Household Ops: Dishes

This is a touchy subject for me. I don’t love doing the dishes but I am, shall I say, particular about the logistics. How they’re done, when they’re done, frequency, in/out of the dishwasher specifics, etc….it all matters to me.

Because our home has an open concept living/kitchen area, a kitchen piled up with dirty dishes makes even the living room feel messy.  In a household of 5 we go through a lot of dishes so it’s the one household chore that I virtually NEVER let get out of control.

Over the years I’ve developed a pretty solid system of staying on top of the dishes that keeps the task manageable without ever letting it overwhelm you.

  • 1. Clean as you go

Maybe it’s my personality or maybe I’m just crazy, but I can’t stand seeing dishes piled up in and around the sink…even when I have a meal in progress. So, when I have a few minutes in between meal prep tasks I will take care of the dishes that have accumulated in the sink.

The alternative is to let it all pile up and then there’s a mountain of dishes to tackle after dinner which, for our house, really means it doesn’t get touched until after the kids’ bedtime. To walk into the kitchen after having finally gotten the kids in bed and see a mountain of dishes…ugh, I’m not sure there’s anything worse.

Cleaning as I go through meal prep and then everyone bringing their dishes to the sink after dinner means I only have about 5-10 minutes of rinsing and putting in the dishwasher, a quick wipe down of the dining table and kitchen counters and I’m done. Glory, Hallelujah!

  • 2. Run the dishwasher every night

I took this tip from a mom friend of mine and it was life changing!

As long as the dishwasher is at least half full, I run it every night. It’s the last thing I do before I go to bed. When I wake up in the morning every dish in the house is clean and ready to use.

It may sound like a waste of water. And maybe it is to an extent. But the “waste” is negligible and worth it to start every day with a clean slate.

  • 3. Use cast iron as much as you can

This may not seem like a dish maintenance tip but, trust me, it is.

There are the obvious flavor benefits of using cast iron but the dish upkeep benefits are even better. There’s no soaking, no heavy scrubbing, no dishwasher. Just a quick, light cleaning with warm water and a little dish soap and it’s ready to use again.

I have a big heavy cast iron that I use sparingly. But the every day cast iron items I use come from Le Creuset. Yes they are pricey. But I’m not kidding when I say I use this stuff every single day. I have a nice, complete stainless steel cookware set that we registered for and I haven’t touched a single piece of it for years. I only use my Le Creuset stuff because it’s so easy to clean. Some of the enamel pieces do need to soak for the hard, sticky stuff but it’s still easy to clean by comparison to my stainless steel pieces!

If you’ve never used a Le Creuset item and don’t know where to start, I recommend you start with this item right HERE! Get the size appropriate for your household and use it for anything: soups, stews, sauces, etc. Technically these are dishwasher safe, but I hand wash all of mine. Personal preference.

  • 4. Simplify

Scale back the amount of dishes you dirty at each meal wherever and whenever you can. For example, my kids reuse their individual plates at all 3 meals each day. 3 meals does not equal 3 separate plates for each kid. After each meal the child rinses their plate and lays it on the drying rack until the next mealtime. Same with drink cups and snack bowls. They all go into the dishwasher at the end of the day.

For yourself, use the same drinking glass throughout the day. Reuse dishes when you can. A plate that propped up a piece of toast for 4 minutes can be rinsed and reused.

And, hey, ain’t no shame in the disposable plate game. Not all the time, but on the crazy days where maybe you’re having to do a lot more meal prep or food distribution than usual, whip out those paper plates and don’t feel guilty about it.

Now….go forth….and dirty dishes….and clean them….and do it all again tomorrow.

Until next time mommas 🙂

~ Erica

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