Is Your Kitchen “Back to School" Ready?


By: Carolyn S. Kuczynski

“Back to School” ... that fleeting moment of sheer peace marked by the blissful smile on a parent’s face immediately followed by the realization that you need to get your act together…and fast.

Between shopping for school clothes and supplies, figuring out lunches, a new bus schedule, and juggling after-school activities – you’ve suddenly got a lot on your plate. There will be a lot of things you can’t control, so focus on the things you can.

Set yourself up for success by taking a step back and sizing up your current kitchen situation:

1)Think in terms of workstations and streamline operations.

Breakfast – are the coffee pot and toaster close to each other for convenience?  Is your coffee area stocked with coffee, creamers, and sweetener?  Are plates, bowls, and spoons nearby for a quick bowl of oatmeal or cereal.  How about adding a fruit bowl to this area to encourage good food choices?

Lunch – Are your family’s re-useable lunch bags in good shape? Are your packing supplies (plastic wrap, foil, baggies, etc.) stocked, organized and near the area where you will be packing lunches?

Dinner – Are all the basic cookware items, utensils, cooking oil and seasonings located close to the stove?  Try corralling them in a wooden tray so they will always be at the ready for you when you get home.

2)Take a good hard look at your cookware and tools.  Are there pieces of cookware that need to be replaced? Dull knives? Tools that have seen better days?  Would new cookware pieces or appliances make your life easier on busy weeknights? Think nonstick cookware for quick easy clean-up or a slow-cooker for set-it and forget-it meals - you get the idea.  If your cookware and kitchen tools are worn or difficult to use and maintain, see what you can replace for a better all-around experience in the kitchen.  If you can’t afford to replace certain items right now put them on your wish list for the holidays.

3)Consider investing in an apron.  When you run home from work and need to get dinner started right away it may not be convenient to change out of your work clothes especially if you’re going back out after dinner.  Buy an inexpensive apron and keep it where you will see it and use it, maybe on a hook on your pantry door. Get in the habit of throwing that on before you start your dinner prep.  Protecting your clothing from stains will make laundry easier and save you from scrambling for a change of clothes.

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