Growing up, we always used to marvel at Mimi and Nana’s ability to be so present when they were hosting in their homes. Despite dinner finishing up on the stove and a house full of loved ones, they always seemed at ease. Their spaces seemed so tidy and organized. Even the kitchen, the space where a full meal had just been cooked, somehow looked put-together and clean. How were they able to keep their kitchen feeling clean when they prepped for dinner guests? They had a few key Hostful Hacks under their sleeves that allowed them to tame the mess and, in turn, truly enjoy their time with friends and family.
If the goal is to connect with loved ones, we have to examine what stops us from doing so. What closes your heart to deeper conversations? Do certain stressors stop you from making the call to invite them into your home? What stops you from breathing easy as loved ones mingle around you? These questions are loaded, but when it comes down to it, what closes us off from connection is stress and overwhelm. What causes stress and overwhelm? Well, the list may be long and it’s usually unique to each person. Maybe you’re an introvert who struggles with social interaction. Maybe you aren’t confident cooking recipes for a crowd. There are many possible answers to what stresses you out when hosting, but one pain point we’ve felt ourselves and have been told by so many around us seems to be universal: cleaning.
When prepping dinner, you might find yourself wondering why you chose to make dinner to begin with. Veggie scraps. Dishes in the sink. Your kitchen might feel cluttered and messy with guests arriving soon. So, what can you do to reduce these messes and keep your kitchen clean as you prepare food? We have some tried-and-true #HostfulHacks that help you get organized and prep more efficiently. It takes a little bit of planning, but the result is a cleaner kitchen and a sense of calm as you welcome loved ones into your home.
4 #HostfulHacks That Keep Your Kitchen Clean as You Prep Dinner
1. The Scrap Bowl
A favorite of Jenna’s, The Scrap Bowl hack allows you to toss all your food scraps and other trash into one bowl as you prep on the counter top. When you’re done chopping and prepping, simply toss the contents of the bowl into your trash. This makes your prep more efficient (no constant clearing off of the counter in between veggies or carting individual egg shells to the trash), but also reduces the amount of overall cleaning, since the scraps are in one nice and neat location. Your counter tops will remain clear and uncluttered, allowing your mind to feel clear and uncluttered as you prepare dinner for guests.
2. The Clean Slate
When you begin your prep, take a moment to make sure you’re starting with a clean slate. This means that the dishwasher and sink are empty, the kitchen trash has been taken out, and your counters are relatively clear. While this might seem like a hassle, you’d be surprised how much of this you can get done with a ten-minute timer. And, it’s totally worth it. This allows you to feel calmer as you begin the task of cooking for others. When you feel at ease, that sense of harmony translates over to your gathering, allowing you and others to get to making cherished memories.
3. The Halfway Homemade Method
We’ve all been there. There’s a pile of dishes in the sink after you’ve just prepped dinner and put it into the oven. Guests will be arriving shortly, but you’re running low on time to get yourself ready. Do you spend the precious minutes you have dealing with the sink full of dirty dishes or do you get yourself ready for evening? Whichever option you choose, you’re in a situation that’s causing you to disconnect from the moment. Stress is caused by those dirty dishes; so, what can you do to deal with this frustrating byproduct of hosting? Go halfway homemade. These are recipes that are partially store bought, which ultimately cuts down on the amount of dishes you have from prepping dinner. Less dishes means less stress, allowing you more time to feel prepared and ready for when your doorbell rings with your first guests.
Featured Recipes: Halfway Homemade Garden Vegetable Soup
4. The One-Pot Meal
Similar to The Halfway Homemade Method, going with one-pot meals means less kitchen mess, as well. We love the simplicity of one-pot (or pan) meals that allows us to not use our entire collection of cookware and, instead, strategically choose a recipe that only calls for one. For one-pot meals, we like to think of pasta, casseroles and skillet dishes.
The Effect of Keeping Your Kitchen Clean as You Prep
Hosting takes time and effort. There’s no getting around that. But, if you ask Mimi or Nana, they’ll tell you without hesitation that it’s so, so worth it. Inviting friends and family into your home and being able to show your love for them through cooking a meal and opening up your doors will fill you up like nothing else. When we achieve connection with others, suddenly other areas of life seem lighter, more doable. That’s the magic of connection.
So, when opening up your doors to loved ones, remember these simple Hostful Hacks to bring a new ease to your dinner prep. Cut down on time cleaning up and spend more time being present with those gathered around your table. It is so, so worth it.
Hap-bee Hosting, friend!