Do you have a kitchen shutdown routine every night? If not, it’s worth thinking about starting one.
We’re sharing five simple things you can do in your kitchen at the day’s end—a.k.a., a kitchen shutdown routine. This simple set of tasks doesn’t typically take more than 10 minutes or so, and it’s designed to make your morning easier. No one wants the morning to turn into a hot mess because of something you forgot to do in the kitchen the night before. (It might, however, become a hot mess if your kids are arguing or you’re running late for work, or if the cat throws up. But those are beyond our control, mostly. True stories here, people).
Note: Here’s what I WISH my kitchen looked like at the end of the day! Heck, I’d like this kitchen even if it were messy!
Ok, jokes aside, let’s get into this shutdown routine!
Clear the sink
Every night before bed, I make sure the sink is cleared. I wash what needs hand washing and put the rest in the dishwasher if it’s got some room. Then, I run the dishwasher.
Assess the garbage and recycling
Is there any stinky garbage from dinner that’s going to smell not-so-fresh in the morning? That goes out. Any recycling that’s been created during the day goes into the recycling, too, if it didn’t make it to there during dinner. Waste management? Check!
Gather up dirty laundry
I gather up all the dirty dish towels and toss them into the laundry room sink. My laundry room is small, so the sink is my informal holding place before they’re transferred to the washing machine. (It’s better than the floor, where someone would trip over them or the cats would make a nest in them.) I wash them every couple of days because, well, cooking. Dish towels get gross fast.
Clean off the countertops and other surfaces
The next task in the kitchen shutdown routine looks at the counter tops. Are they a mess? Are they cluttered with things that aren’t related to kitchen prep—or any kind of cooking activity at all?
I have very little counter space, so I need to be as efficient as possible. Sometimes that means a pile of mail hangs out over by my toaster, while I use the little space I have for food prep. So I put those things aside that need to be filed elsewhere and do so before bed.
This step also involves making sure the stove is reasonably clean of any spills from dinner prep. (Looking at you, overflowing rice. . .) Again, the goal here isn’t to jump into a deep clean at 9 o’clock at night (unless that’s your jam….) It’s more about making sure the space is reasonably clean for the morning and free of clutter.
Pre-game lunch prep
I have two teenage boys who eat a lot, anytime. But especially at lunch. On school nights, they prep their lunches 3/4 of the way. (Sandwiches are made in the morning; leftovers, reheated and popped into a Thermos). If they’re lucky enough to remember, they fill their water bottles, too, and chill them over night. (I work from home, so I don’t need a lot of lunch prep.) Doing this ahead of time saves them some time in the morning and it takes the task off my plate, although admittedly, they need nudging on this, frequently. Because, well, teenagers.
Do you have a kitchen shutdown routine at night? What steps do you take every night to make sure morning’s meal prep goes a lot easier? Let us know in the comments!
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