Prep Work in the Galley and/or Kitchen

Organization is about the single most important skill to have as a cook.  Sure, making food taste good is critical.  Safety and cleanliness are imperative.  Life is made even better when beautiful, interesting ingredients become part of a repertoire.  If, however, you can’t put it all on the table at the same time?  Not good.  Being safe and clean are inextricably linked to being organized.  And a beautiful ingredient doesn’t do much good if the whole package doesn’t come together into one moment.

To this mix, lets sprinkle a range of outdoor temperature from 35 degrees to 90 degrees peppered with a tilt that can get things sliding off counter tops and stove tops, topped with some wave action which sets the whole galley in motion.  Garnish this with the fluctuation of a super dry and sunny environment to sopping wet.  Under these circumstances, organization becomes imperative to any successful sailing cook.

mise en place, getting organized in the kitchen, prep work, strategies for working ahead in the kitchen, maine windjammer
This was an especially good morning with lots of prep help. That row of zippies makes a girl’s heart happy.
mise en place, getting organized in the kitchen, prep work, strategies for working ahead in the kitchen, maine windjammer
My throwback prep crew from a couple of years ago. xoxo

Part of being organized is working ahead and having the prep work done before begining to heat up a pan or add flour to a bowl.  That’s where our morning team comes into action.  The first cups of coffee are awarded to those early morning risers who come to spend their time waking up with us by peeling carrots and chopping onions among a myriad of other tasks.  The more we can prep before breakfast, the smoother our day goes.  Every day.  Because much of our produce comes from either my garden or our CSA, more prep work is required.  Just think about the difference between de-ribbing a pound of spinach, washing, and then drying it OR zipping open a box of spinach.  Now times that by 20 and you have the difference in prep time between farm-grown and store-bought.

Annie
Thank you to all those who come to share our quiet mornings.

Tips for Organizing Your Freezer – Use Matching Containers

Last year in the interest of getting more organized in the kitchen and reducing the amount of our food that went to the chickens or into the compost pile, I started to focus on how to use our freezer better.  Having worked in the restaurant industry for years before running the galley on the Riggin for the past 20 plus years, I already had a good process around rotating refrigerator stock, shopping to a list, and using up leftovers.  But the freezer, on the other hand, was a place where perfectly good food went only to emerge some months (years?) later as unidentified mystery items destined for the compost pile.

organizing the freezer and the kitchen

Like most habits that end up sticking, it’s the simple things that matter.  Simple changes.  Simple processes.

Use Matching Containers
What I found was the simple process of labeling made a huge difference.  The next thing I discovered, and I know this might begin to sound like a Marie Kondo ad, but using containers that matched and could rest on top of each other really worked.

The ability to stack the smaller containers on top of each other is key.  Also, with the containers the same size, everything just fits nicely and just naturally organizes better.  I have a bottom freezer, so labeling the tops of the containers makes it so I can see all of the labels at a glance without moving things around much.   If you have a top freezer, then the labels should go on the side of the container for the same reason – you can see them at a glance.

As for the storage containers themselves, I bought a sleeve of pint and quart-sized freezer containers and another sleeve of interchangeable lids.   Normally, I am not a fan of buying plastic.  Period.  But after trying to use recycled yogurt containers with the lids popping off on a regular basis (yes, that would be the lids with the labels on them) I gave up and switched.  And I gotta say, it worked.

Here are a couple of tips that I found helpful:

  1. Use pint- and quart-sized freezer containers that match
  2. If freezing a pasta dish or pot pie, use an oven proof container so you can reheat in the oven
  3. Use interchangeable lids
  4. Label the top of the lids for a bottom or chest freezer and the side of the containers for a top freezer
  5. Store the containers, labels, and permanent marker together
  6. Use freezer bags for irregular shaped items or what won’t fit into a quart-sized container

Annie
Organized and loving it!  Stay tuned for more posts in this series.