Unless you’re a chef working in a restaurant, you may not have thought much about making your kitchen more efficient. Having an organized kitchen is a priority in restaurants because cooks need to avoid wasting time and ingredients. This also helps ensure that the food gets out more quickly to the diners, and it can save the restaurant money.
Why not save yourself money and time as well? Here are some tips for making your own kitchen more efficient.
Optimize Your Kitchen Space with Zones
A little rearranging in the kitchen can take it from exhausting to efficient. Organize your counters into zones. You’ll have four major zones: prepping, cooking, cleaning, and storing.
Your prepping zone is where you bring together your ingredients and prep tools. In this area, which includes the cabinets above and below the counter prep area, you’ll keep things like knives, baking pans, prep bowls, measuring cups, cutting boards, and so on. When you prep for a meal, you’ll measure your various ingredients here, chop meat and vegetables, and so on. You’ll still need to rinse your veggies in the sink, which is in the cleaning zone, but for the most part all prep should be done in this first zone, which should be right next to your oven.
That brings us to the cooking zone, the oven itself. Keep cookware nearby. If you have a cooktop or rangetop, you can keep pots and pans underneath. If not, keep them in the nearest lower cabinet with space. Your olive oil and other cooking fats, as well as salt and pepper, should be close at hand, as these are ingredients you’ll use while cooking.
Next comes the cleaning zone, which includes the sink and dishwasher. Obviously, you’ll need your dish soap and sponges in that area, as well as a rack to place drying dishes. You can start using this zone while your food is cooking to rinse or wash bowls and other tools you’ve used so far. Once your meal is done, you’ll clean your dirty dishes, silverware, pots, and pans here.
The storing zone comes after the sink, dish drainer, and dishwasher. In the cabinets above or below this area, keep the plastic and glass containers in which you store your leftovers. After your meal, put extra food in containers and put them in the fridge or freezer, depending on the food and how long you plan to store it.
Do the above alone, and you’ll already have an efficient kitchen.
A Few Extra Tips
First, don’t let dishes pile up. When everything is already clean and put away, you have access to it the next time you need to cook.
Also, keep your knives sharp. Dull blades require extra pressure when cutting, so they're more likely to slip and cut you.
Make enough food that you have leftovers. Sure, you could cook a new dinner every night, but why not save yourself some effort and cook a full meal only a few nights a week?
If you have a lot of spices, alphabetize them in the cupboard. Yes, we’re saying you can save time looking for your thyme.
The best thing about all this is it shouldn’t take long at all to arrange your kitchen this way. Give yourself an hour during the day to take care of it, and you’ll save yourself many future hours while cooking.