Do you find yourself constantly running to the fridge or pantry for ingredients while making a meal? Does your kitchen look like it was hit by a natural disaster after each meal? Well, here are a few tips to help you clean up your act in the kitchen so that you can get dinner on the table a bit faster every night.
Run Your Home Kitchen Like a Restaurant Kitchen
Restaurants pump out hundreds of meals a night in kitchens that are barely bigger than yours. How do they do this? They set up functional work stations, and you can borrow the same assembly line approach. Clear out any dirty dishes in your sink, so you have a washing station. Next to the washing station, have your prep station where all the chopping gets done. Your stovetop and oven clearly are your “make” stations where all the food gets made or cooked. If this happens to be near your prep station, then great. If that set-up doesn’t work, that’s where the next tip comes in.
Use Prep Bowls
A lot of people don’t have prep bowls. Collapsible bowls are great, and can be stored easily, and take up almost no room in a dishwasher. Pop them open for usage. Everything from your prep station should go into prep bowls, so that everything is in its place, and easily moved to your workstation. That way even if your prep and make stations aren’t near one another, you have an organized way of getting all your ingredients over there.
Gather Everything You Need Before You Start
Rather than running back and forth, “shop” your freezer, fridge, and pantry for everything you need before you start meal making. Also pull out all the tools such as the cutting board, knives, and pots and pans that you’ll need or at least make sure they are within arms reach of where they’ll be needed.
Re-Organize Your Kitchen to Optimize Your Stations
In the context of kitchen organization, all “optimizing” means is to make sure everything you’ll need for that particular station is within arms reach. Have a drawer of prep bowls right below the station, if possible. Have all the tools you need to the right of your range. Be sure to put your main seasonings sitting either on the range or in the closest cupboard, so you can easily grab what you need to make sure the dish tastes just right.
Find Ways to Use Fewer Dishes
If you’re just roasting vegetables, transfer them right from your cutting board to a parchment paper. Season them right on the baking sheet and save yourself a few additional prep bowls to wash.
Have a Trash Bowl or Bag at Your Prep Station
Place a large prep bowl, a paper bag, a plastic grocery bag, or your compost container at your prep station. All food trash can go right into it so you’re not running back and forth between your trash can and your prep station. You will be shocked how much time this saves.
Clean Up as You Go
There are always a few minutes here and there during the cooking process when you’re waiting for the pot to heat up or the onions to soften. Use these spare minutes to make your kitchen sane again. Return what you can to their homes, deposit dishes or utensils in the sink or dishwasher.