Today don’t have a new recipe to share, instead I am going to share some of the mistakes I was making in setting up my kitchen that were slowing me down when I was cooking. I have identified 7 kitchen set up mistakes and some of the solutions I have used to speed my cooking.
I used to eat unhealthy all the time. One of the reasons was that cooking just seemed too time consuming and too complex for me. So instead I relied on take-away or microwave dinners. When I started my journey to eat healthy I initially found recipes that were quick to make, but it was still taking me a long time to prepare a meal.
It was not until I started timing myself when cooking that I discovered that part of the problem was that I was spending way too much time dashing about my kitchen finding things I needed. Part of this was the way my kitchen was set up.
Actually my kitchen was set up the same way my Mum’s kitchen was. Except she had a massive open plan farm kitchen and by virtue of city rents I have a tiny one, where copying my Mum’s kitchen set up makes no sense. I know I’m not the only one. I have a good friend who is excellent at living a zero-waste lifestyle, but she still had her third kitchen draw reserved for plastic wrap and tinfoil which she barely used, because that’s where her Mum had kept those things in their kitchen growing up.
Here are seven mistakes I have made in setting up my kitchen that slowed me down when cooking:
- Cupboards filled with things you hardly ever use – having to reach between the cherry pitter and the novelty cocktail straws to find a vegetable peeler wastes valuable time, plus saves the frustration of not being able to find things and the danger of being stabbed by corn cob skewers. I did a massive cull of the things I never use, and moved many of the things I rarely use elsewhere. I don’t want to get rid of the set of crockery for 12 and my 20L saucepan, but I rarely need them so now they’re all stashed along with my cherry pitter in the cupboard under the sink. And I keep my veggie peeler in the cutlery draw with my teaspoons.
- Putting the kettle/toaster/blender/other device in premium bench space – as I’ve mentioned before my new kitchen has extremely limited bench space and when I first moved in I put the kettle and the toaster on the bench directly above the draws. This was a logical place, but it meant that one of the few food preparation surfaces I had was largely taken up with appliances. Plus it meant I was constantly running back and forward across the kitchen from where I was preparing things to the cutlery draw. Now I have moved the kettle on top of the microwave and I’m keeping the toaster on a tray in a cupboard. If I need a spoon to stir things or a can opener I don’t even have to move to grab them.
- Being unable to find matching tupperware lids – microwave cooking is all about being able to do things quickly, but it’s no good if you have to spend three minutes searching through all a million pieces of tupperware to find the matching lid. I used to have all my lids in a separate container, but I found that it still took too long to find what I needed. Now I’ve done a major cull on my tupperware and only kept the half dozen or so pieces which I use all the time.
- Having the knife block too far from where you chop things – like number 2, this is all about the time wasted wandering back and forth across the kitchen. A good knife block is a must have for me, but in my old kitchen set up it was across the other side of the kitchen from where I did most of my chopping. Moving it meant the right knife was always within reach, which not only saved time in fetching the right knife, but made me more likely to use the right knife so I was quicker chopping things too.
- Keeping broken things – for years I used a can opener that was just a little bit broken, the handle was cracked and if you didn’t hold it the right way it would pinch my hand. I wasted so much time using this broken can opener when I could have bought a new one for less than $5. Kitchen appliances are so cheap these days, it’s worth looking to replace anything broken that’s slowing you down.
- Not being able to find things in the pantry – I like to bulk buy, so sometimes I’ll have half a dozen cans of tomatoes in my pantry, but that can make it hard to find a can of lentils when I need one. I could spend ages looking for something, or worse assume I didn’t have an ingredient I needed because it was hiding behind three packets of pasta. I am currently trialling a new system to combat this, I have divided my pantry into four sections, one for proteins, dried and canned beans etc.; one for carbohydrates, rice, pasta, quinoa etc; one for vegetables, onions, potatoes, canned veggies and a final one for spices, curry pastes etc. I’m not sure it’s foolproof, but it’s certainly a lot quicker to find things now.
- Making washing up difficult – this is not so much about cooking quickly, but about making sure it’s easy to clean up for next time. I hate washing up, and if the sink if full of dishes, it can just seem like one more reasons to leave it for later. I’m much quicker in the kitchen if I make sure there is space on one side the sink for dirty dishes and for the dish drainer with the clean dishes on the other side.
Do you recognise these kitchen set up mistakes? Do you have any of your own that slowed you down?