How to Clean, Prep, & Organize for a Happier Kitchen

How to Clean, Prep, & Organize for a Happier Kitchen


Caitlin O’Malley

Caitlin O’Malley is goop’s food director. Her passions include: coffee in the park, snack board lunches, her cat, and kitchen tools. She spends a lot of time thinking about food.

I don’t scramble eggs with a face mask on, but I do think about self-care in the kitchen. And I try to prioritize what will make my future self happy there. My list is made up of mostly small tasks and tools that help me function better, plus some things I love to look at. Your list, should you make one, will be unique to your own quirks and sensibilities—but feel free to borrow from mine any time.

1

MAKE CLEANUP LESS PAINFUL

I love a homecooked meal, but I also love a clean kitchen. Sometimes these things are at odds in my house. Even though I’d almost always prefer the homecooked meal (I bought all those ingredients, didn’t I?), the thought of a big cleaning session at the end of the day is the fastest way to get me browsing the delivery apps.

So I try to be strategic and cook in a way that won’t wreck my kitchen. I use a large mixing bowl to gather all my scraps as I’m prepping, and they can go directly into the trash or a compost pile. I also will purposely select one-pot recipes that don’t call for a lot of cookware (sheet pan dinners are my go-to), or I’ll lean heavily on my GreenPans because nothing ever sticks to them and they are a breeze to clean.


  1. Chicken, Potatoes, and Peppers with Smoked Paprika and Sherry Vinegar

    Chicken, Potatoes, and Peppers with Smoked Paprika and Sherry Vinegar

    GET RECIPE


  2. Miso Salmon with Bok Choy and Asparagus

    Miso Salmon with Bok Choy and Asparagus

    GET RECIPE


  3. Harissa-Roasted Vegetables and Chickpeas with Tahini Yogurt

    Harissa-Roasted Vegetables and Chickpeas with Tahini Yogurt

    GET RECIPE

But cleaning of some kind is inevitable, so I try to make it as enjoyable as possible. Things that are mandatory: A fun playlist (I’ve been going through another HAIM phase, whereas my husband is more of a Motörhead guy—whatever works!). And cleaning products that smell lovely.


  1. Rosti Mepal 3L Mixing Bowl

    Rosti Mepal
    3L Mixing Bowl
    goop, $20

    SHOP NOW


  2. GreenPan Padova Ceramic Nonstick 10-Piece Cookware Set

    GreenPan
    Padova Ceramic Nonstick 10-Piece Cookware Set
    goop, $250

    SHOP NOW


  3. L’AVANT Collective Modern Essentials Bundle

    L’AVANT Collective
    Modern Essentials Bundle
    goop, $75

    SHOP NOW


  4. Nordic Ware Baking Sheet Set

    Nordic Ware
    Baking Sheet Set
    goop, $38

    SHOP NOW

2

DIVERSIFY YOUR PREP STRATEGY

Meal prep can feel overwhelming if you approach it with an all-or-nothing attitude. I’ve found that I’m more likely to do it if I keep it to one to three items.

Having prepped salad dressing on hand increases my chances of having greens with dinner by about 1,000 percent, and cutting up raw veggies for snacking is a surefire way to get ahead of the midday hangries. If I’m making a dish that requires a lot of chopping, that’s an easy thing to do ahead. Toss those ingredients in a food processor and keep them in an airtight container in the fridge until it’s time to cook. On days I can’t even muster that, I will happily buy the prechopped mirepoix from the store.


  1. Carrot and Ginger Dressing

    Carrot and Ginger Dressing

    GET RECIPE


  2. Dijon Vinaigrette with Lemon and Shallot

    Dijon Vinaigrette with Lemon and Shallot

    GET RECIPE


  3. Green Goddess Dressing

    Green Goddess Dressing

    GET RECIPE

I also like to use meal-starters and simmer sauces. People tend to be surprised that I go for these as someone who cooks for a living, but I rely on these because I cook for a living. There are many incredible brands out there that bail me out of dinner duty, and I am beyond grateful. All I have to do is mix and match a veggie, a protein, and a starchy side with the sauce that ties it altogether. My favorites are the Asian meal-starters from Omsom and the sauces from Haven’s Kitchen.


