Anyway, as I read the Kitchn post I felt similarly intrigued and fascinated, like I was peeking into a lit kitchen window, spying on regular people as they went about the most basic of everyday tasks--feeding themselves and their families. After reading it I felt inspired to share some of my own tips, as a person who cooks almost every meal at home, and who (most of the time) enjoys it very much.
I clean up as I go. My mom taught me this and I'll always thank her for it. Cooking is much less stressful if you stay on top of the dishes and keep spaces cleared, especially in a small kitchen.
I save glass jars for storing leftovers, and I transfer things like nuts and chocolate chips to jars in order to keep the pantry more organized. It makes a huge difference.
I wash and re-use ziplock bags. Another thing I picked up from my mom. The gallon-sized freezer bags are really durable and they're expensive to keep buying regularly. It just makes sense to be thrifty and re-use them.
I keep a "we need" list on our kitchen chalkboard. It's easy to lose a piece of paper, so we keep lists on our chalkboard. I just snap a photo of the grocery list on my phone before heading to the store.
I really use my freezer. I buy all of our bread at a local German bakery. I only go about once every 2-3 weeks, but I'll stock up on a bunch of loaves and keep them double-bagged in the freezer. It's nice to always have fresh bread on hand. I also love to freeze things like homemade soup. I'll forget I put it in there, discover it on a day I had nothing planned for dinner, and rejoice!
We never go to bed with a messy kitchen. It's just not worth it to wake up to a big disaster. My husband and I tag-team the after-dinner clean-up (how's that for hyphenation?) and we have it down to a science at this point. It really doesn't take long and I'm much more inspired to cook the next day if the counters and sink are cleared and the dishwasher is full of clean dishes.
I keep my tea kettle and my cast iron skillet on the backburners of the stove. I use the tea kettle daily and the skillet very regularly, and I find it makes sense for me to leave these two particular things out and ready to use (plus the cast iron is very heavy and not easily stored). Also, they both look nice so I don't mind!
I'm really careful about which produce stays out and which should be kept in the fridge. Apples, fridge. Onions, out. Potatoes, out. Lemons, fridge. Tomatoes, out. It might seem simple but I've had roommates who kept everything in the fridge and you'd be surprised at how much an onion's taste is affected by storing it in the vegetable drawer. Being careful about this protects the flavor of the food and prevents food from being wasted in the long run.
Keeping pretty things in the kitchen keeps me inspired. A beautiful rattan tray, a colorful Dutch oven, or a pretty tea towel can go a long way in making your kitchen a place you want to be. At least that's what I have found!
So there you have it--some tips and tricks that I've developed over the course of the last few years of cooking and feeding myself and the people I love!
What about you? How do you keep your kitchen clean, organized, and functional, while keeping yourself sane and inspired and as good a cook as you can be?