More people than you might think love cooking, even if it does not necessarily reflect in their daily routine. Life gets in the way sometimes, but among the most commonly reported issues for is the mess. If you walk into the kitchen with ingredients in mind and a recipe to hand, but the room looks like it needs a good spring clean, you can likely feel the motivation disappear before you even reach the oven. Worse still, you might be apprehensive about the mess you make while the work is done. Cooking and eating is one thing, but washing up and wiping down surfaces are not among the most glamorous elements of cooking a meal.
Fortunately, the process of cleaning as you go does not need to be intimidating. With these 10 tips, you can focus on the fun parts and limit the time you need to spend on the boring bits.
1. Always Try to Start With a Clean Kitchen
We’ve already mentioned a preference for a clean kitchen to start with, and it can be worth including a quick tidy in your daily routine. If you have the time and inclination, the fact that you’re reading this feature right now might be all it takes to motivate you to try a deep clean. Once you know that every corner of the kitchen is clean, the task of keeping it tidy becomes much more straightforward, and you’ll feel that motivation that can disappear all too easily come flooding back.
2. Do the Right Task in the Right Place
Whether you have a large kitchen or something so small that you can reach every bit of workspace just by turning around, there is an appropriate place for doing anything and everything in the kitchen. What’s more, it can make it far easier to keep things tidy. If you’re distilling liquids, do it near the sink. If you’re peeling vegetables, do it by the bin, so the peelings go right in rather than mounting up on the worktop.
3. You Don’t Need to Go Pro Every Evening
When we’re in the mood to cook, we fancy ourselves as something special. The more difficult the recipe, the more motivated we are to get it right. However, you don’t have to be Gordon Ramsay every time you cook. Indeed, the trickier the recipe, the more mess you’re likely to make. If you don’t want to do too much tidying, use fewer ingredients and more straightforward methods. That makes for less washing up also.
4. Do What You Can Beforehand
Many recipes come with prep times and cook times, but they rarely take keeping the kitchen clean into account. If you can add even a few minutes to that prep time, then you can come out far ahead. Best of all, depending on the recipe in question, you can often do this long before you start the cooking process proper. Vegetables keep well even when cut up, so if you need sliced carrots later and have 5 minutes spare in the morning, you can save yourself slicing time and the seconds it takes to put the peelings in the bin later on.
5. Ingredients Don’t Always Need to be Fresh
There are always pros and cons to fresh ingredients. They often taste better and end up being healthier. Conversely, they can work out more expensive, take longer to prepare and, crucially, make more mess. With any other concerns put to one side, there are few quicker and easier tasks in the kitchen than opening a can, emptying it and putting it in the recycling bin. That means no leftovers, no waste and no extra tidying.
6. Use as Little Hardware as Possible
We’re writing this tip, in part, in the hope that we might take it on board ourselves! When we’re in the kitchen and rustling up a veritable feast, all bets are off. Sure, a recipe could be put together with one saucepan, but if 3 can make it easier or add more flair, then we’re often guilty of falling into the latter category. It might feel good at the time, but you pay for it later on when everything needs washing and putting away.
7. Throw as You Go
Much as with any room in the home, allowing the mess to build and build will often make you feel like you have a mountain to climb when the time comes to clean up. If your regular bin doesn’t lend itself to trick shots from anywhere in the kitchen, use a bag or a box. Even the packaging your ingredients came in will get the job done, and you’ve then just got a small and simple task to do when you serve up.
8. Timing is Everything
It might not feel like basic maths forms a crucial component of cooking efficiently. However, if you can add and subtract minutes and hours with ease, you’ll find ‘free’ time during the cooking process. Take advantage of the fact that you’re in the zone – and the kitchen – to stay on top of things. If one part of the recipe needs to cook for 40 minutes, and another only 20, you have a spare 20 minutes in the middle to ensure everything is where it should be.
9. Keep a Towel to Hand
Mess doesn’t bother us all that much when we cook – perhaps to a fault. However, if you keep a cloth or towel to hand, you can clean up anything that ends up where it shouldn’t be without issue. The sooner you address a spillage, the easier it is to clean, so you’ll save yourself more time than you spend in the long run.
10. Fill the Washing-Up Bowl at the Start
If you start any cooking session with a washing up bowl that’s ready to clean, several of the above tips will become much more manageable. In terms of cutting down on hardware, you can quickly wash a knife, bowl or anything else to get it ready for the next job and all without using another. Assuming your cook time is less than how long it takes for the water to go cold, you can leave everything in there to soak while you eat, cutting out harsh scrubbing later on.