Christmas dinner is just 18 more opened doors of the advent calendar away, and stress for some is building. After all, there’s so much that could go wrong; from turning the turkey to sawdust, to overseasoning the stuffing, all the way to dropping the Christmas pudding on your elderly grandfather’s head (just us, that one? whoops). But what if we told you that the best way to be war ready in time to face the inevitable last minute, ovens-on-full dash to the finish line isn’t only down to your food prep. Nope, it’s all about getting your kitchen qualified and equipped for the job in hand. With that in mind, here are 5 IDEAL ways to improve the functionality of your kitchen in time for Christmas.

THE RIGHT TOOLS

So much of cooking success depends on the tools you have to hand. We’re not suggesting you invest in a sous-vide machine, water bath and dehydrator, although if you’ve got the financial backing, that would certainly do no harm. Nope, we’re talking about the basics, the apparatus which grease the cogs of great cooking every day in kitchens across the country. A basic inventory should include a couple of heavy based pans, a slotted spoon, sieve, selection of spatulas, wooden spoons….the list goes on, and we wouldn’t want to insult your intelligence by noting everything. But the message is clear; if you want to turn out great dishes, use tools appropriate to the task.

ALL OF THE LIGHTS

A simple way to cook efficiently and effectively is by making sure the lighting is correct. You’ll want to see what you’re doing, where you’re chopping, what’s cooked, what’s raw, what’s clean and what’s not. By adding a dimmer switch or even an extra lamp, the kitchen space will be transformed. And so, hopefully, will your cooking.

STORAGE SAVVY

Professional kitchens are storage obsessed. Each night ends in a whirlwind of consolidating, reboxing and relabelling, throwing out what’s off and finding room for what’s good. This is all in the name of real estate. If you’re a keen home cook then you’ll know that space is king; the more marmalades, chutneys, breads, cakes, sauces and stocks you endeavour to be homemade, the more space you’ll need to store them in.

Fortunately, the kitchen tends to have a lot of dead space ripe for exploiting. Install corner carousels and pull out racks, hang utensils against the back wall, and store pots and pans neatly to maximise space. What’s more, throw out food which is past it and rebox those which are way too small for their containers. That way you’ll free up fridge and cupboard space for new, delicious, home-cooked arrivals.

KEEP IT CLEAN

You’re only as good a cook as your kitchen is clean. Indeed, keeping things neat and tidy, with clean lines and everything in its right place, is one of the cornerstones of culinary wisdom. It’s an ethos, a mentality, to do everything correctly and with care, that the very best chefs cherish. In short, your mise en place can make or break you. If everything is where it should be, and mess isn’t causing distractions and impeding movement, then getting things done to the best of the cook’s ability is as easy as an expertly cooked pie.

So, make sure your tools are so clean you could do your hair in them (don’t do that though – not hygienic) and surfaces are spotless. Organise and equip your space whole and holistically. Plastic chopping boards, of correct colour, are easier to clean than wood. Granite wipes down more totally than a textured concrete. And tiles – perhaps like these porcelanosa tiles available at Tiles and Bathrooms – are easier to remove splatter stains from than laminate and wooden floors. It’s all in the detail.

WORK OUT YOUR WORKFLOW

You may never have considered good kitchen workflow – consciously at least. But don’t worry, that’s just a fancy way of referring to the relative positioning of all your stuff within the room. It’s generally best to position your chopping area right next to the hob, in the name of preserving economy of movement – and food finding its way haphazardly to the floor. The bin should be as near to the sink as possible, to make the disposing of leftovers carry in to washing up seamlessly. And a bit of space between oven and food storage prevents the unwanted warming up of larder staples. Now you’ve got your kitchen ripe and ready for the festive season, it’s time to get cooking!

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Rachel is the beauty and fashion director at IDEAL. She loves trying new products and is an avid fan of London's fashion, from the high end to the high street.