Countertop Clutter and Eating Habits

Anyone who knows me understands that my kitchen is a hard-working room. It’s a functional space with regular appliances, painted cabinets and a newish quartz countertop. We have an IKEA island for added storage, seating and counter space. The kitchen lacks useful food storage so my pantry is in the garage. I cook meals for my family everyday, we entertain frequently and I enjoy cooking and baking from scratch. I’m constantly wiping counters, throwing dishes into the dishwasher and I hand-wash large pans every day. (I can’t help but give Roland some credit here. Early on in our marriage, at his insistence, we decided that whoever made the meal didn’t have to clean the kitchen. So really? He does most of the dishes most of the time. Hallelujah. Sorry gals, he’s already taken.)

Some design bloggers might entice you to put everything in your kitchen away every day. It’s tempting! I love the look of gleaming, spare counters and cleared off prep space. It looks so peaceful. But I just can’t live that way. I need my salt and pepper, olive oil and bamboo utensils at hand while I’m cooking at the stove. I like having my most-used cookbooks on display, ready to inspire and encourage when my cooking motivation wanes. Our knives are hung on a magnetic strip near the collection of cutting boards so they’re always where we need them. Our toaster is used many times a day, and for years, we have kept a fruit basket out to encourage healthy snacking.

However, I recently read a study which encourages keeping a tidy kitchen. Vartanian, Kernan & Wansink (2017) determined in a controlled study that a cluttered and chaotic kitchen caused individuals to eat more cookies as opposed to healthier options like carrot sticks. The study was fascinating and included a good-sized sample. The study seemed to lean towards stress-eating which I know I can relate to. An earlier study by Wansink in 2015 suggests that women who store their cereal boxes on the counter weigh on average 21 pounds more than those who put them behind closed doors while women who leave fruit on the counter weigh 6 pounds less than those who hide it away. This makes me feel a little bit better about the pantry being in the garage.