You get home from work and you’re hungry and looking forward to a nice relaxing meal but can’t find anything in the kitchen. Before you know it, you’ve wasted a half an hour looking for ingredients or cleaning up before you start. Has this ever happened to you? I know it has happened to me and I hate wasting my night. That’s why I try to be as efficient as possible in the kitchen and when I’m ready to work everything is set to go. Along the way I’ve picked up a few tips and tricks to having an efficient kitchen.
- Plan ahead.
I like to make a menu for the week (or even the month) ahead of time. That makes shopping and planning so much easier. It also allows me to stick to my grocery list and save money at the store and also use up leftovers and avoid duplicates of what I have in the pantry at home. By planning ahead you get your menu items ready on your weekend or the night before or even the morning. Know what you’re doing and how much time it will take to get the meal on the table.
- Keep like items together.
This might seem like an obvious tip but sometimes items in my kitchen find homes in this most unique spaces. When something can fit in a nook or cranny it tends to live there, but not anymore. I really like keeping my spices grouped together. Mostly in the groups of how I use them (for example: spicy dishes, Italian dishes, sweet and dessert spices) it saves so much time when you’re not rooting around for the oregano, basil and rosemary. I also like to keep all of my stirring spoons and cooking utensils in the same drawer and roughly grouped by function – I keep it right next to my stove for easy access. You get the idea, work it wherever you can. You’ll be amazed at the time you can save when you aren’t doing a dance around the kitchen looking for things.
- Read the recipe first and set out all of your ingredients.
It’s a good idea to read through your recipe a few times before execution. It’s part of planning ahead (knowing what you need to have on hand). Once you know your steps you can set the veggies together, canned goods, and spices together. By setting everything out you’ll know if you need anything, and that will save you a frustrating last minute run to the store. Another tip is to measure out your spices first, once things get cooking (pun intended), I’m always surprised at how fast steps go – it may be a paragraph on a page but actually doing it takes a few seconds. I don’t want to over cook something while measuring or chopping – that’s when things get crazy.
- Wash and put things away, right away.
Do I sound like your mother? Well I’m sorry to nag but a clear counter space is much easier to work with and navigate. The added room will give you freedom to spread out, take account of your items, and you will be less likely to spill something or accidentally cut yourself. Washing and putting dishes and cookware away makes the clean up so much faster. I do this because I hate doing dishes. I know sounds counter intuitive but I get upset to see a big pile of dishes in my sink (who do they think they are?). So if a few mixing bowls and a pan are hanging out I know I can manage that. And, really, who likes cleaning dried food from a pan the next day? Not me!
- Close up shop.
At the end of the night before I get ready for bed I do a quick sweep through the house and the kitchen. I grab miscellaneous tea mugs, glasses or dessert bowls and throw them in my empty (see tip 4) dishwasher. If there is a spot on the counter I do a quick spray and wipe it down. I put any air dried appliances back their home. I will even set out things I need for the morning like a travel mug and my lunch bag. You can even take this time to set up the coffee timer.
So there you have, five simple tips to save you time and aggravation. Do you find it helpful to do these things? What other tips can you offer to help speed the efficiency along?