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5 easy rules for cooking without creating utter chaos in your kitchen

Is your kitchen a disaster every time you finish dinner? Is there tomato sauce on the floor, piles of dishes in the sink and oil splatter all over your stove? We feel your pain. Some people are super neat in the kitchen, keeping the amount of spoons and forks they use to a minimum. But if you’re not that person, that’s OK too. You can get better at managing the kitchen chaos by following these five simple rules.

More: Simple kitchen hacks that will make you hate cooking less

There are small things you can do to minimize the mess while you’re cooking.

1. Start with a clean sink and dishwasher

Before you start cooking, clean any dirty dishes in the sink, and put away any clean dishes in the dishwasher (if you have one). That will make the cleanup at the end feel a lot smaller. And if your garbage can is already full, take it out before you add even more to it.

2. Use a garbage bowl

Don’t lug the scraps of garlic peel and wrappers to the garbage or your compost. That always ends in disaster because half of it always ends up on the floor (which means more cleanup). Instead, grab a huge bowl, and make it your garbage bowl. Every time you need to throw away food scraps, put them in the bowl, and then dump that into your garbage when you’re all done.

More: 3 brilliant ways to organize your kitchen like a chef

3. If something falls on the floor, pick it up right away

We know some herbs fly away and end up right under the cabinet, but don’t just glance at it and go back to cooking. The best thing to do is to pick up those stray scraps right away. Otherwise the next thing you know, your floor is full of herbs, wrappers and other weird things you’ll end up stepping on, mashing into the floor, tracking all over and having to clean up later anyway.

4. Make sure you prep first

If your recipe requires you to mince garlic, chop veggies and make a spice rub, then just do all these things beforehand and in the right order. Do not make the spice rub, then season the chicken and then wait until the chicken is cooking before you chop the veggies that were supposed to go into the pot with the chicken. Set up a station where you prep all the ingredients you’ll need. This will save you chaos and confusion while you’re cooking, and that will help you stay tidy.

Even better, prep veggies a day in advance, like on the weekend. Then when you’re ready to cook, you simply take your prepped ingredients out of the fridge, and half your work is already done.

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5. Clean as you go

I know it’s very tempting to sit down for five minutes while the stew is simmering, but if you have dishes in the sink and ingredients out on the countertop that you aren’t using, then you should put them away. While you have the time, clean up little things so that by the end, there’s not a mound of ingredients still on the counter and a pile of dishes in the sink.

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