  1. Vitamix 12-Cup Food Processor Attachment

    Vitamix
    12-Cup Food Processor
    Attachment

    goop, $200

    SHOP NOW


  2. Zwilling Vacuum Glass Storage Starter Set

    Zwilling
    Vacuum Glass Storage Starter Set
    goop, $100

    SHOP NOW

3

STAY INSPIRED

After spending an unprecedented amount of time in my kitchen during this pandemic, I have found myself in the deepest creative rut I’ve ever experienced. The thing that got me out of it was reading (and rereading) cookbooks. It helped shake me out of my routine and get excited to cook again. Even if I didn’t end up making a specific recipe, it would spark inspiration to seek out an ingredient from a specialty store or try a new technique. Once those creative juices got flowing again, I’d be so happy to get back into my kitchen.

  1. If you don’t know who Maangchi is, check out her cooking videos. She is so lovable and cooks the most delicious food. And she makes it all feel approachable no matter how experienced you are in the kitchen.


    Maangchi Maangchi’s Big Book of Korean Cooking

  2. On nights when I can’t swing a trip to the River Thames to dine at the famous River Café, the next best thing I can do is pore over the pages of this beautiful book and take inspiration from over thirty years’ worth of recipes and stories.


    Ruth Rogers, Rose Gray, Sian Wyn Owen, and Joseph Trivelli River Café London 30

  3. Theodorou is the cleverest cook. Her recipes are never fussy and always bright, fresh, and full of flavor. She reminds me how satisfying simple food can be.


    Susie Theodorou Mediterranean

  4. Henry makes elegant comfort food that can easily be pulled off on a weeknight. I riff on these recipes all the time.


    Diana Henry From Oven to Table

4

MAKE IT A BEAUTIFUL PLACE TO BE

I’m not talking about renovating your kitchen here. But the reality is that if you enjoy your space, you’re more likely to enjoy the time you spend in it. This can be done in a lot of ways and at a lot of different price points and commitment levels, but here’s how I started.

Fresh flowers in a vase can do wonders—I am a sucker for daisies, pedestrian though they might be. I like to pick the plumpest bulbs of garlic and the most deeply colored red onions because when they sit out in a bowl on my counter, they look like a still life. After a short-lived bread-baking obsession, I accumulated several different types of flours that now live in pretty jars that tempt me back into baking every now and then. I have a few herbs growing in pots in the kitchen that I tend to in the mornings—it’s so nice to watch them grow and satisfying to cook with them. I finally got around to framing a watercolor a friend painted as a wedding gift, and I love looking at it while I cook. The wall that hugs my fridge is covered with save the dates, postcards, birth announcements, and drawings from my nieces and nephews—hardly the aesthetic you’d see in a glossy magazine, but they are reminders of people I love, and I get to look over at them while I wash lettuces in the sink. They’re all little things, but they bring a lot of joy to my kitchen.


  1. Marloe Marloe Stevie Vase

    Marloe Marloe
    Stevie Vase
    goop, $340

    SHOP NOW


  2. Yamazaki Home Tosca Ceramic Canister

    Yamazaki Home
    Tosca Ceramic Canister
    goop, $14

    SHOP NOW


  3. Roman and Williams Guild Go Takagi Serving Stand

    Roman and Williams Guild
    Go Takagi Serving Stand
    goop, $80

    SHOP NOW


  4. Hamama Microgreen Starter Kit + Bamboo Frame

    Hamama
    Microgreen Starter Kit + Bamboo Frame
    goop, $79

    SHOP NOW


We hope you enjoy the books recommended here. Our goal is to suggest only things we love and think you might, as well. We also like transparency, so, full disclosure: We may collect a share of sales or other compensation if you purchase through the external links on this page.

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Rachel Meadows

Rachel Meadows

Trending topics news writer who enjoys cooking, walking her dog and travel.