September 12, 2012

Get Cooking: The Joys of A Tidy Kitchen

Welcome to my Tiny Tidy Bakery (note: toaster oven in background now gone)
When I was learning to cook more meals from scratch I was looking for ways to ease the process of getting off convenience foods. I read that the prime reason people didn't cook more was because their kitchen was often a mess. The solution was simple - always keep your kitchen clean, tidy, and ready for cookery magic.

Freshly made baked salsa with tortilla chips

There is nothing that kills the desire to cook more than walking into an untidy kitchen. It is not hard to envision piles of dishes filling a sink, cluttered counter tops, and things out of place. Most kitchens I have been in actually looked like that. But this should be scrupulously avoided, because what you want to do is focus on cooking, not cleaning.

When we see a messy kitchen we yield to the temptation to consume less nutritious, more convenient, more expensive fare. Manufacturers and providers of frozen dinners, take out, order in, prepackaged, and fast foods all benefit from the chronically messy kitchens across the land. It is time for a Tidy Kitchen Movement.

I cook all meals from scratch in my tiny, tidy kitchen. Sometimes it seems like I spend most of every day preparing for, cooking, and cleaning up from meals. Good thing that I love cooking. I love it even more when I start with sparkling clean, orderly surroundings.

Keeping A Tidy Kitchen

  • always have a tidied kitchen by the end of the day so you don't have to wake up to a mess
  • clean as you go throughout the day so things don't add up to a huge, overwhelming cleaning job later - keep a sink of soapy water and wash things as they are used, then dry and put them away
  • have a place for everything so things can be stowed out of the way when not in use
  • change your attitude toward cleaning so you can look at it as a part of cooking which can be enjoyable in its own right. Look at it as an opportunity for quiet time, moving meditation, or karma yoga.
  • keep counter tops clean - a wide expanse of clear counter space wants to be used
  • have everything at your fingertips - you should be able to immediately access everything you need, which is why I like a smaller kitchen
  • involve your family in the cooking... and the cleaning
Veggie stir fry

Do you want to take more control over what you are eating? Do you want to cook more often? Try the joys of a tidy kitchen. It is just as effective regardless of how big or small your kitchen. 

You will find that a constantly clean, orderly workspace invites you to joyfully practice your culinary alchemy. It makes transforming basic, healthy ingredients into delicious elixirs of longevity for the whole family easier, and much more enjoyable.  


  1. Two things that have worked for me in keeping a tidy kitchen are:
    1. Get rid of most, if not all, of the "tupperware" containers. A bowl with an inverted plate as a lid works just a well for refrigerating leftovers. If we need to pack something "to go" we get creative and use empty cereal boxes, yoghurt tubs, etc. This creates space in our cupboard so that we can keep our countertops clean.
    2. Get rid of gadgets that are only good for one thing. For example, two knives work just as well as a pastry blender for cutting in butter and do you really need a special machine to make yoghurt when a glass bowl works just as well?
    A streamlined kitchen with multipurpose tools is a joy to work in and a breeze to clean. Again it comes down to not having more than you need and avoiding the temptation to buy the newest gizmo that promises to make you into a gourmet chef.

    1. I like to find creative uses for reusing packaging, such as glass jars. No one needs a whole cupboard stuffed with plastic containers that rarely get used.

      The whole single purpose kitchen gadget craze is out of control. No wonder people feel that they need 'industrial' sized kitchens - they need somewhere to put all that stuff. We have been making yogurt in our slow cooker in order to make that item more useful.

      You are so right - it does come down to not having more than you need. This is true in the kitchen, and everywhere else in our lives.

      Thank you for adding your excellent suggestions.

  2. Your kitchen is more spacious than mine (at least storage-wise) I'm trying hard to keep it clean, but I have to admit, often enough I am starting cooking by cleaning the kitchen. (I cook at least once a day as well) I'm just lazy, I guess. Well, good reminder anyway, I will get going and clean the dishes.

    1. It is relentless, and time-consuming. I can understand why people fall prey to conveniences and eating out. Maintaining a clean, efficient kitchen is a lot of work. But it is worth the effort.

      Sometimes I break my own rule and skip washing dishes at night, then do them in the morning. A cook can only take so much.

      Good luck with your cleaning, then take a break.

  3. My kitchen counter/prep area is fairly small, even though the kitchen itself is quite spacious (it also doubles as my dining room). I agree that keeping a tidy kitchen gets me much more excited to cook a good meal from scratch or bake up a batch of cookies. Cleaning as you go definitely helps, as you said. I've been trying (key word) to get the dishes washed (by hand, no less - no dishwasher here!) in the evening after dinner so everything is clean and tidy when I get up to make my morning coffee. I admit to having a couple of gadgets that are not used regularly (deep fryer and ice cream maker - which were both handed down to us)...but most of the things I have I use regularly for multiple kitchen tasks, such as my slow-cooker, pressure cooker (the best thing for dried beans), food processor, and Kitchenaid mixer. At any rate, I'm planning to clean out the cabinets and reassess soon. :-)

    1. We have never had a pressure cooker, but I have heard that they reduce cooking times and therefore retain more of the food's nutrients. Our slow cooker was spending too much time on the shelf, but we have recently started using it to make yogurt, potentially saving it from the second hand shop.

      Enjoy the clean and reassessment. A more efficient work space results.

  4. The clean kitchen is like the artists's blank slate. I feel a lot more inspired to cook if I'm starting from a place of calm and order. Same goes for other aspects in my life. Now if only the menfolk in the house saw it my way ;-)

    1. A culinary tabula rasa if you will. There is much potential there...


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