Sunday, June 30, 2013

Part III: Keeping a Tidy Kitchen

Have you ever walked into your kitchen at the end of the evening and thought that a tornado must have hit while you were eating dinner?  Or worse, you haven’t even begun cooking and you’re already on the phone to FEMA?  The answer to your dilemma may not be emergency relief, but instead, a few simple steps that you can take to prevent a disaster from happening in the future. 

In the third part of my Kitchen Cool:  Secrets of a Vegan Personal Chef cooking series, I address one of the unspoken taboos of chefs:  a messy kitchen.  Not only is it impossible to get any work done in a kitchen filled with chaos, but it's also de-energizing, demoralizing, and downright depressing.  Sadly, the energy that surrounds you is also what ends up going into your food, and nobody wants a plate full of that!

The remedy is to always remember that your kitchen is a sanctuary...
It's not only where you prepare food for yourself and your family, but it's also a place for peace and tranquility.  You need to create a space filled with order and harmony so that your kitchen can nurture you just as the food does, leaving you nourished and satisfied.

These simple steps will help you restore that sense of order in your kitchen, as well as return balance to your life. 

  • Get organized. Have a designated space for everything you use on a regular basis (food processor, cutting board, measuring cups, etc.), and return everything to its place when done.  Remove that pile of mail, all those cooking magazines, and kids homework from countertops.  Your kitchen is for cooking; it’s not life’s storage bin!
  • Clean, well-lighted space. Make sure you have adequate lighting both overhead and above work areas so that you can see your veggies as you’re cutting them and know whether they’re cooking properly in the pan.  You don’t want to go from translucent to burned because you can’t see your onions! 
  • Be open. Keep open shelves or overhead racks for your pots, pans, lid covers, located near stove so you can find them when you need them. Stock pantry staples in open, lined shelves in labeled containers for easy access.
  • Hold it. Store cooking utensils in a canister by the stove or in a storage bin, measuring cups and spoons in drawers or on shelves near your work area for easy access.
  • Keep in line. Store frequently used electric appliances in a neat row along the back of countertops so they can be pulled forward when needed, then pushed back into place when done.


  • Clean as you go. Use your time in the kitchen wisely by cleaning up while something on the stove is cooking.  Whether it’s washing pots in the sink, wiping the countertop or picking up stray veggies that didn’t make it into the pan, your eye should be focused on tidying up those little messes so they don’t get out of hand.
  • Spooning. Keep stirring spoon, tongs, spatulas and other utensils close at hand by the stovetop, and have one designated tasting spoon at the ready.
  • Wear it well. Keep yourself neat and tidy by always wearing an apron and drape a hand-towel at your waist or over a shoulder for quick cleanup of those sudden messes.


  • Go home. Return everything to its proper place (pantry items, equipment, utensils, etc.) as soon as you’re done using it.  
  • That’s neat! Clean countertops, cutting boards, stovetop, and oven when the meal is completed.  Don’t wait until messes become dried on layers of cement that need to be chiseled away!
  • Clean as a whistle. Toss apron, towels and other linens in the laundry after each use.  Do a quick sweep and mop of the floor.  Return your cookbooks to the bookshelf (or at least on your nightstand!).
  • Take a break.  You deserve it!  After creating a meal for yourself or your family, it's always nice to sit back at the end of the evening and commend yourself for a job well done.  


Anonymous said...

Great tips for a tidy kitchen! I do many of them now and they really streamline cooking prep and clean-up. Thanks for the suggestions which will be very helpful for novice cooks or young teens who want to try their hand at cooking.

Mary Lawrence said...

Good to know there's another chef out there with a tidy kitchen! I hope these tips are helpful to anyone who feels overwhelmed or is just starting out.