There’s no denying that dinner parties are fun. However, what isn’t as fun is the post-party cleanup — even if it is a typical part of the event planning experience. Cooking for a crowd can leave quite the mess in the kitchen, in addition to the other cleaning you’ve already got on your plate. A few tips from the pros can go a long way toward making the process much simpler and faster.
Here are a few steps to add to your kitchen cleaning checklist to ease your afterparty worries.
- Start with a clean kitchen
Cleaning as you go is always a good rule of thumb when it comes to kitchen duties. While you’re waiting for food to cook, it’s a good time to do some early cleanup. Start cleaning your used pots, pans, and utensils, or at least put them in hot water to start soaking.It also helps to practice good kitchen habits like reusing the same utensils and containers when possible (like pouring all liquid ingredients into the same cup if they’re going in the same dish). The more work you can do at this stage can drastically reduce the amount of cleaning you have to do after the dinner party.
- Empty your dishwasher before dinner
One more pre-dinner task you should consider is emptying the dishwasher. Cleaning later will be far more efficient if you’ve made room for the newly dirty dishes ahead of time. Unload the dishwasher before you even start cooking; this also leaves the dishwasher free to take in new dishes as you cook, giving you even more of a headstart.
- Cover up where needed
One common cooking pro tip is covering up appropriately while you cook. Covering your sheets and dishes is a great way to minimize exposure to sticky substances and cut down on how much you need to scrub.Parchment paper is a good choice, particularly when it comes to anything oven-cooked like baking sheets and casserole dishes. These covers can catch any grease and drips, protecting the sheets from getting dirty. Saving the sheets also saves you the trouble of cleaning them later, allowing you to focus on more critical things to clean.
- Find some willing helpers
Many hands make light work, and that adage especially applies to cleaning. After the party, round up some helpers so you can divide the work among you. Assign each person specific tasks so the rest of you can focus on your own designated jobs.One thing to keep in mind is accepting help when it’s offered. The best guests always offer to help, and it pays to take them up on it. You may even be able to ask if it’s a more informal setting (like a family reunion). Most guests are generally willing to help, and cleanup can be a great opportunity to keep talking. Think of it as just another way to keep the party going, even while you’re working.
- Keep the kitchen stocked
There’s nothing as frustrating as getting started on cleanup, only to find that you’re short on detergent or your sponge needs replacing. Avoid any hangups when cleaning by making sure you’re well-stocked on all those cleaning essentials ahead of time. While you’re at it, make sure your favourite cleaners are always at hand to help save time when you’re facing a long cleanup.
- Be prepared for leftovers
After any dinner party, it’s wise to think about leftovers. The food may be great and everyone will eat their fill, but it’s likely there’ll be something leftover. Have some containers ready to pack the food right after dinner so it stays fresh. Make space in the fridge while you’re at it to make sure you can keep it all.The leftovers can work great as packed lunches for the next few days, or you can eat them for a more no-fuss dinner. Remember to eat these quickly to leave more room in the fridge for any more leftovers. Take note of how long different foods last to help plan your meals accordingly and make the most of what’s left in the fridge.Alternatively, you can leave the containers nearby, and when dinner’s over invite your guests to help themselves and take some of the food home. Think of it as a great way to cap off the night for your guests.
- Use your tablecloths
One way to make general cleanup easier is by setting up tablecloths. They’re a great way to protect against accidental spills and stains that are a typical hazard of dinner parties. However, you can also make good use of a kitchen cleaning cloth to help with the dishes.If you’re cleaning for a large party and your dishrack fills quickly, try setting out a towel on the counter. The towel gives you some extra drying room, especially if you don’t have enough hands to do the drying.
- Do the pre-soak early
Some stains can take a little more effort to remove. You can help the process along by soaking the dishes first. Set your dishes in the sink with some hot, soapy water before dinner to give them time to soak while you eat. Those difficult-to-remove food particles and stains should be much easier to clean after they’ve had some time to soak. You can also let your dishes soak after cooking just as soon as they cool to avoid giving the debris time to harden and build up.Near the end of the party, you can leave a few dish bins in the kitchen for guests to deposit their dirty dishes. Afterward, these dishes just need a quick dip in the dishwasher, or maybe a quick hand wash in case of more stubborn particles. While you’re at it, give the silverware a soak, as well, while you tackle the dishes. The forks and knives are more likely to be covered in stubborn food particles, so this approach makes dealing with them much easier. Place them in a large bowl with warm water and soap, then let the suds take care of them while you tackle the dishes.
Dinner parties are a great idea to bond with your colleagues or catch up with friends. While it’s true that after-party cleanup may put a downer on the host, it doesn’t have to be a daunting task. Keep these ideas in mind to help make cleaning your kitchen much easier.
Another great option is to have a caterer do the work for you! Whether you’re hosting a dinner party at the office or at home, elle cuisine is here to help. We offer catering and event planning services to help make your next party a successful and memorable one. Give us a call now at 647.430.3553 for some professional help making your events fun and engaging.