If you celebrate the holidays, like so many of us, you probably find this time of year particularly challenging. Gift shopping, home decorating, family dinners and parties can all be stressful and time-consuming, especially if you’re new to eating a plant-based diet.
Following a whole food plant-based diet can mean more time spent grocery shopping as well as chopping and cooking at home, so I hope these tips for easy kitchen cleanup will help move you through the mess quickly and onto your afternoon or evening. We want to take advantage of every trick we can to help us stick with our commitment to eating a healthy plant-based diet.
- Start with a Clean Kitchen
You’ve probably heard that saying about “wiping the slate clean” or “starting with an empty slate.” Well, starting with an empty dishwasher makes food prep so much easier. “Wiping the dishwasher clean” means that you have someplace to put your utensils and dishes away once you’re done with them. It prevents clutter from building up and makes your kitchen counters so much more inviting and functional. As you keep putting away dirty kitchen items and get them out of view, you’re going to feel more focused and less overwhelmed – at least I know I do!
- The Joys of Oil-Free Cooking and Cleanup
Cooking without oil makes clean up a virtual breeze. There’s no sticky, gummy residue on your plates, pots and pans, so with a quick turn of a soapy sponge, presto! – they’re clean. Remember to soak any stuck-on residue from cooking as that will make cleanup go faster as well.
- Chop It Once, Use It Twice
Let’s face it, there’s a lot of chopping prep for cooking whole food plant-based. To speed things up and minimize cleanup, simply purchase pre-packaged fresh or frozen produce that’s already chopped. They seem to have almost everything available at the grocery store these days, from broccoli, and green beans to cauliflower, onion, carrots, and squash. On the other hand, if you’re cooking from scratch and know what other meals you’ll be making that week, go ahead and chop extra for those other meals. Onions, celery, and potatoes are often used in many recipes, so why not save time and mess by chopping them all at once?
- Use a “Garbage Bowl”
I’ve been using this nifty trick for years, ever since I first heard it suggested by Rachel Ray. With a designated garbage bowl or plastic container, there’s no going back and forth from the workspace to the trash. Instead, all of your chopping scrapes are easily and conveniently disposed of while you’re working and then dumped in one easy swoosh when you’re done. (Be sure you have enough storage containers on hand.)
- Cook It Once, Eat It Twice
Along with “chop it once, use it twice” comes “cook it once, eat it twice,” especially if you’re making a more complicated dish such as veggie lasagna or a dish that you know will make great leftovers. Make enough to last a few days and you’ll be able to skip the heavier-duty cleanup on those “leftover nights.”
- The Magic of Rubber Gloves
Procrastination be gone! Wearing gloves keep my hands from feeling dry, raw and chapped, and at least for me, seems to make me more willing to dive in and get those dishes done right away. See if gloves don’t help you get out of the kitchen faster.
- Use a Sink Soak
Sometimes dishes need a little extended soak time to make them easier to clean so I like to keep a large bowl handy for this, or alternatively, fill the sink halfway full with warm water. Place dirty dishes in the water and they’ll come clean in a flash.
- Do the Dishes as You Go
Cooking often involves multiple stages. If you take time in between these steps to clean up those soaking dishes, such as when you’re waiting for the onions to brown, you’ll be one step closer to a clean kitchen. Take advantage of those down times and wash what you can before you eat and you’ll find that after dinner it won’t seem like such a chore.
It’s also helpful to clean up any spills ASAP by wiping the counter and cleaning the cutting board when spills happen.
- When to Skip the Soap
If a dish or utensil is barely used and there’s no oily residue or germs to speak of, I say go ahead and just rinse it. For example, when I use a measuring spoon for amla powder for a smoothie or a microplane zester on ginger and turmeric, a quick rinse does the job just fine.
- Use a Dish Dry Mat or Rack
Hello Clean Kitchen!
Now that you’ve got the scoop on whole food plant-based kitchen cleanup, go make some delicious plant-based recipes and implement these strategies to tame that dirty kitchen monster and make life so much easier.
As always, I appreciate your feedback. Please let me know what you think or feel free to share your own suggestions in the comments below.
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