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If you’ve ever uttered those words, this article is for you.
I surveyed my audience a few months ago and asked this question, “If you could take one chore off your to-do list, what would it be?”. And the number one response? Dishes!
Laundry was in the second place position, in case you’re curious. But it really wasn’t a close race.
If you’re reading this, I can only assume you’d like to find a way to wash fewer dishes. Sound about right?
Then let’s get into it.
In this article you’ll learn about my best tips for using fewer dishes, as well as tips & tricks to make washing the dishes that you DO use go even faster. And finally, you’ll learn the best way to ensure you’re using as FEW of dishes as possible, AND aren’t rushed and stressed when it comes time to DO the dishes. To skip to this section first, just click here.
Using Fewer Dishes (less used -> less to clean)
If you want to wash fewer dishes, one option is to actually USE fewer dishes that need washed. Makes sense, right? Here are some ideas for you to consider…
Every time you decide to cook a meal, you likely get out a cutting board, a knife, a pan to cook in on the stove, maybe a mixing bowl and a spoon too.
Then you cook and then you have to clean all those things (plus the dishes you used to eat the meal).
But what if you bunched up all the time you spend preparing the food for your week into one or two meal prep time slots? Instead of washing ALL those dishes every single day (three times a day), you’d only need to wash them once or twice when you do the prep work.
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Sheet Pan Meals
Sheet pan meals are awesome. If you haven’t heard of them, or tried them…now is the time, sister.
A sheet pan meal is a meal where you put everything on a baking sheet at once and bake it in the oven. All at the same time. No stirring something on the stove while you’re checking five things in the oven, trying to make sure everything is cooked perfectly. NO! None of that.
Use a sheet pan recipe that’s been tested by a food blogger and they’ll just tell you how big to cut the veggies, how to prep the meat, and what to do. Step by step. Easy peasy.
I’ve got a couple awesome collections of sheet pan meals – here’s 11 mouthwatering sheet pan meals to make for dinner, and here’s 24 more that are gluten free, dairy free, and so very delicious. My favorite sheet pan meal is my sheet pan fajitas. So yummy!
Another helpful cooking method in the quest for fewer dishes is the crockpot (aka slow cooker). Use your slow cooker for winter time soups, slow cooked meats, and so much more.
The beauty of the crockpot is that A) you dump everything in and it cooks everything at once (read: ONE dish) and B) you don’t even have to be home to use it. Since a crockpot cooks on such a low heat, take advantage of this passive cooking tool.
At the end of the day, you’ll just have one cooking pan to clean – the crockpot bowl.
The Instant Pot has the benefit that it cooks everything all in one bowl, with the added benefit of it pressure cooks things FAST. I can cook chicken thighs from frozen in 25 minutes in my Instant Pot. If that’s not a miracle, I’m not sure what is.
When you’re using the Instant Pot you STILL only have one cooking pan to clean – the Instant Pot bowl.
Last, but not least, you’ve always got the option of bringing out the paper plates. This is especially helpful when you’ve got a big group of people coming over (think backyard BBQ or football party) and you don’t want to be cleaning up the kitchen/doing the dishes all night long.
When you try out these methods, and figure out what works best for YOU, you’ll find yourself marveling at how much time you have in the evening after dinner that you’re NOT doing dishes.
Make it easy
“Okay, so I’ve minimized my dishes, but how do I make it easier to actually clean the dishes I have?”
Good question. Even if you’re able to find the best (fewest dishes) methods to cook dinner, you’ll likely still have SOME dishes to clean. And that’s what we’re talking about next.
Here are my best tips for taking the “ugh” feeling out of the dishes duty.
Make it a habit
We make things harder than they need to be, just by leaving things to the last minute and then dealing with a MUCH bigger mess than we would have had if we’d just kept cleaning as we went.
So my first tip is…make it a habit to clean the dishes every single night. If you’ve got kids, teach them to bring their plates and silverware and stick them directly into the dishwasher after dinner.
If you’re looking for some help getting into a routine with this, Rosemarie at Busy Budgeter has some great tips to help you out in this post.
Empty the dishwasher before you go to bed
Okay, so after dinner you’ve decided to load the dishwasher (and have your family help you). Then start it right away.
Before you go to bed, Empty the dishwasher so that you wake up to an empty dishwasher (and a clean kitchen).
Hire it out
If you’re sitting there thinking…I want to do absolutely ZERO dishes…ever. Then I suggest you look into hiring it out.
Hire a maid (if you’ve got the funds) to come and clean your kitchen and do your dishes.
If that sounds too good to be true, well, it’s not. That’s what their business is there for.
If you don’t have the funds for this, and you’re still REALLY struggling with getting over the mental block of doing the dishes, my last tip is really going to help you.
My Best Tip for doing fewer dishes
Yes, I saved the best for last.
And here’s what I think.
I think that we make things harder than they need to be.
By choosing to think about ALL the negative aspects of doing the dishes (or cooking, or laundry, etc.), we constantly feed our brain negativity.
And do you know what happens when we think negative thoughts about our household chores? Our brain learns that we only want to think negative thoughts about our household chores. So it reminds us of EVERYTHING negative about it.
And in my opinion, this is a much bigger problem than just the dishes.
If you find your brain filled with negative thoughts around dishes, cooking, cleaning, etc. Consider for a moment what would happen if you shifted those beliefs into beliefs that served you.
Because, let’s be honest…is the belief that “doing dishes takes too much time” really serving you? Is it getting you closer to where you want to be? NO! It’s feeding your brain negativity, and focusing on the idea that you don’t have enough time. When the reality is, you have PLENTY of time. And you make time for what’s important.
When you can identify your values and priorities and then acknowledge that to get where you want to go, it’s going to cost at least a LITTLE sacrifice, then you will find yourself feeling more a peace about things like the dishes, and cooking dinner.
Here’s the truth:
Cooking a home cooked meal is healthier than eating out (and costs ⅕ of the price). And when you cook a meal at home, there will be dishes (unless you’re hiring a maid).
So. If you value your health, and you see value in eating healthy food cooked in your own kitchen with ingredients you know how to pronounce, then dishes are going to be there.
And that’s why meal planning & meal prep is SO important. Because when you make time in your schedule to plan meals, cook meals, and prep them in advance, you’ll be more efficient with your time, you’ll be eating healthier foods, and your mindset will be WAY better.
Guys, this is what we talk about in my program, Meal Prep Magic. If you’re interested in finding systems and strategies for meal planning and meal prep that will work for YOU and help you reach your health goals, sign up for the waitlist here.
We’ll be opening the doors again in a few months and I’d LOVE to see you on the inside and see you get REAL results.