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10 Tips on Keeping Your Kitchen Clean When You Cook

10 Tips on Keeping Your Kitchen Clean When You Cook

Of course you want to cook a fresh, hot dinner for your family, but at the end of a long day, it’s a tough task to take on. Not only do you have to prep the food and cook the meal, you have to clean up afterwards! Don’t stress about how long cleaning up might take. Instead, check out these ten tips on keeping your kitchen clean when you cook. If you get it all done while you’re making the meal, you can relax after!

1. Start Fresh and Clean

Starting with a clean kitchen is a time saver. If you already have spills on the counter and dishes piled up in the sink, you won’t really be in the mood to cook a fresh meal. Make time to deep clean your kitchen one day, so you won’t have to clean as much every time you use it.

2. Pick the Right Spot

Where is the best place to cook? Do you have an island in your kitchen, so you have unobstructed counter space to prepare everything before turning around and dumping it in a pan? Or it might make sense to slice and dice right next to the sink, so you can clean the fresh produce as you go. Pick the right spot so you’ll be running around less. Don’t prep half of the meal on one side of the kitchen just to have to run it across the room to the stovetop. Prepping next to your workspace will also cut down on spills you’ll have to clean up later.

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3. Cook Simpler Meals

You might fancy yourself a gourmet cook, but are you trying to make a masterpiece or feed your family? If you’re just trying to fill everyone’s bellies, don’t worry so much about the appetizer, main course, and three sides. Cook enough food so no one walks away hungry, but don’t worry about going all out for the dinner. Simple meals are just as filling as anything gourmet!

4. Prep Ahead of Time

If you can fix any part of your meal ahead of time–do it! Bake bread in the morning while you’re packing lunches, or dice vegetables while the kids are having their snacks. Use a slow cooker to make your meat extra tender while you’re at work all day.

5. Try Canned, Frozen, and Dry Ingredients

Of course you want the best fresh ingredients for your family, but that’s not always possible–or affordable! Don’t be afraid to try canned, frozen, and dry ingredients. These also work to cut down on your prep time. Using frozen chopped spinach is way easier than washing fresh leaves and cutting them up yourself. Use dry mixes instead of trying to toss together all the spices by yourself. The meal will taste just as good, and you won’t be too exhausted to enjoy it!

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6. Use Fewer Dishes and Utensils

Plan ahead so that you can use fewer dishes and utensils, which means you’ll have less to wash later. If you use a cutting board to cut the onion, rinse it and the knife to use again when cutting the chicken while the onions are already simmering. If you’re preparing a lot of similar ingredients, see if you can mix them all together in the same bowl without even washing it in between.

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    7. Collect Trash As You Go

    When you take something out of the package, go ahead and put it in the trash can or recycling bin. This will be easier than trying to run around picking up trash after the meal, and it will make your cooking space look bigger and less cluttered. Throwing out trash as you go can help cut down on spills as some ingredients or packaging might start oozing over time.

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    8. Clean Spills Immediately

    Don’t let spills sit! They’ll get sticky and stinky and before you know it, you’ve put a clean bowl right on top of a mess. Wipe a spill up as soon as you see it happen so you won’t have to deal with a potentially larger mess later.

    9. Use Rags

    Using rags to clean up spills and surfaces helps immensely. It cuts down on trash because you can just use one rag and rinse it out as needed, instead of tearing off paper towel after paper towel and throwing them away after one wipe. You can hang the rag on your sink faucet, which keeps it out of the way, as opposed to having clusters of used paper towels hanging out on your counters.

    10. Multi-task

    While one thing is simmering on the stove, get a jump on the clean up. Start washing some of the dishes you’re done with so you won’t have to do it later. Make sure you’re always busy either preparing for the next step or cleaning so you won’t have to later. This will make the most of your time while you’re already in the kitchen, so you’ll have the rest of your evening free.

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    Featured photo credit: Jeff Kubina via flickr.com

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    Last Updated on July 17, 2019

    The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

    The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

    What happens in our heads when we set goals?

    Apparently a lot more than you’d think.

    Goal setting isn’t quite so simple as deciding on the things you’d like to accomplish and working towards them.

    According to the research of psychologists, neurologists, and other scientists, setting a goal invests ourselves into the target as if we’d already accomplished it. That is, by setting something as a goal, however small or large, however near or far in the future, a part of our brain believes that desired outcome is an essential part of who we are – setting up the conditions that drive us to work towards the goals to fulfill the brain’s self-image.

