Thursday, 13 November 2014

Swimming with the Dishies

In our last home we had a dishwasher.  Yet it still managed to become a chore to rinse everything, load it, wait for a cycle to complete, then unload, and we still found that some of the items had not been thoroughly washed.

In this current home, until our extension is finished, there is no room for a dishwasher and so I have been back to washing by hand for the last four years. Even once the extension is complete, now armed with the tips I have learned, I don't feel the need for a relatively expensive energy and water- guzzling appliance anymore...

To save water and time, I used to leave the odd plate and knife etc for a full sink of washing.  This caused no end of problems.  It just meant when I got around to dishwashing, it took up too much time in one go when I was needed to supervise the kids.  It only occurred to me recently (I am clearly a slow learner) that a plate that has had sandwiches or toast on simply needs the crumbs wiping off with a dishcloth or wet paper towel.  Similarly the bread knife or chopping board on which you have chopped vegetables or bread.  A small shallow dish of soapy water is enough to wash breakfast cups and plates, similarly for lunch dishes.  Doing each small batch as soon as they are finished with is much more efficient at dealing with the workload.  It takes only a couple of minutes before I can get back to the kids this way.

My main timesaving lightbulb moment was when I realised a big plate of toast in the middle of the table at breakfast saves on several smaller plates.  The same goes for a big plate of sandwiches at lunchtime.  I currently have a tiny kitchen which has very little workspace so putting everything on one big plate is a great space-saver and easier to work with than serving up on individual plates.  Then rather than help yourself at dinnertime, we switch things around. Instead of placing out bowls of vegetables etc to serve yourself, I serve it all up direct from the pans onto individual plates to save extra dishes to clean up and wash. 

When it comes to cooking, a slow cooker makes washing the pots and pans easy, especially if it is a casserole or recipe where the vegetables are part of the main dish. Other all-in-one dishes, whether made on the hob or in the oven, although higher energy costs, will also be time saving when it comes to clean up. A salad on the side saves another cooking pot and the energy costs; frozen vegetables or greens steamed in a large microwave-proof bowl is something I find easier to wrestle with in the sink than a large handled pan (as well as, again, cutting energy costs.)

Bread e.g. crusty stuff, pitta for the toaster, soft tortilla, as the accompaniment starch saves cooking and dishes.  Couscous offers a similar bonus to the microwave-steamed vegetable suggestion above... you can simply pour boiling water from the kettle over it in a large bowl.  Microwave your potatoes in their skins then scoop out the insides to mash up for a no pan or hob mashed potato.

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