Dear The Kitchen, How do you cook neatly, without making a mess? I am just getting into cooking and would like some tips. Thanks, Olga Belly timber.com) Olga, What a question! I'm sure we'll get a lot of answers to this one; I tend to believe certain people thrive in a messy kitchen and others work best under neat conditions. It's hard to "change" yourself, although I will say that in culinary school, where you are forced to be very tidy and clean, many students confessed to being previous mess-makers while cooking and felt "reformed." Being a neat cook myself, I can't imagine cooking in a messy kitchen, but there are those days where things get a little out of control. If you'd like to try being more neat, here are some tips: • Plan your attack: know what you're cooking, when it needs to be started, how each dish will be timed, etc. Then prepare your mis en place (everything in place) - which means any measuring of dry ingredients or liquids is done ahead of time, as is all washing and chopping. • Clean as you go: try to wash dishes as you cook, and if you can't multi-task this much, see if someone will help you in the kitchen as you cook, washing anything that will not be used again and putting it away. • Allow enough time to get everything done: haste makes waste. Good luck!