9 Simple Steps to Keep Your Home Kitchen Clean & Sanitary

Have you ever heard the phrase, ‘A clean home is a happy home?’ Well this phrase especially applies to the heart of the home, better known as the kitchen. Whether you’re cooking for your loved ones or cooking for hungry customers who ordered from your menu on the HomeMade App, maintaining a clean kitchen is the single most important part of your preparation process. Good kitchen hygiene ensures that people can enjoy your delicious food while remaining happy, healthy, and worry-free — which is the key to keeping your customers coming back for more. 


Ready to learn how to keep your kitchen clean while cooking delicious meals for your home-based restaurant? You’ve come to the right place!  Here are 9 simple hacks to keep your kitchen squeaky clean as you prepare meals for your microenterprise home kitchen operation.


Person Washing Hands Before Cooking


CheckStep #1: Wash Hands Frequently

This step goes without saying, but it’s so important that it can’t be skipped over! The most fundamental way to keep your kitchen AND your food clean is by washing your hands frequently while you cook. Before you begin prepping your ingredients, wash your hands for 30 seconds according to the guidelines provided by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Keep your hands clean throughout your cooking process by washing your hands after touching raw ingredients. Also wash your hands after any activity that requires you to touch other items including smoking, eating, drinking, touching trash, or touching body parts including your face. Germs linger everywhere even in unexpected places, so washing before and after you touch items throughout your home ensures that you keep your kitchen clean as you prepare tasty meals for your customers.


Pro Tip: We know it’s hard to stop scrolling, but you can keep your hands extra clean by minimizing phone use while cooking. Phones hold more gems than almost any other item we use in our day to day lives.


Keeping a Clean Kitchen


CheckStep #2: Create a clean cooking space

There’s nothing like the feeling of creating a tasty meal in a clean kitchen! It gives you the physical AND the mental space to get creative with your meals, plus it ensures that everything your food touches is squeaky clean and germ-free. Before you begin cooking wash any dirty dishes, clear away any clutter, and wipe down your countertops and sink thoroughly. You can use sanitary wipes or bleach diluted in water to disinfect any surfaces — both options work just fine! 


Pro Tip: To keep your kitchen clean while cooking, have your go-to cleaning products and sanitary supplies close by so that you can tidy up as you go. Make sure to reset your space by cleaning up any sticky spills after prepping each ingredient to prevent any cross-contaminations or spreading of germs.  


Clean Wooden Kitchen Utensils


CheckStep #3: Sanitize Your Cooking Utensils

Your cooking utensils are some of the most important tools you’ll use in the kitchen, which makes it all the more important for them to be sanitized before they touch any food you’ll be preparing. Before you get to cooking, sanitize your cooking utensils by washing any dishes, pots, and pans and detachable pieces such as blades or handles in hot soapy water. Rinse them in clean water to remove any excess soap or residue, then place your items in a container and submerge them in a sanitizing solution. You can create your own solution by mixing 1 tablespoon unscented chlorine bleach in 1 gallon of warm (not hot) water. Remove your utensils from the solution and let them dry fully before using them to cook. Also, no double-dipping! Do not reuse the same utensils while cooking unless you thoroughly clean them first — especially if you are the designated taste tester.


Pro Tip: Use a different cutting board for the different categories of food you work with so that you never cross-contaminate. This is not only important for sanitation, but it is important to prevent cross-contamination that can cause your customers to become sick or have allergic reactions. We recommend purchasing a pack of color-coded cutting boards to ensure that you never cut up your meat and vegetables on the same board.


Tidy Dry Goods Stored in Pantry


CheckStep #4: Use Best Practices for Washing & Storing Ingredients

Now that your cooking area and utensils are clean, it’s time to make sure the ingredients you’ll be cooking with are clean too. Fresh produce such as fruits and vegetables should be washed under cold running tap water. DO NOT use soap or detergent to wash your produce — cold water works just fine to safely remove dirt. Once your produce is clean, cut any damaged or bruised areas and refrain from using them since bacteria can thrive in these areas of fresh produce. Wash and chop your produce, then immediately place it in the refrigerator to keep it fresh and safe to eat.


After all the hard work you’ve done to clean your kitchen, you wouldn’t want it all to go to waste by spreading even more germs in the process, right? According to the USDA, it is not recommended to wash raw poultry and meat because bacteria can easily spread to other foods utensils and surfaces.  The best way to keep your meat bacteria-free is to simply cook it at a minimum internal temperature of 145 °F. This is also the best way to maintain the highest kitchen sanitation standards by preventing the spread of food-borne bacteria from splashing over different surfaces where you typically prepare meals.


