When I first started cooking, I was in a tiny kitchen of a one bedroom flat. I didn’t have much surface space, so I thought that was the main reason I was such a messy cook. Turns out I was just as messy in a slightly bigger kitchen and it continued. But over time it really started to stress me out, especially as I make a heap of recipes now. With a toddler running around, I really can’t have an extra stress. So I put some tips in place to help me and stop the post meal ‘Urghhh the kitchen!’ I hope these tips help you too, I feel that even implementing one will make a huge difference.
Have a scraps tub
This is probably the most important thing that changed how tidy I was in the kitchen. Your chopping, peeling, opening a can. You’re either constantly going to and from the bin or have a pile of peelings etc all over the counter. One day I simply got a metal plant pot from Ikea and sat it on the side where I prep my food. Every time I cook, I pop all of my peelings, off cuts, tin lids, random packaging etc. Then once everything is in the pan or oven, I just empty the pot in to the bin. Done, all in one. Then I rinse the pot and pop it back on the side, don’t even bother to dry it. That one simple element has taken away so much stress, crazy right?
Of course this is time dependent, but even going from simple things like, clearing your counter top of things that are going to get in your way ten minutes before cooking. Washing up what’s already in the bowl, so it doesn’t pile even higher on the side. Grab the utensils and pans you know you’re going to need, pre-heat the oven, grab and arrange all the ingredients for the recipe and place them inside a baking tray neatly. To more time consuming elements, like chopping ahead and putting it in a bowl, marinading meat, making packs of your most used spice mixes. For example I always make a batch of my spicy chicken rub. Because it’s quite a time consuming process and I simply don’t have the time to make it each time I cook. Any amount of prepping ahead you can do, will save stress and mess.
Arrange washing up in sets
After all these years, I’m lucky enough to have a dishwasher. But I still arrange my washing up in to sections. So I’ll stack all of my plates together, then my bowls, group my cups and glasses, then pans, then I’ll usually pop my cutlery in a mug or baking tray/dish if I’ve used one. Then when I didn’t have the dishwasher or I’m washing things that can’t go in it, I’ll wash them in sets. That way they are easier to stack in the drying rack for when you (eventually) dry them up. I can’t deny that I’m still one for leaving drying up. But when you go to dry them, they are grouped and then you can stack them on the side together and pop them where they go easier. I use this concept when arranging my food on the conveyor belt and packing my food shopping too. Everything for the fridge in one bag, cupboards, freezer etc.
Have a recipe that uses 58 million pans or requires a heap of prep effort? Batch cook it, your freezer is your friend (but we’ll get to that next). Batch cooking not only takes away your kitchen repeatedly getting messy, but it also takes away a huge heap of stress mid week too. It’s also really good for saving money and reduces a heap of food waste. If you don’t have a big freezer, even making two, cooking one and freezing one will cut down on mess in the long run.
Your freezer is your friend
It really is, I would much rather stand and chop for two hours if it means that I can make prep ahead packs and then just pull them out and pop them in a pot. Today I prepped ahead soup packs for my husbands lunch, so now in the week I don’t have to mess the kitchen up by chopping a whole heap of ingredients. I can just pour them all in to a pot and walk away with a clean kitchen. Stacking packs vertically in your freezer is also a good way to save space. Mary Kondo your fridge freezer, in the long run it will save so much stress and mess. Chopping and freezing fruit saves it from spoiling. Food52 have a great article about ‘How to Stock Your Freezer Smartly‘ and ‘How to Make Your Freezer Work for You’ I also highly recommend signing up to their newsletter, it’s truly amazing.