Meal Planning Series 4/5 - Cleaning

Welcome to this compilation of topics on our approach to meal planning! We hope by the end of these five articles, you will feel prepared and empowered to tackle all the steps involved in getting dinner on the table.

Here are all the topics of the series if you’d like to jump to a particular one:


Unfortunately, our app can’t do your dishes. But it can improve the rest of the steps in the meal planning process so when the time comes to clean, you still have the energy to get it done.

Check out these tips to help make doing dishes feel less daunting so you can focus on enjoying your home-cooked meal.

Start with a blank slate. Before you start cooking, create a space where you can really cook and not be crowded by a mess. Make sure the tools and equipment you are going to need are clean, dry, and ready to use. Cooking already requires some cleanup, but it will feel like less if you aren’t adding last night’s dishes to the pile as well. “A cluttered workspace is a cluttered mind.” This is where the zen of cooking can start to shine.

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Clean as you go.

Organize your work station with prep bowls for compostables, trash, and prepped ingredients. This saves time while cooking by eliminating trips to the bins and keeps your hands and cutting board clean and your prep work streamlined.

Take a tip from the professional kitchen, “If there’s time to lean, there’s time to clean.” While you wait for the oven to preheat or a pot of water to boil, a lot can be done in these few minutes. Make it a game to see if you can clean all the dishes or put away all the ingredients in the time it takes for the pasta to cook. You’ll be surprised how much you can get done in a few minutes. This really adds up and if done diligently, you’ll have minimal clean-up after your meal. This also maximizes your ability to sit down, relax, and enjoy dinner without the dread of a mountain of dishes to deal with.

Be conscientious.

Do you really need 10 spoons or five different bowls to prepare dinner? Try to minimize dishes by re-using as much as possible to cut back on how many dishes you’ll have to do later — even if you have to rinse the same bowl a few times. This could mean using the same pan to cook the onions, chicken, and brown the nuts and then transferring different elements to one large baking dish, separating the cooked items in different corners of the pan. If you really dislike doing dishes but find it hard to minimize using so many, look for One Pot or Sheet Pan recipes.

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Rinse immediately.

The worst part about doing dishes is scrubbing off dried up bits. Be kind and rinse dishes instead of just throwing them in the sink. Especially things like cheese graters, pots of sauce, and anything eggy or doughy. If you can’t wash them right away, at least give them a splash.

Regularly tidying up the kitchen after each use means you won’t have to start the next meal by cleaning. Make the kitchen somewhere you enjoy being by taking care of it. Find a system that works best for you to make dinnertime more enjoyable!

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