10 Things You Didn’t Know About…Packing Your Kitchen to Move
I’ve moved three times in five years, two of those cross-country. It’s not like I’m one of those people addicted to change; I actually like staying put. That’s just the way things worked out. But each time I’ve moved, there comes a point (many points, actually) when I look around at the seemingly random, haphazard jumble of everything I own piling up around me, and I tell myself, “Never again.” Because moving sucks, plain and simple. And frankly, nothing sucks more than packing up the kitchen, with its baffling array of oddly shaped and/or breakable items (punctuated — but hopefully not literally — with sharp things like knives).
Like anything we approach with dread, moving tends to be accompanied by a fair degree of denial, and as anyone who grew up watching Oprah after school knows, denial is not good. Time can either be your enemy or your friend — wait to the last minute, and you’re liable to start tossing things in boxes willy-nilly, scrambling for more packing supplies and making desperate decisions. So embrace the change (you’re ostensibly moving for a good reason, right?). With a little bit of planning, and a few good tips, moving doesn’t … I was going to say, “doesn’t have to suck,” but who am I kidding? It will. It just doesn’t have to suck quite as bad.
Everyone thinks of the kitchen as one of the last rooms to pack, but it’s also the most time-consuming. And in reality, there’s a lot in your kitchen that can be packed days or even weeks before you move (you probably don’t need your Christmas cookie cutters in, say, June, or your roasting pan, etc.). So go through your kitchen with an eye toward things you don’t need until after you move, and start by packing those (it’s also a great time to weed out things tucked in the back of cabinets that you haven’t used in years). Packing three or four boxes a day beats packing everything at once.
You can buy specially designed boxes for moving your plates and glasses, called variously “dish pack boxes” or “dish barrels.” Some even come with fancy dividers for things like glasses. Even if you’re scrounging for boxes for everything else in the house, these can be a good investment, especially if you’re moving a long distance.
But if you don’t want to fork over the cash for a fancy box, then when it comes to your plates and glasses, think lots of smaller boxes as opposed to several big boxes. You don’t want to pack fragile items more than two layers deep, and because you’ll want these boxes stacked up top on the moving truck, they can’t be too heavy.
Think creatively. You likely have stuff on hand that would work perfect as moving containers, you just don’t think of those things as moving containers. For example, your clothes aren’t going to break, but your glasses will. So those heavy plastic storage bins with lids that you’re using to store your winter sweaters — transfer the sweaters to boxes, and use the bins for dishware. We used our large cooler to pack our wine glasses.
This works for smaller stuff, too. Heavy-duty Tupperware? You can use it to pack things like dessert plates, glass ramekins, etc. (All individually wrapped, of course. Sigh. Everything breakable has to be individually wrapped. Everything.)
Plastic bubble wrap is probably the first thing that comes to mind when you think about wrapping your breakables, but it can be expensive (and, really, nothing seems as flagrantly wasteful as trashing a pile of only-used-once bubble wrap on the other end of the move). Two or three layers of newspaper works just as well — I’m not shy about taking a stack of alternative weeklies from the rack. (They’re free, after all.) Whatever you use, get a lot of it, more than you possibly think you need. Because if you start to run out at the last minute, you’re liable to skimp on the wrapping, and that just means it’s more likely when you get to your new house, you’re going to hear the dreaded sound of broken glass grinding away in some box.
You want to wrap each plate in a layer or two of whatever wrapping material you’re using. Wrap the next plate the same way, then set it on top of the first. Do this a couple more times, then wrap the whole nested set of four plates in yet another (!!) layer of wrapping and tape the whole thing together. Always stack your plates on end; don’t pack them flat. For glasses, stuff the insides with packing material, then wrap them individually and pack them upright, using plenty of cushioning between layers.
You also want a layer of cushioning on the bottom of your box and a layer on top. You can always use some of that newspaper, wadded up. Other cheap alternatives? Plastic shopping bags; start hoarding them as soon as you know you’ll be moving (they can be handy in wrapping smaller breakables, too). If you have a shredder in your home office that you use to shred bank statements and the like, then start saving all that shredded paper. In fact, start shredding every piece of junk mail you get. Clean out your filing cabinet, too, and shred all that paper. We ended up with three full garbage bags of shredded paper, which we used to cushion every kitchen box.
Line cookware with a layer of wrapping, then nest smaller pots and pans in larger ones. If your stuff is going to sit in storage for an extended period of time, don’t pack anything that will have absorbed cooking oil, like cast-iron skillets (or even oil-treated cutting boards). They’ll go rancid.
As much as you want to get packing over with, think about yourself on the other end of the move (again, exhausted, cranky). Be kind to that post-move you. A bunch of boxes just labeled “Kitchen” aren’t particularly helpful as you start to organize your new kitchen, so be specific enough in how you label and make sure to mark boxes containing cooking essentials (e.g., “frying pan” or “knives”) so you’ll know where to begin as you start the whole business of … unpacking.
Are you in the know? From boiling an egg to cooking rice, check out all our “things you didn’t know” articles!