How to Organize Your Kitchen
Baking during the holidays is supposed to be fun, but sometimes it can feel like just another chore that you have to get done. Thankfully it doesn’t have to be that way. You can ensure that your kitchen is organized for holiday baking and that you know how to plan enough time for the baking that you want to do.
It all starts with a super organized kitchen. Don’t wait until the day you bake to get this organization done. Start today getting your kitchen properly organized. This organization will not just be great for holiday baking but for all year long. You’ll not only save time baking but also save time in your daily household chores with an organized kitchen.
Store Your Dishes And Appliances In Logical Places
Anything that you regularly wash in the dishwasher should be stored as close to it as possible. The reason is that you save valuable time and steps by being able to unload the dishwasher quickly. Or if like me, you prefer to hand wash—store things in the cupboards and drawers closest to the sink.
Likewise, anything you normally use near the stove should be as close to the stove as possible such as spices, oils, and vinegar.
If you’re right handed put them to the right; if you’re left handed it’ll work best to the left unless the cabinet on the left opens in your face. Ideally you want the cabinet to open easily so you can grab what you need and put it right back. Try using special spice cabinet inserts like a Lazy Susan or other device to make it easier. Using a logical method to store your dishes will save time today, on baking day, and everyday too.
Put Extra Dishes And Appliances Out Of Sight
If you have special dishes or extra place settings and other appliances that you do not use on a daily basis, put those in a hutch or other location when not in use. This saves space, and makes your kitchen less cluttered. For example, if you have a family of four, you really only need a place setting for four in your cabinet at any given time. Only having a set of 4 dishes forces you to wash up more often. And a clean kitchen is a refreshing spot in your home.
It may seem like it’s better to have more, but that just means more to clean up. Running out faster will signal time to clean faster. Plus you are more likely to have to wipe down those small appliances that you’re leaving out all the time than if you put them away. Taking that extra step will save more time on a regular basis than you realize.
Keep Your Counters Clear
The clearer you keep your counters, the easier it will be to bake a batch of cookies from the dough you froze when you have 20 minutes to spare. If you have a tendency to put coupons, bills, and other things on the kitchen counters or even in a kitchen junk drawer, try to figure out an alternative. One good way to organize that type of thing is to use your fridge and a magnetic box or clips to easily store coupons, notepads, grocery lists and whatnot.
It’s definitely a good habit to have a grocery list and pen hanging on your fridge so that when you run out of something you can write it down on the list right then. Eliminating the need to scan your cupboards for the basics when it’s time to make your baking shopping list is a good habit to get into any time of year. Be sure that you have stored your baking items, bowls, tools, pans, and even ingredients if there is room, in the cabinets nearest to the largest area of counter space. Try using clearly labeled containers to make it easy to see what’s there.
Now that your kitchen is organized you can more easily find time to bake. You don’t have to do all the holiday baking in one session. There are several things you can make in advance. Here are a few ideas.
Make And Freeze Cookie Dough Ahead Of Time
If your baking includes many different types of cookies, it is simple to make the cookie dough in advance, and then freeze it. One good freezing method is to wrap the cookie dough into a long roll with parchment paper, then put into a zippered freezer bag. Be sure to label the dough so that you know what type of cookies they are. You can also write down on the label the temperature for cooking as well as how long, to make it even faster. Check out this recipe: Cinnamon Swirl Cookies from the 10 Best Christmas Cookie Recipes book.
Then, any time you have an extra 20 minutes you can grab the dough, cut it into cookie-sized bites, place on your cookie sheet and bake them. This method allows you to use your limited time better. You can make the cookie dough a week or more in advance of baking. You can make it one day when you have 30 minutes, freeze, and then bake the cookies another day.
After you’ve cooked dinner is a great time to bake cookies because the oven is already hot and ready. After the cookies are cooked you can freeze them again for use on the big day.
Make And Freeze Yeast Based Dough In Advance
One of the more time-consuming baking items for holiday baking can be making rolls and yeast breads. Fortunately, you can actually freeze them ahead of time. The trick is to only let the bread rise once, then shape it into a proximity of the shape you will bake it in, wrap with butcher paper, freeze solid, then put it in an air tight freezer bag. Label it, with the cooking temperature, cooking time, and type of bread.
To prepare the frozen bread dough, the day before you want to bake it put it in the prepared baking container you want to use, cover the dough with plastic wrap, and then put it in the fridge. Alternatively, you can let it thaw on the counter in the prepared cooking pan. It will take about three to five hours. The second rise happens as it thaws. Once raised, bake as usual.
Freezing Cooked Bread
You can also freeze cooked bread. The trick is to cook it a little less than you normally would for serving, until it’s done but very light in color. Take it out of the oven and let cool completely on a wire rack. Then, wrap the bread with parchment paper, then saran wrap and toss into a zipper freezer bag. Freeze. When you are ready to enjoy it, take it out in the morning that you plan to use it. You can reheat it in the oven for three to five minutes just before serving.
But my favorite way to make bread it to use the bread machine. Load it up, plug it in, set the timer and go and do something else. Mmm, the house smells great and everyone will think you worked hours on it. Just you and I will know your time saving secret.
Another great feature about a bread machine is that it will mix your dough and do that first rising. This is great for making dinner rolls for instance. When the dough gets to the spot to shape for the dinner rolls, do that. Form into rolls in the desired pan that has been lined with parchment paper. Cover the top with another sheet of buttered parchment paper on top. Pop in the freezer. Once frozen, remove from the pan, wrap with plastic wrap and pop into a zippered freezer bag. For baking day, thaw as you would for bread above. Hot dinner rolls out of the oven—no one will know how you cheated on the time. I won’t tell your secret.
Make And Freeze Cakes In Advance
When you make and freeze a cake in advance, you don’t have to frost it. Just bake the layers of your cake and cool completely. Wrap with parchment paper, freeze until solid, and then put into freezer bags. It’s important to have a large freezer to make this work. Simply unwrap and thaw on the day you plan to ice the cakes. You can actually frost cakes that aren’t completely thawed with good results.
If you have the room you can even fully frost and prepare a cake, then freeze it, thawing the day you want to serve it. You can get good cake boxes at a baking supply store and sometimes arts and craft stores. You can also use items you already have. The trick is to fully protect the cake from freezer burn by using parchment paper that is greased to prevent it from sticking to the cake. Once the cake is fully frozen, you can put the wrapped cake into a metal pan and back in the freezer. The pan will protect the cake. Take note that fat-free cakes and desserts do not freeze as well and neither does cream or cream cheese fillings. As with anything you freeze, label it well.
Sum It Up
These simple tips will help you find more time to get baking done because you soon realize you do not have to do it all in one day. You can do a little bit, each day, over a few weeks if desired and have delicious and wonderful results. So remember, start organizing your kitchen today and everyday. Keep things close at hand where you need them, get rid of the excess clutter, and wipe things down.
Not only will this help you with your holiday related baking, but will help make life less stressful in your kitchen year round. Your clean and organized kitchen will soon become a place that you will enjoy being in. A place to be creative with your baking and cooking.
You can find this and many other Christmas baking stress relievers in the following resource: An Organized Guide To Christmas Baking.