Some of you may look at my recipes and think I’m out of my mind for thinking the recipe is easy. It’s all about perception I guess. Some people tell me they burn water, they could never cook like me. Confession time: I’ve done the same. I’ve ran out of water while steaming vegetables and burned the bottom of my pot. What.A.Mess.
Here are a few tricks I’ve learned along the way that help set me up for success in the kitchen.
#1 – Plan ahead
I can not express enough the importance of meal planning. Look at the coming week and decide on your meals and allow room for last minute changes. I’m a mom, I know life happens. Look ahead to what your obligations are for the coming week. If you have a dance class on Tuesday, or hockey on Thursday, don’t expect to be able to prepare a full meal. This would be the perfect time to try out one of your slow cooker recipes so you have a hot meal ready for you.
Making a meal plan will not only help you plan your shopping list, it will help save you money in the long run. If you know one of your dinners will make a lot of extras, plan on having that meal early in the week so you can use the leftovers for lunches. (saving you both time and money)
#2 – Have a well stocked pantry
If you can keep a well stocked pantry with the basics you use regularly, particularly your spices, cooking and baking will be so much easier as you won’t have to shop for new spices when you’re trying to prepare a dish.
I recently reorganized my spice and baking shelf. I threw out old bottles of vinegars, identified items I use regularly and bought fresh spices for my jars. We have a local store that sells spices by the pound instead of having to purchase packages. I find this much more price efficient and as I only buy what I need. (i.e. If I only need a tablespoon of a certain spice for a recipe, I’ll buy a minimal quantity.) I invested in a dozen 500 ml mason jars and used my label maker to identify my spices. I also organized my spices alphabetically (kinda). The top spices start with the letter A-F, the bottom spices are everything after G. (some people tell me I have a problem, I find it just saves me time in my universe)
Teri also gives her suggestions to what she thinks should be in a well stocked pantry.
Another suggestion I’ve starting doing came from my Aunt. When she goes shopping and she finds something on sale that she usually uses, she’ll stock up but when she gets home, she’ll use a black marker and put an X on the “older” food item so she uses those ones first. It’s nice to see food hoarding runs in the family. Or should I just consider this being frugal and buying stuff while it’s on sale.
#3 – Stay Organized
There are so many ways to be organized in your kitchen. Here are just a few suggestions:
- Store like items together. Keep all your baking supplies in one cupboard, pots and pans in another.
- Store the items you use most frequently where you can easily access them. Seasonly items should be stored in the higher up cupboards. Yes, those cupboards you need a chair to access.
- Store your plates, glasses and silverware as close to the dishwasher or sink as possible so when it’s time to put them away, there’s less travel distance.
- Similarly, keep all your cooking tools in the area around your oven. Keep your cooking utensils, pots and pans, cooking oils and spices close to your preparation area.
- Utilize storage solutions: divide utensil drawers so items are easily categorized, cupboard racks hold pots and pans lids and use baskets to organize tea towels, baking utensils and fresh produce.
- Tuperware become a national brand for a reason. It’s uses are endless. They are not just for leftovers anymore. Store your pastas, cereals, flour, sugar, etc.
#4 – Keep your counters clear
I try follow one simple but important rule each day. I clear off all my counters before I go to bed. This includes taking care of all dirty dishes and putting away all small appliances. Tackling a meal is so much easier when you have an clear working space ready to go.
I am very fortunate to have a lot of cupboard space and still it seemed stuff would get stored on my counter tops. One day after reading this fantastic post by Emily on How to Completely Clear off Your Kitchen Counter, I decided I had enough with the clutter. I took the time to purge items out of my cupboards I was just hoarding and found a place for everything that had been accumulating on my counter tops. What an incredible feeling!
I’m sure there are many other ideas that help you feel like you’re in control of your kitchen and I would love to hear your suggestions! If you enjoy being in your kitchen, amazing things will come out of it.