How to Keep Your Kitchen Clean with 15 Tips

How to Keep Your Kitchen Clean with 15 Tips

How to Keep Your Kitchen Clean with 15 Tips

This post may contain affiliate links and I may earn a small commission when you click on the links at no additional cost to you. I only recommend products I would use myself and all opinions expressed here are my own. Read my full privacy policy here.

#1 Start with a Clean Space

Wash your hands and wipe down your counters right before you start cooking. I recommend this not just for general health reasons, but because it will give you space to cook. I generally clean my countertops and glass top stove with Sprayway and I’ve found that it works really well on most smooth surfaces.

I always make sure to wipe down my stove before I use it because I also use it as counter space. If I don’t I end up burning a practically invisible reside.

#2 Empty the Dishwasher

Starting with an empty dishwasher, lets you put things straight in as you are cooking, like scissors covered in chicken juice from opening the container or your vegetable peeler that you’re not going to need for the rest of the day.

If you have a lot of prep dishes, the dishwasher can run while you are eating. Then you can empty and reload after the meal. Or if you don’t have a ton of dishes from cooking, you can run your dinner dishes right after dinner.

#3 Empty the Sink

You will need the sink as you cook, so you might as well make the space early on. All the dirty dishes that might be sitting in there, can now go into the waiting dishwasher from tip 2. Depending on the size of your sink, if it’s empty before you start cooking, you might have room both to use the tap and let a few things soak.

#4 If You Aren’t Going to Use it Again, Put it Away

As you use ingredients, put them straight back into their place. Spices go into the spice rack. Flour into the cupboard, and so on. As you use spoons, knives, and plates, put them in the dishwasher as you go. If it needs to soak, start it soaking right away. That way when you are done cooking, it will be done soaking, and you can clean it or put it in the dishwasher

Soaking your dishes before they have a chance to turn into a dried-out mess, helps to make clean up a breeze since you can easily skip the hard scrubbing. You might have stuck on bits, but they are few and far between. I use Bar Keepers Friend on all my pots and tough jobs. It takes off burned bits without the scrubbing or scratching, which extends the life of my pots.

#5 Use a Spoon Rest

Spoon rests help to limit sticky spots on countertops and the stove. My mother hates them and thinks they are a uni-tasker, which can be replaced by a plate. I think she’s wrong. They take up less space than a plate would, to do the same job, especially if you are worried about handle drips. They also keep me from misplacing my spoons while I’m cooking, because I know that they are in the spoon rest.

I love my spoon rests. I have a fancy Le Cruset spoon rest that was a wedding gift, and my other is a stainless steel OXO spoon rest that I’ve had for years. They are both dishwasher-safe, so I just pop them in after I’m done cooking or baking and they clean well.

Spoon Rests with green spoon

#6 Throw Things Away as You Go

Don’t make extra work for yourself for later. Later you is like present you, but more tired, so help them out. Throw away or recycle extra packaging as you go. If you have compost, put your cooking scraps in the bin as you go. It might take a week or two to develop such a new habit, but I promise you it’s worth it.

#7 Your Trash, Recycling, and Compost Bins Should be Convenient

These bins need to be near where you are cooking. I like them either under the sink, which is where I do a lot of prep. Or no more than 3 steps away from the sink, with a foot pedal lid. Foot pedal is my favorite trash can style. It is hands-free, keeps the smell in, and is relatively dog resistant. I’ve tried the swinging tops, and they just get filthy. No lid is very smelly and I don’t like needing to take the trash out that often.

I’m also a big fan of scented trash bags. They help to keep the smell at bay for us humans in the house. I have no doubts that the dogs still enjoy the trash smells without difficulty. They can sniff, but they now know to not go into the cans.

#8 Give Yourself an Extra Set of Hands

If you are meal prepping or even just putting away leftovers, these clipping bag stands are super helpful. They help me load several zip locks at once. I don’t need to wash my hands repeatedly or worry about getting food on the outside of the bag.

