Make some simple changes in your kitchen to save time.
In the 1950’s, researchers developed the concept of the kitchen work triangle: the sink, stove, and refrigerator. If you think about it, before 1950, all kitchens had was a sink, stove, ice box, and a table. The work triangle concept kept steps to a minimum in the area used for cooking and cleaning up.
Extra steps taken with your feet or spent looking for a misplaced item equals more time preparing the meal. Today, in addition to the work triangle, we also think about centers of activity. Steps are still important, but how you use your kitchen is incorporated into the equation.
Zachary says it’s too cluttered in this drawer!
Counters and Cupboards: Reduce the number of objects permanently left on kitchen counters. The counter is your primary workspace and requires frequent cleaning. A cluttered counter makes prepping food and disinfecting the area more difficult. Remove knickknacks and anything else that doesn’t absolutely need to be there.
Frequently-used objects should be stored in easy-to-reach locations. Place items near the area you’ll be using them. Do you have a Lazy Susan corner cabinet? Take advantage of its interior space by storing small (but cumbersome) appliances like a toaster, blender, food processor, and mixer. Once I began using my Lazy Susan for small appliances, I couldn’t believe the amount of counter space that was available.
Infrequently-used objects may be stored in other locations. An item used once or twice a year (like a roasting pan which you only take out during the holidays or a cake platter) can be placed on a top shelve or in the back of a cabinet. Seldom used items can even be stored outside the kitchen in the basement, garage, closet, or even in a box under a bed.
Make sure every item in your kitchen has earned its right to take up your valuable space! If you have a “junk drawer” in the kitchen, get rid of it.
Use the space for storing cooking utensils. When we remodeled our kitchen, I regulated the “junk drawer” to the garage.
Toss kitchen gadgets you don’t use. Okay, this one is evenhard for me. I love kitchen gadgets. Be realistic! When was the last time you used that melon baller, cherry pitter, or pasta maker? If you haven’t used it in a year, donate it or toss it out. I even got rid of my counter can opener. It takes up premium space and the blade is usually the dirtiest square inch in your kitchen. I replaced it with a manual can opener, which can be easily cleaned and stored in a drawer.
Cooking and Prep: Your cooking and prep area includes the counter, cutting board, the stove and oven, the refrigerator, plus the utensils that you’ll use. Close at hand should be knives, measuring spoons and cups, mixing bowls, spoons and spatulas (a decorative jar set by the stove keeps these within easy reach), pots and pans, and pot holders.
If you have room in your kitchen, a free-standing prep island is extremely helpful. I have a small one and I absolutely love it. They’re worth every penny and can be purchased in home improvement stores. Not only will an island provide a prep area, but mine has shelves, where I store my pots and pans and a drawer where I keep my knives. It’s an ideal place to keep often used items such as olive oil, onions, and garlic. Another handy way to store pots and pans is to hang a decorative wrought iron rack.
Baking: In one convenient spot, store together flour, sugar, baking powder, a set of measuring cups and spoons, mixing bowls, and baking pans; this makes baking a snap. Everything you need is ready at a moment’s notice. Do you have a narrow cupboard, next to the stove or refrigerator? It’s a perfect place to slide your pizza pans and cookie trays.
Serving: Place your dishes, glasses, and silverware in the most convenient place for you: near the table or the dishwasher. The napkins, trivets, and condiments like salt, pepper, and sugar should be kept close to the table.
The sink, under-sink cabinet, and dishwasher are items in the Cleaning and Safety category, as well as dishpan, drying rack, sponges, towels, gloves, soap, and cleansers. Under the sink is an ideal location for the trash can.
It’s out of sight, yet close to prep and cleaning areas. Liquid hand soap and an all-purpose cleaner for counters and the sink are a must in every kitchen. If you have small children, install child-proofing on lower cabinets. Be especially careful that knives, liquor, and cleaning fluids are stored safely out of reach of little hands.
Storage and Pantry: Whether you store foods in a pantry, a cabinet, or a closet, keep related items together for easy retrieval. Place a black felt-tipped pen with canned foods, then date each can as you put it in your cabinet. Use the oldest dated cans first.
Even though it may be convenient, don’t store herbs and spices in the upper cabinet next to the stove. Heat rises from the stove, affecting the quality of your herbs. Place herbs as close to the stove as possible, but in a bottom drawer or on a lower shelf close to the floor.
These two helpful hints can be found my book, Baby Bites: Transforming a Picky Eater into a Healthy Eater. Purchase seven kitchen towels, one for each day. That way you’ll always have a germ-free towel. The sponge is another area where bacteria can rapidly multiply. Replace sponges often and daily disinfect them. Rinse and squeeze out the water from the kitchen sponge place it in the microwave; then run on high for two minutes.