12 Efficiency Tips in the Kitchen

Since I spend a lot of time in the kitchen between preparing meals and cleanup, I am always looking for further ways of increasing my productivity in this environment. Here are some of my favorite recommendations:

1. Multiply your meals – cook for a small army.

I always like to double if not triple my dinner meals because it gives plenty extra to spread out over other meals – leftovers are a huge time saver and makes the most of my limited time and energy. I double casseroles and freeze the second for another easy dinner when I am weary, or double soup and freeze the extras, while always reserving enough to cover lunch the next day. When you have all the ingredients lined up…why not cook for tonight and then another?

You might be surprised by what is freezable: not just stews and soups but pre-baked potatoes (stuffed or not), quiche, bread and cakes, sauces of many kinds, pesto, hummus and much more. If you’re not sure, try freezing a small quantity and test later to see how it worked out.

2. Get all your supplies together before you start.

Another favorite tip from the kitchen is to gather all your ingredients together before you begin the recipe. This helps me make sure I have everything on hand before I get out a mess, and it also speeds up the process by having all items within arms reach. Looking for this or that halfway through a recipe is no fun.

3. Clean as you go.

When you are done with that spice or dairy product, simply put it back where it belongs. It cuts down on the final dish duty but also spreads it out to make it more manageable and enjoyable. Who wants a pigsty when you are finally finished preparing a meal?

4. Keep a simple kitchen.

I keep only the essential spices on hand for my cooking so I’m not searching high and low for a spice in a huge collection. Many spices can be substituted for others (read more here), but if you keep to simple down home cooking, you don’t need that many any way. The basics include: parsley, oregano, garlic powder, paprika, basil, seasoning salt, chili powder, cumin, rosemary, thyme, salt, pepper, etc. I also keep one simple drawer of all my basic tools – measuring cups, measuring spoons, rolling pin, grater, can opener, wooden spoons, and garlic press. No random gadgets here to dig through when cooking time comes.

If you find yourself swamped in to many gadgets, ask yourself: Have I used this tool/gadget in the past 6 months to a year?

5. Invest in some equipment.

Having a few reliable quality kitchen appliances can save you time and energy. One reason I love my Blendtec is because of it’s auto turn off feature, enabling me to start on another task while it is going. Having a trustworthy blender and mixer have been truly a blessing to my kitchen. For my larger appliance recommendations, read here.

6. Prepare staples in batches.

Buy cheese in 5 pound blocks and grate it all at once and store in freezer ziplocs. Prepare a large crockpot of beans or lentils and freeze extras. Freeze homemade stock/broth in ice cube trays. Whip up larger batches of your favorite seasoning mixes. Consider setting up a monthly baking day for your bread making or other goodies.

7. Keep only every day use tools on the counter top.

If you are not using it every day, it doesn’t deserve a place on your counter-top. Keep your counter tops clutter free and you will find it takes less time to clean up and your kitchen will look more organized.

8. Keep simple storage tools.

I love storing leftovers in basic quart and pint size glass canning jars with these great little plastic lids. A great way to reuse what I have plus safe and economical. And they all are the same size so they are easy to store in the fridge or cupboard.

9. Organize according to area of use.

Store your items of similar use close together so you don’t have to go here and there around your kitchen when preparing your favorite apple pie. Pots and pans by the stove. Set up a baking center with all your spices, baked goods, measuring cups, spoons, and mixing bowls all in one spot. Plates and silverware should be kept close to the dishwasher for easy transfer.

10. Keep a running shopping list on the fridge.

Keep a running shopping list on your fridge with a pen right by it so that you can add things as soon as you realize you’re running low. This helps as a simple reminder not to forget it at the store and you’ll have the next package before your completely finish the last one.

11. Adopt a menu plan routine.

Whether it be monthly or weekly, adopt a menu plan routine. It will save you time and money.