Bag clip holder

#9 Use Aluminum Foil and Parchment Paper

Aluminum foil is wonderful for controlling messes and clean-up in ovens. I like the heavy-duty and non-stick varieties for my everyday needs. The heavy-duty is for extra-large messes. The non-stick is for any food I’m worried about sticking, burning, or adhering in any way to my pans. Parchment paper deserves an honorable mention for most baked goods, like cookies.

All three of these will help you keep your pans clean without having to scrub them when you are done.

#10 Try to Deal with Spills as They Happen

It’s easier to clean a spill while everything is wet than when it’s turning into dried crud on the counter. When Sprayway doesn’t work (which is almost never) or I’m concerned about contamination (like chicken), I’ll use a Clorox wipe or a scrubbing sponge with some dish soap. Cleaning the spill this way, will save you time overall and help to keep your kitchen looking great as you cook.

#11 Use a Food Scale When You Can

By using a food scale, there is so much less to clean at the end. There are no measuring cups and spoons filling the sink. I still use measuring cups and spoons as recipes call for them, but not for most of my everyday things.

I know that volume measurements are very American, but a lot of other places use scales and I can see why. Not only does it accurately measure ingredients like flour, without complicated sifting methods, but it’s incredibly useful for sticky things like honey. I hate getting honey out of measuring spoons.

I use my food scale for everything from salad dressing at lunchtime to raw chicken while I cook dinner. I mostly thought of food scales as a dieting thing, until I started watching Good Eats Reloaded during lockdown. Alton Brown recommends food scales in so many episodes and you can see how he uses them in his kitchen.

#12 Give Yourself the Time You Need

It will take a few extra minutes to clean the kitchen when you start. But you will get faster as time goes on. I know I did. Those extra moments to throw things out and put them away are worth it. The hardest part is committing to changing your habits. But overall, I’ve found that all those little moments reduce my stress.

#13 Empty Your Bins Regularly

Having a full trash can when you start cooking is extremely frustrating. Recycling might be able to chill out on the floor for a bit before becoming a chew toy, but trash and compost don’t have that option. So, save yourself the frustration and take it out regularly. We normally take ours out every 2-3 days, but it’s just the two of us.

#14 Store Your Most Used Items Near Where You Use Them

By storing your most used items near where you use them your kitchen becomes more efficient. You might even save a few minutes as you cook. My vegetable peeler lives in a drawer by the sink. My stirring spoons are in a jug near the stove. I have a lazy susan near the stove and microwave for easy seasoning.

#15 Pan Storage Shouldn’t Be Frustrating

I used to keep a barely contained teetering pile of cookie sheets and muffin tins in my extra-deep cabinet. It seemed like it was filled to capacity and then some. Then I bought a pan organizer and it worked beyond my expectations. It saves me time both for finding what I need and for putting things away.

In Conclusion

These are my top 15 tips for keeping your kitchen clean as you cook. Are any of them surprising for you? Do you do any of these already? I would love to hear in the comments below.

Instant Pot Buffalo Chicken

Instant Pot Buffalo Chicken

Shredded Buffalo Chicken on Potato

Instant Pot Buffalo Chicken

This post may contain affiliate links and I may earn a small commission when you click on the links at no additional cost to you. I only recommend products I would use myself and all opinions expressed here are my own. Read my full privacy policy here.

Why I like this Recipe

It’s tasty. From the first time we made it, it has just wowed us again and again. The chicken is so tender you can shred it with spoons. Then the flavor is spicy and buttery. It pairs perfectly with a hot baked potato. It also takes less than 30 minutes in my instant pot, which is perfect for a weeknight dinner.

We generally serve it fresh over potatoes. After fighting over the leftovers, we either eat them on a salad, or in a sandwich. The richness of the buffalo sauce that comes out is perfect for a potato and they never need any additional toppings like butter or sour cream.

I’m normally all about substitutions and recipe flexibility, but not for this recipe. There are a few ingredients that I strongly recommend avoiding any substitutions if you can. If you do substitute something, you will probably still get some tasty buffalo chicken, but I think it will lose the wow factor.

