By Sally Flower
We all know homemade meals are good for us (and our hip pocket), but no matter how many seasons of MasterChef you watch, getting in the kitchen doesn’t always feel easy.
As a home wellness coach, it’s my job to help people fall in love with their homes – including their kitchens. Now is the perfect time to spark your love of cooking and start filling the remainder of your 2021 with fresh homemade goodness.
Read on for my top tips for mastering meal prep and maximising your kitchen space.
Transform your kitchen into a loveable space
Making your kitchen a place you want to be in will dramatically boost your motivation to tie on the apron and sharpen those culinary skills. Start by taking out anything from the kitchen and pantry that doesn’t inspire you to cook. Rusty tins, broken crockery, excess platters you never use – get them out of there. Make a note of anything that needs replacing, and always ensure you swap it out for a high-quality replacement. This will reduce waste later, saving you money and hassle in the long run.
Next, make the space feel personal. Add photos of family to the fridge, bring your favourite mugs to the front of the cupboard – do whatever you need to do to make it feel like your very own place of cooking comfort.
Keep your countertops clutter-free
Counter space is king. The only thing more frustrating than looking for something in the back of your cupboard is having nowhere to put it once you’ve found it. The more room you have to chop, mix, and move around your kitchen, the happier you’ll be. If you can, put everything in your cupboards and drawers. This might require a little bit of ruthless decluttering but remember – your countertop is not for storage; it’s for prepping.
Only let your favourite cooks in kitchen
Too many cookbooks can be overwhelming, and old cookbooks can be uninspiring. Cull those that no longer inspire you to get in the kitchen and treat yourself to some new ones that do. If you still feel you have too many choices in the kitchen, try leaving out a few of your favourite books and rotating the others every few months.
Make mindful meal decisions ahead of time
A great way of disassociating stress with your kitchen is by planning your meals and ingredients ahead of time. That way, cooking won’t always be followed by a mad dash to the shops, leaving you flustered and time-poor when it comes time to make your meals. When planning your weekly menu, make sure you include dishes you and your family love, and will be excited about eating. Consider a rich and varied diet full of fresh local produce, proteins and nutritious grains. If you are a household that loves to snack, make sure you include healthy snack options such as nuts, fruit and dark chocolate into your weekly menu.
Planning for meals that work well for leftovers the next day is also a great way to limit midweek kitchen stress and reduce excess food waste. Once you’ve done this, write a list, organising items into meat, diary, fresh food, storage and cleaning, and plan a big weekly shop to ensure you have everything you need for the week ahead.
Clean now to relax later
We all know cleaning up is the worst part of meal prep. Make it easy for yourself; before you start any meal making duties, empty the dishwasher and fill the sink with warm, soapy water. This will motivate you to clean up as you go – giving you more couch time after you’ve prepped your meals.
Don’t leave out your leftovers
Throwing away food because you never got around to eating is a common kitchen crime. Reduce your food prep time (and avoid unnecessary food waste) by checking your leftovers before you cook anything new. If overlooking leftovers is a habit of yours, try storing them in glass or see-through containers on the middle shelf or popping a post-it note on the lid – sometimes a visual reminder is all we need.
About Sally Flower
Sally Flower was Australia’s first KonMari consultant trained by Marie Kondo, making her one of the country’s top organisational and decluttering expert. A regular on leading breakfast television show, Sunrise, she is also a wellness consultant, mindfulness coach and sustainability advocate. On a mission to help people find a lighter way of living that sparks joy, Sally is passionate about encouraging Australians to live a simpler life, minimising their environmental footprint in the process.