A weekly column celebrating the neat freak in all of us.
It’s easy to get distracted while working in the kitchen, and before you know it you have a HUGE mess to clean up.
Today I’m going to give you my tips & tricks on how to stay organized while cooking & baking!
Before you start working on a recipe, start with a clean kitchen! Your baking/cooking mess will be greatly reduced. The task of cleaning up won’t be as daunting if you’re starting from square one. It’s just common sense.
A clean kitchen also helps you get your head in the game.
Make sure your work surfaces are clean & clutter free. It’s soo necessary! You’ll prevent a lot of accidents this way.
If you don’t want to mess up your freshly cleaned counter top, put down a dishtowel. It’s really nice to have when you’re measuring things like flour because the mess is well contained.
Before you get started on a dish, it’s SO IMPORTANT to re-read the recipe because you might forget an important step, preparation or ingredient. I almost always make the mistake of forgetting that something might need to be chilled in the fridge for hours and I’m totally thrown off time-wise. It’s important to know what steps, ingredients & tools are involved. So read, re-read and READ your recipe AGAIN. Really think about what has to be done from start to finish.
After reading the recipe, layout your tools. Be prepared! If you’re reaching for something you need in a drawer with sticky hands, you are most definitely going to make a mess.
Gather your ingredients! Look at the ingredients list and take time to measure things out in advance (if you can). It’s easier to follow along with a recipe if you’re prepared.
Also, SEPARATE ingredients. For example, I may have one area/station on a counter designated for all of my cake ingredients and another area/station set up for the frosting. If you have things mixed together, it’s easy to misplace the items you need.
When I’m in the kitchen I like to use an empty baking sheet as a surface where I put everything that needs to be put away. In my kitchen I keep it on the center island so I can pivot around and place things on that baking sheet. When I’m done with a recipe and ready to clean the kitchen, I go right to the baking sheet and sort out the items that need to be put away. It’s all contained on one place.
I learned this tip a looooooooong time ago while watching Rachael Ray. Have a junk bowl on hand! Keep a large bowl at your workstation where you can toss your garbage/compost scraps. It’s not always easy to access the garbage can, so this prevents messes and is a huge time saver.
Timing is EVERYTHING. Take note of any baking/cooking times and set your timer accordingly. I usually use my phone because it doesn’t leave my side (sadly) so if I’m getting distracted in the other room I won’t miss hearing the timer. Like I said above, it’s important to know how long things are going to take. You also know how much time you have to clean up your mess. Which brings me to the next rule…
CLEAN AS YOU GO! This rule is ESSENTIAL. I can’t stress this enough. Use the increments of time in between steps to cleanup dishes/bowls/surfaces. Always exploit your cooking & baking time to clean up your mess. You will feel completely overwhelmed if you leave all the cleaning to the very end. You might not even have a clean surface to put your finished product on!
When I start working on a recipe, I like to get a little tub of soapy water ready in my sink so I can soak items that might require extra elbow grease.
I also like to play a little game with myself to see how much I can get cleaned while something bakes in the oven. It’s a good challenge and the reward is a clean kitchen.
Good luck in the kitchen! Remember to have fun!
Do you have any good tips to add? Let’s discuss.