Buffalo Chicken Ingredients: Chicken tenderloins, buffalo sauce, ranch, butter, and chicken stock

Thought about Allergies and Substitutions

Chicken Tenderloins verses Breasts verses Thighs

Tenderloins are more tender than breasts. Their texture is a key part of what brings this recipe to the next level. I have tried this recipe with chicken breasts and can say it will work if that’s all you have. It just won’t be as tender. I have not tried it with thighs. I generally avoid them because they are higher in cholesterol than breasts and this recipe already has a little bit of butter.

Frank’s Red Hot

We use the original and buy it in the large bottle. I’ve thought about using one of their spicier varieties, but I think it would be too spicy for my husband. Both the butter and the ranch dressing help to cut the spiciness, if that is a big concern of yours.

I like Frank’s Red Hot because it tastes great and doesn’t have too many ingredients. I’m sure that there are people out there allergic to it, but it doesn’t have any of the common food allergens, like dairy and soy. I have not tried this recipe with any other brand. I think it will still work, but I suspect you won’t get the same level of wow.

Ranch Dressing

I’ve seen many variations of this recipe with Hidden Valley Ranch packets. Too many people in my family are allergic to those, so I avoid them. My husband can have most types of fat-free ranch, which works very well in this recipe. I normally have some on hand for my salads anyway. I’ve used both Hidden Valley and Kroger brand. Both have given me tasty results. I don’t know if the full or reduced-fat versions will give the same results.

Chicken Stock

I don’t think it matters too much which type you choose here. Feel free to substitute this one. You can use chicken stock or chicken broth, whatever you have on hand. I use low sodium when I see it on sale. Or I buy the regular as a set of six from Costco. I have not been able to notice a difference.

Butter

I know it’s not good for me, but it’s so good. Also, 2 tablespoons for 4 servings, isn’t a ton of butter, or at least that’s what I’m telling myself. We use unsalted because that’s what we generally have available. I haven’t tried this recipe with canola oil because I think the rich taste of the sauce would go away. Margarine might be a good dairy-free substitute, but it contains soy, so I won’t buy it. In the end, I’m recommending the butter.

Detailed Directions

As usual, I recommend you start with washing your hands and giving your counter a quick wipe down. Then mix all 5 ingredients and place them in your instant pot.

Buffalo Chicken Ingredients in Pot

Cook on high for 8 minutes. Then do the natural release for 10 minutes. This is a great time to start prepping the rest of your meal like reheating potatoes, toasting buns, or making your salad. After the natural release, open the vent carefully to not get spicy steam in your eyes. Once it has returned to room pressure, open the lid, and shred the chicken. It’s so tender that this should be easy.

Shredded Buffalo Chicken on Cutting Board

Use your tongs and thoroughly toss in the sauce. I like to give it a moment to really soak up some last-minute flavor before putting on top of a potato and eating it. Enjoy!

Shredded Buffalo Chicken on Potato

Recipe Notes

This chicken is good for any shredded chicken dish: loaded potatoes, wraps, sliders, rice bowls, salads, sandwiches, etc. It keeps well, but because it’s so tasty it never lasts passes day two in our fridge.

Shredded Buffalo Chicken on Baked Potato

Instant Pot Buffalo Chicken

Tasty shredded buffalo chicken that takes less than 30minutes total cook time in your instant pot.
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 4
Calories 230 kcal

Equipment

  • Instant Pot

Ingredients
  

  • 1 pound Chicken Tenderloins
  • 0.5 cup Frank's Red Hot
  • 2 tablespoons Fat-free Ranch
  • 0.25 cup Chicken Stock
  • 2 tablespoons Unsalted Butter

Instructions
 

  • Put all ingredients in the pot and stir until the chicken is coated.
    Buffalo Chicken Ingredients in Pot
  • Cook on high for 8 minutes.
  • Naturally release for 10 minutes.
  • After the natural release, open the manual release carefully to not get spicy steam in your eyes.
  • When it returns to room pressure, open the lid, and shred the chicken.
    Shredded Buffalo Chicken on Cutting Board
  • Toss the chicken in the sauce.
  • Serve and enjoy!
    Shredded Buffalo Chicken on Baked Potato

