• Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create an account.

Johntodd

Too much dirty cookware ... dishwasher crying

43 posts in this topic

Posted (edited)

Hi! I hope this is the right place to post this.  Mods, please advise.

 

I'm shaping up to be a good cook, but I do have one problem:  I can't manage my home kitchen worth a darn.  Each day, the dishwasher is jam-packed with stuff to wash, and I'm only cooking for 3.  That's 2 for breakfast, 1 lunch, and 3 for dinner.  It's just me and family, so nothing fancy.  The dishwasher is jammed and there is stuff to hand wash.  The racks are always full.

 

So my problem is using too much stuff to make food.  I clearly lack to organizational skills needed for a home kitchen.  Can anyone throw me a link to a page somewhere that gives guidance on how to defeat this problem?  My dishwasher begs you!

 

Thanks!

-John

 

 


Edited by Smithy Corrected title spelling (log)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

John, could you give us some specific examples of "using too much stuff to make food" and of what makes you think your organizational skills are lacking?


Gene Weingarten, writing in the Washington Post about online news stories and the accompanying readers' comments: "I basically like 'comments,' though they can seem a little jarring: spit-flecked rants that are appended to a product that at least tries for a measure of objectivity and dignity. It's as though when you order a sirloin steak, it comes with a side of maggots."
 

The mosque is too far from home, so let's do this / Let's make a weeping child laugh. -Nida Fazli, poet (translated, from the Urdu, by Anu Garg, wordsmith.org)

 

The greatest enemy of knowledge is the illusion of knowledge. -(origin unclear)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What do you typically cook for each meal?  Do you eat leftovers or are you cooking every single meal from scratch every day? 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Just get in the habit of washing some things as you go. Hot pans rinse and wipe out very quickly and self-dry or can be put back into circulation rather than getting crusty in the sink. 

 

Similarly, blenders and food processors get clean very quickly right away with a quick rinse but take a scrub or dishwasher session if left to dry before washing. 

 

Work on mise en place so you only have to wash cutting boards and knives once. 

 

These should go go a long way towards lightening the load. 

6 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree with Dave.

I live alone so It takes several days to fill the d/w to a reasonable capacity.

Since I use some items a lot (like wine glasses, water glasses, salad forks, etc.) I hand wash those items else they'd fill up the d/w while there were hardly any other items.

I bought a couple of dish drying pads that I put  next to the sink and I wash those items by hand and use them over again so as not to fill the upper rack with nothing on the bottom.

You could try that.

3 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, Johntodd said:

Hi! I hope this is the right place to post this.  Mods, please advise.

 

I'm shaping up to be a good cook, but I do have one problem:  I can't manage my home kitchen worth a darn.  Each day, the dishwasher is jam-packed with stuff to wash, and I'm only cooking for 3.  That's 2 for breakfast, 1 lunch, and 3 for dinner.  It's just me and family, so nothing fancy.  The dishwasher is jammed and there is stuff to hand wash.  The racks are always full.

 

So my problem is using too much stuff to make food.  I clearly lack to organizational skills needed for a home kitchen.  Can anyone throw me a link to a page somewhere that gives guidance on how to defeat this problem?  My dishwasher begs you!

 

Thanks!

-John

 

 

 

https://andromeda.rutgers.edu/~jlynch/Texts/modest.html

 

...or you could just run your dishwasher more frequently.

 

 

5 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, JoNorvelleWalker said:

 

https://andromeda.rutgers.edu/~jlynch/Texts/modest.html

 

...or you could just run your dishwasher more frequently.

 

4 adults and a pre-schooler is definitely more than one load a day in our home. You may not being doing anything excessive.

3 people like this

Porthos Potwatcher
The Once and Future Cook

;

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
5 hours ago, Johntodd said:

So my problem is using too much stuff to make food.  I clearly lack to organizational skills needed for a home kitchen.

 

John, what do you typically cook for breakfast, for lunch, and for dinner. Knowing this may help me think about suggestions.

 

I don't handd-wash much of anything so I can't comment on that approach.


