As a parent, you know how difficult it can be to maintain a clean kitchen. Between spills, messes, and an endless supply of dishes, you might find yourself with little time to actually enjoy using your kitchen with your family.
After all, you want to instill a love of cooking and baking in your children, but you don't want to be stuck cleaning up a war zone at the end of the night. In fact, Columbia University claims that children who regularly engage with family dinners are less likely to start using drugs and drinking. The kitchen is truly a vital part of the growing process.
Here are some top tips for the busy parent when you want to streamline your kitchen process.
Prepare to plan
The best way to maintain a clean kitchen is by knowing what to expect. This is why you should always spend some time over the weekend to chart out your weekly meals, including ingredients and tools. This method is vital in keeping your kitchen -- and your brain -- organized. Try downloading an app on your phone or use a fun whiteboard to make this planning session a family affair.
This will allow you to properly portion out time and resources for the next week. For example, making a dish with many ingredients necessitates ample counter space and more than a few extra hands. Ask your spouse to clean the counters off before you arrive or make mental notes on what needs to be done before you dive into cooking. It's amazing how basic planning can reduce stress and take less time out of your day.
On top of that, meal planning can also help you eat healthier meals throughout the week with minimal effort. Invest in storage solutions to portion out entire meals. Luckily, there are tons of disposable options, like dessert cups to go and disposable colored spoons, that make any meal achievable on the run.
If you're working with a small kitchen, cleaning and maintaining this space is essential. After all, one stray cup left on the counter will make the whole place seem cluttered. This is why investing in storage essentials is, well, essential.
There are countless ways to make storage work to your advantage, even in a small kitchen. For example, a simple shelf installation can enable you to extend kitchen storage all the way to the ceiling. Keep your kitchen uncluttered by choosing air-tight, opaque containers that match the rest of your kitchen's aesthetic. You can also store appliances that aren't often used on these hard-to-reach shelves so you have more room for commonly used items in easily accessible locations.
You can also invest in fun hangers and hooks to store pots, pans, and measuring cups on racks throughout your kitchen. This works particularly well if you have high ceilings, but you can always designate one area of your kitchen as a storage corner. Try hanging a rack above your kitchen island or a utility table where you store all your other essential kitchen items, like your plastic colored spoons and fun dessert cups.
Get the kids involved
Instilling a love for cooking and food in your children is just one of the many great aspects of being a parent. It also ensures that you're spending family time together instead of just holing up in the kitchen until dinner comes around. Why not get your children involved in the cooking process? Here are some of the basic pieces of prep work that your child can use at any age:
- Tearing lettuce
- Washing fruits and vegetables
- Setting the table (just avoid the knives!)
- Pouring and stirring in ingredients with adult supervision
- Mashing potatoes and other soft foods with colored spoons or mashers
When they're older, they can even start helping you to cut vegetables and crack eggs. Though this kitchen tip might not streamline your process in the beginning, you'll certainly start to notice the benefits of your handy helpers over time.
Use paper to your advantage
If you frequently find yourself stuck under a mounting pile of dishes, switching to some paper alternatives is a great idea. Paper plates are great for quick snacks on the run while ice cream containers and cups make for a water-safe option for many cold dishes. When you're finished, all you need to do is throw it into the trash or the compost bin for easy cleanup with little to no hassle on your family activities.
Utilizing eco-friendly paper drinking straws can also ensure your family BBQs and cocktail nights still go on without a hitch. Your kids will love playing with multi-colored paper straws during dinner, but they can also use them in a variety of crafts and projects for a fun night in.
Make dinner fun
Making dinner fun can be one of the hardest parts of parenting picky children. While some children will throw a tantrum if their food touches, others will refuse to eat unless it's performed with the red spoons, not the white ones.
Including custom ice cream cups is just one way to encourage your kid to eat more. Children love plenty of color and patterns, which is why frozen yogurt supplies are used both in the restaurant business and the home. Buy ice cream cups and multi-colored spoons for the whole family.
Just be sure to give your child the final say in which colored spoon they pick; when you give your child the perception of choice, they're more likely to perform the desired activity. For example, instead of asking, "What do you want for dinner?" ask them, "Would you rather have chicken or burgers for dinner?" This can be applied to your colored spoons and other dessert supplies, as well.
Parenting is never easy, but maintaining a busy kitchen on top of your other duties can seem nearly impossible. When you're interested in streamlining your kitchen, invest in these options to save time.