Notes

This chicken is good for any shredded chicken dish: loaded potatoes, wraps, sliders, rice bowls, salads, sandwiches, etc. It keeps well, but because it’s so tasty it never lasts passes day two in our fridge.
Keyword Chicken, Dinner, Spicy, Weeknight
How to Keep a Well Stocked Freezer with Meal Prep

How to Keep a Well Stocked Freezer with Meal Prep

How to Keep a Well-Stocked Freezer with Meal Prep

This post may contain affiliate links and I may earn a small commission when you click on the links at no additional cost to you. I only recommend products I would use myself and all opinions expressed here are my own. Read my full privacy policy here.

Your freezer can be a great resource for your personal kitchen chaos management. There are many reasons to fill your freezer and many ways to do so. I keep my freezer full of many different things, but my favorite way to fill it is by using meal prep.

Why You Want to keep a Well-Stocked Freezer

The main reason I do this (and I think you want to do this) is to reduce stress in my life. Being able to have something to eat no matter what can be reassuring. In case of the unexpected, you know that you are covered. I have found comfort and confidence in not having an empty freezer.

It’s convenient to have nice and fast dinners ready to go. Many frozen dinners are off our table because of allergies. This method is a great way to recapture those easy dinners without compromising your health. It’s also an easy way to ensure you keep putting healthy food on the table.

Another reason is that you just want to buy a large amount of something delicious because it’s on sale or you found yourself inside Costco. Whatever the reason, you have extra, and you can now keep it in your freezer.

Types of Things to Keep in the Freezer

I generally put freezer foods into two main categories around one central idea. This idea is that once something has been frozen, you shouldn’t refreeze it. Like if I have frozen ground beef and meal prep it, I should not re-freeze the same ground beef in Bolognese form. So I like to think about my frozen foods, in ways that I won’t be tempted to re-freeze anything.

My first category is ingredients. These are generally raw, but can sometimes be a bit processed, like butter. I mostly buy these because they are cheaper in bulk. But I try to be careful, and not buy anything I will need to re-freeze again. If I’m going to freeze ground turkey, I already have a plan for that ground turkey to become tacos and not meatballs.

My second category is cooked. Some of these are store-bought, like soy-free bread. But it’s mostly extra batches of my favorite meal preps. Buy cooking and freezing it myself, I know it’s going to be healthy and easy for later.

Sliced apple and rolling pin

Ingredients

Some examples in my freezer right now are butter, salmon filets, and burgers. Butter is fairly self-explanatory. We take out sticks as needed to keep restocking the butter supply in the fridge. Salmon and burgers I unfreeze as needed and cook that day. They are also fast to cook, under 10 min once thawed, which is what I’m looking for from freezer food.

Cooked

We freeze soy-free bread my husband likes when we can find it. Otherwise, there is one brand of sourdough he’s fond of and my misadventures trying to make whole wheat bread in our bread machine. You can freeze many other precooked things, but we tend to stay away because of our need to eat home-cooked food.

Meal prepping for your freezer is where all the exciting things in our freezer come from. I strongly recommend making extra of your favorite recipes and freezing it. For breakfast, we like waffles and French toast. Then for dinners, two of our favorites are meatballs and pizza dough.

Premade dump recipes are also pretty good. There is nothing like dumping a beef stew into the crockpot in the morning and coming home to it after a long day of work.

Meal Prepping

My secret to keeping my freezer stock with delicious meal-prepped foods is just to do a little every week. Some people will prep a week’s or even a month’s worth of freezer meals in a day. I do not have this skill, though I have tried. It’s time-consuming and a bit beyond my humble cooking skills.

But I meal prep every week as part of my meal planning. So, all I need to do is make a little extra and put it in the freezer. Make sure to label the bag every time. You don’t want to be staring down potentially mouthwatering meatballs months from now even though you have no idea if they are still safe to eat.

