Kitchen Courtesy & Cleanliness

Kitchen Courtesy & Cleanliness

We’ve been talking a lot lately about interesting recipes to try (and experimenting on your own).  All of this is great, but every great cook needs to put a little effort into cleaning too.  Whether you are sharing a small apartment kitchen with a few roommates or a dorm kitchen with many floormates, here are some guidelines to follow when you cook up a storm:

DO THE DISHES! Yes, no one enjoys doing dishes but we must do them.  This is a major pet peeve for me when my roommates don’t do their dishes for days or leave them in the sink. The sink is not large enough to hold everyone’s dishes, and the minimal surfaces we have need to be functional.  One tip that works for me is keeping some paper products on hand.  Paper plates are a lifesaver in the morning when I don’t have time to clean up after myself.  They may not be the most sustainable (but you can recycle!) and be sustainable in other ways.

SPACE AWARENESS! Unless you eat at totally off times, you’re going to run into times when a couple other people are trying to make dinner at the same time.  Okay, what do you do in the postage stamp kitchen? How about prep your ingredients and be courteous of others’ space? Efficiency is the key, and if you’re the master chef, be aware and offer to share surfaces.  Also, if you keep up with doing the dishes and keeping the kitchen relatively neat, you will have an easier time when mealtime rolls around.

CLEAN SURFACES! Keep microfiber and dish clothes on hand, as well as paper towels and a good antibacterial cleaner.  In college, things seem to get sticky and messy faster and some people just don’t seem to care.  If you keep the common space clean, it not only looks better but helps cut down on cross-contamination and just general dirtiness.

RAW MEATS! There’s nothing worse than using a cutting board that your roommate just cut raw chicken on and forgot to clean. No one wants to Google, or get, the symptoms of food poisoning.  If you decide to thaw something out, my advice is to cook or bake it in an off-time when less roommates are around.  That way, you can pay attention to what you are doing, wash your hands as many times as you need to, and be all cleaned up in the kitchen by the time dinner rolls around.

Also on raw meats, when you thaw something out, you should use it within 2 days.  You cannot refreeze sometime once you have thawed it out, but you can refreeze cooked meats. If you’re refreezing cooked chicken, for example, put it in a Tupperware or freezer bag as soon as you cook it and put it in the fridge. After it has cooled in the fridge, put it in the freezer (make sure all of the air is out of the freezer bag).

Following these simple guidelines isn’t that hard, and if you show respect to others in the kitchen, hopefully you will get the same in return.  If not, politely bring up the issue with the offender and offer suggestions to improve.  After all, this is probably the first year we’ve all been without a dishwasher (and our mom). If you just clean up after yourself, a little goes a long way.