CheckStep #5: Keep Your Prep & Cooking Space Dry at All Times

Damp areas in your kitchen are the perfect breeding ground for bacteria to spread, so do not let wet items sit around for too long. Wipe up any spills or messes made while you’re cooking as soon as they happen. Instead of using sponges and towels so frequently, consider using disposable paper towels or wipes. 


Also remember to disinfect your hand towels and sponges weekly. You can throw your kitchen towels into the washing machine with your laundry. To clean your sponges, saturate them in water and microwave for 1 to 2 minutes, then dry thoroughly. Or you can soak your sponges in bleach or vinegar to disinfect them before rinsing them out.


CheckStep #6: Handle the disposal of waste and garbage properly

Cooking can easily become a messy task that leads to the accumulation of tons of trash — especially when you’re cooking for a large number of people. Don’t let your garbage pile up on you while you cook! Keep separate disposal methods handy for the different types of garbage you’ll create: one for cans or bottles such as a recycling bin, and one for scraps of food such as a compost bowl.  This will help you skip multiple steps during your post-cleanup routine and it will lower the risk of any potential cross-contamination of bacteria.


Woman Taking Baked Cookies Out of the Oven


CheckStep #7: Be aware of recommended cooking times for all ingredients

When cooking for customers of your home kitchen, adhering to all recommended cooking times for ingredients, especially raw foods, is essential to kitchen sanitation. Cooking times aren’t only important because they ensure that your meals are fully cooked and ready to eat, they’re also important because they ensure that the ingredients have been cooked long enough to kill any bacteria or germs. 


Thaw foods by using the refrigerator, microwave, oven, or by placing sealed packages in cold running water. Do not thaw food on your kitchen counter under any circumstances. The outer layers of the food will warm before the inside thaws, and bacteria will grow and spread in these conditions. 


If you can’t serve your food immediately once it is hot and fresh out of the oven, put it in the fridge or freezer as soon as it’s cooled or within 2 hours of preparation.


CheckStep #8: Keep Your Meal Packaging Sanitary

Since your customers will be picking up their tasty meals to go, you want to make sure their food stays clean and germ-free from beginning to end! Before you pack their meals in your preferred packaging, thoroughly sanitize and dry them. Similar to your cooking utensils, you can sanitize your meal packaging by washing them in hot soapy water. Rinse them in clean water to remove any excess soap or residue, then let them dry fully before packing your meal orders. For the safest meal packaging options for your to-go orders use new, disposable packaging such as biodegradable and compostable food packaging items to minimize single use plastic or styrofoam waste and stay eco-friendly. You can google several companies offering multiple biodegradable container options in bulk such as Be Green Packaging


Woman Writing Kitchen Cleaning Schedule in Notebook


CheckStep #9: Have a Cleaning calendar for overall kitchen maintenance

Prepping your kitchen to cook will always require some additional time, but you can make this process a bit easier for yourself by creating a regular routine for cleaning different parts of your kitchen. 


 A cleaning schedule is essential for your home-based restaurant because it ensures all food preparation areas are kept clean and sanitized at all times. It also creates a simple and easy reference for everything that needs to be done to keep each area of the kitchen clean. 


To create a cleaning schedule, walk through your kitchen and make a list of all the items that need to be cleaned on a regular basis. Include everything from pots, pans, and equipment to walls, floors, and doorknobs. Once you have everything listed, take notes on how it is cleaned, how often it needs to be cleaned, and what materials are needed to clean it. Break this list down into daily, weekly, and monthly tasks and add this schedule to your phone so you can always make sure that your kitchen is nice and clean before preparing meals for your customers.


Proper sanitary practices have always been important but amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s become even more essential for the food industry to gain the trust of their customers by taking the utmost care to create the safest and healthiest experience possible. Follow these simple kitchen cleaning steps to keep your cooking space squeaky clean so your customers can enjoy your tasty food without the fear of catching germs! If you have any questions about the best kitchen cleaning practices, please don’t hesitate to contact our team at the HomeMade app – we’d be happy to help! 

How to Create the Perfect Menu for Your Home Based Kitchen Restaurant

Congratulations, you’re officially in business! You got your Food Safety Manager Certification, you received your permit to operate your microenterprise home kitchen, and now you’re ready to build your very own foodie tribe on the Homemade App. Let the hunger games begin by creating a unique menu of home cooked meals that’ll keep nearby customers coming back for more. Here’s a few steps to help you get started!


