Food Prep Organizing – A Simple Tip to Cut Time in the Kitchen

The following is a guest post from regular contributor, Rachel at Useful Beautiful Home.

I love reading glimpses about Laura’s food journey. Her healthy weight loss is inspirational and I look forward to reading more about her personal healing as it unfolds. I’m of a similar opinion that food and it’s quality impacts our health. In our household, January brings me renewed cooking ambitions every year. Ironically, we usually get knocked down with a cold around the same time I tackle my food goals or open the new cookbook I got from Santa.


And so it went this past week. One-by-one each member in my household got the same cold, sore throat and all. So, I pulled out a few kitchen gadgets and got to work making my most nourishing soup and fresh squeezed orange juice. My point is to show you a simple organizing trick to make food prep a little more efficient in your own kitchen. After all, a main goal in organizing is efficiency and when cooking from scratch, efficiency works wonders.


I shared this tip with a friend of mine a few months ago (I also shared it HERE a while back when talking about strawberries) and she said it revolutionized her kitchen clean-up. So, I thought I would share it with you all, hoping someone else might find this beneficial. The idea: use a garbage bowl or container directly on your counter top while prepping food rather than going back and forth from the garbage can or other receptacle.


I know, this is a ridiculously simple concept but I promise if you’re doing a lot of food prep at once or making a big meal, this will save you time and energy! Just grab a large container to keep food scraps and/or trash in while you chop, slice, and dice your meal. At the end, clean-up is quite simple since the mess has been contained in one location.

I’d love to show bunches of pretty food pictures but this tip is centered around the time-saving efforts of a countertop garbage bin, so below is a realistic picture of my scrap pile accumulating. By the way, it’s not just for food scraps. I throw all cooking related “trash” in here while I’m prepping a meal. If you’re able to compost, then clearly you would want to keep trash separate from food scraps.


I keep a big enough garbage bowl so that it can hold a lot of waste. For example, on this day when I had finished making soup, I went on to squeeze fresh vitamin C out of our Florida oranges, tossing all the peels in my bin as I worked. Soup, salad, and orange juice scraps all fit in one garbage pile without needing to be emptied in between.


Look no further than fresh seasonal orange juice to make you want to move South for the winter. I really wish I could share a glass of this with you through the computer screen! :)


Using a counter top trash bin keeps me from running back and forth to the garbage can or making a huge sprawled out mess at my work station. Technically, I could haul our giant kitchen garbage can around with me, but it doesn’t work conveniently in our kitchen layout. I want to save time, not create more mess to clean-up.

To be transparent, I don’t claim this as my original idea. In fact, I was very pointed to tell on my own blog that my beloved food prep organizing trick came straight from Rachael Ray. In fact, she actually sells a garbage bowl designed for this purpose and it comes in several colors (example HERE). I use my own version because just about any container will work if it’s large enough.


So, if I haven’t grossed you out by all my food garbage, I encourage you to give this method a try a couple times. You may find it is easier for your back rather than peeling carrots over the trash can, or that it expedites your clean-up efforts after making dinner, or that it simply keeps your food prep a little less chaotic. Whatever the reason, I hope you find it helpful next time you’re whipping up something related to your New Year’s health goals!

Best tip to keep organized while cooking


In the professional world, I’m a nurse by trade. But, around our house, I’m known as Mommy to our young daughter. My two worlds collided and began shaping into a blog. Useful Beautiful Home represents the hours I’ve dedicated to managing my household as efficiently as possible. I offer you motivation to keep your home healthy, organized, and welcoming. My goal is to share what I’ve implemented in my home to inspire you with fresh ideas and to encourage you to keep up the good work in yours! Learn more about me HERE or visit me at

Filed under: Guest Bloggers, Kitchen, Rachel


9 Responses to Food Prep Organizing – A Simple Tip to Cut Time in the Kitchen

  1. 1
    Havok says

    I (sort of) do this! Especially when cutting up meat into meal-sizes for the freezer, I keep the plastic bag you put it in at the meat section of the store in the sink, and then everything that is fat or the packaging or whatever into that bag as soon as possible. Then, chuck that bag in the garbage (as it’s garbage either way, full of gunk or not!) and done!

  2. 2
    Morgan says

    What a great and simple tip, I’ve often done this with a produce bag, but a bowl would make things so much easier! That juice looks fabulous!!!

  3. 3
    Becky L says

    Good idea. I peel potatoes onto a plate then dump it. Bowl idea is good. Have often thought about buying one from Rachel but I have enough bowls of my own. Do not need one more. Orange juice does look yummy. I can almost taste it. I did some cleanup in my office space Sat. I made myself use a big bag for papers that would later go into bin outdoors. I find myself running back and forth into a couple rooms if I don’t plan where to dump stuff first. Same as the bowl concept. Thanks!!

  4. 4
    Zou Zou says

    I have done this for several years ever since I saw Rachael Ray do it on her show. It doesn’t seem like it would save a lot of time — until you start doing it. I don’t think we realize how much time we spend walking back and forth to the trash can while prepping a meal. Sometimes the most simple tips have the largest impact!!

  5. 5
    Stephanie says

    It really does save time! I make things a little more complicated by having a Stock Bag in the freezer. Any vegetable trimmings that can be used to make chicken stock go in the freezer for the next time we roast a chicken. Carrot trimmings, green bean ends, cobs with the corn cut off (never broccoli or brussel sprouts) go in the stock bag.

  6. 6
    Alicia says

    This really is a time-saver when cooking! I don’t need a super large container since I’m generally only cooking for one, so I tend to use a bowl or plate that’s already waiting to be washed. One less thing to wash later! (No dishwasher here.)

  7. 7
    Jessica Gensmer says

    I use Greenlids for my kitchen compost scraps and like Havok said upthread, I use the packaging from whatever meat or produce bag I open for cooking and throw the rest of the trash in there. It works well! Now if there were only a way for me to keep track of my kitchen shears while I’m cooking! It always gets lost under everything going on on top of my counter:)

  8. 8
    Susan says

    Great tip, very handy! although I wouldn’t really credit it to Rachael Ray.

    This is taught on day one in culinary school.
    Putting a 10″ stainless steel work bowl above your cutting board is part of setting up your work station. Every class starts with the mise en place — the prepping of all the ingredients — and having a bowl to collect the garbage is part of this process.

  9. 9
    Jean says

    I have often used this idea, but I first heard about it from TV chef Anne Burrell. She calls her bowl the “Thank you for coming bowl”. Cute.


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