10 Time-Saving Tips for Your Kitchen
I’ve gained some skills as an amateur chef cooking three meals a day for the past nine months while on a healing diet, and I’ve learned a lot about navigating a kitchen in the process. Working full time while also going to NTP school meant I’ve had little extra time to spare, and I’ve discovered many time-saving tips through trial and error and sometimes out of desperation! Perhaps you’ll benefit from some of these tips while navigating your kitchen.
1. Organize your kitchen space to minimize steps.
Three years ago my husband and I bought a house, and I was lucky enough to have some time off from work to get started cleaning, unpacking, and organizing. Naturally, I started with the kitchen. Inspired by the book “Organizing from the Inside Out” by Julie Morgenstern, I set up my kitchen deliberately to maximize its functionality. According to Julie, organizing your space effectively and successfully entails setting up the space as you’re naturally inclined to use it instead of organizing the space a certain way and forcing yourself to adapt to it. This requires some time and thought reflecting on how you use space day to day. You might even try living in the space for a while, observing how you’re inclined to use it, and then adapt the surroundings to fit how you personally function in the space. In addition doing to this, I spent time thinking about where to put things so I could minimize my steps, literally, while working in the kitchen. Some examples of this include: keeping spices in a cupboard by the stove and storing utensils in a holder by the stove. We use cast iron pans daily for cooking, so we just keep them on top of the stove between use. Two cutting boards live on the counters, one by the stove and one away from the stove, which works nicely when we cook together.
2. Divide up chores to keep the kitchen ready for cooking.
As you might imagine, cooking three meals a day tends to create a lot of dirty dishes. There’s nothing worse than having to clean the entire kitchen before you can even start cooking. My husband and I devised a way that works for us to keep the kitchen clean and ready for cooking while also preventing either one of us from having to do all of the cleaning. Strangely enough, I actually enjoy hand washing dishes but don’t enjoy loading and unloading the dishwasher. There are several dishes that require hand washing in our kitchen, so I took on the role of “hand dishwasher.” My husband doesn’t mind loading/unloading the dishwasher, so he takes care of those dishes. As long as we are consistent with this system, the kitchen stays relatively clean.
3. Rinse your dishes immediately after use.
Dishwashing takes much less time if the dishes aren’t caked with food. A good way to prevent this is by rinsing them right after eating. Rinsing pots and pans while they are still hot will help you get them clean in no time.
4. Be your own sous chef.
My life as an amateur chef is so much nicer if I spend an hour or two a week chopping and prepping food for workday dinners. Coming home to ready-prepped meals means all I have to do is put food in the oven or do a quick stir-fry/grill/sautée/sear, which is invaluable after being away from the house for twelve hours of commute/work time.
5. Invest in a couple of high quality knives.
A few years ago for our wedding we received three very high quality Japanese knives. Having sharp knives really makes chopping faster and easier and safer too! I recommend a standard chef’s knife, a paring knife, and a serrated knife. Try a few different knives to find out which feels best in your hand weight-wise and shape-wise. The handle of our knives are contoured to fit a right-handed user, which seems to provide a little more control while using them.
6. Put your kitchen appliances to work.
For some recipes, especially this easy and delicious one from Wellness Mama, I find it’s much faster to let my food processor chop all the vegetables. An immersion blender, which is smaller than a regular blender and easier to clean, is quite nice for puréeing soups right in the pot, and we use ours regularly for making smoothies. The crockpot is great for days when there’s no time to prep or cook dinner in the evening. I’m especially happy on days the crockpot makes dinner while I’m at work!
7. Make dinner and lunch for the next day at the same time.
I always make enough for dinner for my husband and myself to take to work the next day for lunch. If there’s more left over after that, I like to freeze the rest for emergency meals that can be thrown in the microwave when needed.
8. Stock the kitchen with healthy convenience foods.
Nut butters, shredded coconut, Epic bars, avocados, olives, plantain chips, salad greens, and fruits are handy to have around for a quick snack. I like to keep canned tuna, sardines, and oysters in the cupboard for a quick source of protein. Often I’ll grab a combination of these foods for a quick meal when time is limited or when I need food on the go.
9. Keep a food inventory for easy grocery list planning.
I have an app on my iPhone simply called “Grocery List” where I keep a list of food “staples” I buy regularly. When I plan my shopping for the week, I consult this list to remind me what I need. Then I add ingredients needed for recipes I have planned for the week’s menu, and I’m ready to go grocery shopping in no time.
10. Organize your recipes in one location.
Pinterest is my favorite place to organize recipes and consult for inspiration when I create a dinner menu for the week. Visit my boards to see what recipes I make regularly! When it’s time to cook, I simply pull up the recipe I’m making on my iPad or my laptop in the kitchen.