Have you ever noticed that the kitchen continues to cycle in clean and dirty. Kitchen work is never done. Through the years of being the daughter, wife and mother, I have studied the process of cleaning the kitchen with a goal of finding shortcuts. Admittedly, I spend more time than some in the kitchen. I love cooking for my family and others. Occasionally, I have even volunteered to run a large kitchen serving 800 over three days. So, I have clocked some hours in one of the busiest rooms of the house. Since efficiency undoubtedly saves time, I am frequently in search of completing the same tasks in less time.
So, in an effort to communicate these speedy ideas I narrowed this repetitive process into five steps.
- Clean the kitchen while you are preparing a meal. By carefully loading and washing dirty dishes while you are preparing the meal, the clean up afterwards will be greatly reduced. This habit limits the likelihood of food hardening and creating a longer scrubbing time. When you can’t wash items, soak them.
- Put all food away. Bring all food that needs to be stored in a ziplock or container to a location near the storage containers. At our house, we use divided storage plates to prepare food for my husband to take supper to work. When he is on his way out the door to work, he just selects a prepared meal and he is ready for dinner. On a side note, this habit of packing our meals for work and travel has saved us serious money. After storing food, stack all these serving or cooking dishes to be washed. Batching, or doing all of one thing, is always the fastest way to complete any job.
- Bring all dirty dishes to the sink before starting to wash. When faced with a kitchen to clean, the dishwasher door is open. All potential items are loaded. The larger serving pieces and pots and pans are quickly washed. If I have a helper I usually ask them to wash dishes while I work around the full area. More decisions are needed putting things away than washing dishes. Aim to have all larger serving dishes and cooking containers put away before completing the kitchen clean up.
- Wipe all surfaces. Once all areas are cleared, be sure to wipe them thoroughly. Areas to wipe would include the table, all counters, the cooktop, back splash garbage can lid. This is one of the steps that many people seem willing to neglect. This is not a heavy duty clean, just all visible surfaces. Coming into a kitchen to prepare a meal or just grab a snack can be met with leftover gunk on the surface you are attempting to use. Aim for manners in using the kitchen. Leave it as clean or cleaner than when you used it.
- Wipe down faucet and inside of sink and drain. Step 4 and 5 are critical in preparing the kitchen for success when you return. Just taking 60 seconds to complete this step. Change towels so you start fresh when you return to the kitchen. It is the little things that really make a difference.
Whenever feasible, recruit those who have enjoyed the meal to contribute in the clean up. Delegate one person to the sink to begin loading the dishwasher and washing other dishes by hand. Delegate another to clear all dirty dishes, then food and then other items. Another helper might dry and put away dishes. Time yourself or your team of contributors as you do the job from start to finish. It will surprise you how fast the job is completed. Consider a playlist for this task. Add fun where possible. Time your kitchen clean up. If you will work on it in sections like mentioned above, it will be speedy. Trust me.
If you feel like you are in the kitchen too much of the time, consider bulk cooking. Creating a system for planning, shopping and cooking in bulk will save you so much time. So many things are out of our control. Doing less work in the kitchen is a guarantee if you bulk cook.
Join me for a conversation with Tim on the companion podcast at Embrace Your Everyday.
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