Micro Home Kitchen Business - Select Dishes

CheckSelect Your Go-To Dishes

Write down a list of your go-to meals that always get you major cred when you prepare them for your friends and family. Simplify that list even further by selecting your absolute favorite meals that are simple to make, and feature ingredients that are accessible year-round.

Pro Tip: For guaranteed success, start simple by focusing on signature home cooked meals that are tried and true.


CheckCreate a Cool Theme for Your Menu

Use your food to tell your story! Is your menu inspired by recipes that were passed down to you, distinct flavors of a cultural cuisine, or made completely with locally sourced ingredients? Find your “why” and use it to create a unique theme that shows what makes your cuisine so special. Not only will it help your menu stand out, but it will help future customers find exactly what they’re craving.

Pro Tip: Consider revamping your menu every few months with fresh new recipes and seasonal ingredients to keep your customers engaged.


Micro Home Kitchen Business - List Ingredients

CheckList Your Ingredients

List out all of the ingredients and portions needed for all of your dishes, and keep them in a recipe binder or DIY cookbook so that you’re prepared when business starts rolling in. This will also make it easy for you to create organized budgets for your trips to the grocery store.

Pro Tip: Organize your dishes by grouping them according to their main ingredient so that your grocery trips can be more efficient.


CheckMake Your Menu MEHKO Approved

Make your menu safe, accessible, and #allergyfree for all by removing any dishes with ingredients that are restricted by MEHKO regulations. Ingredients restricted by MEHKO include raw oysters, smoked or cured food, vacuum packed foods, pickled or preserved foods, ice cream or raw milk products, and CBD or THC.


Micro Home Kitchen Business - Set Pricing

CheckMake Sure that the Price is Right

Now that you know exactly what you plan to sell, it’s time to figure out exactly how much to sell it for! To determine how much you should charge for each meal, it’s important to know how much you plan to spend on ingredients so that you can define your margins and guarantee that you’ll make a profit. This is called your food cost percentage, and the industry average is  25-35%.

After that, find out the raw food cost of each menu item by adding up the total cost of ingredients for each dish. Once you have this information, calculate the price of each menu item with this equation: Price = Raw Food Cost of Item / Ideal Food Cost Percentage. Not good at math? Use a food cost calculator as your guide.

Pro Tip: Also consider food containers, cooking tools, and equipment when calculating your budget.


CheckMake Your Menu Pop

You figured out your menu and pricing, and now it’s time to create descriptive and engaging names for each dish. Make your menu easily searchable by including keywords that people are likely to search like ‘burger’ or ‘salad,’ and add adjectives like ‘delectable,’ or ‘refreshing,’ to make your cuisine stand out. Think about the inspiration, cultural origins, and ingredients behind each dish to create detail-oriented descriptions for your menu.


Micro Home Kitchen Business - Take Food Selfie

CheckTake Your Food Selfies

You’ve described how tasty your menu options are. Now it’s time to show how tasty they look with amazing photos! It’s great to have professional photography equipment but if you don’t, you can still capture mouth-watering photos with your smartphone, and a few simple tricks. Start by finding a simple background, such as a wooden surface or a neutral colored wall. Make sure that you are surrounded by natural light by taking photos outdoors or near a window.

Add some fun details by including props like cooking utensils, raw ingredients, and elements that speak to your personality. You can even add a human element by featuring a cameo of your hand in action. Once you’ve staged your food, find the perfect angle to capture all of the incredible details of your dish, then snap several photos and select the tastiest picture! To add extra flare to your photos, use editing apps like VSCO to make the colors in your dishes really pop.


Simple and ConvenientOrganize Your Menu

Make it easy for customers to find exactly what they’re looking for by organizing your dishes into sections. Divide your menu by meal type (breakfast, lunch, or dinner), by dietary restrictions such as vegan, gluten free and keto, or by price. Also let your customers know what your crowd favorites are by highlighting your best-sellers and weekly specials.

Your menu will be your storefront on the HomeMade App, so make it work in your favor by highlighting dishes that show what you’ve really got in the kitchen. By following these simple steps, you’ll be well on your way to creating a menu of #foodporn worthy dishes that local foodies will run to tell their friends about!


The HomeMade support team is here to help you succeed during any step of this process. Please feel free to reach out to us should you have any questions about how to create the perfect menu. Drop us a line by clicking here. Good luck and can’t wait to start cookin’ with you!