalist philosophy when it comes to getting dressed. With so many decisions to make and so much noise going on around us, having a basic, minimalist wardrobe just works. It’s one less piece of the puzzle to worry about. No more stress in the morning when you get dressed. You don’t even have to think!

Now, maybe you don’t live in a rural tiny house, but an apartment in the city (just try to find a spacious closet in DC, New York or Chicago—you won’t). Even if you work a 9-to-5 office job, you can still make a minimalist wardrobe work. For guys, it’s as simple as changing out your ties and dress shirts. Even women can get by with a minimalist wardrobe. No matter what your job or lifestyle, there’s a way to embrace fewer clothes while still looking good.

So, how do you apply a minimalist philosophy to your own wardrobe? Should you throw out your clothes and start from scratch? Swear off shopping forever? Or should you buy every piece on a capsule wardrobe list?

A Minimalist Wardrobe Starts in Your Shrinking Closet

When someone mentions minimalist style, visions of stark white outfits come to mind or maybe rows of black turtlenecks. In truth, there’s no style rule to embracing a minimalist wardrobe, but it does begin with paring down your closet.

hanging clothes in a closetIf you went through your closet right now, how many pieces have you worn in the last week? Month? Six months? Most of us would come up with around 20 pieces of clothing, maybe fewer. According to a study from clothing credit company (Alliance Data), the average American estimates their closet is worth around $2,500 with 25-49 tops and over 25 pair of shoes.

That’s a lot of clothes.

Most people’s closets benefit from refinement and simplification. When I realized that without even thinking about it I’d come up with my default wardrobe, it was actually a relief. Cross that one off the list—I went the way of Barack Obama, Mark Zuckerberg and others who’ve embraced a uniform approach to dressing. I realize this approach isn’t for everyone—you may want a little more variety. There are still plenty of options for a minimalist wardrobe without sticking to the same outfit every day.

But many people have closets full of clothes they never wear. In fact, most people only wear about 20% of their clothes. But, they hold on to clothes they don’t love, items that don’t flatter and outfits with sentimental attachment rather than function. If you’ve got a closet full of clothes, but still feel like you’ve got nothing to wear first step is to do a hard inventory.

Remove all the clothes from your closet and review each piece. Ask yourself the following:

  1. Favor: Do I really like this?
  2. Fit: Does it fit me right now, today?
  3. Function: Is this piece functional?
  4. Flatter: Do I feel great when I wear this?
  5. Form: Is this item in good shape and condition?

Ask yourself if each item in your closet meets these criteria. Once you’ve refined your wardrobe, consign or donate any items that don’t fit the bill. It feels tough to part with items you’re holding onto for sentimental reasons but remind yourself—you can still hold onto to memories and let go of stuff that’s no longer useful. There’s no reason to weigh yourself down.

When you’ve cleaned out your closet to the basics, here the steps to take as you move forward.

Choose a Color Scheme That Speaks to You

For me, charcoal grey looks presentable enough for most occasions. Black gets dirty too easily and white obviously is a no-go. Khaki or denim shorts and pants are tough enough to withstand almost any task. Yet they still look nice enough to grab dinner with friends. Women, you may find a different combination works for you—like jeans or black pants with knit tops. The point is to keep it simple and go with a color scheme you like.

clothes on hanger simple colors

You may find there’s a color that really speaks to you or forms the foundation of most of your outfits. If this is the case, make it your default color. This doesn’t mean rows of black or sticking to neutral colors. If you love shades of blue, green or red, embrace it!

The idea with a color scheme is most of your pieces become interchangeable. Choosing pieces that look great with brown and earth tones, or going for high-contrast colors that look great against black, is a method to ensure plenty of wearability.  If patterns are your jam, go for it! You can have patterned ties or shirts that will still fit with the overall color scheme you’ve selected. You aren’t limited to solids, unless they fit your personal style.

If you still want to show personality with your style, it’s easy with shoes, a cool belt or watch. Pick something you love as your “signature piece.” I’ve found having a go-to favorite pair of sneakers feels like “me.” For you, maybe it’s a watch or another functional-yet-fashionable item.  Don’t shy away from buying a select few high-quality accessories that you love.

When you work within a color scheme everything goes. Remember:

  • Pick a color you like
  • Build your wardrobe around it
  • Shop within your color scheme for new items to add
  • Mix and match for variety

Basics Provide the Foundation of a Minimalist Wardrobe

simple clothing to wearAt the foundation of a minimalist wardrobe are basic pieces. For that reason, a capsule wardrobe goes hand-and-hand with minimalism. Still, you aren’t limited to following an exact capsule wardrobe list. After all, suits, blazers and trench coats are great for city-dwelling professionals, but I can’t imagine sweeping the snow off my solar panels while wearing a suit. For me, a suit would be ridiculous and impractical. At the same time, showing up for a banking job wearing a t-shirt might get you fired.

