I know you’ve been there.
You cook an amazing meal, pull out all the stops, pay attention to every detail.
You put together your masterpiece and enjoy a delicious meal.
But then, the inevitable:
After looking at this, you decide never to cook a nice meal again.
Bad Habits Caused This
We all have bad habits; those automatic “go-through-the-motion” tasks that we do without thinking.
When it comes to cooking, the simple act of putting a dish in the sink tends to be a bad habit. Why not directly in the dishwasher? Why not quickly rinse and wash it before anything dries and sticks?
I’ll admit it, I have been a messy person my whole life, except for the last few years. It took some honest effort to become a cleaner person, but one huge benefit is that I’m cooking at home way more often.
A clean, pristine kitchen begs you to cook.
But now, even when cooking an elaborate feast, my kitchen is always clean.
The Optimal Setup to Stay Clean While Cooking
The best way to keep your kitchen clean is to start with a clean kitchen. Then aim to keep it clean at all times.
- Clear the Dishwasher: We will put dishes directly in the dishwasher; not the sink.
- Clear the Sink: We need space to wash our food, cookware and have space for straining.
- Clear Countertops: We need space for our “mis en place” cooking to stay organized
- All ingredients you plan to use in one area: We will put them away as we use them
Prepare First, Cook Second
Now that the kitchen is clean, it’s time to prepare our ingredients.
You’ll have some combination of washing, chopping, seasoning, marinating, grating, grinding… you get it.
You never want to prep while food is cooking! This leads to a build up of dishes and insufficient time to maintain our clean environment.
It’s a smart idea to invest in a bowl set like this to keep all your food ingredients separated and organized during the prep phase.
“But,” you ask, perplexed, “doesn’t using more bowls just create even more cleaning?”
Using mis en place keeps the food preparing phase distinct from the cooking phase. This way, you have time to clean in between tasks, instead of frantically preparing one item while another is cooking.
The ABCs of
Sales Cooking: Always be Cleanin’
Take a page from professional chefs and keep a clean kitchen towel with you at all times.
Just chopped some vegetables and moving on to meat? Quickly rinse your knife and cutting board, and dry it with your towel.
Just spilled a bit of sauce on the cooktop while you were tasting for seasoning? Wipe that up before it gets crusty.
Use good habits to maintain your clean cooking space
Dishes Directly in Dishwasher
As soon as you finish with a dish or utensil, load it in the dishwasher right away. Skip to sink!
Many people drop their dishes in the sink out of habit without even thinking about it. Just to have this “big job” of loading the dishwasher later. Just put the dishes right in the dishwasher, and you don’t notice that you are ever “loading”.
Keep your Cutting Board Clean
Invest in a solid, wood cutting board that is easy to clean, built to last and easy on the eyes.
Always cut vegetables before meats; but it’s a good idea to give the cutting board a wipe between vegetable chopping.
Chop your onions first, then place them in a bowl. Wipe the board.
Chop your garlic and/or ginger, place them in a different bowl. Wipe the board.
Don’t try to parcel out little terriotories for your different chopped vegetables; it will just lead to food falling between your counter and your oven. Then ants.
The “Scraps Bowl”
While we’re discussing the cutting board, what are we doing with all our scraps?
It might make sense to put scraps directly in the trash. Me personally, I don’t keep the organic trash near my food prep area.
That’s why I always have a bowl dedicated to scraps, and once my prep is done, I dump the scraps and put the bowl in the dishwasher.
Whatever you do, don’t let packaging, food scraps and other lose rubbish pile up on your counters.
When frying food, there’s nothing more annoying than having oil drops all over the place.
I’ll admit to slipping a few times after a bunch of oil built up near the floor. Thankfully I didn’t slip right into a boiling pot.
That’s why I always use a spatter guard when I cook. It’s not only safer, but you don’t have oil building up everywhere (in your vented hood, the cabinets around your range and the cooktop).