    Apparently, the brain cannot distinguish between things we want and things we have. Neurologically, then, our brains treat the failure to achieve our goal the same way as it treats the loss of a valued possession. And up until the moment, the goal is achieved, we have failed to achieve it, setting up a constant tension that the brain seeks to resolve.

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    Ideally, this tension is resolved by driving us towards accomplishment. In many cases, though, the brain simply responds to the loss, causing us to feel fear, anxiety, even anguish, depending on the value of the as-yet-unattained goal.

    Love, Loss, Dopamine, and Our Dreams

    The brains functions are carried out by a stew of chemicals called neurotransmitters. You’ve probably heard of serotonin, which plays a key role in our emotional life – most of the effective anti-depressant medications on the market are serotonin reuptake inhibitors, meaning they regulate serotonin levels in the brain leading to more stable moods.

    Somewhat less well-known is another neurotransmitter, dopamine. Among other things, dopamine acts as a motivator, creating a sensation of pleasure when the brain is stimulated by achievement. Dopamine is also involved in maintaining attention – some forms of ADHD are linked to irregular responses to dopamine.[1]

    So dopamine plays a key role in keeping us focused on our goals and motivating us to attain them, rewarding our attention and achievement by elevating our mood. That is, we feel good when we work towards our goals.

    Dopamine is related to wanting – to desire. The attainment of the object of our desire releases dopamine into our brains and we feel good. Conversely, the frustration of our desires starves us of dopamine, causing anxiety and fear.

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    One of the greatest desires is romantic love – the long-lasting, “till death do us part” kind. It’s no surprise, then, that romantic love is sustained, at least in part, through the constant flow of dopamine released in the presence – real or imagined – of our true love. Loss of romantic love cuts off that supply of dopamine, which is why it feels like you’re dying – your brain responds by triggering all sorts of anxiety-related responses.

    Herein lies obsession, as we go to ever-increasing lengths in search of that dopamine reward. Stalking specialists warn against any kind of contact with a stalker, positive or negative, because any response at all triggers that reward mechanism. If you let the phone ring 50 times and finally pick up on the 51st ring to tell your stalker off, your stalker gets his or her reward, and learns that all s/he has to do is wait for the phone to ring 51 times.

    Romantic love isn’t the only kind of desire that can create this kind of dopamine addiction, though – as Captain Ahab (from Moby Dick) knew well, any suitably important goal can become an obsession once the mind has established ownership.

    The Neurology of Ownership

    Ownership turns out to be about a lot more than just legal rights. When we own something, we invest a part of ourselves into it – it becomes an extension of ourselves.

    In a famous experiment at Cornell University, researchers gave students school logo coffee mugs, and then offered to trade them chocolate bars for the mugs. Very few were willing to make the trade, no matter how much they professed to like chocolate. Big deal, right? Maybe they just really liked those mugs![2]

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    But when they reversed the experiment, handing out chocolate and then offering to trade mugs for the candy, they found that now, few students were all that interested in the mugs. Apparently the key thing about the mugs or the chocolate wasn’t whether students valued whatever they had in their possession, but simply that they had it in their possession.

    This phenomenon is called the “endowment effect”. In a nutshell, the endowment effect occurs when we take ownership of an object (or idea, or person); in becoming “ours” it becomes integrated with our sense of identity, making us reluctant to part with it (losing it is seen as a loss, which triggers that dopamine shut-off I discussed above).

    Interestingly, researchers have found that the endowment effect doesn’t require actual ownership or even possession to come into play. In fact, it’s enough to have a reasonable expectation of future possession for us to start thinking of something as a part of us – as jilted lovers, gambling losers, and 7-year olds denied a toy at the store have all experienced.

    The Upshot for Goal-Setters

    So what does all this mean for would-be achievers?

    On one hand, it’s a warning against setting unreasonable goals. The bigger the potential for positive growth a goal has, the more anxiety and stress your brain is going to create around it’s non-achievement.

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    It also suggests that the common wisdom to limit your goals to a small number of reasonable, attainable objectives is good advice. The more goals you have, the more ends your brain thinks it “owns” and therefore the more grief and fear the absence of those ends is going to cause you.

    On a more positive note, the fact that the brain rewards our attentiveness by releasing dopamine means that our brain is working with us to direct us to achievement. Paying attention to your goals feels good, encouraging us to spend more time doing it. This may be why outcome visualization — a favorite technique of self-help gurus involving imagining yourself having completed your objectives — has such a poor track record in clinical studies. It effectively tricks our brain into rewarding us for achieving our goals even though we haven’t done it yet!

    But ultimately, our brain wants us to achieve our goals, so that it’s a sense of who we are that can be fulfilled. And that’s pretty good news!

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    Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

    Reference

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