Cooking Tip: Clean While You Cook

A home cooked meal doesn't have to mean a messy kitchen.
A home cooked meal doesn’t have to mean a messy kitchen.

The last thing you want to do after the meal is done is face that pile of pots and pans. With a little bit of organization you can get those dishes done before the meal is on the table.

We talk a lot around here about recipes and the benefits of cooking fresh food in your own kitchen, but for many folk, this can seem a bit daunting. With some little time-savers though, you can still get a home cooked meal on the table without eating up your free time.

Cleaning while you cook is a trick that I learned from my late Nani Dorothy. I grew up watching her in the kitchen, and when I was old enough she showed me how to chop veggies for broth, season a matzoh ball soup with plenty of fresh dill, and how to clean the kitchen while doing it all.

Cooking and Cleaning

The trick to cleaning while you cook is finding those little moments of downtime in between tasks and tidying up what you don’t need anymore. Are the veggies chopped and stewing on the stove? Take those few minutes to clean the cutting board and knife and any bowls you used in the process. Have you finished with the stove, but you’re waiting for the oven to preheat before baking your casserole? Take that 10 minutes or so and clean the pans and cooking utensils that you don’t need anymore.

Every recipe has little gaps, you just have to look out for them. “Simmer for 3 minutes” means you can wash out a bowl. “Saute until soft” gives you time to load the dishwasher with utensils that you’re not using anymore. Instead of watching the pot while water for pasta comes to a boil, wipe down the kitchen counter and toss your veggie scraps into the compost.

By taking advantage of the downtime between steps in your recipes, you can prepare a meal and clean it up at the very same time. When dinner is served, you can enjoy it without a pile of dishes looming over you.

I know we’ve got some seasoned home cooks out there. What tips do you have to help fit cooking into your busy schedules?

Image Credit: Creative Commons photo by land_camera

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