The best part is that it doesn’t take much additional time to double a recipe but saves so much time when you’re hungry. Breakfast is a time to hurry in our apartment, so anything that takes time to cook and clean isn’t weekday breakfast friendly. Having pre-made adds variety to our mornings.

Sliced apple and rolling pin

My 3 Favorites

 

Waffles

I haven’t found frozen that I like waffles to buy, but they are easy to make. We just make a huge batch of waffles and freeze them. My husband loves them for breakfast. He just pops one in the toaster oven and 5 minutes later he has a hot waffle.

 

Meatballs

When ground turkey goes on sale, this is one of my favorites to prep. Due to limited oven space and cookie sheet availability making a double recipe adds a whole 20 mins to our prep, which is like nothing compared to how much time it saves.

 

Pizza Dough

This food is another that we can’t eat store-bought, so we make it instead. Making dough from scratch can sound intimidating, but it’s fairly simple. Pizza dough also freezes pretty well.

In Conclusion

Over just a few months you will magically have a fully stocked freezer to enjoy eating through, filled with foods just the way you like them.
What I recommend having in your freezer:

  • A few bulk goods
    • 1-2 things you just can’t pass up on
    • 1-2 things you just can’t run out of
  • A few raw ingredients
    • 1-2 things you can cook fast
  • Meal prepped
    • 4-6 fully prepped foods
    • 2-3 premade frozen foods that you like. (I refuse to regret any ice cream in my possession, and neither should you.)

What do you keep in your freezer? Do you have a few favorites that you couldn’t live without in there? I would love to hear in the comments below.

Zoodles with the Perfect Texture

Zoodles with the Perfect Texture

Zoodles with the Perfect Texture

This post may contain affiliate links and I may earn a small commission when you click on the links at no additional cost to you. I only recommend products I would use myself and all opinions expressed here are my own. Read my full privacy policy here.

Zoodles are a delicious way of transforming my favorite pasta dishes into salad. My brain might know that they are zucchini, and my eyes will see the green on my plate, but my mouth doesn’t care. My method makes them with the perfect al dente texture. They also hold on to sauce a lot like spaghetti, which enhances everything about the taste. I make this every week , and every week it is worth the time.

Notes on Equipment

There are two pieces of specialized equipment you need to make these zoodles. Both are equally important.

Spiralizer

There are two main types of spiralizers. First are the hand variety, where you use some sort of device and your own muscles make the zoodles. You can probably put other veggies and such into your spiralizer, but as of today, I have not. When I was first starting out, before I had my KitchenAid, I got this spiralizer. It worked well and if you are just wanting to try out this sort of kitchen tool it’s a great place to start. I personally found it time-consuming and only used it every month or so.

This brings us to the second type of spiralizer. The type that you attach to an electric stand mixer. If you already own one, then all you need to buy is the spiralizing attachment. I got both my KitchenAid mixer and spiralizer attachment as wedding gifts (thank you!). Now I use them every single week.

Cheesecloth

You can find it in most grocery stores, but I always have to ask where it is. There are a lot of really fancy types of cheesecloth out on the internet for people who are making cheese, for this application all you need is basic cheesecloth. I cut what I need for one meal and throw it out afterward. One pack lasts me several weeks, so don’t be worried about the size.

Instructions

I always start my cooking by washing my hands and wiping down my counters. I strongly recommend you do too. Now wash and cut your zucchini in half, as shown in the photo below. The cutting helps it fit into the spiralizer.

Sliced apple and rolling pin

Then put your cheesecloth in your bowl. Cut enough to cover the inside of the bowl. If your cheesecloth is very flimsy, you might want to double-layer it.

Spiralize your zucchini into your bowl directly onto the cheesecloth. After you have spiralized all of your zucchini thoroughly sprinkle it with salt. The salt will draw the water out of the zucchini. I normally let mine sit for about 5 minutes.

Sliced apple and rolling pin

It will be done when it looks slimy. You might even have a puddle in the bottom of your bowl. If after 5 minutes your zoodles are not slimy, add more salt and wait for 5 more minutes. It takes a generous amount of salt to get the water out. I don’t think it tastes too salty at the end, because a lot of the salt leaves with the water. So don’t worry about over salting.

