We all have different things going on at different times in our week and sometimes it’s hard juggling everything. Here are some suggestions how how to maneuver through the kitchen daily, allowing for at least one of life’s chores to be on track!

Plan meals according to your schedule for the week.

Photo by Ron Lach

Meal planning is essential for getting through the week smoothly.  It’s important to choose meals that fit with your schedule.  For example, choose a slow cooker meal to make in the morning when you know you are working late, or choose a quick meal when the kids have multiple after school activities.  Don’t plan on making lasagna on the day that you know you only have time for a 20 minute meal! 

Gather ingredients and tools you need before you start cooking

My mom taught me this trick.  When I was younger, I liked to watch her cook and she showed me tricks she learned as she became a seasoned cook.  Back then I thought it was so annoying because I thought it was more work, but in fact, it’s the opposite.  By gathering ingredients ahead of time, it gives me more time to focus on the recipe and prepping and stops the distraction of moving back and forth to the pantry or fridge because I forgot an ingredient.  It also helps me stay put so I don’t miss a plot point in the show I’m watching.  More on that below 🙂

Clean up as you go

Photo by cottonbro

Once I get to a point that I can leave something sizzling on the stovetop or baking in the oven, I begin cleaning up my mess.  This will prevent food from drying out in a dish, making it more difficult to clean later.  I use my dishwasher daily, there are only certain things I hand wash.  So as my meal is baking in the oven, I load the dishwasher and clean up my prep space.  I’m in a much better mood after dinner when I walk into the kitchen and see clean up is already halfway done.

Use a plastic grocery store bag or produce bag for garbage

My garbage can is underneath my sink, so it gets annoying opening and closing the cupboard every time I need to throw scraps away.  I don’t like to put a lot in my garbage disposal either – peeled skin from carrots and cucumbers tend to get stuck.  So I reuse a plastic grocery bag or plastic produce bag to put any scraps in.  Then I just tie up the bag and throw it in the garbage.  It makes clean up much easier and more efficient.   

Entertain yourself!

I have days where I don’t feel like cooking or I’ve been on my feet all day and the thought of standing for another hour makes me want to cry.  However, I’ve found that entertainment is a super helpful way to get in the cooking zone where time flies by.  Brady found this phone stand that attaches to a surface (I have mine on the window sill) and the neck is adjustable.  I listen to music or a podcast, or I watch a show on my phone – something not too serious so if I miss a scene because I’m at the stove adding ingredients I still know what’s going on.  Game of Thrones would be a bad choice to half pay attention to!

Store leftovers in lunch size containers for easy grab and go in the morning

Let’s face it, we all have grand plans for the morning like waking up earlier to exercise, catching up on news, or relaxing with some coffee, but the reality is the snooze button is so convenient it can be hard to stick to a routine.  The same can be said about preparing breakfast or lunch in the morning.  Often times we just grab something quick and end up ordering lunch because we didn’t have time to prepare it in the morning.  That’s where leftovers come in.  After dinner when it’s time to put leftovers away, separate the food in lunch size containers instead of storing all food in one large container.  By doing this, your morning will run smoother because all you have to do is grab the containers you already prepared the night before.   Brady and I have containers with different lid colors, so it’s even easier because we know what our food options are and if we have a serving left.

Hand wash any dishes that need it after dinner, you'll thank yourself in the morning!

Even though I am often tired after cooking, I still make sure any dishes that need hand washing are cleaned after dinner.  I hate waking up to a messy kitchen and starting my day annoyed.  If I can’t get to the dishes during the day, what ends up happening is I get ready to make dinner but I have to move everything around so I can start fresh.  So I’ve found that even if I don’t feel like cleaning up, it’s better to muscle through it than spend more time scrubbing the dishes later on.  If you don’t have time for clean up, or just don’t feel like doing it after dinner, at least rinse the dishes and/or pots and pans in the sink.  By performing this step, you’ll prevent dried food from sticking to the dish, making it harder to scrub off when you are able to get to washing the dishes.

What tricks have you learned from navigating around your kitch? List in the comments below!