living an organized life part 5: in the kitchen.

She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. vs. 27

As you know, I’m  kinda obsessed with having dinner parties and people over to my house. Quite a few posts ago, I talked about ways to make a gathering successful. You can check that out here. Well, Mr. Cook and I have made friends with the most hospitable couple I have ever met. And despite my tendencies to exaggerate, this is not one of those moments. They are constantly thinking of how to bless others. We wanted to bless them in return so we had them over for a big meal. I was feeling overwhelmed about the timing of the meal. In my head, I was worried about making sure everything came out at the right time, how to keep it all warm, and getting it all done before they got there. So I decided to tap into my organizational side and take charge of this meal like a real woman would.

Sorry, I feeling a little witty today. Forgive my attempt at humor.

Here’s a continual disclaimer for this blog series: I don’t expect everyone to enjoy organization the way I do; however, I would challenge you to try out some of these tips in your own life, make them work for you, and see how you feel at the end of the day.

So here’s some things that can be done to organize a big meal and make the cooking experience a success:

1. Make a list.

The list can look something like this (this is an example of the meal I prepared):

Fresh produce that needs to be cut:

tomatoes for salad, cucumber for salad, zuchinni, squash, potatoes for roasting, potatoes shaved for tilapia, onions for salmon patties, onions for veggie mix

Items that need to be cooked/prepared:

Salad- prep and chill first.

Dessert- prep and chill first. add toppings after dinner.

Salmon Patties- prep and chill 20 minutes. skillet 10 minutes.

Parmesan Potato Crusted Tilapia- prep 20 minutes. skillet 20 minutes.

Fresh Asparagus- steamer 20 minutes.

Zucchini, Squash, and Onions- skillet 15 minutes.

Roasted Potatoes- oven at 400 degrees for 40 minutes.

Crescent Roles-oven 450 for 13-15 minutes.

Texas Toast- brought by guest

Punch- brought by guest

2. Cut produce early.

It took me about an hour to cut all the produce needed for this meal. Which was nice because I actually find chopping veggies kind of therapeutic. But I am glad that I got a head start on it because whenever it came time to cook it, I just grabbed it from the refrigerator. It made the cooking process MUCH simpler.

3. Set the table early.

When I leave it for last, it’s always a disaster. All of the food is coming out of the oven, off of the skillet, etc..and then the last thing you have time for is to set the table all nice and fancy. So just do it before you start cooking. You will be thankful later.

4. Set out the serving bowls, utensils, etc early. 

I have a kitchen bar that I set all the food on whenever I have people over. Since I know that I will be needing a plate to put that hot fish on, I have it already I set it out on the bar early so it makes it easier during “crunch time.” Also, it’s good to have all the serving utensils out early because if you need that soup ladle that is currently dirty in the dishwasher, you know to wash it sooner….. rather than make your guests wait because they need something to serve their food with.

5. Do the already dirty dishes before the meal.

If there is a big load of dishes in your dishwasher, start it before the meal and put those dishes away. That way whenever you go to cook, you can put your just used dirty dishes in the dishwasher since it is now empty. Or in the sink, if you are an unfortunate one that lives with an dishwasher. (I did not have one for many years. And now that I have one, I feel like a spoiled kitchen brat).

6. Clean as you cook.

With big meals, this is almost a priority. If you are waiting on something to finish cooking, clean those dirty dishes you just made, put them in the dishwasher, wipe down the counter, put the boxes back in the pantry, give you kid a hug even…something productive.  I say this for two reasons: your house will look clean when your guests arrive & there is less for you to clean up later. And what else would you do with your time? Watch the timer on the oven slowly decrease? That’s too boring.

Tell me: What are some of the ways you stay organized in the kitchen?

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