Wednesday, 12 October 2011
Stocking and Organizing a Working Kitchen
Because I view my kitchen as a work room (much like a shop would be to a woodworker), I prefer to leave my tools out where I can see them and reach them. I like things to be EXACTLY where I need them WHEN I need them. I cook many times each day and my hands are often covered in flour, pastry, or some such thing, so it's much cleaner to just touch the one tool that I need rather than rustle through a drawer with mucky hands. Imagine if a woodworker had every tool that was used daily packed up in toolboxes and drawers. Rustling through various drawers all over the room every time a tool is needed wastes precious time. Although the workshop might LOOK clean and tidy, if it isn't easy and efficient to work in, it's going to waste time and hinder the craftsman.
If you haven't already, I'd encourage you to set your kitchen up into work zones with efficiency in mind. For example:
* cutting boards and knives near the sink for easy vegetable washing/cutting/composting of trimmings
* pots and pans between the sink and stove for easy filling (water, veggies, etc.)
* colander and strainers kept next to the sink where straining/draining foods occur. Plastics kept between stove and sink because leftover food destined for the fridge comes from pots on the stove which then head directly into the sink after emptying into containers.
* hot beverage station near the sink for ease in making coffee and tea, etc. All supplies for any hot beverage (mugs, coffee, tea, sugar, honey, etc) kept in ONE cupboard right next the sink and above the coffeemaker and kettle (and close to the fridge and therefore cream)
* baking ingredients kept in one place where baking happens. Keep measuring cups, spoons and any other items needed for baking in this ONE location to eliminate steps. I find that I can whip up any baked good in just a few short minutes because everything I need (bowls, baking spices, baking soda and powder, salt, chocolate chips, sugar, etc.) is literally at my fingertips in large deep drawers at my island.
* grains and bread making supplies kept near where your mixer sits on a counter - again - no steps to add ingredients.
* spices for savoury dishes kept in an upper cupboard next to the stove - again no steps because we tend to add them into foods while they are on the stove.
* the toaster kept next to the stove for easy toast and eggs in the mornings. Bread and butter kept in the cupboard immediately above means that I can cook breakfast without leaving my "post" for a single thing :)
* dishes and cutlery kept between the dishwasher (if you have one) and the table. This makes unloading the dishwasher a snap and setting the table a breeze plus nobody needs to walk through the busy work area (sink, stove, fridge) to get the necessary things for setting the table during the critical last few minutes of cooking supper.
* linens (dishcloths and tea towels) are kept right next to the sink - no fumbling for a clean towel with a wet dish in your hands.
These examples are just that - examples. This method works exceptionally well for me and it makes my work in the kitchen much easier and infinitely more efficient and enjoyable. Efficiency saves me time and energy (both frequently in rather short supply around here) :)
Don't be afraid to radically change how your kitchen is set up. Free yourself from what you've always done and try something new! See if you can challenge yourself to set your own kitchen up in a way that saves you precious time and energy... think about the tasks that you do in your kitchen and set your workspace up to facilitate your work and the kind of food preparation that you do.
A few things to keep in mind...
* assign value to the spaces in your kitchen. Cupboards and drawers near hot spots like sinks and stoves are what I call "valuable real estate". I would never dream of storing something there that I only use weekly or monthly. Things that see daily use get to live in the best real estate in my kitchen. Infrequently used items are stored in more out of the way places such as over the fridge or in the corner cupboard.
* Once you get your layout tweaked and you are happy with it, label the inside of your drawers and cupboards with their contents. While some view this as really over the top, it is a huge help for us. I no longer hear "Mom, where does the peeler go? or Mom, where's the cheese grater?" Everyone knows EXACTLY where to put and find things without my help which means much more independence in the kitchen for my family members. This is a VERY GOOD thing, my friends...