Ordering out for takeout is convenient but overall more expensive than home cooking. If you find yourself reaching for the phone to order takeout more often than you reach for the frying pan, it might be time to figure out why. And it’s probably not entirely just laziness; your kitchen design may be to blame — and time-saving cooking tips can help.
You’ll want to remedy this soon, as there are so many benefits to cooking at home in your kitchen, including:
- Controlling the ingredients you cook with. If you have particular dietary restrictions, you can stock up on all your favorite safe ingredients, so there are no worries of cross-contamination.
- Enjoying quality time at home with loved ones. Cooking together is a great family activity. Sometimes all you need is a little kitchen organization to pull meal prep together for the whole week.
- Learning new cooking tricks. Ready to wow your friends with your latest Baked Alaska torching skills?
- Less food waste. Better for the environment and for you.
- Cheaper than ordering out. Cooking at home can be one of your favorite time-saving cooking tips if you know what you’re doing.
Common kitchen problems and how to fix them
You might not realize there are common problems in your kitchen organization that might keep you from wanting to cook as often as you should. Below are a few suggestions about setting up your kitchen design for culinary success, from meal prep to more.
Lack of space
No wonder you don’t like cooking if you’ve got pots and pans shoved in the oven and a spice rack full of all kinds of pantry ingredients. It probably takes you an hour just to find the basic ingredients you’d need for even the simplest of dishes. One of the reasons those TV cooking shows always seem so glamorous is that everything has a place.
If your ingredients and kitchen tools don’t have their own place to belong, you’ll probably have everything spill out onto the countertop. That takes up your home cooking workspace — not a great plan. Instead, consider the following:
- Installing a kitchen island: This adds extra space both above and below. The counter space gives you more room to work, while the storage underneath stashes your pots and pans. If you’re looking for professional help, check this list of contractors near you while you figure out which time-saving cooking tips sound good to you.
- Utilize vertical storage solutions: Incorporating vertical storage racks or shelves can maximize kitchen space by efficiently storing items like cutting boards, trays, and baking sheets.
- Adding a fold-down countertop: This is a space-saving superstar because when it’s not in use, you can literally fold it away.
- Building a window seat with a hinged lid: This functions as extra counter space or a place to seat guests.
- Expanding existing countertops: Did you know that 30 square feet is the average size of most countertops? That’s why you might opt to expand yours if you need more space for meal prep.
- Install a rolling cart: This is a functional prep space or serving tray, depending on your kitchen design needs.
- Try a wall-mounted table: This dining table is a space saver because you can fold it up, so it’s out of your way when the meal is over.
If you’re tripping over open drawers and struggling to find the right cooking utensil, there’s a good chance your layout is killing your cooking style. The ideal kitchen organization combines maximum efficiency with style, so your cooking time is reduced, but your meal prep morale is high. Try the following time-saving cooking tips to correct this issue:
- Think in triangles: The well-worn path between the stove, refrigerator, and sink should be your main focus when designing the flow of your kitchen. Rearrange your pots, pans, and other cooking gear to maximize the efficiency of this space.
- Reconfigure cabinets and countertops: Maybe the cabinet doors open in the wrong direction, so you can’t get everything out without some serious kitchen yoga. Or perhaps you just want to add some extra storage to better define your home cooking kitchen triangle. Whatever the reason, sometimes smaller adjustments like these can make a big difference.
- Improve traffic flow: Cramped space can quite literally cramp your style. Widen doorways or remove unnecessary walls to open the space and upgrade your kitchen organization.
Remember that every kitchen is unique, so the best way to solve an inefficient kitchen organization layout will depend on your specific needs and preferences. Consider consulting with a professional kitchen designer or contractor to help create a layout that works for you.
Shedding some light on the situation might help you find your cooking mojo again. Did you know that the recommended light for a kitchen is about 4,000-8,000 lumens? If your kitchen has less or more than that, it could hurt the functionality of your space (and your mood). You want to be able to see what you’re cooking, regardless of the time of day, both for safety and ease of use. Try these time-saving cooking tips to fix poor lighting:
- Install under-cabinet lighting: Think movie theater foot-level lights, but for your kitchen — and no, they won’t look cheesy. LED or puck lights work great for this, and you can easily DIY or hire a professional to install them.
- Upgrade your light fixtures: Bonus points if you can get one that has a dimmer so you can control your light output as needed for optimal kitchen organization during your weekly meal prep.
- Paint cabinets and walls a brighter color: While paint itself doesn’t give off light (unless you opt for the glow-in-the-dark variety), it does reflect it. Brighter colors are going to take any light and open up the space.
- Add mirrors or reflective surfaces: Similarly to the brighter paint idea, reflective surfaces throw light around to maximize brightness. This type of surface would be ideal for a backsplash or make the room feel bigger with a larger wall mirror.
- Clean your windows: Streaky or stained glass is naturally going to block natural light. Taking the time to clean or replace your windows is going to pay off in the brightness department.
- Add task lighting: Any dark corners where you find yourself routinely sitting or standing to read or work may benefit from specialized lighting. This doesn’t have to be anything fancy; a small lamp or wall-mounted light should do the trick.
