How to Work Cleanly in a Kitchen

For people who love cooking or for people who just cook because they need to, there is a common problem that sometimes stops them from entering that kitchen–clean up time.

Cooking is fun! The pleasant click-clack sound of a knife against a cutting board, the smell of sizzling meat in a pan, the anticipation of all the flavors that will cascade over your tongue. . .all of these things may end up staying in your mind if you can’t stomach the fact that you will have to clean up afterwards.

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The counter setting people imagine to have every after cooking is almost the same— a pile of scrap vegetables and peelings clogging the sink or covering the counter top, oils and sauces splattered over our kitchen table, pots and pans layered in the sink along with countless spoons, forks, containers, and cups used during our time in the kitchen. Maybe some of us has loving, patient partners who will agree to clean up after us, but for those who are on their own, we need to face the reality of home-cooking.

Keeping up a clean kitchen as you prepare a meal can be hard, especially if you have limited space. However, there are several tips you can do in order to minimize kitchen clutter.

  • Be organized.

Make sure everything you need is prepared and at hand on the kitchen counter before you begin. For fresh ingredients like vegetables and meat, wash, peel, and set them aside in a clean bowl or plate close to the chopping board for easy access. In fact, cutting up all ingredients that need to be cut and placing them in separate bowls (use one bowl for ingredients that go together to save dishes) can help making clean-up easier by no longer needing the chopping board and knife around while cooking.

  • Keep scraps in one area.

When peeling and cutting ingredients, make sure you keep all the scraps in one side of the table instead of both ways and all around. When doing so, make sure that the scraps are on the side closer to a disposal bin or trash can. In case the bins are away from the actual counters, prepare a large bowl or tray where you can scrape off all the waste and scraps for easy carrying to the trash can. This way, you can avoid dropping ingredients on the kitchen floor when you carry scraps by hand.

  • Clean up little by little.

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A golden rule to be observed at all times in the kitchen is the “do now to save from later” rule. This basically means that whatever you can do at the present moment, do it. Pushing things for later will only pile up more work for you in the end.

This applies to a lot of things in the kitchen. When you drop something on the floor, be it sauce or dry and fresh ingredients, pick them up and wipe them off immediately. This will save you from dealing with stains and ants after cooking. Another part the golden rule applies to is washing dishes. When you are done using bowls or utensils that you are sure to not use anymore, wash them up immediately. This will stop the dirty dishes from piling up, making it harder to face clean-up later.

  • Cook slowly. 

If all else fails, you should try to cook more slowly. Sometimes when you are in a whirlwind cooking spree, you end up with more mess from being careless and disregarding some disposal tips in order to cook faster. Cooking more slowly will give you more time to pour ingredients without any mess, collect scraps in the disposal bowl, and wash finished dishes.

Keeping a clean kitchen is important both for the cook and the people who will eat the meal. A cleaner kitchen makes a happy and healthy environment that produces clean and good food. It may be hard to break old habits, but taking up these new ones will surely make cooking a cleaner experience.

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