Cooking is delightful. It is a precious time my family and I share together. I would not change it for anything! There is, however, a bad side to it—the cleaning.
It often leads to a messy kitchen. That $2,000 gourmet gas range tends to get greasy and things get spilled on it often. Let’s not even mention all the dishes that need to be washed afterwards.
Yes, it sounds daunting, but it doesn’t have to be! There are some tips everyone can follow to make sure cooking ends in a quality time with the family, rather than a cleaning nightmare.
To maintain a clean and organized kitchen while cooking, follow these tips:
- Start with a Clean Slate: Before you begin cooking, ensure your kitchen is already clean. This includes wiping down counters, having a clear sink, and organizing your workspace.
- Prepare Ingredients in Advance: Known as “mise en place,” this French culinary phrase means "everything in its place." Measure, cut, and prepare all your ingredients before you start cooking. This reduces the rush during cooking and keeps things organized.
- Use Fewer Utensils and Dishes: Plan your cooking to use the minimum number of pots, pans, and utensils. For instance, if you're making a salad and a main dish, chop all your vegetables at once, using the same cutting board and knife.
- Immediate Cleaning: Clean as you go. If you have a few minutes of downtime, wash a few dishes or wipe down counters. This prevents the mess from piling up and feels less overwhelming. The goal here is to only have the stovetop to wipe down at the end of cooking.
- Organize Your Cooking Process: Group your cooking tasks efficiently. For example, start with dishes that have longer cooking times or require marinating. While these are cooking or resting, you can prepare other quicker dishes.
- Containment Strategy: Use lids to reduce splatters and keep your stovetop clean. My husband tends to always keep a towel on him hen cooking. He uses this towel to immediately clean up any spill. Also, consider using splash guards when frying or sautéing.
- Garbage control: Have a system for waste management. Keep a garbage bin within easy reach to dispose of scraps and packaging materials immediately. This ensures that your space will remain clutter-free.
- Use Liners and Foils: Where appropriate, use parchment paper, foil, or slow cooker liners to minimize mess in your pots and pans.
- Enforce a Clean-as-you-go Rule with family: After using a utensil or a dish, either wash it immediately or place it in the dishwasher. Don't let dishes pile up in the sink. This is a spiral that inevitably leads to a mess.
- Storage and Leftovers: As soon as your meal is ready, store any leftovers in containers and clean the serving dishes. This avoids food drying up and becoming harder to clean later.
- Final Cleanup: After cooking and serving, do a final sweep of the kitchen (not literally, when can sweep some other time!). Wipe down the counters, clean the stove, and make sure everything is back in its place.
- Daily Maintenance: Beyond cooking sessions, maintain a habit of daily kitchen upkeep. Wipe down surfaces, sweep the floor, and keep your appliances clean. By integrating these habits into your cooking routine, not only will you enjoy the process of making meals, but you'll also relish in the ease of maintaining a clean and inviting kitchen. Remember, a clean kitchen is a happy kitchen! This also does marvels for your mental health and your family’s.
If this still seems overwhelming or if you need a little help getting control of your kitchen, hire a cleaning company like Pulirr! We can help you get back in control so you can enjoy that quality time with your family. You may also hire us if you just don’t want to deal with cleaning. We have many clients that don’t and they rather use that time to spend with their family doing other things. Whatever the case, we would love to help!