We’ve all been there: slaving away to cook a family feast (fit for kings!), and once the work is finally done, there’s more—the clean up! Unfortunately, in most homes, the chef also is also in charge of kitchen duty—there’s no rest for the weary. Make your job easier by keeping a tidy kitchen as you cook. Sound impossible? These 5 easy tips will help you avoid creating a disaster area while cooking to make clean up a breeze.
Tip #1: Start with a clean kitchen
Begin your culinary adventure with clear, wiped down counters, an empty sink, and an empty dishwasher or dish rack. This way you won’t pile onto an existing mess, and you can stack dirty dishes directly in the dishwasher, and let pots soak in the sink to deal with them immediately, rather than settling them on counters and procrastinating your clean-up.
Tip #2: Clean up spills as they happen
It’s best to prevent spills (stir with a tad less flourish!) but when they do occur, wipe them up immediately. Not only will this save time later, you’ll keep those nasty spills from getting crusty and hardening on your counters, which just makes them more difficult to remove after dinner is done.
Tip #3: Put ingredients away immediately after using
Yes, every time! This may seem like unnecessary work, especially if you’re going need to use that butter again later, but having a clear space to work without clutter will keep you from getting frenzied and produce good habits for staying organized as you cook.
Tip #4: Reuse utensils
You may be tempted to use a new spoon every time you dip into a sauce or ladle up some stew, but sometimes reusing tools is just more efficient. You definitely want to prevent cross-contamination, but reusing leads to less dirty dishes and less of a mess to deal with when the evening is over (and it’s green!).
Tip #5: Utilize downtime
Waiting for sauce to simmer, for garlic to brown, and for water to boil is time you can use to cross of a few simple items on your clean list. Rise out a couple of bowls and stack them in the dishwasher, soak a pan, or scrub a spoon. Soon you’ll get the hang of using precious minutes to get stuff done.
image: Getty / Chad Springer