Small changes to how you organize your kitchen and how you plan for meals can streamline the whole food-prep process – making it easier for you to enjoy healthy and satisfying meals. And these cleaning tips can help prevent a mountain of work!
Kitchen Organization and Storage
Most of us store our plates on one shelf, bowls on another, and glasses on yet another. But this strategy doesn’t always work well for fibromites. Reduce reaching and make mealtime easier by grouping essentials together. Store enough of your favorite plates, bowls, and glasses – the ones you most often choose when setting the table or grabbing a quick snack – on the most accessible shelf.
Professional kitchens use Cambro storage containers to keep both perishable and nonperishable foods safe and dry. [They also work fine for any nonfood items that you wish to protect.]These canisters are great for fibromite use: lightweight and virtually indestructible, they’re easy to open, fill, and seal, and they come in a wide range of sizes. They’re also reasonably priced and can withstand almost anything short of direct flame. These containers are available at restaurant supply stores as well as online.
A canning funnel makes it easier to fill even wide-mouthed jars and containers. Equally versatile for transferring flour to a storage caddy or for storing leftovers, these inexpensive utensils help prevent many messes.
Place heavier pantry items, like canned goods and liquids, on the easiest-to-reach shelves, so you don’t have to reach up or down with them. Pastas, cereals, and other lightweight things will be easier to retrieve from higher or lower locations.
Keep a lot of inexpensive kitchen towels on hand: some of the best can be made quickly just by cutting up a threadbare bath towel. These are useful as impromptu hot pads, protection for fragile salad greens, cushions for corners on which you might otherwise bang your head or elbow, pull-ropes to open cupboard doors more readily, and so on.
Insufficient counter space? Try using a rolling cart, tray jack, or tray table to hold your prepped ingredients. This is particularly helpful if you don’t have counter space near your stove – it saves a lot of turning and excess steps.
Rinse and/or soak pots and pans while you’re eating the meal you just cooked: they’ll be easier to clean up later.
Pop some lemon juice (or whatever natural scent you prefer) into a mug of hot water and keep it nearby while doing dishes or cleaning your kitchen. The little lift can be really energizing!
Doing dishes by hand? Adjust the temperature of your rinse water to the outside temperature. If it’s cold out, hot water may feel more soothing on your hands, while tepid water might feel nicer in warm weather.
Covering your stove’s drip trays with aluminum foil can expedite cleanup, but be careful not to block the igniter on a gas range or touch the actual burner on either gas or electric ranges.
Even if you have a dishwasher, keep a soapy sponge on hand while prepping or cooking a meal. If you’re able to clean bigger pans or wipe down surfaces as you go, the final cleanup will appear far less daunting.
Rinse dinner dishes at night, but don’t feel you have to wash them: you’re already tired after a long day. They’ll still be there in the morning. However, if it makes you feel worse to wake up to a messy kitchen, then go ahead and get scrubbing!
Using wood-handled, silicone-headed spatulas that scrape closely against the sides of a pot or pan is doubly beneficial: they reduce the likelihood that food will stick and burn, and they get all of that food out of the pot and onto a plate – so you don’t have to worry about dried-on food during cleanup. Use them to scrape out plates and serving dishes before washing, too.
Despite our best efforts, sometimes food gets burnt – but this technique can help eliminate the worst of it. While the food is still hot, scrape out what you can (it may still be okay!) and fill the pan with enough water to cover all burned-on residue. Place the pan on high heat, so that the water boils. Cover, allow to boil for a few minutes, and turn off the heat. Let the pan sit until you do the dishes next. The boiling water loosens the burned food from the pan, and the gradually-cooling water softens what remains. This works particularly well on sweet or starchy foods, although you may have to repeat the process if necessary.
Keep a small container handy to collect garbage and food waste while you’re preparing a meal. It’s easier to dump the entire container once or twice during food prep than to reach toward the garbage can every few minutes.
Exposure to cold, dry air makes refrigerator spills sticky and difficult to clean. After cleaning out your refrigerator, place a sheet of parchment paper (or even newspaper!) on the solid shelves of your refrigerator to catch those dribs and drabs. Replace the paper whenever you just can’t take the mess anymore. [Don't cover your wire shelves: they allow for proper air circulation.]
Keep a sheet pan – ideally, one covered with a silicone baking sheet liner, such as a Silpat – in your oven at all times. This will catch all the crumbs, spillovers, and general ickies that would otherwise burn themselves onto your oven floor. As a bonus, Silpats are non-stick: if you’re faced with a burned-on mess, simply soak the Silpat in water for a few minutes, then wipe clean. Don’t put the Silpat in the dishwasher, though!
A countertop dishwasher, which eliminates bending, is just the thing for many smaller households. If counter space is limited, you can place the dishwasher atop a sturdy rolling cart and wheel it into place as needed.