Category Archives: self-cleaning cooking

Self-Cleaning: Conclusions

My previous discussion about this can be found in the tab above. However, the conclusions I came to were that there were 5 things I could do to limit the mount of clean up required in my kitchen. (They’re the numbered items, in bold below.

New comments are italic below.

  1. Use up ingredients –  Generates less clean up, sometimes. Task saving here only occurs when the item doesn’t need additional storage or doesn’t generate waste. For example, if a recipe calls for a potato and you use one, you’re done, unless you peel it, in which case you have the same number of chores. If it’s rice, whether you use all the rice or part of it, you have a storage container to deal with, either as trash or to wash and re-use.
  2. Use the smallest quantity of cooking utensils & tools as practical (and safe)! Each tool or utensil generates two clean up tasks — it has to be washed and put away. Making the method and placement of putting it away seems to be the only real way to save time on this.
  3. Limit cooking areas! Each cooking area generates one clean up task: clean up after it’s used. What I’ve started doing is using 2 small wooden cutting boards more often. I can wipe down one side with a sponge, flip it over and use the other side if I need to. I will cut an onion, rinse/wipe that side off, dry it briefly, flip it over and use it to cut the other veggies I don’t want to taste of onion.  (I cut up raw meat on a plate.)
  4. Make your own prefab or partial ingredients! Partially prepared foods may be the best way to cook from scratch, with fresh foods, and limit clean up tasks. This is still one of my best takeaways from these ideas. I cook extra plain pasta, chicken thighs, rice, noodles, gravy, etc. and find ways to use them in future meals.
  5. Try using commercial prefab ingredients! These can also save many clean up tasks, but you sacrifice knowing exactly what’s in the food and how it was prepared.  Also,  this has the same problems that any ingredients do: you have to use all of it, deal with the waste/packaging and/or store what’s not used. It’s expensive and in this time of the pandemic, prefab foods aren’t always available. . .

This is new! Start the clean up immediately! I fill the dish bucket with warm water when I start cooking. The dishes are put in there after use and then loaded into the dishwasher as soon as practical.

This does NOT reduce the amount of clean up needed; it DOES reduce the time I have to spend on it. Frequently, this means if I make breakfast or lunch that the dishwasher is full and run before dinner. 


Before the pandemic? I made dinner, that was it. These days, I usually make lunch and dinner and sometimes make 3 meals a day.

Thinking and writing about this idea made me aware of how messy cooking is. I’m doing more cleaning as I go, clearing chopped veggies into the compost bin more often, for example. As a result, the kitchen is cleaner. I’m doing more clean up between meals because I have to, as well.

Unfortunately,

this discussion and my changed behaviors haven’t reduced the amount of kitchen mess. Darn!

stack of dirty pots & pans

Self-Cleaning Cooking — Put It To Use (or Try)

Also available on the self-cleaning cooking page, see the menu, above, for a link to the page, all of these posts are there!

  1. Use up ingredients! This generates less clean up: you don’t have to deal with storing what’s left. (It generates less waste and happily is frugal too.)
  2. Use the smallest quantity of cooking utensils & tools as practical (and safe)! Each tool or utensil generates two clean up tasks — it has to be washed and put away.
  3. Limit cooking areas! Each cooking area generates one clean up task: cleaning the area after it’s used.
  4. Make your own prefab or partial ingredients! Partially prepared foods may be the best way to cook from scratch, with fresh foods, and limit clean up tasks.
  5. Try using commercial prefab ingredients! These can also save many clean up tasks, but you sacrifice knowing exactly what’s in the food and how it was prepared.

So! Given those, what can I do?


  • Use up ingredients!

For us, that means that I will try and do more bulk cooking. I do this with meats already, that is, when I open a package of 1 lb of chicken thighs, these days I always cook all of it. However, I don’t do this with vegetables say. Items which will store well, I do: cooked rice as an example. But what to do with fresh veggies to handle/store them as little as possible is the challenge here, and I don’t have an answer.

  • Use the smallest quantity of cooking utensils & tools as practical (and safe)!

I think with measuring tools, I already do this. I’ll measure dry ingredients before wet. I’ll use the smallest spoon measure and use a graduated cup measure for items.

Cooking tools? Hm, not so much.

Pans: if items need to be dry roasted (like dry roasted cumin, in a soup recipe I use a lot) and then another ingredient needs to be sauted, wiping the pan out with a paper towel (or not, depending on the ingredient) between makes sense. Using the pan you roasted meat in to make gravy might make sense, but it would usually generate another dish to hold the food taken from the roasting pan.

I have two sets of divided pans: small, almost triangular pans made to fit inside a bigger one and be cooked that way. I wonder if using those more often could help? It might not lessen the quantity of items to be cleaned, but it certainly would lessen the square inches of surfaces needing to be cleaned. There’s only two of us and often I’m only using the bottom inch of a pan . Hmm…..

Cooking utensils: I automatically just reach for tool x or y or z as I’m cooking. I think I need to become more aware of what I’m doing and see if I can just not use the wooden spatula I’ve used for years to saute items, and then need a spoon instead. Why couldn’t I saute foods with the spoon? No reason; I’m just used to doing things a certain way. As I said, this one will require some work on my part!

  • Limit cooking areas! 

This is the same as cooking cools/utensils: I automatically use this cutting board, that knife, the peeler, etc. I will have to *think* before I cook to find ways to lessen cooking areas. (The horror!)

  • Make your own prefab or partial ingredients! 

As I said, I often make a quart jar of sauted onions.

At the end of the summer last year, I made up something which also worked: I made up bags of tomatoes, onion, green pepper, all chopped and ready to go, for marinara for me (no red tomatoes) or my husband (with red tomatoes). I also made up bags of salsa verde for me (no red tomatoes again) or regular salsa for my husband.

I’ve discussed this earlier, I think to limit the number of recipes: I’ll make a red tomato stewed tomato recipe and a nonred tomato stewed tomato recipe. I’ll probably also make salsa verde. Tomatillos, which I love and can eat, are readily available at the farm late summer. A jar of salsa verde is about $3 (or more)! I love Mexican food and use a lot of salsa.

stack of dirty pots & pans

  • Try using commercial prefab ingredients!

Of course, I have done this and do. But I have limited storage and money. In the summer I toss a huge amount of the farm food unnecessarily. Especially since I’m losing my big freezer this summer, finding new ways to use the farm food, rather than buying more prefab food is my mandate.