When you have other stuff to do, every minute counts — especially if you are spending time unnecessarily.
Repeatedly walking back and forth, trying to juggle several pans on the stove, never having enough room in the oven, everyone getting in the way of each other… we have easy hacks to help with all of them.
It’s all about saving time — or, really, letting you spend a little more of your time not stuck in the kitchen making dinner.
Just a few minutes a day may not seem like much, but when cooking a weeknight meal, almost half of Consumer Reports subscribers said they wished they could get those minutes back. The average difference between actual time spent and what respondents desired: 8 minutes.
5 tips for a time-saving kitchen
With that 8-minute goal in mind, here are some ideas for the ultimate time-saving kitchen — including suggestions for time-saving countertop appliances and smart tips from chefs, designers, organizers and others.
1) Design your kitchen for efficiency
The classic kitchen work triangle — connecting the sink, fridge, and cooktop, but leaving space between each — is still the baseline for maximum efficiency. But when you have a two-cook kitchen, it often makes sense to have a second triangle, perhaps based on an island counter with a prep sink, or an island stovetop.
2) Plan ahead
When dinner takes too much time to cook, or you’re short on oven space, get help from small kitchen countertop appliances to help you keep everything under control.
The top 3 handy bonus cooking appliances are the Instant Pot-style electronic pressure cooker, the traditional Crock-Pot style slow cooker, and the newest kid on the block — the air fryer.
The first two are super-handy for prepping make-ahead meals, while the air fryer is fantastic for cooking frozen foods, reheating leftovers, and, yes, “frying” foods without the fat.
3) Store things the smart way
In the kitchen, try to put things you use most often close at hand. For example, dishes should be kept in a cabinet next to the dishwasher; cutlery in a drawer near the dishwasher; cutting boards and sharp knives belong near the food prep counter.
But don’t stop there! House your cup measures and measuring spoons near the mixing bowls — which you can keep next to the baking and casserole dishes. (PS: You can buy more than one set of measuring spoons and keep them in two or three handy spots, such as hanging on a little hook inside a cabinet door.)
Basically, if you have to repeatedly cross your kitchen to do the same thing over and over — getting a replacement trash can liner, grabbing a food storage container,
Don’t limit yourself to cabinets! You can organize spices in a drawer right next to the stove. Do you have a frying pan you use all the time? Keep that in another nearby drawer — along with the spatula and oven mitt you use with it.
MORE: 18 five-minute decluttering tips to help you get organized
4) Make it easy for the family affair
Look for ways to enlist other members of the household. For example, if you have kids, use a base (lower) cabinet to store everyday dishes or flatware, allowing young ones to help set the table.
Kids also might find it easier to empty the dishwasher if everyday glasses and plates are stored on the lower shelves of wall cabinets.
The same guidelines apply to people with mobility impairments, whether elderly, in a wheelchair, or something else. Do what you can to make helping out less a chore, and more of a way to help and participate.
5) Minimize maintenance
Some materials and finishes are harder to care for than others. Stainless steel appliances remain popular, but if fingerprints are a concern, old-school slightly textured fridge finishes can help — or you can check out newer, smudge-resistant finishes such as General Electric’s Slate.
As for flooring, vinyl held up best in CR’s tests against scratches and dents. Ceramic tile is also sturdy, but can chip — and keeping the grout clean can be a hassle.
To help keep dirt and dry messes in check, you might want to try setting up a robotic vacuum with a scheduled kitchen cleaning every night. (Some models even have mop add-ons.)