My kitchen is a disaster area! Sure, it can look neat, but this is all to lull the unsuspecting into a false sense of security.
The thing is, all the processes that have to go on in there to turn out healthful, vegan food are an unruly mess. Other goals I have for my lifestyle, such as going minimalist and zero waste are almost laughable here. And definitely overwhelming.
Six Categories of Kitchen Work
I think there are six categories of activity that are crucial for the kitchen.
- Tidying and Decluttering. If you have no space to cook or clean, messes fly out of all control. Food goes bad when you can’t find it. Most people won’t want to venture into the kitchen in the first place. Homework goes missing. Out goes the idea of home cooked meals in favor or ordering out or convenience foods. Give yourself space to work and know what’s in your kitchen.
- Cleaning. You can’t cook healthfully if the dishes are filthy, the counter tops sketchy, or the utensils are tripping over themselves in the limited space and falling to the dirty floor. Obviously, a certain level of cleanliness is next to … good … health.
- Meal Planning and the Grocery List. Once you know what you have, you can decide what it is you still need. Going through your cupboards and deciding what you’ll be making are crucial steps to building a shopping list that doesn’t leave you filled with regret. This takes a little time. I also include in this category recipe and nutrition research. It’s nice to have one new recipe to try a week. It isn’t as overwhelming to only have one, but a new recipe can fend off food boredom.
- Grocery Shopping. I used to boohoo this, but after having kids it’s like a mini-vacation. Of course, I then spend the time kid watching. I’m hopeless. What’s there to say? Try to bring a list and don’t stray from it!
- Food Staples and Meal Preparations. This is food you’re going to make to last you some time. As distinct from meals ready to eat. I like to keep these manageable. I process groceries, I make jam, prep overnight oats, sprout, bake bread, I might do some meal prepping, but I keep whatever I choose down to a few tasks a week so that I have time to do them properly.
- Cooking. This is for all those meals and snacks that seem to be in near constant demand. I try to cook big batches whenever possible and dispense left-overs into portion sizes for quick meals. I also try to clean while I’m cooking if there are any gaps in labor or wait times.
My New Kitchen Schedule
I’ll be breaking these tasks into daily, weekly, and monthly chores.
- Go through all cupboards and drawers and straighten the contents to keep everything visible. This is usually just maintenance and takes about a minute.
- Make sure everything is off the counters (I keep my toaster, electric tea kettle, knife block, cooking utensil container, hand soap, and mini-herb garden on the counters.)
- Clean out the dishwasher (preferably in the morning) so that people can work to fill it through the day.
- Wash all the counters and sink and stove’s surface. This is easier if the counters remain mostly clear. My favorite surface spray recipe is here. (I like to add peppermint essential oil during the summer to keep the ants away.)
- Sweep the floor.
- Make sure dishes are going into the washer and food is being put away.
- Do food and meal preps and cook as needed throughout the day.
- (Sun.) Meal Planning and Grocery List. Grocery Shopping.
- (Mon.) Determine if there are items that could still be culled. Minimize.
- (Tue.) Pick a cupboard or drawer and give it a scrub down (inside and out). Going sequentially can help you keep track of what has been done recently.
- (Wed.) Floor gets swept and mopped.
- (Thu.) One Big Task (see monthly)
- (Fri.) Go through pantry and refrigerator and remove food that is past its prime.
- Tackle 1 big task: full refrigerator clean, a thorough stove top clean, clean all small appliances, or an oven clean.
My Vegan Kitchen
I understand that everything above applies across the board and not just to Veganism, but this is nonetheless an important step for me to tackle as desperation has led me to order out (there are really no vegan restaurants in my area), munch on whatever my husband brings home from the store (which is sometimes not even vegan) and go for the convenient and unhealthy option. To make the transition complete, I need my kitchen to be under control.
Until next time, keep that talk walking!