In the Organized Kitchen: Five Tips for Efficient Meals
Posted June 13, 2008on:
There are many areas of household management I struggle with, but I’m good in the kitchen. Even before I hit on some of these kitchen organizing solutions, I was able to pull meals together pretty easily. But I know that’s not the case for everyone!
My mother was and is a really good cook, and at this point in her cooking life, she hardly ever consults a recipe. I still love to read and collect recipes, and I aim to try a new one every week, but I do a lot of cooking out of my head, especially on weeknights. I’m infamous for tweaking recipes, but that’s half the fun!
Over the years I’ve learned some tips and tricks that have helped me get a healthy dinner on the table in less time. If this is a struggle for you, give them a try:
Make a Weekly Meal Plan: I do this sometime between Friday and Sunday. I get out my calendar to see what the week holds, and then plan a meal for each night we’ll be home. I aim for balance between meat, chicken, fish, pasta, etc. and I try to include “something green” in every menu. I jot down my ideas, assign them to a day of the week, and then make my grocery list.
Keep A Running Grocery List: I have a supply of those long notepads with a magnet on the back, and one always lives on my kitchen cupboard door, where we have a magnetic bulletin board. My husband and I both add to the list as we discover things we’re low on. It works very well – we rarely find ourselves without the essentials.
Keep a Well-Stocked Pantry: I always have certain items on hand. Some of my staples include canned tomatoes and tomato sauce; various kinds of beans; pasta and rice; canned tuna; olives, capers, and artichoke hearts; kid-friendly canned vegetables; onions and garlic; soy sauce; chicken broth; and good-quality olive oil and wine vinegar.
Store Like Things Together: I have a bin for oatmeal preparation, since I make it almost every morning; another bin for rice and grains; a couple of bins for baking supplies and equipment, including measuring cups; and small turntables for things like oil, vinegar, soy sauce, kosher salt, and my pepper mill. Cooking goes so much faster when I can just grab a bin, instead of digging around in the cupboard for the various items I need.
Create a Favorite Recipes Binder: I’m a recipe hoarder, and a post on unclutterer.com finally inspired me to do some organizing. I had a binder, but the recipes were stuck in there every-which-way; they weren’t even alphabetized – silly! I now have two 3-ring binders to hold my “favorite” recipes, organized by category; these are recipes I have used, like, and go back to regularly. I still collect recipes to try; they’re stored in file folders by category. When I feel like trying something new, that’s where I look. If the recipe is a success, it goes into the binder; if not it goes into the recycling! I asked my daughter to decorate the tabbed pages for each recipe category; above is her “Layr Cacke” collage – I love it!
Stay tuned for more detailed posts on these ideas, and for more suggestions for setting up and maintaining an organized, efficient kitchen – guaranteed to add a little order, serenity and peace of mind to your life!