Many of us love to cook but having an organized work area is imperative to being able to enjoy the process. Whether it is assuring that you have all the necessary ingredients before you begin or being able to find all the tools you need for creating your recipe, organizing your kitchen like a chef will make all this easier. Chefs spend a good portion of time assuring that their kitchens are set up for a fast, efficient and pleasurable cooking experience.
The first step should be to organize your refrigerator the way one would in a restaurant. All your meat, poultry and fish should be stored on the bottom shelf where the refrigerator is the coldest. This will also prevent any meat juices from dripping down onto other foods below and cross-contaminating them. Always date every container with the date when it was opened. Then there won’t be any guessing as to how old that container pasta sauce really is, and you can easily see when something should be tossed, rather than used.
Next you need to organize your pantry. Use clear containers of the same shape that can easily be stacked on top of each other. This way you can see at a glance which container contains beans, pasta or rice, and you won’t waste time opening numerous containers before finding the correct ingredient.
In both your pantry and your refrigerator, as well as any other food storage areas, always follow the FIFO rule. This means First In, First Out. The oldest of whichever ingredient you are using is always stored in the front of the shelf, and it is always the first to be used, before any fresher ingredients of the same item are used.
Professional kitchens are usually set up in some form of a triangle, with the points being made up of the stove/oven, refrigerator and sink. Many home kitchens are built in this same configuration to maximize efficiency and reduce the time spent walking back and forth between stations. Try to store items and utensils that will be used at each station near that area, so when you are reaching for a cooking sheet you will be standing by your oven and not the sink. Take into consideration what you will be using when you are baking, prepping food and washing dishes. If you are cleaning off plates to load the dish washer, or peeling potatoes, you are going to want the trash can next to you. Be sure to locate your trash can near your sink and dish washer.
Many chefs keep a large dry erase board in their kitchen, to keep track of items they are running low on, have completely run out of, or need to purchase large quantities of, for a special occasion. Hang up a dry erase board in your kitchen, so you have a quick and easy way to keep track of these things as well. This way, the next time you open the last bottle of milk or need to remember to buy several pounds of salmon for your upcoming dinner party, all you need to do is check your white board before heading to the store. An additional benefit for home kitchens, if your white board is the magnetic type, you can also stick any coupons you come across during the week up there, so they are easy to grab when you make your grocery list.
As you can see, there are many ways you can organize your kitchen like a chef, which will make cooking and baking a more pleasurable experience and clean up much quicker. Using these tips will give your kitchen a cleaner look, and your cooking a professional quality!