Every time I cook, I always start with a clean sink and an empty dishwasher. Guys, I'm telling you, if these two things aren't done, there's a Mount Dishmore to deal with at the end of your kitchen.
When you cook, you dirty not only the pots and pans, but also the ingredients you cook with. So for me, I always keep a bowl (or better yet, a small compost bin) on the counter next to me while I get everything ready to cook. That way, whatever you throw away, trim, or peel will all be in one convenient place. I can literally take a bowl and throw everything right in the trash (or for us, compost bin) and voila! As a bonus, it frees up space on your cutting board while you work on your prep.
A splatter guard, while not the most beautiful item to have in the kitchen, is highly functional. Whenever you're frying something, just place it on top of the pan and cover it completely, catching all those oil splatters. Another tip to prevent oil from splattering everywhere is to make sure whatever you are cooking is dry. Let's say you have some oil heating up in a pan and you're going to fry some vegetables or meat; be sure to dry these items with a cloth or paper towel before cooking. By removing moisture, it dramatically reduces the amount of oil splash.
Once everything has started cooking, this is your golden hour to do a lot of cleaning. Think about it. If you're using your time efficiently, I mean you have to be in the kitchen anyway, you might as well use that time to do a little cleaning. Wipe down (or throw in the dishwasher) any prep dishes and/or utensils, wipe down counters and cutting boards, that sort of thing. This clean-as-you-go concept will save you time after you finish your meal.
If you're not familiar with the concept of pretreatment, make friends with it. The pre-treatment is awesome to keep it easy while you cook so cleanup is a breeze. What I like to do is keep a mixture of 2 cups water and a teaspoon of dish soap (basically homemade all-purpose cleaner) in a spray bottle under the sink. I use it to pretreat just about anything as soon as it's cool enough to do so. If a dish or pan gets too cold, things can start to harden and become very difficult to clean. So, sprinkle these items well (be generous!) with this solution and let them soak while you eat. If there's something you know is really gritty, you can add a bit of baking soda, along with that solution, and that will help provide some extra abrasion that you might need to make cleaning easier.
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