Doing the dishes

Suboptimal
Suboptimal.

Dishes seem like such a petty thing to complain about but in a college kitchen, they can easily become a major barrier to cooking.

Back home, when one person in my family cooks, another cleans up after. It’s a great way of spreading out the work and making cooking on weeknights a little more feasible for a busy family.

Now that I’m in college, my roommates and I all cook for ourselves. Sometimes we try to cook together but with our crazy schedules, it’s definitely not a regular occurrence. This means we all do our own dishes too, and with four girls cooking the dishes can definitely pile up.

As silly as it sounds, I’ve found that I’m more likely to cook if I use less dishes and spend less time cleaning. You can call it being lazy (and it certainly is!) but convenience is a major factor in the food choices we make.

You can see this on a larger, historical scale as well. TV dinners and fast food are partly credited with helping women get into the workforce. Women were typically the cooks in the family and with the invention of packaged foods, they were able to spend less time in the kitchen and instead, start working outside of the house. Clearly, the power of convenience is not something to be underestimated.

Anyway, back to the dishes. Here’s how I deal with mine mine so cooking, and cleaning, is more convenient:

  • Clean as you cook. There is nothing worse than spending an hour cooking and turning around to see a sink piled high with dirty dishes. When I clean as I go, I’m left with just a few things to wash up at the end. Most recipes have steps where you have to wait for things to cook and this is a great time to wash the dishes that you’re not going to use anymore.
  • Do your dishes right after you eat. I like to follow the two-minute rule I mentioned here – if it is going to take me less than two minutes to do, I try to do it right away. This is an especially good rule with dishes. It’s so much easier to quickly rinse out a bowl than to scrape out the crusty oatmeal that has been sitting in it all day (ick).
  • Plan ahead. Before cooking, I read the recipe and see if I can reduce the number of dishes they use. For example, if I need 1/4 cup of one thing and 1/2 cup of another, I’ll use a 1/4 cup measuring cup to measure both.
  • Use the same things more than once. This works for both cooking and eating. If you’re cooking multiple dishes at the same time, you can use the same cutting boards, knives, and serving spoons. I usually use the same water glass for a day or two before tossing it in the dishwasher. At our house, we have coasters with our names on them so we don’t get our glasses mixed up. Of course, you don’t want to take this one to an extreme. Using the same unwashed bowl to eat all of your meals in a day would be gross and you definitely want to be careful to avoid cross contamination when handling raw meat.
  • Keep it simple. I avoid getting extra dishes dirty whenever possible – you can do most things with a spoon, knife, and bowl. For instance, instead of lugging out our food processor to make salad dressing, I shake it up in the jar I’m going to store it in.

What are some tricks you use to making cooking or cleaning more convenient?

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2 thoughts on “Doing the dishes

  1. I can’t stand doing dishes normally, either I make a mess and hope someone else cleans, or I do exactly what you say at the beginning of cleaning as I go but when I see other people leave dirty dishes it’s infuriating.

    1. I like the part about leaving it for someone else haha. One of my roommates is like that – she conveniently has to go do something in the other room whenever it’s time to clean up 🙂

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