Okay, I would never have a no kitchen work day, because cooking is kitchen work and I love cooking. But I have been inspired by National No Housework Day (which is today, April 7) to come up with six ways to make kitchen clean up easier—some of these are tips from my days in a professional kitchen, others are just common sense. But it never hurts to find ways to make clean up quicker.
1. Before you start cooking, fill one side of your sink or a small plastic tub with hot soapy water. Then, as you are done with utensils, plates, pans, put those things straight into the soapy water. No residues dry out on the utensils and whether those things are getting washed by hand or going straight into the dishwasher, cleanup is easier.
2. Don’t wash it if you don’t have to. When I’m working my way through several pots or pans, there are times when a quick rinse or even just a quick swipe with a paper towel is enough. If I’ve cooked pasta and then I need to start a sauce in the pasta pot, trust me, that pot gets only a rinse. If I’ve sautéed some onions and mushrooms in a non-stick skillet and now I want to cook my omelet in the same skillet? Paper towel, one swipe and move on. Save your effort!
3. Rachael Ray uses a trash bowl on her counter—I use a bowl, the Styrofoam container the mushrooms came in or just a plastic bag, and all trash goes into that. It keeps you from going back and forth to the trashcan. When you are done, if it was a disposable container like the Styrofoam, just pitch it all. I think you’ll be surprised at how much time this saves and how clean it keeps your work area.
4. Line baking sheets and roasting pans with foil. When you really want to make light work of scrubbing up, just lift the foil and toss it all. You’ll probably still need to wash the container, but you won’t find yourself endlessly scrubbing it all.
5. Used a blender for the morning smoothie or the evening soup? Don’t worry about washing it. Rinse the blender, then put a tiny bit of soap right into the blender, fill it about 1/3 full with warm water and put the blender back on its base. Turn it on, let the soapy water do its work, rinse the blender and let it dry.
6. Clean as you go. Don’t let too much mess pile up on the counter or in the sink…Once the dishes or bowls have soaked, get them into the dishwasher (this means, by the way, keeping that dishwasher empty). Put things back in the fridge or back into cupboards. Work at keeping your space clean, then when you are ready to sit back and relax, a few minutes work will get you out of the kitchen and relaxing with family and guests.
Okay, a bonus idea, one we should all use: DELEGATE. One of the fastest ways to get out of the kitchen? Enlist help. Hand tasks off—four hands are better than two, six hands better than four. And kitchen company is always good company.
What are your best get-out-of-the-kitchen tips?