Whether you’re cooking dinner for the family or hosting a party of eight, the most anti-climactic part of any culinary extravaganza is the clean-up at the end. But why wait? In professional kitchens most chefs enforce the “clean as you go” rule, which prevents unsightly messes from building to unmanageable levels and removes clutter, which can distract even the most efficient cooks as they chop, grill, and plate through the evening. Here are a few tricks that will help you avoid a midnight mess, as you maintain your workspace while you create your masterpiece.
- When slicing, peeling, or chopping, work from right to left or left to right, keeping your scraps on one side and finished pieces on the other. Scraps will end up all together, waiting to be tossed when you move on to your next task.
- If you have a garbage disposal, station your cutting board on the surface closest to the sink so that scraps can be easily pushed directly out of your way and into the drain. (Also, make sure to run the disposal frequently, to prevent clogging build-up.)
- It’s best to pack excess pre-prepped ingredients in airtight containers in the refrigerator, freezer, or pantry, removing unwanted clutter away from your countertops and into their proper storage areas.
- Leave a deep pot of simmering water on the stove and use it to rinse and sanitize utensils between tasks, rather than grabbing a new one out of the drawer each time.
- Keep a damp kitchen towel on hand by your cutting board and use it to wipe off sticky residue or spills as they occur.
- Fill a spray bottle with a water and bleach solution (about 1 tablespoon bleach to 16 oz. of water). Use on counter tops and cutting surfaces after you’ve handled poultry, meats or seafood and before beginning other tasks.
- Whenever possible, use one bowl to hold your prepped ingredients. For instance, if your recipe calls for diced zucchini and summer squash to be sautéed together for the same amount of time, hold onto the small pieces in one bowl to minimize washing.