How to Make the Most of Your Home Kitchen

So you want to improve in your kitchen skills, but are stuck in one or another area. The cost of going out to eat is starting to break the bank and you aren’t that familiar with your kitchen. Maybe you feel it’s impossible to have the same quality meals at home that you would get at a fancy restaurant. I’m here to tell you that it IS POSSIBLE! And you are going to do it. Here is a step by step manual of how to run your home kitchen.

1. Mise en Place

Arguably the culinary masters of the world, the French, have a term known as “mise en place”. Perhaps we can learn from them. Mise en place simply means “putting in place”. This is refering to having a place for everything in your kitchen and I mean everything. You want to know exactly what is in every drawer, shelf, door, etc. I’ve seen great chefs get frustrated simply because they can’t find something they need, This will reduce prep time and stress.

2. Fridge Organization

Equally as important as your kitchen tools, the ingredients in your fridge need to be placed in an organized manner. I like to divide the contents in my fridge as follows: produce, protein, dairy, deli, juices/drinks, sauces, leftovers. Doing this will avoid headaches and reduce time looking through every layer of food that will probably be thrown away anyway. Also, the task of cleaning the fridge will be a lot less daunting and time consuming.

3. A Stocked Pantry is a Happy Pantry

Keep your pantry stocked with staples like pasta, beans, rice, chips, crackers, etc. Whatever it is you use regularly. Only you will know what those things are. Keep in mind anything you put here has a long shelf life, so don’t worry about having too much. I keep the items mentioned above as well as canned foods, cereal, snacks, oils, spices, herbs, jarred sauces, flour, sugar and check the levels of these items weekly which brings me to my next tip.

4. Take Inventory

I know it’s boring. it’s tedious. It’s one of my least favorite things to do, but honestly, it saves you time and money, two very valuable resources. You can either write it out or have it handy on your phone. Split it up by location pantry fridge, freezer, baker’s rack and from there you can do subcategories. For example, for my fridge, I do proteins, produce, deli, sauces.

5. Make a Weekly Menu

Take some time in your week to sit down and create a menu for the week. Write down what you will have for dinner everyday. I say dinner because most families eat breakfast and lunch in a rush and/or during work. You have more time for dinner and you want to create an opportunity to sit down at the dining table with the family, something we all need more of in these times. Ask for input from your loved ones. It will create more excitement in the house as everyone anticipates his or her favorite meal to be served on a particular day. You won’t waste countless minutes as you search the fridge and pantry for what you have.

6. Create a Shopping List

Whether it’s written or on your phone, having a list of what you need to get through the week. Use your inventory and your weekly menu to create your list. The more details the better. Write how much you need to buy and which kind. Don’t just put “oil” but “avocado oil”.

7. Meal Prep Monday

It doesn’t have to be Monday, but pick some time in the week to do all or most of the prep for the meals to come. Get the family involved. Kids like to help in the kitchen. It will make the rest of the week less stressful and you get to have some quality time with your partner and kids. Split up the responsibilities. One person on veggie prep, another on marinating proteins, someone else on dishes. You can store all your prep in tupperware and ziplock bags. It’s also a good idea to label items by name and date it was prepared.

8. Time Yourself

See how long it takes you to do a meal. Chances are you will strive to get it done in less time the next time. If you don’t, you will drag it out longer than it needs to be. Most meals can be ready in as little as 30 minutes. You will have more time to sit with your family and actually enjoy your dinner!

9. Do the Dishes

The last thing everyone wants to do, but you’ll be happy you did them. The more times you do it, the faster you’ll get.

10. Admire

whether dinner was delicious or you completely missed the mark on your first go, at least you tried. Next time you will be that much better. No one is born being a great chef, so don’t be so hard on yourself. It’s a great thing you just did. Cooking for yourself and your family is an activity were the reward far exceeds the work you put into it. After all, if you do all the work, but hate every second of it, you’re doing it wrong.