12. Keep your knives sharp!

This is one I need to take care of now! Keeping my knives sharp will certainly speed up my meal preparations. Who wants to labor over a dull inefficient knife? I’ve heard they are more dangerous as well. No wonder I cut myself last week…although maybe trying to cut a frozen piece of meat wasn’t such a good idea?

Random efficiency tips:

- Hard boil your eggs - bring it to a boil and then turn off for 15 minutes. Cuts down on your electricity or gas consumption and is just as effective as letting the flame run!

- Flaxseed binder – Running out of eggs? This is a frequent occurrence at our house especially when I get randomly inspired to do a baking spree. This little trick has saved me time and time again!

Have any favorite productivity tips to share for the kitchen?

About Lindsay

Lindsay Edmonds is first a lover of Jesus, wife, mother of three, homemaker, and writer. She is the editor of Passionate Homemaking since its beginning five years ago. She loves inspiring women around the world toward simple, natural, and intentional living for the glory of God.

22 Responses to 12 Efficiency Tips in the Kitchen

  1. Colleen G. May 24, 2013 at 6:54 am #

    I pre chop onions, celery and bell peppers and store them in bags in the freezer. I have also frozen plain cooked brown rice and unseasoned brown ground beef or leftover cooked chicken in separate bags. I also try to keep cartons of chicken broth in the pantry. It saves so much time on those crazy nights just to be able to grab prepared ingredients for a toss together soup. Most soups are fairly basic when you look at them- starch, broth, meat/beans or veggies plus seasonings.

  2. Becky November 12, 2012 at 8:52 am #

    One simple step that has really helped me is to keep the trash can, dishwasher, and recycling bins empty enough so that things don’t pile up on my counter or in my sink. Now my counters and sink stay clear and clean and I don’t waste time looking for space to set things down :) .

  3. Janice March 21, 2012 at 10:46 am #

    I love this post! I’ve already been doing some things on the list but I’m going to try out some more. I was wondering, is there a trick to freezing soups and stews? Do you just stick them in tupperware and then chuck them in the freezer and how do you thaw them out? I’ve never done it so just wondering.

    • Becky November 12, 2012 at 10:39 am #

      I’ve had luck freezing soup in plastic containers, or line the container with a baggie and take it out of the container when it’s frozen and put it back in the freezer. When I want to use it I just tip it upside down and it will fall out when it’s thawed a little. I tried to force out the frozen soup and I broke my container :( . If you want to put frozen soup in a pot to heat up, just add a little water to help the thawing process. This is what has worked for me :) .

  4. Tosha September 17, 2011 at 9:10 pm #

    While making a tried and true recipe that requires several dry ingredients, I go ahead and fill 5 or so baggies with the spices, flours, etc, to use for the next several times I make that meal. Label the baggie so you’ll know what it’s for and store in the freezer if it contains ingredients that could go rancid. It saves so much time the next 5 times you make that recipe because instead of having to gather and measure each ingredient, you just grab the baggie and add the fresh/wet stuff and cook/bake.

  5. Kristen in NH July 21, 2011 at 11:55 am #

    I love to cook and spend a lot of time in the kitchen. There are some tools that are an absolute joy to use, are productive, efficient, clean up well and offer consistently good results. I have a list on my blog (not for profit or sale, just stuff I value and trust using in our busy everyday life) http://thenatureartist.blogspot.com/2010/07/practical-homemaking-part-1-my-favorite.html

    I would add that creating a relaxing environment in the kitchen by way of soft instrumental music, Celtic, harp, hymns, etc. really sets me up for success. Efficiencies and work horse machines are a blessing to a busy Mom, as is having a sweet attitude to share with others :-)

  6. Kristen in NH July 21, 2011 at 11:55 am #

    I love to cook and spend a lot of time in the kitchen. There are some tools that are an absolute joy to use, are productive, efficient, clean up well and offer consistently good results. I have a list on my blog (not for profit or sale, just stuff I value and trust using in our busy everyday life) http://thenatureartist.blogspot.com/2010/07/practical-homemaking-part-1-my-favorite.html

    I would add that creating a relaxing environment in the kitchen by way of soft instrumental music, Celtic, harp, hymns, etc. really sets me up for success. Efficiencies and work horse machines are a blessing to a busy Mom, as is having a sweet attitude to share with outhers :-)

  7. Melanie June 29, 2011 at 1:18 pm #

    How do you use the flaxseed to substitute for egg binding?