Porthos Potwatcher
The Once and Future Cook

;

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I hate handwashing too, and try to avoid it for anything that won't suffer damage from going through the dishwasher. My main knife, never goes in the dishwasher, and all the other prep knifes don't either. Non-stick skillets never do, and of course cast iron doesn't, my carbon steel Bromwell box grater never does either, and I don't like putting anything aluminum in there either. That includes my cast aluminum meat mallet and garlic press, Club aluminum dutch ovens, and probably more stuff, I can't think of right now. I just thought of carbon and stainless vegetable peelers that don't ever see a dishwasher, and I'm sure there's more.

 

Still, when I cook one meal a day from scratch, I usually have a full load. 3-quart stainless saucepans, their glass lids, stainless colanders, stainless mixing bowls, long spatulas, spoons, bamboo cooking utensils all go in, as well as plates used for resting cooking implements on, prep bowls or plates, for stir fry, where timing is everything, jars with lids used to mix up a thickener for stir fry, and on and on it goes. The actual plates and cutlery for serving and eating a meal are minimal because I live alone. I always have as many prep and cooking dishes and implements as though I was cooking for more people, though, and they take up a lot of space.

 

Even when I'm doing leftovers and just reheating, I usually have a plastic lidded container, and either a conventional saucepan with lid that go into the dishwasher as well, or a serving plate, but also the bulky plastic microwave plate cover that keeps spatters down and steam in, if I choose to go that way.

 

 

Say with chicken cacciatore, that I made from the freezer leftovers recently. There was the Chinese takeout soup container I had frozen the chix cach in plus its lid, a 3 qt ss saucepan with lid to heat the chicken dish up slowly, because I thought this would do a better job than the microwave. There was another 3 qt ss saucepan that didn't need a lid to cook the pasta. There was a ss colander. Then I had the plate I served the meal on, the knife and fork I ate it with, the big ss spoon I used to serve the chix, the pasta fork/spoon I used to stir and handle the pasta, coffee cups, glasses, beverage spoons. I'm sure I'm forgetting something.

 

My point is, that is rare, even as a singleton, to not run the dishwasher every day when I am doing any real cooking. I don't own a food processor and rarely use my blender, and am already doing everything I know or can think of to reduce washing up, because it's the part of cooking I really don't like. 

 

Actually, @Johntodd, I think you may need to give us some tips on how you manage to cook so many meals for so many people with a standard home dishwasher and still usually run it once a day. Respect.

2 people like this

> ^ . . ^ <

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Dave has it right - you gotta keep up with dishes or you'll drown in them. That said, most commercial machines have a 3 minute cycle so you can fly through that stack. But even with that you're hand washing before they go in. Over the years I've also learned to recycle bowls/tools when it makes sense.

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
5 hours ago, Thanks for the Crepes said:

Club aluminum dutch ovens,

 

.

 

Aha!  Someone else who still has their Club Aluminum pots!!!

My nonstick set is from the 70s... I don't use all the pieces anymore but I've never found replacements that I like as well as the saucepans. (Mine are Harvest Gold!)  I can't believe they've lasted these many years.

Bought them at Sears!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have a set of heavy-duty Wearever aluminum that I accumulated over time through thrift shops. No idea what their colors used to be, they're all bare aluminum now. 

 

/highjack


Fat=flavor

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So a consensus seems to be that I'm not excessive.  I do cook most meals from scratch.  And on leftover days the dishwasher is definitely more sparsely populated.

 

Still, I could do with less, I think.  Any tips for using less during the course of the day?  I reuse my breakfast plate for lunch.  And I've taken to mixing some things in the pot they cook in (like meatloaf).

 

Is there already an organizational thread on the forum somewhere, or you wanna' just throw ideas at me?  Bring'em!  I'd love to be educated on this.

 

Thanks!

-John

 

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Aside from cleaning as you go, as most have mentioned, it would be wise to develop a routine of clearing the decks (emptying dishwasher, putting away any hand-washed items and washing up anything in the sink, put out fresh dish towels/cloths, empty trash if needed ) at least once a day.  Ideally, you want to do this before (or after) each meal but doing it at least once a day will help.

5 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
23 minutes ago, blue_dolphin said:

Aside from cleaning as you go, as most have mentioned, it would be wise to develop a routine of clearing the decks (emptying dishwasher, putting away any hand-washed items and washing up anything in the sink, put out fresh dish towels/cloths, empty trash if needed ) at least once a day.  Ideally, you want to do this before (or after) each meal but doing it at least once a day will help.

