Part 1: Setting Up
Step 1. Empty Your Dishwasher
Yes, we said it. This is Step 1. Having an empty dishwasher when cooking or baking makes life so much easier. We will suggest another way to clean dirty dishes while you work but for now, go empty the dishwasher. If you are the dishwasher, congratulations. You get to skip Step 1.
Step 3. Have a waste bowl nearby.
Not an actual garbage can, just a bowl or container where you can throw waste away. Having an thing within arm’s reach to add all scraps or peelings is more efficient than having to go back and forth to the trash can. It’s a tremendous time saver!
Step 5. Use the 10-second rule!
Pick up anything you drop right away and throw it in your garbage bowl. We know how annoying it is to have to bend down every 5 minutes, but if you think about it, it’ll save you time in the end. You’ll simply have to do a quick sweep once you’re done in the kitchen and voilà!
Step 2. Start the Christmas Music
If the thought of Christmas Music makes you wonder just how much flesh and blood can bear, go ahead to Step 3. If you are one of the lucky few who still appreciate the art form, make with the Bing Crosby and get busy.
Step 4. Remove the recycling bin from wherever you hide it.
Have the bin nearby; just like you have your waste bowl. Keep the bin on the floor, preferably in a place where it won’t be underfoot. This step will help with cooking if you’re using canned or boxed goods. Just drop them in as you go along. Ensure you’re removing all non-recyclable plastics, of course. But we didn’t need to tell you that, you know what’s what.
Part 2: Getting to Work
Step 6. Use a cutting mat over your cutting board.
Okay, we know what you’re thinking. Why use both? And if you aren’t thinking that, it may be because you aren’t sure what this is. In that case, it is a flexible mat that you can cut on. It comes in handy because you can pick the whole thing up and bend it in the middle, which gives you a handy funnel for getting the chopped veggies into the pan with minimal loss and waste.
Step 8. Clean as you go.
If we haven’t made this clear yet, you must have skipped Steps 3-5. However, on this note, we’re suggesting you grab a large bowl or container and fill it with soapy water. We suggest this as you may need your sink for other reasons such as water, dirty dishes and so on. You get the point. So have this soapy water as an area where all dirty items are consolidated instead of having them hanging around on your countertops taking up valuable space.
If you have a small space to work in, you know how important this step is.
Step 10. Use a splatter screen when cooking over a stove top.
If you’ve got one lying around the kitchen, great! If not, look into buying one for the simple reason that you’d be avoiding the spatters that come of rendering fat, sautéing or shallow-frying. This will save you tons of time cleaning afterwards.
Step 7. Use a cup to corral your measuring spoons.
Using a cup or a tall container in front of your cooking area will remind you not to pull out a new one every time. This streamlines the cooking process by keeping your tools nearby and organized.
Step 9. Fill a spray bottle with soapy water.
This step may or may not be useful to you, but by having a spray bottle with soapy water, you can give dirty pots and pans a squirt right away and dissolve the nasty things stuck to them. And it makes keeping the countertop clean easy as pie.
Part 3: Finishing Up
Step 11. Measure and spray over your sink. (or over an open dishwasher, if that’s closer)
Not only will this catch the excess grease or powder flying everywhere, it will keep cooking sprays away from any pets or children if they are nearby. Also, it keeps your countertop from being anointed with honey or oil or any other tenacious substance.
Step 13. In Vino Veritas
As you work your magic, take the time to enjoy a good glass of wine. Pausing to reflect on what you’ve done and what you must still do is a good practice. It stills the mind and keeps you focused on the small tasks that eventually add up to a large finished product. We recommend a nice Merlot.
Step 12. Take your time.
Cooking and baking are a marathon, not a race. Take your time and enjoy the process of creating a beautiful delicacy from the rawest ingredients. And, cooking at a slower pace ensures less messes are made. Chopping slower, measuring deliberately and wiping up in between each cooking instruction, guarantees your success. If you’re still a skeptic who feels fine festively flinging flour to the floor, then fire away. It’s Christmas and we all celebrate in our own way, be it messy or neat.