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.
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.
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.
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 on Amazon to ensure that you never cut up your meat and vegetables on the same board.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!