If cooking leaves you constantly feeling like you are in the middle of football season, it may be time to get in the zone.
Are you constantly on defense when you are in your kitchen? When there are two or more people working in the kitchen, or children underfoot, things get tough. Keeping the food in play and trying to get it to the table is the goal. There are obstacles and fancy footwork involved.
Having separate zones in the kitchen is a necessity, if you want to get anything done. Designating different task areas will allow everyone who needs to be in the kitchen work harmoniously together. It will also ensure that minor interruptions, such as a child getting a glass of water or putting a plate in the sink, won’t upset the flow.
Here is the plan: your kitchen should have five zones.
Your food prepping zone should be located close to both the sink and your trash receptacle. Build in easy access storage for the tools you use most frequently for food preparation, including knives, peelers and graters, cutting boards, mixing bowls, measuring cups and spoons, the colander, the food processor, etc. Not sure what goes here? Note what you use in the next week or two and move it to your prepping zone.
The cooking zone should center around your stovetop and oven. Stock this area with pots and pans, either hanging them for quick access or taking advantage of nearby cabinets or deep shelves. On the counter near the stove, place a crock or caddy to hold your favorite stirring spoons, tongs, spatulas and other utensils.
The dishwasher should be located near the sink, and the trash and recycling should be near both of those plus the prepping area. Store strong cleaning supplies in a safe cabinet or up high where kids and pets won’t get to them. Keep a spray bottle of food safe cleaner and paper towels, at hand, to take care of spontaneous messes and spills. Vinegar and water mixed in a spray bottle makes a nice safe cleaner.
Pantry Storage Zone
A pantry is a great thing to have in the kitchen, or at least nearby. Organize the pantry in sections that make the most sense for your family. Zones inside the pantry might include a place for baking supplies, canned goods and pasta. Alternatively, you might choose to organize the pantry by the items that are most frequently used together to make a meal, such as storing the taco shells next to the taco seasoning, and the pasta next to the tomato sauce. Some pantry items might be better located near the prep area or the self-service zone (see below). Good examples of these items are bread and peanut butter for sandwiches. Don’t be afraid to experiment and move things around until you find out what works best for your family.
Self Service Zone
A self service zone is great for any kitchen, but if you have kids, it can really reduce the chaos in the kitchen. Set up a zone with healthy snacks, drinks and breakfast foods that can be grabbed quickly and easily. You may wish to set up two self-service zones, one in the pantry or cabinets for shelf stable items and one in the refrigerator for perishables.
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