Making Cleaning Up After Dinner Easy
Household chores are never fun, and one of the worst seems to be after-dinner clean-up. No one wants to deal with dirty pots and pans with a full belly. What can you do? The pots and pans aren’t going to clean themselves. Here are a few tips to make after-dinner clean-up easier with a bit of help from people who specialize in this type of thing – the guys at Super Cleaning in Louisville.
Start Cleaning Before Dinner
Families tend to fall into one of two categories—everyone fixes their own plate, or the cook fixes everyone’s plate. Whichever your family seems to be, there is a way to clean a little before eating. Some cleaning tasks should be done daily, as you don’t want a pile of dishes on the counter at the end of the week.
Empty the Dishwasher before Dinner or While Cooking
A dishwasher that’s ready to be filled will make clean-up easier. Any dirty dishes can be loaded. Then, after dinner, you can finish loading the dishwasher and press start. Beginning with a dishwasher ready to go means less work right after eating. If you do not have a dishwasher, be sure the sink is free of dishes when you finish cooking. This will make it less daunting to clean up the dinner dishes.
Empty Pots and Pans
Whichever camp you fall into, you can go ahead and empty pots and pans before sitting down to eat. Once all plates are fixed, go ahead and put leftovers into bowls for the fridge or discard them. Some families cook enough so that they can take lunches to school or work the next day. Go ahead and fill the bowls or travel plates. You do not have to put lids on before dinner, but getting lunch together early will save you time after dinner. If you just keep leftovers for another day, go ahead and fill those bowls. Then you can put the pots and pans in the sink to soak if necessary.
One-Pot Meals and Slow Cooker Liners
Cook with as few utensils and vessels as possible. When you can, use a liner in your slow cooker for easier clean-up. After sitting in the slow cooker all day, some food will dry on the sides, making clean-up a hassle. Using a liner will minimize this risk. If possible, use one pot/ pan to cook meals. Even homemade mac and cheese can be made in one pot. You may have to remove the noodles to their “leftover bowl” while making the cheese sauce, but if you were going to use both anyway, you can use just one pot for the recipe instead of two. Not all recipes will allow this, however.
Minimize Mess When Cooking
A handy kitchen towel and a bag or bowl for scraps can make cleaning up cooking messes a cinch. I like to hang a plastic grocery bag on a drawer handle or the oven handle. Then, I can just toss scraps inside. If you are a composter, consider having a small indoor bin near the stove and toss your compostables as you go! Wipe up spills as they happen so that they do not spread or get sticky.
Consider Cleanup During Dinner
Some steps can be done while you eat. A vinyl tablecloth or easy-to-clean surfaces will make wiping up spills a breeze. Likewise, dishwasher-safe dishes and utensils can be more efficient than washing everything by hand. Presoaking the empty pots and pans is sure to take time off your routine.
In families with several able-bodied members, it seems that one person still does it all. In some homes, that person is often mom, and in others, it may fall upon dad. The fact remains that it is almost always the parents. Plan a schedule to get everyone involved. The schedule can be simple and consist of “teaming up” with certain people. For instance, if mom cooks, the oldest cleans. However, you can also make a schedule and stick to it as best as you can. There may be days that the schedule will need to be revised due to sports, meetings, or other obligations, but no one should get to skip the responsibility altogether. Rotate the schedule so that everyone has a chance to cook and clean if possible.
Make It A Group Effort
If you do not want to plan a schedule, assign each person a job each night. Clearing the table, emptying the trash, wiping down the countertops, and washing dishes may all be on the list. Don’t forget the floors!
Clear the Residue
When cleaning up dishes, you want to make sure that the food particles are removed as much as possible. If your family uses napkins or paper plates at dinner, encourage the person cleaning up to wipe off the excess while handling the trash. This way, there will be less food to get stuck on if you spend time cleaning the pots and pans first. If you are going straight to the dishwasher, it will have less work to do.
Consider Frozen Meals
Consider making frozen meals that only need to be reheated. You can even premake many of these meals yourself. Cook extra a few times a month and freeze the leftovers. When you do this, you will have a pre-cooked meal that only needs to be reheated. If you use aluminum pans instead of glass casserole dishes, you can just throw them away. Some people also cook just once a month and reheat frozen meals the rest of the time.
Cleaning up after dinner is not always a fun thing. You can make clean-up more manageable by making fewer messes and not allowing them to stand as leaving dishes out can be a food safety hazard. Assign everyone a job and get to work. Plan for leftovers and future meals early, and you can get them sorted while the food is still warm. Don’t forget to put them in the fridge or freezer once they are cooled. Family meals and family clean-up should be as enjoyable as possible. No one loves doing dishes, but living with a clean kitchen sure feels good.