“So what does dinner preparation have to do with decluttering?” you may be asking.
Plenty is my answer. When you develop new habits for chores you do every day, you will not only have an easier life you will have a decluttered lifestyle and more time to do the things you love to do. You will have a relaxing evening after dinner to look forward to instead of a huge mess to deal with. And isn’t that worth striving for?
I knew something had to change in the way I prepared and cleaned up after dinners. I have finally come up with a way to have my kitchen all clean and clear before I even sit down to dinner.
I try to keep my kitchen counters clear except for a toaster, an electric water kettle, and some handsoap. Once I got the habit of having clear horizontal spaces, I get very uncomfortable with them cluttered in any way. Even the tiniest crumb or something not put away bothers me now! If I am in a big hurry to leave my house after breakfast, sometimes I hide the skillet in my oven for cleaning later. And sometimes I put dishes in a bin below my sink for loading in the dishwasher later when things get hectic. But for the most part, my kitchen looks clear and clean! I love it! What a feeling of joy and serenity I get every time I am in the kitchen.
I like not having to do a big cleanup after dinner so I finally worked on ways to do that.
It involves the following 3 strategies:
Strategy Number 1:
Collect some easy one-pot dinner recipes. In my case, I like the Instant Pot for easy and quick meals and very little clean-up! I went to the library and got some cookbooks and scanned all the easy and healthy ones that did not require a lot of fuss or complicated procedures. I like one bowl recipes because all you have to wash are 2 bowls and 2 spoons or forks!
Strategy Number 2:
I did my dinner prep way early in the day when my energy level was highest. Usually, it is right after lunch. And my lunch is usually a giant salad with different ingredients. I like doing the lunch clean-up alongside the dinner preparation. All the measuring and cutting up I did and had it all ready to go when I was ready to cook dinner in my Instant Pot.
The recipes I choose involved little time and mostly just dumped in all the ingredients and turn it on! I then put away all the food and throw away trash and wash any prep dishes, boards or utensils.
Strategy Number 3:
After you dump all the ingredients into the pot and turn it on, you can use that 20 or 30 minutes of cook time to clean up your kitchen. Wash the bowls and measuring cups and spoons and knives and wipe down all your counters and cutting boards etc. and do a quick vac on the floor for any food droppings that may have occurred. I have a small hand vacuum for these types of quick cleanups. Now all you will have left to clean is the inside pot of your instant pot and some bowls and utensils – in my case it is just my husband and me – so just 2 bowls to clean! I like the fact that it usually takes less than 5 minutes to clean my kitchen and I can spend the rest of the evening relaxing while I have a sparkling kitchen to wake up to the next morning.
A note about Crockpot cooking:
Crockpots are amazing mess savers as well! When using your crockpot, you will have to do your prep a day ahead – the afternoon before. Then when you wake up in the morning all you have to do is dump the prepped ingredients into the crockpot and relax until dinnertime! This works great for people who have to work during the day. It sure is wonderful to come home to the aroma of a yummy dinner all ready to eat in the crockpot! Again, I like one bowl type of dishes so the cleanup is kept very quick!
A note about batch prepping for meals:
I have tried this and it takes extreme planning skills, but it is worth a try, especially for those that work outside the home. I make it a practice to cook dinner every other day instead of every day. Neither my husband nor I mind having leftovers! We try to keep things simple for our other meals as well.