Sliced apple and rolling pin

After your zoodles are slimy, twist up the cheesecloth and squeeze as much of the water out as you can. Zucchini contains a lot of water, so the total zoodle volume will decrease by about half-ish. Once all the water is out, put zoodles in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave for 1-2 minutes depending on how powerful your microwave is. I usually go for 1.5 minutes. Then immediately serve and eat!

Sliced apple and rolling pin

Recipe Notes

This recipe is for a single serving of zoodles. You can double it easily without much fuss. But you will have problems if you try to make too much at once. Too much can be easily defined as more than one pasta bowl can contain, even when you make a small mountain in the bowl.

If you are making more than two people’s worth of zoodles, I recommend making it in batches. If you try to make too much at once, you won’t be able to squeeze out enough of the water and there is no telling how well the microwave is going to heat it.

Plated Zoodles

Zoodles with the Perfect Texture

My recipe is the best way to cook zoodles for that al dente texture. They also hold on to sauce like spaghetti, which enhances the taste.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 2 minutes
Total Time 17 minutes
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Servings 1
Calories 33 kcal

Equipment

  • Spiralizer
  • Cheesecloth
  • Microwave Safe Bowl

Ingredients
  

  • 1-2 Zucchini
  • Salt Kosher salt

Instructions
 

  • Wash zucchini.
  • Cut zucchini in half.
  • Put cheesecloth in a bowl.
  • Spiralize zucchini onto cheesecloth.
  • Thoroughly sprinkle with salt.
  • Let sit until slimy looking (about 5 minutes).
  • Squeeze as much liquid as you can out of zucchini.
  • Microwave for 1-2 minutes.
  • Serve and eat!

Notes

This recipe is for a single serving of zoodles. You can double it easily without much fuss. But you will have problems if you try to make too much at once. Too much can be easily defined as more than one pasta bowl can contain, even when you make a small mountain in the bowl.
If you are making more than two people’s worth of zoodles, I recommend making it in batches. If you try to make too much at once, you won’t be able to squeeze out enough of the water and there is no telling how well the microwave is going to heat it.
Keyword Dinner, Side, Weeknight
Meal Prep

Meal Prep

Meal Prep

This post may contain affiliate links and I may earn a small commission when you click on the links at no additional cost to you. I only recommend products I would use myself and all opinions expressed here are my own. Read my full privacy policy here.

What is Meal Prep?

Welcome to Advanced Chaos Management: Meal Prep!

I define meal prep as any work you do for your food ahead of time. Meal prepping can be a lot more flexible than making rows of identically filled boxes in your fridge. I think there are varying degrees of meal prep. Simple, which is washing, slicing and portioning. Medium, which includes everything in simple and making some batch recipes or sides. Then there is advanced where you prepared whole meals ahead of time.

My checklist is designed to help you with simple or medium meal preps and is a great way to get started.

Sign up below to get your free meal prep checklist as well as other chaos management printables!

Is Meal Prepping Right for You?

You don’t have to meal prep, no really, you do not have to meal prep. It is possible to keep your weeknight dinners under control without meal prepping.

Who Shouldn’t?

If you are overwhelmed by cooking I recommend holding off on meal prep until you can handle basic and simple recipes. I know I overextended and overwhelmed myself in my early meal prepping attempts, so I can tell you from experience that it wasn’t worth it. Wait until you are comfortable with basic cooking skills, like cutting and measuring before you start.

If you don’t have time, you shouldn’t add to your stress with meal prep. You might not have a whole afternoon to devote to prepping your food for the week, especially if your weekends are for preventing burning out at work or spending quality time with your family.

If you just don’t want to, then don’t meal prep. I’m not here to change your mind, but I encourage you to check out my other Chaos Management techniques. You might find something that works better for you than meal prep.

Who Should?

If every minute of your weeknights counts, then I think you should meal prep. Even simple meal prep can help you save 10-15 minutes for many recipes. I know it helps me on my crazy nights.