Yes beginning any cooking session with  empty sinks,  clutter free counters and an empty dishwasher when that is possible can make a huge difference. A girlfriend taught me many years ago to take out all needed ingredients but then as each one is used to return it from whence it came. Not only makes for a tidier  kitchen but reduces the likelihood of using an ingredient twice or not using it at all!

6 people like this

Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

My 2004 eG Blog

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Are most of the dishes prep related or serving related?

 

I tend to be a very improvisational cook but, now that I'm in a place with enough counter space, what I found helps to array all the ingredients and prep tools onto the counter before you start cooking and mentally walk through each stage of prep to understand what equipment is necessary and when. I've found doing it this way allows you to think way more easily about strategic reuse. For example, if I have a bowl I'm marinating meat in, once the meat goes in the pan, I'll use that bowl to store chopped onions unwashed. It saves me a trip to the sink, I use one less prep bowl and I get an additional little bit more flavour from the marinade into the dish.  If I know I'm going to use a colander twice in a dish, I'll a) stage the clean use before the dirty use, ie: blanching green beans before draining pasta and b) have the colander set up to be ready to drain again after the first use. Before, I would have hurriedly grabbed a second colander seconds before I needed it but now it's there and ready when I need it.

 

That, plus cleaning as I go (something else I didn't used to do), means I'm often left at the end of cooking with just a dirty chopping board and knife plus whatever dishes dinner was served in to clean up at the end of the meal.

2 people like this

PS: I am a guy.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It's mostly prep stuff.

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)

i have a family member who is sensitive to phlalates. With our hard water, none of the phlalate-free detergents will get our dishes clean.  When I wash dishes, the detergent I use forces me to take a lot of extra steps to minimize exposure. Because of this, I have to wash dishes very infrequently, so I'm hyper aware of the dirty dishes I create and go to great lengths to minimize them.

 

Part Artist/Part Engineer

 

To be a good cook, you have to be part artist, part engineer.  Most people are comfortable with the artistry, but the engineering, for some, can be a struggle.  There's a reason why top chefs are renowned for being overbearing control freaks.  Everything you do in a kitchen has ramifications. An extra pinch of a particular spice may not be a huge deal, but, if you're making a waffle that takes 4 minutes to cook, you can't leave and come back in 8.  Dishes are unbelievably unforgiving.  If you dirty a dish, it's not going to wash itself.

 

Mise En Place Never Ends

 

Most people can understand the necessity of having your ingredients prepped and in place before you start cooking.  But that concept of thinking ahead, of planning at least 4 chess moves in advance, is applicable to everything you do in the kitchen.  You grab a spoon to stir a sauce- "how many times will I be stirring this sauce? I better not put the spoon in the sink until I know I'm done with it" "Can I use this spoon to eat the meal with?" "Can I stir the sauce with a utensil that I've already dirtied making something else?"  From the moment you walk into the kitchen to start cooking, until the last dish has been put away, you need to be planning ahead, and streamlining the process.

 

Disposables

 

I couldn't survive without disposable kitchen wares.  I go through probably 10 pairs of plastic gloves a day.  I handle meat and cheese with gloves, put away and dispense cooked pasta and rice with gloves.  When I'm done with a glove, I'll turn it inside out and use it as a counter protector.  Almost every meat that I cook gets baked on foil- including bacon. Dry-ish foods, like cooked rice and pasta go into gallon plastic bags.  In addition to re-using plastic gloves as counter protectors, I'll use plastic sandwich bags with a paper towel on top as a stove protector.  I drain every meat that I bake on plastic grocery bags with a layer of paper towel. If I'm cutting a lot of things, I'll break out the cutting board, but if it's something small, I'll cut it on two layers of paper plates. If I'm serving a sandwich for lunch, it's going on a paper plate.  If the sandwich doesn't soil the plate, I'll save it for use as the bottom layer when cutting.

 

Are paper plates, paper towels, plastic bags and plastic gloves the most environmentally conscious choices? No.  I try to make up for it in other areas of my life, and I try to re-use my disposables as much as possible, but it's an impact that I'm still not completely comfortable with.  The alternative- forgoing these products, that's not an option, though.

