There are simple things you can do to streamline food prep and clean-up, leaving you more time to linger over family dinners.
- Design for efficiency. The work triangle – connecting the sink, fridge, and cooktop – is still the baseline for maximum efficiency. But in two-cook kitchens, it often makes sense to have a second triangle, possibly designated around an island counter with a prep sink.
- Think ahead. Set aside some time at the beginning of the week to plan your meals for the week. It takes a load of stress off your mind to know what you’re having for dinner when you wake up in the morning. Having a plan also means you can take advantage of time to consolidate tasks. For example,when you’re chopping onions for one meal, you’ll know if you’ll also need onions for a meal later in the week, and chop those, too.
- Use your crockpot. A staple of the 1970’s kitchen, crock pots are still very relevant. You can invest a few minutes in the morning to get dinner cooking, then not worry about it all day. See this post for several simple slow cooker recipes which can save you tons of time.
- Minimize maintenance. Some materials and finishes are harder to care for than others. Stainless-steel appliances remain popular, but if fingerprints are a concern, a newer, smudge-resistant finish such as GE’s Slate may be a consideration. As for flooring, vinyl held up best in Consumer Reports tests against scratches and dents.
- Contain the clutter. In the kitchen, try to put things close at hand. For example, dishes and flatware should be kept in a cabinet next to the dishwasher; cutting boards and sharp knives belong near food-prep counter. Creating a separate landing spot, ideally just off the kitchen or along its perimeter, for mail, school papers and the like will help keep counters clear.
- Make it a family affair. Look for ways to enlist other members of the household. If kids are present, designate a lower cabinet for everyday dishes or flatware, allowing young ones to help set the table.