SheKnows got some insider kitchen tips straight from the stars of Top Chef. We asked Tom Coliccho and Gail Simmons to share their secrets for staying organized in the kitchen.
Gail Simmons shares her tips
Staying organized — despite a hectic schedule
Being a busy professional on the go can make it hard to get — and stay — organized, but Simmons still manages to make it a priority. “Staying organized despite my hectic schedule and constant travel is a struggle, but it’s vital to making sure I don’t let anything slip through the cracks at home,” she says. To do this, she enlists help when she needs it. “My biggest lesson in this regard is to remember to ask for help from trusted sources. That means sharing responsibilities with my husband and leaning on each other to share the load.”
Simmons also makes time for organization by building it into her schedule. “I always try to take at least an hour for myself at the end of each day to organize for the following morning and make sure to plan ahead as much as possible whenever I can,” she explains. “An organized home helps me feel more relaxed and ready for whatever the day may bring.”
In the kitchen: Quick meal-prep tips
Not having enough time to make healthy meals is a common complaint among busy women everywhere, but getting good food on the table is possible. “My most important tip for stress-free meal planning is to do your grocery shopping in advance, and to be sure you have all the equipment and supplies you need before you start,” Simmons says. “I always try to take Sunday for myself at home with my family, so that is the day I use for planning larger cooking projects which can be prepped, cooked, frozen or saved to eat throughout the week. I love making soups and stews in advance as they taste better the next day.” She also suggests making hearty roasted veggies, pastas and rice or grain dishes, which are great to make and eat hot that night, but also make terrific leftovers to add to salads and as side dishes later in the week.
Another vital tip Simmons shares in terms of overall kitchen organization is to read recipes from start to finish before attempting them. “Understanding what is needed before you shop or cook will allow you to anticipate the process and make for a more relaxed cooking experience,” she explains.
Kitchen cleaning made simple
Sick of kitchen clean up? You’re not alone. But keeping the busiest room in the house spick and span doesn’t have to be daunting. “My philosophy for cleaning the kitchen, and my home in general, is to clean as you go. It’s easier for me to clean smaller messes more regularly than to have to spend hours doing so after a long period of time,” Simmons says. “This also helps ensure your home and appliances, valuable housewares and all surfaces are maintained in good condition on a regular basis,” she adds.
Gail’s go-to products
There are dozens of products on the market that claim to do a million things to keep you organized at home, but Simmons has her list of organization must-haves narrowed down to just a few. “I find you only need a few simple things to get the job done.”
- File folders to keep papers in order
- Recyclable market bags, bins and baskets that can be stored in easy-to-reach cupboards
- Label maker
- Ultra-thin clothing hangers, all in the same color and design, to keep closets streamlined and organized
- Cascade Platinum to get dishes clean without prewashing
- Clean-scented yet powerful all-purpose cleaner for everything from countertops to tiles and sinks
- Garbage/recycling bags to get rid of excess food or for delivering donations