 

Engineer Your Dishwasher Space

 

I used to use beautiful china that had been handed down for generations- but it was large and inefficient and took up too much dishwasher space.  I'm pretty much 100% cheap Corelle dishes now.  Light, thin and efficient.  I also wouldn't be exaggerating to say that I've spent more than 10 hours testing various stacking arrangements to get the most dishes I possibly can into a load while not having them touch/potentially chip and maximizing cleanliness.  I've replaced pots with odd handles that haven't played well with my dishwasher My dishwasher is 35 years old.  When the motor went, I spent countless hours figuring out how to fix it rather than replace the whole machine because I didn't want to have to start over the arranging process with a new unit. My dishes, right now, fit like a glove.

 

It's amazing.  I've sat there thinking "this absolutely has to be it, I can't fit anything else in here," but, then I rearrange the puzzle one more time and squeeze in one more thing.

 

Look at everything you're putting into your dishwasher.  I guarantee you that you'll find a few things that are space hogs- and that, if replaced, could use space much more efficiently.

 

Besides replacing pots, pans and dishes that didn't fit well into my dishwasher schematic, I also replaced quite a few hand washable items- and am in the process of replacing more. As we speak, I'm looking for a cheap good machine washable steak knife. For instance, cast iron is wonderful, but you can pretty much match the baking properties with clad stainless- and clad stainless can be put in the washer.

 

Beyond replacing, there's also re-sizing.  I've cut down acrylic cutting boards so they don't hog so much dishwasher space.

 

Sometimes Re-use/Sometimes Wash/Sometimes Rinse

 

Know your soils.  If you're, say, rinsing broccoli in the colander, you don't need to wash the colander with soap and water.  Just a good rinse with very hot water will suffice. If you're measuring dried herbs with measuring spoons, a rinse is fine.  A cutting board used for onions or peppers only gets a rinse. A glass used to drink water can be re-used through the day.  Soda glasses can be rinsed- a couple of times until the fingerprints start adding up.

 

Weigh As Much As You Can

 

If you don't have a digital scale, get one, and use it for everything. The only time I use my measuring cups these days is to scoop and spread pizza sauce.  That's pretty much it.

 

Can I Do This With a Smaller Pan?

 

I boil a 1 lb. box of macaroni in a Revereware 3 quart covered saucepan. Pasta purists are probably pulling their hair out at such a thought, but I'm happy with my results. I apply this way of thinking to everything.  Sometimes my frugality backfires on me, and my pot ends up being too small, and I have to transfer the contents/dirty something else, but, if I write pot sizes down in the recipe, I have less of these mishaps.  Spoons are a major pita to load in the dishwasher in such a way to prevent nestling, so if I can achieve the same thing with a knife instead of a spoon, I will.

 

Bottom line, you always have to maintain a situational awareness as to the current actions you're taking and how they will effect you down the line.  I'm not going to lie, maintaining this awareness can be exhausting.  But food, no matter which way you cut it, is hard work- mentally and physically.  The more thought you give to your kitchen management, though, the less physically back breaking it becomes.


Edited by scott123 (log)
4 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I grew up in NY and my family never had a dishwasher. That was the 50's and 60's. In order to clean up a meal for four we had to wash as we cooked, and then when dinner was over, it was a 2-person job to wash and dry. Drying by hand was essential, because the dish drain filled up pretty quick.

 

I don't think I had the use of a dishwashing machine until I was 30 and my husband and I bought our second house, here in CA. Wow, I thought that was the coolest thing ever! As you know, Californians have lived with on and off drought for a long time. We have always been conscientious (well, many of us, hopefully) about conserving water. Dishwashers use a lot of water, and putting giant serving bowls or pots and pans in takes up a lot of space. I now cook for only two, but we never use the dishwasher on a daily basis. I know enough about my own style to know that I need to hand wash all measuring and cooking utensils or they won't be clean when I need them the next time. I fill up my space in the dishwasher with plates, bowls, glasses, and that can take 2 days or sometimes even more if we have no guests. We rarely go out to eat, and I cook one dinner-type meal per day. I don't call making toast and coffee in the morning cooking, so there's a presspot to wash and the rest is just plates and cups that go into the washer.

 

If you are conserving water, the organizational part sort of takes care of itself. Another helpful resource: having a dishwasher that can accommodate your stuff in an economical way. Take a sampling of your dishes when you go to buy a new dishwasher to make sure they can pack in efficiently. My husband's family has a beach house, and when we all get together we can be 12 or 15 people. The dishwasher was a cheap model, doesn't take up more space than ours at home, and fits in about half as many dishes because of poor design. Super annoying during holiday dinners and a good reason to buy a dishwasher that really meets your needs.

