Time is precious. It is also scarce. That is why you want to get done with things as swiftly as possible. You also want to make your life easier. But where do you start? Here’s a suggestion: Start with the kitchen. Having a kitchen where you can get work done swiftly and with much less effort can go a long way with saving you time and energy. Here are a few ways you can design an efficient kitchen.
The first step to an efficient kitchen is to have a good layout for the kitchen. You would want the layout to be spacious and also where separate, related segments are close to each other. The three key segments are categorized based on what you do in each segment. First, we have the stoves and cookers in one part, which is for cooking. The next segment consists of everything needed for cleaning, i.e. sinks and dishwashers. Finally, you need some sort of storage, which is basically the refrigerator.
Now, think of how they work. After you cook, you want to keep the food close by without having to take it somewhere. That means you would want a countertop is right beside that space. The same goes for the one area right beside the cleaning segment, so countertops go there as well. The kitchen is the storage so you could keep it anywhere, but at the same time you need to take into account the fact that you would ideally like to keep cooked food quickly, but also where food can be taken out and sent to where it needs to be.
To use space better, have countertops between the stove and the sink. This helps to keep food on the plates, and then conveniently transfer the cookware to the sink. After cleaning you can simply keep it in the same countertop area. The refrigerator has a different function. You keep food there after all the cooking and eating. That is why it is better to keep it separate from the cooking and cleaning space. Refrigerators should ideally be placed close enough to be accessible, but also as close to the dining table as possible. This lets you conveniently take out ingredients and food and take them to where they need to be.
This layout makes the typical kitchen “Work Triangle”.
Next up, choosing what the shape of the kitchen is going to be. Each type of shape has its advantage and disadvantage, and it also determines how efficiently you can use your kitchen.
The U-Shaped kitchen setup is commonly seen because it gives three surfaces to put things on. Some people with larger kitchens can even have an island in the kitchen to have an extra area to have countertops with a sink. This may take up some space for moving, but it gives so much space to keep things that it makes it easy to arrange things! For example, you can have the stove and the sink opposite each other, making it easy to reach either while standing on the same spot. In addition, you can keep cabinets on top of one while still having good headspace. However, the lack of space to walk around means you can’t have more than one person working well. But if you’re the solo chef, everything is within reach.
The L-Shaped kitchen also has the work triangle in a similar position. However, the difference is that there are two lines of countertops, meaning there is a much larger area to walk around, hence making it easier to grab things efficiently from farther out. This setup is good for a smaller kitchen. The work area is compact so you could put the sink and the stove on the corner of the ‘L’ to make it easier. You could put cabinets on top of that too. However, this setup does leave much less space for countertops.
Finally, you have the Galley Shaped kitchens. This is basically a corridor with spaces on both sides. The obvious advantage of doing this is having ample space to move around so you can reach parts quickly. The kitchen also looks spacious, and you can put it almost anywhere in the house because of that. Here, too, you can put stoves and sinks opposite one another, with cooking utensils on cabinets above the stove and cleaning stuff beside the sink without taking up valuable space elsewhere.
Utensil and Ingredient Storage
One final thing you need to keep in mind is having the things you cook with near where you need them, which is the stove. Having a separate space to prepare the food you are about to cook helps immensely, and even more so when it is right by the stove.
Let’s start with ingredients. While some ingredients do go into the refrigerator, most do not. People keep most of their stuff in pantries or stow them away in glass jars that are put into overhead cabinets. So to start, keep the cabinets with small containers right above the stove. Easy to take out and get to work with. Now pantries, they take up quite a bit of space. The best thing to do for this is to keep the pantry separate, and taking all the ingredients to the countertops beside the stove.
Then we have cooking utensils. These take up quite a bit of space too, but they are also quite bulky. The best thing to do is to keep them somewhere spacious, but close to the stove at the same time. You can achieve this with a simple rack. Pans, for example, can be hung onto racks on the wall adjacent to the stove. You can easily take it off the rack and lay it on to the stove. And the best part is that they take up space you wouldn’t otherwise even use. A clear win-win!
Finally, we have a few smaller utensils, such as knives, measuring cups and so on. Also, you can use your own tool set to make space here and there. Just get a separate holder for knives and spoons. They are small and help organize smaller items in a neat manner. As for slightly larger ones, like measuring cups, you will find it easier to place them on to an overhead cabinet that sits slightly away from the stove itself. This keeps them close enough for easy retrieval, while not taking up space essential cooking ware ought to be.
In short, cooking efficiently means getting the kitchen right. And getting the kitchen right is all about the correct layout, the shape that suits your needs, and storing things in easy-to-reach places. Now that wasn’t so hard, was it?