You’re in the kitchen.
Eyes gleaming as you envision your next culinary masterpiece.
Instagram-worthy dishes to delight the senses.
However, things don’t always go according to plan.
Fast forward to a few minutes before dinner.
Your family, or worse, your guests are about to arrive.
Oh dear, the stress!
Don’t you hate it when you’re trying to cook as fast as you can, but you just don’t seem to be getting anything done? You’ve spent most of your time looking for things rather than actually cooking!
Nothing is within arm’s reach.
The reason – a “little fault” in the assembly line of your kitchen. Namely, your food preparation zone.
In my last article, we explored the 4 key steps to planning a kitchen redesign for maximum efficiency. One of the most important steps of your planning process is zoning your workspace.
In today’s article, let’s discuss one of the most crucial zones in your kitchen – the preparation or prep zone.
What is the Prep Zone?
The Prep Zone is the most important area of your kitchen. Having spoken to several homeowners, and based on my own experience, we spend at least 70% of our time here. In most homes, the prep zone is a designated benchtop area, ideally large enough to place the appliance(s) you’re using, your ingredients and the chopping board.
How much space do you need?
If you’re designing a new kitchen, you’re in luck – the more countertop space, the better. Some of the larger homes I’ve worked on have a minimum of 1.2m (approx. 4 feet) of uninterrupted space.
However, remember when I said that an efficient kitchen does not have to be huge? Even about 90 cm of benchtop space would work great. Just ensure the area is well-lit.
You’ll need space for tasks such as:
- Arranging all the ingredients you’ll need for the upcoming meal
- Peeling and chopping vegetables and fruit
- Mixing a range of ingredients
- Preparing meat items
You also need room for:
- Small appliances – blenders, beaters, measuring cups, food processors and kitchen scales
- Utensils – knives, potato peeler, citrus zester, mandolin, grater, colander, scissors (to open packets), packet sealers/clips or rubber bands, chopping boards, measuring spoons and cups, whisks etc.
Ingredients – spices, sauces, oil and vinegar
While not essential, it’s great to have some space to place a cookbook, laptop or tablet device for cooking and entertainment purposes.
If you’re working with a smaller space, break down your preparation flow into steps. For example, prepare all the ingredients that require grating beforehand. Once done, put away the grater and bowl before proceeding to the next phase. Clear up as you go.
Location, location, location
The ideal space for your prep zone is between the cooktop (cooking zone) and sink (cleaning zone). Your storage zone and fridge would be close by allowing easy access to all the ingredients and utensils you will need. Generally, the cupboards and drawers where you store these items would be above and below the prep zone.
Easy reach is the name of the game.
Similarly, try to ensure the kitchen bin (and compost bin) is as close as possible so you can dispose of packaging, peelings, seeds etc. without messing up your floor.
As I mentioned earlier in this section, with the cleaning zone close at hand, you can immediately put away items that need to be washed into the dishwasher or sink.
Given that the next step in your workflow is cooking, your prep zone would be next to the cooking zone. Upon prepping all the items, you can simply put them on the cooktop or in the oven.
There you have it, simple ideas to take into consideration when setting up the prep zone in your kitchen.