Unless you like your favorite meals served with a side of mold or mildew, proper ventilation is a crucial component of any functional kitchen for home cooking. Unpleasant smells and health concerns can arise when steam and smoke aren’t directed out of your home. To keep your space smelling fresh and full of delectable eats, try these ventilation ideas:
- Install a range hood: With a powerful fan installed at the proper height for your kitchen, range hoods are an easy and effective way to direct steam and unpleasant odors outside.
- Install a vented exhaust fan: While a range hood is the ideal solution, a vented exhaust fan comes in a close second as it removes food smells from the air before it settles into your fabrics.
- Install a window: Windows are an obvious ventilation solution, as they let in fresh air and provide stale, food-scented air a path of escape. If you can install one in your kitchen near your stove, do it — it also helps with humidity while improving your overall air quality.
- Install a skylight: Similar to a window, a skylight also brings more light to the room in addition to getting smoke and food smells out.
- Upgrading windows and doors: Just like old appliances may need an upgrade, the same is true for your windows and doors. If their ventilation isn’t in top shape, investing in new ones will level up your kitchen design while also being energy-efficient.
Spills, stains, and food particles make the kitchen seem like a never-ending mess, making it tempting to throw in the towel. Instead, tackle messes as you go so you’re not stuck with a massive disaster later when you’re already tired from making the world’s best lasagna. Investing in an easy cleaning routine that works for you can be a game changer. Below are some ideas to help keep your kitchen clean and organized:
- Install a backsplash: Not only an aesthetic option, but backsplashes also protect your kitchen walls from red sauce surprises or cake batter splatter. Easy-to-clean materials like glass are ideal, but there are many different backsplash materials to choose from.
- Adding a pantry: Keeping your kitchen smooth and easy to use is at the top of the list — and a pantry can help you do just that. When everything has a place to go, you’ll know where to find all your essentials without any major headaches. Plus, this frees up your counter space so you can wipe everything down without a major overhaul.
- Upgrade your flooring: Switch to a flooring type that’s easy to clean, like tile or vinyl. No one likes a floor that either always looks messy due to a busy pattern or absorbs grease and other spills, so it never feels clean.
- Get easy-to-clean countertops: Quartz, granite, or stainless steel will be the best options in your countertop quest. This is the surface you’ll do most (if not all) of your food prep on, so do your part now to make sure it’s something both sanitary and easy to clean after cooking up your scrumptious supper.
- Add a dishwasher: Stray dishes and cutlery are less likely to pile up in the sink if you don’t have to wash them by hand. This frees up your space and your mind for other, more enjoyable activities.
- Upgrade your ventilation: As mentioned above, keeping your air flow clean is important – not just for your health but for your overall kitchen.
For many busy people, cooking feels like a chore at the end of an already-too-long day. That means that cooking can feel like the opposite of self-care, even if it’s one of the most important ways to support your health and wellbeing. An outdated kitchen with old tools can be both off-putting and inefficient.
Newer appliances can offer a range of benefits to make cooking faster, more efficient, and more enjoyable. For example, a high-quality oven with precise temperature control can make it easier to bake consistently perfect dishes, while a powerful range hood can remove smoke and odors quickly and effectively. Overall, investing in high-quality appliances can make your kitchen a more functional and enjoyable space to cook in. Keep these tips in mind when updating your kitchen tools:
- Start small. If the point of updating your kitchen tools is to cook more frequently at home, your first step won’t necessarily be to get a new oven. Instead, look for less expensive convenience appliances like air fryers, slow cookers, and instant pots that have a big impact on your time in the kitchen without breaking the bank.
- Prioritize your upgrades. It’s easy to think that an updated kitchen requires a new refrigerator, stovetop, microwave, etc. all at once. Instead of trying to tackle it all at the same time, make a list of the appliances you use the most, especially on busy nights. Tackling one upgrade at a time can be helpful for your budget and cause you to appreciate them that much more..
- Look for energy efficiency. One way to offset the cost of upgrading your kitchen appliances is to look for energy-efficient options. Your fridge, dishwasher, oven, stovetop, and microwave should all come in energy-efficient options to help reduce your recurring monthly bills and your carbon footprint.
- Plan ahead for maintenance. There’s nothing like a wonky microwave or oven to kill your desire to use your kitchen. Plan or budget ahead of time for the inevitable repairs you’ll need from regular kitchen wear and tear. A home warranty plan can be a great choice for cost-effective repairs like these. The best part is that other parts of your home are covered too, and you’ll save not just money but also time coordinating service calls for your home systems.
No matter what state your kitchen is currently in, you have many time-saving cooking tips available to quickly improve it. Not only will it work better for your family and home cooking habits, but you’ll save money long term both in efficiency and by cooking your own meals instead of ordering out. Plus, added sunshine and seating options will make your home the go-to place for brunch, dinner, and everything in between. With the above recommendations for sprucing up your cooking space, you’ll be well on your way to a better kitchen, healthier food, and an overall more rewarding lifestyle.