I cook our family’s food from scratch, every day, 365 day a year. We don’t go out except on very rare special occasions. I am too cheap and as a vegan to finicky to eat out most places…besides we live in the sticks!
As I covered in my last post about food storage. Being prepared is also key to running a kitchen efficiently. To know how you cook and organize your kitchen accordingly. You do not need a big fancy kitchen to have one that runs will with few wasted steps. In fact a huge kitchen can be a detriment to efficiency.
There are a few things that should be done before setting up or re-organizing your kitchen….
Get Rid of what you don’t use…
Be realistic. Do you really need 3 waffle irons? How about those 15 packets of gravy mix in the back of the spice cabinet? While you are purging the unneeded look for the outdated, the broken beyond repair, and the things you hate. For me it was getting rid of a frying pan that I absolutely hated. I gave it to one of my older sons who are starting out and replaced it with one that worked much better for me.
If you have things that only get used during the holidays move them somewhere besides your kitchen…just remember where you put them. Keep valuable kitchen real estate for the most used and useful items
Make sure everything in your kitchen is used frequently.
Seriously take a look at how you cook…
Are you a gourmet cook that needs lots of spices? Do you like me spend vast amounts of time baking? Do you need lots of different pots and pans or will just a few simple ones suffice? Are small kitchen appliances something that you depend on daily or is a really sharp knife and box grater fine for you?
When you know how you cook organize stations for these tasks…
I have 4 deliberate zones in my kitchen. One for cooking, one for baking, another for clean up and the last for eating. Each has the tools for that task within reach.
My Cooking zone…
In this is my pots and pans, utensils that I use for cooking such as stirring spoons, knives, spatulas, ladles, etc. My most used spices are kept near by with my more exotic kept higher in a cabinet. I also keep my non-stick spray and cutting boards handy.
My Baking zone…
I have a 3 drawers beneath where I bake that I store everything I need for all my recipes for breads and other goodies. All measuring cups, spoons, whisks are in the first drawer. Chocolate chips and baking chocolate along with sugars are kept in the second drawer. Third drawer has cookie cutters, muffin liners, and rolling pins. All my baking spices are kept within reach of this zone. Next to these drawers is a cabinet with my wheat grinder and Bosch bread mixer. Mixing bowls are within reach also.
Clean up zone…
This includes the sink and the dishwasher and draining board. I use the cabinet directly over the dish washer to store plates and cups that we use everyday. This saves steps when unloading the dishwasher. Towels and dishrags are kept in a drawer next to the sink.
We keep dishes next to the area we eat along with napkins and the compost bucket. I also keep a small spice basket there with salt and pepper, Tabasco and sugar
These are a blessing and a curse in my house. I love having lots of counters but also hate the stuff they attract. Mail, newspapers, paint buckets, coats, plants (ok, like that one) etc. It is hard not to use such convenient horizontal surfaces as a dumping ground for everything.
I have made an effort to find places behind doors for most of my kitchen things like appliances…I have found that a cluttered counter seems to attract more clutter where as a clean sparse counter seems to stay neat longer.
Keeping small recycling bins, as well as a bucket for compost in your kitchen makes the items that are actually put in the garbage to a minimum. It also makes clean up more efficient.
I don’t store a lot of food in the kitchen (I use my pantry for that) but what I do store I store properly. Oils should be kept in a cabinet out of direct sunlight. Spices should not be stored next to the stove as heat and moisture will affect their flavor. Make sure foods are stored in areas that are appropriate to that food.
Store your most used items on the lowest most easily accessible shelves with the least used on the highest.
If you have decluttered and organized your kitchen you have taken a huge step to efficiency. Now when you actually step into the kitchen to prepare something you can follow a few very simple suggestions to make it even more streamlined.
Make sure you have all the ingredients you need before beginning…I know this sounds like common sense but I can’t tell you how many times I have been 3/4 of the way through a recipe and found that I was missing an ingredient that I was sure I had.
Gather all your necessary equipment…don’t waste while working by looking for the measuring spoon or the beaters for the mixer.
Clean up as you go…harder for some of us I will admit. Have a sink full of soapy water ready even if you use a dishwasher. As you get something dirty put it in the sink so the food won’t dry and cake on making it much harder to clean later.
Don’t let the dishes pile up on you…nothing is more discouraging than coming into your kitchen and seeing a mountain of dishes. It does nothing to inspire you to be creative in your kitchen…in fact it might just send you out to eat, and that is not what we’re hoping for here!
Make sure your kitchen is clean before retiring for the night to the couch or going to bed...I know for me this is hard. After dinner is done I am tired and in no mood for kitchen clean up. But those mornings that I get up and the kitchen is clean it makes my day so much sunnier. It also makes me inspired to come into and cook for the family…instead of running away! So wipe the counters and load the dishwasher, put everything back in its place, you will thank yourself in the morning!
Make extra...if you are making lasagna it is just as easy to make an extra pan for the freezer since you have the mess out anyway.
Remember no kitchen set up is etched in stone…rearrange and tweak it till it works perfectly for you and the way you cook. Making the commitment to cook from scratch may seem overwhelming but in a well organized kitchen, cooking and baking seems less of a chore and more of an adventure!
Oh and one more tip…
It saves time to have a computer in the kitchen to look up recipes or in this case write a post for NDiN…I actually made bread while writing this!
Kim can also be found at the inadvertent farmer where she raises organic fruits, veggies, critters, kids, and…a camel!
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