Are there too many cooks in your kitchen? The good news is you have a helper—or plenty of helpers—and that's something many home cooks would trade a prized possession to have. The bad news is it can make food prep and mealtimes stressful and cumbersome, rather than relaxing and fun.
Fortunately, from changing the layout to re-thinking where things are located, as well as plenty of customized options, you can take action to better facilitate multiple hands in the kitchen.
Designing & Remodeling for Multiple Cooks in the Kitchen
First, let's take a look at why there are too many cooks to determine the best solutions. For example, if you have a grandparent, parent or elder family member living in your home, review, Designing a Kitchen for a Multi-Generational Home. This article provides tips for those who share a kitchen, with specific advice regarding universal or accessible design features that make it safer, more comfortable, functional space for both younger and wiser kitchen helpers.
Here are further ideas for un-cramping the kitchen and providing appropriate workstations and flow for a more functional, multi-person kitchen.
Re-vamp the layout
Your kitchen's layout has a big impact on how the space "works." Unless the width is exceedingly generous, galley kitchens can be challenging. Instead, think about ways to incorporate a U-Shaped kitchen or an L-Shaped kitchen design. Both of these are more workable when more than one person shares the kitchen space.
Intentionally plan appliance and kitchen tool location
The kitchen work triangle—fridge, sink, oven/stove—was designed to increase kitchen efficiency. While that strategy still holds for some contemporary kitchens, you may find it doesn't make that much sense for how your household uses the kitchen.
With the popularity of raw foods and fresh cooking techniques, combined with the convenience of microwaves, you and your fellow cook(s) should take some time thinking about how you use the kitchen (which tasks does each person do most often) and then plan appliance, kitchen tool and accessory placement accordingly.
Maximize social or prep area with a kitchen island or peninsula
Adding a kitchen island or a peninsula will also be helpful. In addition to extra countertops (aka, prep space), these additions give people another place to sit. So, perhaps your young choppers or salad makers can grab their ingredients, a cutting board and a seat while they work, freeing up standing and maneuvering space in the main kitchen area. Similarly, kids, friends and family members who enjoy "hanging out" while meals are prepared have a designated space to do so without being in the way.
Learn how to cook with kids
In most households, dinnertime is like "the witching hour," when tired and overwhelmed beings on both side of the generational divide feel maxed out. Of course, this can detract from the positive experience that cooking with your children should be. The more accessible and safe things are, the more kids can help out.
Read, 5 Kitchen Design Tips for Families with Kids, for design ideas. How to Make a Kid-Friendly Kitchen, has more great pointers. Finally, we like this article by Bon Appetit, which covers age-appropriate tips for cooking with kids.
Design your kitchen for multi-cook, multi-tasking
Sometimes, having a helper can be a blessing and a curse. When multiple cooks are multi-tasking in the kitchen, the layout may not make sense for the day-to-day tasks. For example, you may be in charge of meal prep, while your helper may be in charge with putting away groceries or emptying the dishwasher. If your kitchen layout does not work for this kind of multi-tasking, things can become inefficient or frustrating.
If you're thinking about remodeling your kitchen, think about the types of tasks you and your helper do together and discuss your ideal workflow with your design consultant.
Give up the idea of a single meal
Sometimes, you may need to ditch the "one-family-one-meal" mentality. Between various dietary preferences and differences in tastes, it makes sense sometimes to make more than one meal at a time. Couples and families with kids will fare better if everyone has a meal that appeals to them. Designing space for multiple cooks in the kitchen will make the multiple meals option that much easier to accomplish.
Contact Kitchen Magic for more practical ideas to accommodate the plus-one cooks in your kitchen.