Did you get all the clutter out of your kitchen? Good job!
Did you find a lot of cabinets, drawers, refrigerator shelves, counters and back splashes that needed a serious scrubbing in the process? Yeah, me too.
Today's post is simple, but life-changing: Clean as you go.
As soon as you finish chopping something, wash the cutting board and the knife. If you have a minute while waiting for something to sauté, wipe down the counters. Rinse dishes and put them directly into the dishwasher as you go, if you use one. (Speaking of which, I ran across a great - and cheap - recipe for homemade dishwasher detergent here.)
Empty the dishwasher before you start cooking (or even prepping) anything!
Adopting this simple principle as a standard practice will always serve you well. You'll find you need fewer dishes and spend less time feeling like your kitchen is cramped or too small. Scrubbing will take less time because nothing has had a chance to set or crust on.
It may look glamorous or like the perfect storm of creative chaos when someone's surrounded by piles of dishes or a flour-coated kitchen in the movies, but real life doesn't come with a set crew to clean up after us so don't fall for it!
Hint: One of the best clean-kitchen tips I've ever run across is to put a thin coat of car wax on your (clean) stovetop/ range hood. It'll prevent grease, dirt and other nasties from caking on and make wiping down your kitchen a snap!