Would you like to spend less time working in the kitchen?
I love to cook and if I’m not at my computer, the kitchen is usually where you’ll find me. But that doesn’t mean I love kitchen chores. As soon as someone invents a self-cleaning kitchen, I’ll be right there at the head of the line.
But since that doesn’t seem to be happening any time soon, I am all about finding ways to speed up kitchen chores and free myself up for more fun things—like reading a good book out on the porch swing.
Here are four easy ways you can save time in the kitchen and get yourself more free time for all the fun things in life.
Use a dish drainer.
The quickest way to do the dishes is to load the dishwasher. But at my house anyway, not everything fits or is dishwasher safe. That means there is always something that needs hand washing. When I wash dishes, I don’t dry them. I use a nice, big dish drainer—and when there are more than will fit a towel or dish mat on the counter. A dish drainer lets your hand-washed dishes air dry, saving you time & keeping them sanitary.
Plan your meals a week (or more) at a time by making a menu.
Organize recipes you see in newspapers and magazines by finding them online and saving them in a folder on your computer.
Isn’t trying to figure out what to make for dinner after a long day of work just more than your tired brain cells can stand? Rather than opt for easier (and less-healthy) take out or breakfast-for-dinner, I make menus. We don’t always follow it, but having a menu means I have the ingredients for what’s on the menu, so I know I can cook any of those meals without having to scrounge for ideas. For more on my menu process, read my post on menu planning.
It doesn’t take any more time or effort to cook six chicken breasts than it does to cook two. Five pounds of hamburger cook in about the same time as one. Prep ingredients for future meals and freeze them while you’re already cooking. If you’re a brown bagger, make tomorrow’s lunch while you make tonight’s dinner. When I make a casserole for dinner, I’ll often double the recipe and throw the second in the freezer for a night when I don’t have the time or the inclination to cook. At most, it might take me an extra five minutes—but it could save an hour or more when I most need it.
Keep like items together and give them a home near where you use them most.
In my kitchen, I have a drawer on either side of my stove. One drawer holds all my hot pads and pot holders and the other drawer holds pancake turners, wooden spoons and other utensils I use at the stove. Having them right there at my fingertips when I’m working at the stove means I don’t have to step away from a boiling pot to hunt down the right utensil.
In addition, store like items together. When I had a house full of brown-bagging students, I had a dedicated shelf in the pantry for school-lunch supplies: peanut butter, Nutella, snack foods and lunchbox treats all had a home on the lunch shelf. I still group food items together in my pantry. Snack foods still have their own basket, nuts on one shelf, baking supplies on another and so on. Figure out the foods—and other kitchen items—that go together and store them together. You choose the criteria that works for you, similar foods, similar uses, types of recipes you use things for—whatever makes your organizing system work for you.
Do you have a favorite time-saving kitchen shortcut? Share it in the comment section below. Do you have an organizing challenge? Share that too and I may address it in a future blog post.