There’s no one-size-fits-all for your wardrobe. A fitness instructor may need yoga and gym gear. A construction worker may need Carhart overalls and quality t-shirts. If you work in a casual, creative office, a black t-shirt and jeans might be fine. Keep in mind, for formal occasions you can always rent a tux or for you ladies they have several dress rental options. (This works well for me personally, so I recommend giving it a try.)

Create a list of what you consider “basics.” For most of us that’s something on the bottom and something on the top. Imagine what you’d need for a two-week period (the maximum time most of us go between laundry cycles), assuming you wear bottoms and outer-layers, multiple times. Plan for the occasions your regularly face (work, school, the gym). This forms the base of your wardrobe.

Truly, there’s no hard-and-fast rule to tell you exactly what clothing you will need. Depending on your location, the weather may also play a huge factor in your choices too. In Minnesota, you may need extra winter layers. In California, light easy t-shirts could be enough. Plan for clothes that fit your lifestyle.

  • Consider all the activities you need to dress for: work, home, hanging out
  • Write up your basic list: tops and bottoms needed for two weeks
  • Remember seasonal items like jackets, long underwear, sweaters or tanks
  • Include items for work or other activities

Functional Footwear

Shoes take up a lot of space—space you might not have. The best way to get around the shoe issue is to buy the most functional shoes possible. For you, this could mean a pair of basic black sneakers to go from the office to the gym to weekends. Others might prefer boots. If you live in a rainy area, you might need GORE-TEX or waterproof footwear.

looking down at shoes

Having a pair of sandals in the summer won’t take up too much space or derail your wardrobe choices, but keep in mind—sandals aren’t always the best choice for doing work outside. If you’re hauling brush, working on repairs or even on a hike, you’ll need a pair of shoes that’s a bit sturdier. So, if space is a premium, skip the sandals.

For me, a couple pairs of shoes are all I need. When you consider your list of activities, you might also want to consider what sort of footwear you’re going to need in each occasion—work, gym, weekends and more.

Choose shoes in dark colors (unless you love white sneakers). They’re easier to keep clean and will go with more outfits and fit more occasions. When it comes to shoes if you’re only going to own a pair or two, go ahead and invest in something descent that will last.

  • Look for functional footwear
  • Choose only the number of pairs you really need
  • Don’t choose sandals if you don’t have space—pick a more functional shoe
  • Invest in quality

Buy Less and Buy Quality

Going forward, commit to buying fewer clothes and shopping for quality first. When you need a piece of clothing, shop for items that are well-made, functional and fashionable. Quality natural fabrics such as wool, cotton, hemp, bamboo and linen, often outlast man-made fabrics like polyester, rayon, acrylic and nylon.

quality over quantity

Look for craftsmanship and detail when it comes to clothing. There’s a reason vintage coats from the 50s are still found in thrift stores—they were built to last. Often, they had features like linings, hand-stitching and other details you can’t find in mass-production.

Even if you’re buying t-shirts and jeans, it’s wise to look for quality and durability. I like pieces that will stand up to quite a bit of activity and many washings. A great aspect of a minimalist wardrobe is it often consists of one or two colors. This makes laundry much simpler than sorting each piece. Laundry is especially a challenge in small spaces, so look for clothes you can wear multiple times and line-dry.

When you’re shopping for clothes look for care-needed, quality of materials and guarantees. Yes, quality clothing is often pricier, but the number of wears will soon mean the piece pays for itself.

  • Buy quality built-to-last clothing
  • Look for natural clothes in cotton, hemp, etc.
  • Find clothes in one color scheme to make laundry simple

Repair, Alter and Care

One way to preserve your investment is to learn to do minor repairs, alterations, proper storage and care. If you take the time to iron a hem or polish a shoe it has a huge impact on your look. Clean, pressed and well-kept clothing will help you feel put-together, even if it’s an outfit on heavy rotation.

fix clothes with a patchNow, admittedly, I don’t iron. I hate folding and sorting laundry, so using a laundry service is well-worth the investment for me. For most situations, I don’t need to show up in starched and pressed shirts and ties—but perhaps you do, so plan accordingly.

Take a lesson from previous generations who knew the value of careful handwashing, line-drying and separating laundry. When you have fewer clothes to care for, the laundry and clothing care because less stressful. Check over items before you hang them—look for loose buttons, hems and threads. Take the time to properly store your clothes and patch or sew up if needed—you can find basic tutorials on YouTube.

