Messy Cook Syndrome

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My messy kitchen – all the pots I used in the last 2 days.
Imagine a dark-haired woman standing upon a wooden stage, her hands grasping the podium before her,

turning her knuckles white. Her eyes are wide and swelled with tears, or is that just glazed over, or blinded by the lights? She leans forward towards the microphone, breathing out as she goes. The sound of her breath is captured and magnified by the cold black steel pinned to the top of the podium like the top branch of a tree.

“Uh, hello”, she breathes into the microphone with sweat gathering on her brow. “My name is Marielle and I’m an addict”, she says feeling the glare of the flood lights. “I’m a messy cook and I just can’t help it!”
That’s me, standing up there, sharing this post with all of you today.
I’m a messy cook. I can’t hide it and I don’t know how to fix it. I just can’t help spreading liquids across the benchtops, spilling salt or sugar on the floor and I end up with flour on my clothes EVERY time I make a cake or a loaf of bread. My husband complains each time I spread the mess across the kitchen, but I can’t seem to change it.
When I cook, I create. It’s as simple as that. I’m busy focusing on what needs to be done, and how I’m going to make it look at the end of the cooking session, rather than on how clean the benchtops or the floor are.
I think I have messy cook syndrome.
Take tonight, for instance. The mixing bowl ended up on top of the coffee machine. The sugar wizzed out of the mixer bowl as soon as I turned the machine on and it stayed sprayed across the bench until I realised I was walking it across the kitchen floor. ‘How’d that get there?’ I pondered as I moved onto the next thing and didn’t clean it up. The butter stayed out for an hour longer than needed, but thankfully I was supposed to have soft butter for the next step of the recipe and I had it purely because of my messiness.
Another night when I got flour everywhere.
Last night I sprayed tomato pasta sauce across the splashback, the side of the cupboard next to the stove, over the rest of the stovetop, over the benchtop and onto the kettle. Not bad for 20 minutes work. But the pasta sure was tasty with my homemade tomato sauce so this will probably happen again.
The other night I had the bag of potatoes on the floor because there wasn’t enough bench space and I never thought to pick them up despite walking around them for about half an hour. I found a few pieces of potato skin stuck under the dishwasher when I cleaned up after the meal. I also found a piece of skin, dried out, and stuck to the chicken stock can when I reached for it a few days later. Hmm. How did I do that?
Is there any hope for me?
Can a home cook with messy cook syndrome ever get better?
There is hope!
I have been researching kitchen cleanliness recently and here are a few tips I’ve learnt along the way:
  • Have one big bowl at the side of the bench for all the kitchen scraps. Throw in the skin of vegetables and fruits you’re peeling, the little end pieces that get cut off, the pieces that fall to the floor or get thrown from the pot during a vigorous stirring session. Even throw in the egg shells and small amounts of liquid that need to be discarded in there too.
  • Clean as you go. It’s the concept of when you make a mess, clean it as soon as its hit the benchtop/floor/splashback because it’s easier to clean as soon as its happened. You don’t need to spend time soaking and scrubbing later. All good or course, but I find I can only do this on a dish that is happy to sit for a while simmering or when something needs a while in the oven (like a casserole). If it’s a meal that gets put together quickly, then clean as you go doesn’t work for me. Does it work for you?
  • Use the same dishes over again. I like this idea because it makes sense. Tonight I weighed out sugar, butter, almond meal and flour by using the same dish. That way I only had one dish that needed to fit into the dishwasher, rather than 4. Don’t do this for uncooked meats or when you’ve taken the uncooked meat and cooked it. This will be contamination and your whole family could get sick! Keep it to vegetables, sauces, spices and herbs, etc.
  • Make sure your kitchen is clean when you start. Okay, for this one I’m guilty of not doing it and I suspect that might be my problem. My kitchen is really tiny with only a single sink and a small chopping space. I bought an extra kitchen trolley to use as extra bench space and I must admit that used dishes or packets I haven’t put away are shifted to the trolley while I use the bench space when I begin cooking. Hmm. Better go wash last night’s casserole dish and put it away before I begin cooking the fish for tonight…
  • Put away the packets you’ve been using and throw empty packets in the bin or recycling. My recycling bin is right next to the sink so for me this is an easy step. The one I do forget however is to put the half empty packets away. So much so that a few weeks ago I left the frozen beans on the trolley top with the vegetables I didn’t need. My husband came around behind me and put all the vegetables away. Three days later I found the soggy defrosted beans mixed in with the vegetables in the crisper in the fridge! Oops. Take it from me, it’s better to put the frozen stuff away as soon as you’ve used it!
  • Put leftovers in containers straight away. This is really an extension of tip number 5, but I find that when I’ve opened the can of kidney beans, dumped it all into the strainer and washed the beans off I then recycle the can, but I leave the unused portion of beans in the strainer in the sink or on top of something next to the sink. Sure I’m avoiding getting beany water all over the benchtop but it’s still in a bowl cluttering up my benchtop or in the sink! Hmm. I think I’m now becoming aware of the mistakes I make in regards to cleanliness when I’m cooking.


  • Put the prepared dishes on the table straight away. So, you’ve made the salad and you’ve remembered to dump the scraps into the big bowl next to the bench and the knife and chopping board are already in the dishwasher. Great! But you’re still cooking the chicken and need to mix the salad dressing. Put the salad bowl on the dining table now and then you’ll have plenty of space to finish the meal off, and there is no chance that the salad may end up on the floor and all your hard work is down the drain (or swept up).

So, it appears I have a few things to learn from this post. Do you?
How do you clean your kitchen? Do you have any tips I could use? Or are you like me, a messy cook, and proud of it? Leave me a comment.

Happy cleaning!

3 thoughts on “Messy Cook Syndrome

  1. Nelly Sadauskas says:

    Hi Marielle, I have to admit I'm a tidy as you go kind of cook! Vidas on the other hand is a little messy. I guess it doesn't really matter as long as you tidy up at the end!!!! 🙂

  2. Thanks Nelly. Very glad you liked it. Its true, as long as it gets cleaned up at the end its all good, but I reckon if the food tastes great, it doesn't matter how much mess you make. 🙂 Thanks for commenting!

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