If you just like having things ready to go, then meal prepping might be ready for you. Having everything prepared gives a real confidence boost, which can matter a lot in the beginning. All those containers filled with brightly colored healthy food will give you a sense of pride.

If you want to try more complicated recipes on a weeknight, then I think you are on the right web page. Many recipes have steps that you can do ahead of time, which can turn a 1.5 hour-long recipe into 25 minutes.

Sliced apple and rolling pin

Simple

I believe just about anyone can handle this level of meal prep, which is the left column of my Meal Prep Checklist. It’s where my husband and I started with meal prepping. There are three main tasks: washing, slicing and portioning.

Washing

Many fruits and veggies can be washed ahead of time a stay fresh throughout the week. I love having prewashed apples ready to eat because then I’ll actually snack on apples, not cookies. Produce for recipes that I’ll make later in the week or batch prep during my meal prep get washed here too.

Some fruits and veggies you shouldn’t pre-wash because they don’t store well after wetting, like berries or potatoes.

Portioning

This step is all about making sure you have exactly what you need when you need it. I put what I need in a labeled Ziplock or other food storage container so when cooking time comes all I have to do is cook. I know I have the right amount of chicken to dump into my instant pot and the right amount of veggies for my sauce.

Labeling is the most important part of this step. I write when and what, like Tuesday Lunch. I also like to use a red sharpie so the print jumps out at me. But other colors can be fun, I had a nice pink sharpie for a while but it ran away during my last move.

Mix Seasonings and Marinades

Premixed seasonings and marinades can speed up cooking. Mixing seasonings, like taco seasoning, ahead of time is especially helpful because you can use some of them on a variety of recipes for many many weeks.

For many marinades, you can mix them on Sunday and then pour them into your pre-portioned ziplock of chicken on a Wednesday. Which is so much simpler than running around before or after work with measuring spoons.

Chopping Onion

Medium

This level includes everything in simple and then the entire right column of the worksheet. What is different is that I’ll make portions of a meal or ingredients that can reheat well, freeze well, or both.

An example of this is baked potatoes. Potatoes are a favorite in my home. Baked russets and sweet potatoes are some of my favorites for reheating. I might also prep a small portion of prebaked chunks for post-meal prep fondue while I’m at it.

Dump Recipes

A dump recipe is basically when you put everything into a ziplock and when you are ready to eat you dump it into something, cook, and stuff face.

First, you put a bunch of stuff in a ziplock then store it in your fridge or freezer. When it’s time to make it, then you dump it into or onto the respective instant pot, crockpot, or cookie sheet. All you need to do is heat appropriately. These are wonderful recipes.

Batches

Making oversized batches ahead of time can streamline both your meal planning and your cooking. My favorite things to make batches of are meatballs, waffles, and pizza dough. It doesn’t add much time to double a recipe and store it in the freezer to be eaten over the next few months. Then if you make a little extra for your freezer every week, you will have a fully stocked freezer without an overwhelming meal prep list.

Advanced

This level is where you’re prepping whole meals ahead of time. Some people prep literally a whole week’s worth of food, others just a few meals for their week.

I’m not a big fan of this method for two reasons. First, at my current skill level for the food I like, it would take me at least a day and a half to cook enough food for a week’s worth of daily meals. Second, though I might love leftovers, I have found that by the end of the week the food doesn’t taste so great. That might be the recipes I chose, my fridge, or even my ability to prep them. But sad food on Fridays is just depressing. The closest I would consider doing for this would be to make a few dump recipes or a tin of lasagna.

It’s not for me, but it could be for you if you are very good at prepping food quickly. If you really enjoy freezer meals and leftovers. Or if you only have the time to pluck something from the fridge and then immediately eat.

Overall

Meal prepping is a great way to help you help yourself. I have found it extraordinarily useful, and you might too. I would love to hear about your meal prepping experiences down below in the comments. Also, to get your free meal prepping checklist and other Chaos Management worksheets, sign up for my email list.