If you find a great, well-made item of clothing that doesn’t quite fit, invest in tailoring. This is even worth it for items like bib overalls, if they’re too long. Having pants hemmed so they don’t drag or taking them in at the waistline is worth it. They’ll be more comfortable and last much longer. Often minor alterations are all it takes to help an item fit like a glove and look like a million bucks. These small touches will greatly extend the life of your investments.

  • Learn to do basic repairs and touch up your clothes
  • Look over clothes for issues before you hang
  • For nicer clothes like jackets, tailoring is worthwhile

Clean Your Closet Frequently

Remember the five “Fs” of closet sorting: favor, fit, function, flatter and form. Apply them to your wardrobe frequently—at least a couple of times a year. When something isn’t needed anymore, don’t feel bad about saying goodbye.

closet cleaning for clothes

Clothes often build up over time. At one point everything fit in your closet perfectly and then one day you realize you’re holding on to more socks than fit in your drawer. Adopt a “one-in, one-out” mentality when it comes to buying clothing. If you need a new pair of running shoes, it’s time to let go of your old broken-down pair and start fresh.

Let go of stuff you don’t need rather than letting it weigh you down. Sometimes getting rid of clothes can help you clear your mental roadblocks as well. Consider the person who holds on to a pair of “skinny jeans” or the outfit from high school they still wish they fit into. Just let it go.

Instead, free yourself from the excess and complications of too many clothes. You’ll never again stress about what to wear.

  • Remember the five F’s of closet sorting and clean regularly
  • Adopt a one-in, one-out policy
  • Let go of clothes you’re hanging onto for emotional reasons

Simplicity and freedom is yours, today. It’s right inside your closet!

Your Turn!

  • How many pieces are in your closet right now?
  • Are you holding on to clothes you should let go?


Why Your Decluttering Failed

When I found minimalism, I went through three rounds of decluttering before finally figuring out how to declutter correctly. These are the mistakes that I made on my journey to a clutter free home.

Why Your Decluttering Failed

When I started my decluttering journey, I made a list of every single place in my house that I wanted to declutter. I broke this list down into tiny little places that would take me 15 minutes or less to declutter, so I could easily tackle one space a day without getting overwhelmed. It seemed like a good enough plan of action, but after about a month of consistent decluttering, I was over it. I didn’t want to spend even 15 minutes a day decluttering anymore.

I am the kind of person that goes all out when I do something. If I wanted to clean out my closet, I’d spend a good 9 hours taking everything out, organizing and cleaning and replacing. I am not the type to do things slowly and methodically over a long period of time.

When I tried to convince myself that my 40 day, 15-minute-per-day plan was the best, I didn’t take into account my personality and behavioral habits. I probably would have done better with a solid three days of decluttering my whole house.

Reason Why Your Decluttering Failed #1: You didn’t find a plan that works for you.

A few months after my first semi-failed attempt at decluttering, I decided to try decluttering again. I knew the end result would be worth it, so I gave it another go, in a much less methodical way this time. My weekends and some weeknights soon became filled with decluttering time. I took it one room at a time this turn around, which worked out much better for me. I put everything I wanted to get rid of in boxes, and put the boxes in my car to donate.

Six months later, the boxes were still in my car. I’d decluttered a lot of my house, most of it was in the post-declutter stage. Boxes full of stuff to donate were now in my garage and car, and sometimes when I was too lazy to do a load of laundry, I’d go out to those boxes and find some clothes or dish towels to bring back in.

Reason Why Your Decluttering Failed #2: You didn’t donate the excess right away.

Eventually, I got rid of those boxes. I finally took them to the thrift store, where they could find new homes with people who actually needed these things. I felt happy, content, and finally had my weekends back. But now that my decluttering was finished, and my house was clean and clear, what would I do in my spare time?

I resorted to my old favorite hobby: Target. I made a decision; now that my house was clean and empty, it was time to define my style with some updated and “grown up” homewares. I started spending my weekends at Target, stocking up on throw pillows, bed ruffles, new sheets and duvet covers, and even researched the internet for over 40 hours to find the perfect headboard.

Why Your Decluttering Failed

The problem was that my “style” would always be changing. Sometimes I wanted a boho bedroom filled with plants, dreamcatchers, and crazy amounts of pillows, and sometimes I wanted a clean and minimalist look where everything was white and had some purpose to it. Because my style would change so often, I was constantly updating my throw pillows and home decor.

Reason Why Your Decluttering Failed #3: You kept bringing stuff in.

Eventually I realized what I was doing. I made another decision, this time a much healthier one. I was going to become a “minimalist,” give up trying to define my style, and stop spending all of my time and money at Target.

You don’t have to become a minimalist to be successful at decluttering. I just had to stop bringing stuff in, which just meant a simple change in my lifestyle. I started going for hikes when I was bored instead of going on Pinterest or heading to Target. I’m pretty sure I’ve made all of the mistakes possible in the decluttering process, but I’m happy to say I’ve learned a thing or two along the way.