 

Another useful tip, which seems so elementary to me and escapes some folks (like my husband) is when you are done with a grimy pan, get it into the sink and fill it with hot soapy water right away so it isn't twice as awful to clean up later. Another way to dirty lots of dishes is to do everything mise en place. Sometimes you do need to have things ready to go, but most cooking is done in stages and you can often reuse prep bowls without washing them. I do get that beginning cooks probably use more dishes, and it's really a matter of experience to become more efficient. There really aren't a lot of tricks. Who throws a stirring spoon into the sink if you know you will need to stir again in ten minutes? Put it down on a plate near the stove and keep your counter clean at the same time. And if you can afford to put all your pots and pans and spatulas in the dishwasher maybe you have too many of them.

 

Okay, sorry if I am being preachy! But this happens to be a pet peeve of mine! If I can't begin cooking in a clean environment I just don't want to cook as all. I agree with many of Scott123's suggestions, although using paper plates and paper towels doesn't make much sense to me and doesn't seem necessary if you are engineering your tasks as he suggests. Wow, I guess this was a rant. Ordinarily I would think twice about submitting this kind of post, but well, what the hell. I'm in a mood. I'll get over it. 

 

  

8 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Re-affirming @Anna N's statement: Yes beginning any cooking session with  empty sinks,  clutter free counters and an empty dishwasher when that is possible can make a huge difference.

 

When my DW and I were ready to buy our house, we started with existing homes. We made it very clear to the real estate agent that a built-in dishwasher was a must. The first place he showed us didn't have a dishwasher. When we pointed this out to him he said we could buy a portable. Our "laundry list" of what we were wanting didn't have very many things on it; we were more interested in a usable kitchen than anyting else. It was a long day.

3 people like this

Porthos Potwatcher
The Once and Future Cook

;

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
59 minutes ago, Katie Meadow said:

 As you know, Californians have lived with on and off drought for a long time. We have always been conscientious (well, many of us, hopefully) about conserving water. Dishwashers use a lot of water, and putting giant serving bowls or pots and pans in takes up a lot of space.

 

As far as I know a full loaded dishwasher consumes much less water than washing the same stuff by hand, even if you put big bowls and not only small / thin stuff.

 

 

 

Teo

 


My pastry blog (in Italian language): http://www.teonzo.com/

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, teonzo said:

 

As far as I know a full loaded dishwasher consumes much less water than washing the same stuff by hand, even if you put big bowls and not only small / thin stuff.

 

 

 

Teo

 

 

But uses a lot more energy

 

p

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I paid serious attention to exactly what all I used to cook dinner tonight as a reference point for you, John.  Dinner was Garlic Herb Pot Roast with Carrots made in the Instapot, pasta and a gravy of my devising.

 

The following list are the items I used. Most will go into the dishwasher (exceptions noted):

 

Cutting board

Boning knife

Chef's knife (Hand-washed)

3 qt mixing bowl (used 3 times)

Instapot insert

Glass measuring cup

4 qt Revere pot and lid

Colander

1 1/2 qt saucier

Small cereal bowl

Whisk

Wooden spoon

1 cup measuring cup (hand-washed)

1 TBL measuring spoon (Hand-washed)

2 Melamine serving spoons

Slotted serving spoon.

A few flatware-type spoons (lost count but not a lot)

Wine glass (for the cook and the food)

Sandwich plate as a spoon rest

 

When we all have eaten there will be 4 luncheon plates (didn't need dinner plates tonight), 4 knives and  4 forks

 

1 person likes this

Porthos Potwatcher
The Once and Future Cook

;

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Here's a picture of the dishes loaded into the machine, The glass measuring cup made it into the previous load.

 

 

20170708Dishwasher.jpg

1 person likes this

Porthos Potwatcher
The Once and Future Cook

;

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I almost never put mixing bowls, pots or pans in the d/w. And never put any knives or wooden stuff in there either. This stuff gets washed and put away as it's used.

 

I can go 3 or 4 days without running the d/w this way. And then I use the dishwasher for, ummm, dishes.

4 people like this

Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

mweinstein@eGstaff.org

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.