10 Ways to Set Up Your Kitchen (and Yourself!) for a Successful Weekend Cooking Project

updated May 4, 2022
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While weeknights are all about just managing to get something (anything!) edible on the table in as little time as possible, weekends (and snow days!) are for larger-scale, more complex cooking projects. You know, the ones that have more prep time or require obscure ingredients.

If you’re feeling ambitious, here’s how to get your kitchen ready to help you tackle even the most complicated recipe. Follow these steps and you (probably) won’t end up weeping on the kitchen floor later on.

Bonus points if you can do some of these things during the week so that come Saturday morning you’re ready to get cooking!

(Image credit: Kelli Foster)

1. Do all of your shopping.

Emphasis on the all. Nothing is more devastating than starting a recipe and realizing you forgot a key ingredient. So make your list and check it twice. Or even three times!

Get help making a shopping list.

2. Put on some comfy slippers.

All that standing! You’re gonna be on your feet for a long time. Put on some (very) plush slippers. We also fully support sweatpants, yoga pants, or any other type of soft pants.

3. Read the entire recipe before you get started.

Don’t just look at the ingredient list when you’re planning. Read the entire recipe. Like, really read it. When you know what techniques or wait times are coming, you’ll be more prepared. For example, if you’re baking cookies and the dough needs to be chilled before it can go in the oven, you’ll know that you need to make room in the fridge for a large mixing bowl.

4. Figure out a game plan.

You’re making multiple dishes? Good for you! You can probably multitask and make a few things at once, but that requires some planning. Figure out which dishes need the oven set to 350°F and try to get those ready to go into the oven at the same time. If you need your stand mixer for a few recipes, but not all of them, plan to do all those stand mixer-related things together, so when you’re done, you can clean it up and pack it away.

5. Make room for dirty dishes.

If there are any dishes in the sink, this is your time to wash them, dry them, and put them away. You’re going to want your sink, dishwasher, and dish rack to be totally empty. This way, you’ll have room for the new dirty stuff as you’re elbow-deep in cooking.

Make dish duty easier.

(Image credit: Smitten Studio)

6. Put away the stuff you don’t need.

Get rid of all that clutter. Anything on your counters that you don’t need for the tasks at hand can be put away or, at the very least, pushed aside. The more space you have to sprawl out, the happier you’ll be. Also, be sure to wipe down those counters before you get started.

Get some countertop tips.

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7. Pull out the stuff you do need.

If your blender usually hides in a cabinet and you need to blend something, you may as well get it out before you start chopping all your ingredients. This way, you can dump stuff in as you work (versus having to wash your hands, dig for your appliance, make space for it, etc!).

This includes the little stuff, like wooden spoons, cutting boards, measuring cups, and so on. If you have limited space and can’t keep this all on the counter, consider turning your table into a makeshift supply closet. Or, at the very least, make sure all this stuff will be easily accessible when you need it.

Get some helpful storage solutions.

(Image credit: Maria Midoes)

8. Take out all your ingredients.

Get out your spices, your flour, your olive oil … all the ingredients you’re going to need in your first stages of cooking. This will streamline the process instead of having to dig around in pantries, fridge drawers, and cabinets.

You can even take things a step further and pre-chop vegetables and pre-measure your spices and other dry ingredients. Just think about how easy it is on cooking shows when Ina and Giada just have to pour ingredients from one bowl into another. If your stuff is all measured out (you can even leave things in measuring cups if you don’t want to dirty pinch bowls for no reason!), then you just have to grab and dump.

As you complete each stage of your cooking marathon, put the no-longer-needed ingredients away and prep for your next stage.

(Image credit: stockphoto-graf)

9. Clear some space in the fridge.

Even if you’re not making cookie dough that has to chill (see tip number 3), you should still make some room in the fridge. Chances are, a Sunday of cooking is going to result in a large quantity of food. Move things around now and you won’t have to “make space” by pushing a heavy food-filled Dutch oven into a crowded shelf. (You know you’ve done it, and you also know that it’s a recipe for disaster.)

Here’s what you’ll need to do: How To Clean the Refrigerator

10. Have backup standing by.

After hours on your feet, the last thing you want to do is clean up all by yourself. Whoever is lucky enough to be eating your masterful creations can certainly help you clean up the mess. ‘Dems the rules!

Do you do anything else to prep for a weekend cooking project? Tell us in the comments!