By Chef Domenica Catelli
One of the first things I think of after “What should I cook for dinner?” is: “I don’t want a big mess in the kitchen.” I realize that after a long day of work or running around with our kids that the idea of cooking AND cleaning up our kitchen can actually prevent us from making food at home. What if I were to share a few practical tips that can reduce clean-up time? Perhaps adopting a few of these would be the tipping point to help you decide to cook vs. getting fast food or takeout? I hope so.
- Do a Quick Rinse (it’s sometimes enough!): Go ahead and make that smoothie for breakfast – blender clean-up can be easy: fill your blender halfway with hot tap water, a few drops of dish soap, and cover. Turn blender back on for a few seconds, rinse it out with hot water, and you’re done! You’ve got a clean blender and a delicious smoothie (my go-to recipe includes plain yogurt, frozen organic blueberries, ground flax seed, frozen banana and a splash of your favorite unsweetened juice or agave nectar)
- Make only one mess, not five: Make sandwiches on Sunday and freeze in individual bags for the week. This will mean only one clean up time vs. every morning dealing with bread crumbs and sticky jam-covered knives.
- Line your pans: Roast veggies, meats and fish on large sheet pans lined with parchment paper or foil. Throw away after cooking and you won’t spend any extra time scrubbing caked-on food from your pans.
- Do the one-dish: Consider making one-dish dinners or using a crock pot for a few meals a week. This cuts your clean-up dishes from several down to one!
- Get the kids involved: Whether it’s clearing and scraping dishes, rinsing, wiping down counters or loading the dishwasher. This can be a family event and get done in a quarter of the time. (Remember, two people cleaning for 10 minutes is like one person cleaning for 20!)
- Loosen the gunk: If you have cooked something that looks like it’s going to need a lot of muscle to get it clean, add water when the pan is still warm and put it back on the stove on low heat. Use a wooden spoon or heat-proof spatula to dislodge stubborn, stuck-on food. You will use a lot less elbow grease when the residue is warm than when everything has cooled and stuck to the pan.
- Soak while you eat:If you have two sides to your sink, fill one side of the sink with warm soapy water and quickly put all dirty pans and bowls or cutting boards from your dinner prep in there before you eat. This will take less than a minute but save you time when cleaning after you eat.
- Make it fun! Put on some music, set a timer for 10 minutes – and the race is on! This game works great with kids, and even with myself…”can I get it all done in time?”
Incorporate these time-savers and don’t let the clean-up keep you from cooking. Remember, cooking can be fun, and cleaning can be easy.
Until next time, stay fresh and delicious!