Your Turn!

  • What decluttering mistakes have you made?


Clutter And Stress: Your Clutter is Stressing You Out

Whenever I’m in a room full of clutter, I start to feel my anxiety rise. Clutter has been tightly correlated to stress, and your clutter may be stressing you out even more than you think. This is five ways that clutter stresses you out.

Clutter and Stress

1. Clutter is Distracting

No wonder I can never get work done with a cluttered desk or office – when you can constantly see other things (aka clutter) that needs to get put away, faxed off, filed, etc, it’s hard to stay focused on the task at hand. Most people take breaks from staring at the computer, and if those breaks are filled with looking around at the clutter in your office, it could be greatly distracting you from what you’re meant to be doing.

2. Clutter Inhibits Creativity and Productivity

Being constantly surrounded by clutter can stop your creativity (& productivity) in it’s tracks. Personally, I feel super inspired and creative when I’m in a clean and tidy environment, and I have never been able to feel productive when I’m in a messy, cluttered room or space. I’ve always been one of those people that clean their room before doing any work.

3. Clutter Creates Feelings of Guilt

When you’re surrounded by clutter, it’s easy to think of what you should have done with it by now. It should have been donated, it should have been thrown away, it should be organized.

I experienced this firsthand when I went to visit my parents recently, and in my old room was clutter that I’d totally forgot about. It was just a few old clothes, a Vitamix, and some shoes, but I made sure that I got rid of it before I left. Arriving there and seeing the clutter made me feel so guilty, but getting rid of it made me feel so much better.

4. Clutter Makes Us Anxious

Imagine that you are standing in a field on a sunny day. The grass is cut short and you can’t see anything for miles. How relaxing is that?!

Now imagine you’re in a room, surrounded by stuff. The bookshelves are full, there are boxes on the floor, even the table and chairs are piled high with stuff. Did that feeling of being relaxed go away?

Clutter can unconsciously cause massive amounts of stress.

Clutter and Stress

5. Clutter Makes it Difficult To Relax, Physically and Mentally

I love having time to myself, to read, relax, light a candle, whatever. But it’s super difficult to relax when I’m surrounded by clutter. In fact, sometimes it feels downright impossible. Clutter inhibits our ability to relax because it’s hard to see all of the stuff that needs to get done and ignore it.

Clutter can have a huge impact on stress levels, consciously or unconsciously. The good news is that decluttering can lead you to a more stress free, creative, and productive life.

Your Turn!

  • How has clutter affected your stress levels?

Organizing Versus Decluttering

There seems to be a constant debate on organizing versus decluttering. Which one is more important? Should I organize, declutter, or both? This is my experience with organizing and decluttering.

I used to spend hours every week watching organizing videos. I would be amazed and so satisfied watching people organize the contents of their closet or storage cabinets into neat, clear plastic tubs, complete with lids and cute labels. Watching these videos would make me so motivated to go get my own organizing tubs and move all of my belongings into clearly labeled containers, where everything has it’s place.

Organized Versus Decluttered

The idea of organizing all of my stuff seemed like so much fun, and I started to use my coupons (I was also into couponing) to buy organizing bins and drawer sets for my cabinets. I organized all of my bulk toothpaste, extra deodorants, and even put all of the clothes I hardly wear in a cute box to put up in the attic. I organized a box of scarves, a box of spare shoes, and I even organized all of my books from college into a box with a label to put in the garage.

I soon realized the problem with my organizing spree. I was simply organizing all of the stuff I wasn’t using. I didn’t need fifty tubs of toothpaste or thirty Bath and Body Works shower gels. I didn’t need that box of clothes that I never wore, or my books from college.

Soon after my organizing spree, I found minimalism. At this point, I turned my focus from organizing to decluttering. I stopped with the couponing madness, and I stopped buying more stuff. I started working my way through the stuff that I had, and gave some of it away. Eventually, the storage and organizing containers became useless. I didn’t have stuff to fill them anymore, so they got donated along with a lot of the stuff in them.

This experience taught me that decluttering should always come before organizing. For the majority of my organizing phase, organizing was just tidying up the stuff I wasn’t using or didn’t need to begin with. Though organizing can feel productive and look pretty, now I much prefer the minimalist look of clean, clear homes with only the essentials and nothing more.

Organized Versus Decluttered

Living this way has opened my mind and schedule, so that I have the time to be doing things that really light me up and make me feel alive. I have time for all of my many hobbies and goals. And I can tell you, organizing isn’t one of those hobbies anymore.

Your Turn!

  • Do you prefer organizing or decluttering?
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