You know, on this little website I’m always talking about how great it is living a Real Food lifestyle. I feel great, I lost a bunch of weight, blah, blah, blah. But isn’t there a downside?
I’m sorry to say, yep. And today I’m going to show it to you. And then I’ll show you how to make even the downside not so bad, so hang on for the tips and tricks at the end. This is what my kitchen looks like most nights at about 8:00 p.m.
(Note: I know, I know, my photography skills just aren’t that great. Yet. I’m working on it!)
Not so bad, right? I’m actually quite proud of that clean bit of kitchen. We had eaten a delicious, home-cooked meal planned by our good friends at eMeals, and then quickly cleaned up. The dishwasher was loaded with the timer set to run after we were all in bed, the floor swept, the garbage out, all thanks to the tips I’m going to share in a minute. Aaaahhh, that feels good!
Now let’s watch the evolution of a Real Food kitchen throughout the course of a regular day:
It’s right after breakfast time, I just dropped one daughter off at the bus stop and the kitchen is not too messy yet. In the bowl on the left I have homemade yogurt straining, there are a few dishes in the sink, and the Blendtec jar is drying on the towel next to the toaster from my morning smoothie. It’s hard to see, but there is a blue bowl behind the yogurt that is full of dried chickpeas that have been soaking overnight for me to cook and make into hummus. And yes, that is a Coca-Cola crock to the left of the sink. The more you see my kitchen, the more you will see that I have a massive collection of Coca-Cola memorabilia, which I think is hilarious considering my current stance on soda and all processed food! The crock holds anything we want to compost until we can move it outside to the big composting bin for the garden.
This next one was taken at lunchtime. I know, that light from the window is awful! Sorry about that. Now we have a lot more dishes in the sink; all the stuff from breakfast, from straining the yogurt, and the chickpea soaking bowl. The chickpeas have now been moved to the slow cooker on the right. Overall, for my kitchen at least, this isn’t too bad! Still not too messy.
This next one was taken right as I was about to start making dinner. It looks pretty much just like the lunch one, just with the chickpeas now out of the slow cooker and moved to the fridge, and a few more dishes added. What you can’t see at this point is how my kitchen table is now completely covered with snack dishes and school work from the girls. I should have taken kitchen table evolution pictures, too, because that gets just plain scary!
Now we are right in the thick of things! Another delicious eMeals dinner is cooking away at full speed on the stove, and I have ingredients and mess all over. I’m running out of counter space! The table is now even more messy, with Play-Doh being added to the mess with chunks of it even all over the floor.
And then finally, about 8:00 p.m. that night. I didn’t get all the dishes done before bed, but close! The dishwasher has now been loaded up and is ready to run, and a few dishes are drying there on the towel on the right side. The table was cleared so we could eat dinner, and then cleared again for the night. We even got all the Play-Doh off the floor!
So, is that it? Are you just doomed to lots of dishes and mess if you are going to switch to this lifestyle? What if you are a busy working mom with less than no time who really would rather take a break than do loads of dishes? Thankfully, it is possible to do both. Here are a few tricks I use to make life a lot easier:
- You can save a huge amount of time by letting someone else do your meal planning for you. I always recommend eMeals as a great way to save loads of time.
- One pot meals. This is pretty self explanatory, if the meals you are making take fewer dishes to cook, you don’t have to wash as many dishes! I also will stir things with the measuring spoons I just used to measure them with or find other ways to not dirty as many dishes.
- Clean as you cook. In pretty much every recipe, there is usually a time where you are waiting for something to happen. Why not load a few dishes in the dishwasher while you wait? Marquis and I laugh all the time that when he cooks, it looks like a tornado hit the kitchen and it takes forever to dig back out, while when I cook, the kitchen is way cleaner by the end. The difference is simply that I clean while I cook! Maximize that kitchen time!
- Use a timer on the dishwasher. The first time Marquis and I went dishwasher shopping, I saw that the one we were purchasing had a timer feature and I mentioned to him how dumb that was. Why would you ever set a timer? Why not just run it when it gets full? Why would you wait? We liked the other features, though, and bought it anyway, and oh, how I loved that timer! I always set ours to start at about 10:00 at night. That allows me to get the dishwasher mostly loaded, but we can still sneak in a few extra dishes before it runs if something else gets dirty. It allows us to throw kids in the bath without worrying about running out of hot water, and without forgetting to run the dishwasher afterward. Plus, it saves money on your energy bill to run appliances at night. Nice!
- Empty the dishwasher in the morning, and train your family to fill it back up. I have to be honest, this trick doesn’t work for me. I want it to work and I have tried it so many times, but our mornings are wild and crazy and messy, and unloading the dishwasher just isn’t realistic. However, I know this works for a lot of people out there, so I have to include it! You just simply make emptying the dishwasher part of the normal morning routine, and then make sure after each meal your family puts the dirty dishes there instead of the sink. The work is half done for you!
- Make dishes the routine. Every day after dinner, everyone in my family knows it’s time for dishes. Everyone rinses their own dishes and loads them in the dishwasher, and then grabs a towel to help mom start drying. That’s just the way life is! If we do it daily, it really doesn’t take that long, and many hands make light work!
- Along with that, put the minions to work! My kids have been helping to load the dishwasher since they were just teeny. We also have kid sized brooms, and I will make a square with painter’s tape on the floor and tell them to “sweep to the square.” No, it’s not perfect, but it does help. Again, many hands make light work!
- Don’t worry about perfect! You’ll notice in the last picture above that I mentioned I didn’t get to all the dishes. At that point there was still a pan on the stove and there were a few more in the sink. I am definitely one of those people that it could drive me a little bit batty to not have it completely sparkling clean before bed, but I just try to focus on the dishes that did get done and how much I was able to accomplish. It was tempting to take a picture the next night when I was able to get the kitchen 100% clean and use that pic instead, but I wanted to show you that it doesn’t have to be perfect! I would much rather be feeding my family healthy foods than have a perfectly clean kitchen all the time.
So yes, a cooking as much as you do when living a Real Food lifestyle can lead to a few more dishes, but it is possible to keep it under control! Tell me, what tips and tricks do you have for cutting down on dishes and making cleanup easier?