    • Melanie June 29, 2011 at 1:26 pm #

      Nevermind to my question above…I found the link to making the flaxseed substitute. :)

  8. Cathy June 26, 2011 at 7:17 pm #

    Great tips! I do all of them myself except my countertops are a little cluttered with small appliances that I don’t use daily but do use several times a week. My problem is lack of storage space to put them in the kitchen. I do want them to stay in the kitchen since they are used fairly often.

  9. Darleen June 25, 2011 at 3:46 pm #

    We use farm fresh eggs & I have found that if you squirt a little vinegar in the water before boiling the eggs, makes them easier to peel.

  10. Nicole June 25, 2011 at 8:05 am #

    It’s all so easy to do but unfortunately so easy not to do! Thanks for all the great tips!

  11. Alison @ Hospitality Haven June 24, 2011 at 9:39 am #

    Awesome! This is great confirmation for me on the tips that I already do, and great ideas for some new ones to try!

  12. Stephanie June 24, 2011 at 9:11 am #

    Great post! Very practical tips. I do most of these things and they do make cooking so much easier!

  13. Maggy June 23, 2011 at 1:05 pm #

    I don’t use my blender everyday and it’s too tall to put in any of my cabinets. Everyday I look at it and want to growl, it irritates me by being out there!

    I recently went through our kitchen appliances and except for the waffle iron (which we never use and my husband is attached to) gave Goodwill the stuff we don’t use. For keeping the waffle iron, and ALL it’s accessories, I got a kidfree afternoon with some old friends and the kids got a Daddy Day. *Happy sigh*

  14. Elizabeth B. June 23, 2011 at 1:01 pm #

    For working moms it can often be hard to provide healthy home-cooked meals everynight, but I find that if you do as much “prep” work as you can on the weekends, it helps so much come weeknights. Tasks such as chopping vegetables, washing and peeling fruits, baking bread, slicing cheeses, milling grains, etc on Saturdays and Sundays can make it tons easier to provide meals from scratch during the week. I guess it all comes down to planning so you are not stuck in traffic at 6pm and wonder what you are going to feed the family. If you come home to all your vegetables chopped, meat prepped (chopped or sliced), and bread/rolls baked, then putting together that evening meal is a lot easier and faster!

  15. Gabrielle June 23, 2011 at 11:40 am #

    Great post! One of my favorite time savers is alphabetizing your spice cabinet! My spices are stored on those nifty little risers so that I can easily reach those in the back. With the spices alphabetized, I can always find things quickly.

  16. Darby Hawley June 23, 2011 at 7:38 am #

    Great tips! Thanks for sharing them :-)

  17. Christine June 23, 2011 at 6:41 am #

    Awesome tips! I am glad to hear about the hard boiled egg tip! Blessings.

  18. Laryssa @Heaven In The Home June 23, 2011 at 6:12 am #

    Wonderful tips! I’m really trying to simplify my kitchen. You’re right, the flax does really work for an egg substitute!

  19. Cath June 23, 2011 at 3:29 am #

    Great tips which I can second all the way!

    I also whizz up any left over bread in my food processor and keep a bag of breadcrumbs in the freezer too. So handy for quick topping to a chicken pie or like last night i made some baked field mushrooms. I mixed together some Grated frozen cheese, breadcrumbs, minced garlic clove, chopped mint and parlsey and seasoning. Top with a knob of butter and bake in the oven for 20 mins. Serve with a side salad.

    • Emily @ Sustainable Food for Thought June 23, 2011 at 7:25 am #

      This morning I was just wondering what I should do with some leftover bread which is getting stale. I never seem to have breadcrumbs around and I never thought to make them in the food processor. Great tip, thanks!