How Working Moms Can Wash FEWER Dishes This Week

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Scheduling in a working moms’ meal prep routine can seem tricky at first but I’ll let you in on this secret: meal prepping is my number one timesaving strategy and some weeks, the only way I manage to keep my sanity!

Want to know why? It’s not because it saves you time cooking (although is fully does) It’s because it saves you time washing dishes. 

By far and large, whenever I talk to my fellow busy parents riding the struggle bus during weekday meal times, their biggest complaint is this: I freaking hate washing dishes.

This is even more so in New York City, where so many apartments come dishwasher-free. If you’re raising kids and doing it without a dishwasher, I say to you: I’m with you, and I salute you and isn’t it just the worst!?

I’ve been living without a dishwasher for almost three years now, and in that time I’ve launched a cooking company, scaled up my recipe testing and recipe development freelance work, and continue to raise two kids, one of whom eats like a horse.

I hand wash a lot of dishes.

Like, seriously a lot.

My hands are constantly dry and battered, and a few weeks ago when I went for a manicure, the manicurist peered down at my hands, with their cracked skin and nicks and cuts and raggedly nails, and then gave me a funny look.

“Your hands are in rough shape,” she told me. Yeah, thanks for that.

Over the years, especially my years without a dishwasher, I’ve learned a thing or two about how to mitigate the overwhelming-ness of my sink:

  • I listen to podcasts or books on tape to make the time go faster.
  • I buy nice-smelling dish soap.
  • I get the good sponges. (these are legitimately amazing
  • I clean as I go.

Basically, I do #allthethings that cut down on my time spent at the faucet, elbow deep in sudsy water.

But you want to know the one thing that cuts down on my dishwashing throughout the week?

Spending 60 minutes on the weekend, busting through a meal prep power hour.

I first talked about the meal prep power hour around this time last year, when Caroline from a Butterful Mind guest posted here (with this post) and I wrote about my meal prep secrets over on here site with this post.

I also dive deep into the Meal Prep Power Hour in my ebook, The Weeknight Dinner Survival Guide.

The working mom’s meal prep routine is a huge timesaver, that much is true. But its secret superpower is how it cuts down on your dirty dishes throughout the week.

When you’ve already prepped for the week, you’ll only have your storage items and plates to wash after that- no pans, knives, cutting boards, pots, lids, etc. You don’t have to worry about bleaching down your countertops after you’ve prepped raw meats. 

See those cute little storage containers? They’re crazy easy to clean and dry. No funky corners or baked on grease. I’d rather zip through cleaning these guys than a million pots and pans on a busy Wednesday evening when I’d rather be curled up with my kids watching Boss Baby for the zillionth time.

Here’s an example: my meal plan for this week. I write it out in the margins of my Happy Planner because I’m mega Type A and that works best for me.

I’ll also add as an aside, this week was an odd meal plan for us (pizza bagels, I know!), because I’m in the middle of a recipe testing project for Peapod, and some of the items I’m testing have made their way onto our dinner table so I can make sure they work time wise.

So here’s how I broke down my Power Hour last week:

In 60 minutes, I:

  1. Formed 2 pounds of burger into patties for hamburgers
  2. Sliced 4 sweet potatoes into fries
  3. Combined the seasonings and liquids for Beef Stroganoff, since it’s a crockpot dish, and set aside (the meat had come already diced)
  4. Seasoned and cooked the sausage for Stuffed Peppers
  5. Combined panko and parmesan in one container, and egg wash and mustard in another, and chopped fish into fillets Roasted broccoli in a hot oven
  6. Roasted green beans in a hot oven and then tossed them with slivered almonds for a side

Guess how many pans and post and containers I skipped washing?

Like, a million.

Okay- I skipped the big pots and pans, to be fair. So many it wasn’t a million.

At the end of the week, in reality, I had washed only plates, silverware and cups/glasses, plus 2-3 daily containers.

I mean, I’d say that’s not too bad, right? No cutting boards, no pots, no sheet pans- they were all used and then washed in a big push on Sunday afternoon.

You can do this, too! Meal prep is a hassle- believe me, I KNOW THIS. But when you can push through and get it on your schedule and get it done, your tired ass self will thank you a thousand times over throughout the week. To come home to dinner made or mostly made- that is a good feeling.

And if you’re stuck on meal prepping and where to start, check out my free prep sheet worksheet download by leaving your name and email below!


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  • Reply
    8 May, 2018 at 6:31 am

    I seriously need to get more into this meal prep! I avoid doing too much prep because of limited freezer space. But I do find that even a little prep is super useful. If I prep lunches for the next day on a Sunday evening, I have a clean kitchen the Monday morning pretty much. And… it cuts down on the time to get lunches packed for school and work!

  • Reply
    7 May, 2018 at 2:38 pm

    I also hate doing dishes! Luckily, my husband usually steps in 😍. But meal prep is all me, so thank you for the tips and motivation.

  • Reply
    Amandela..Wifey at Meet the Harris Family
    7 May, 2018 at 10:14 am

    Yasssss!!! I love this so much. Just the motivation I need to beast it in my kitchen. Thanks lovely!

  • Reply
    4 May, 2018 at 8:38 pm

    YES! Dishes make me wanna scream! Thank you so much for this post!

  • Reply
    2 May, 2018 at 9:24 pm

    Seriously great tips. I absolutely HATE doing dishes. Im awful at meal prep though but really need to try again because it would make my life so much easier

  • Reply
    1 May, 2018 at 3:20 pm

    I love your post! Great tips!!

  • Reply
    30 April, 2018 at 5:37 pm

    Good on you for doing This! My boyfriend and I haaaated washing stuff by hand before we got our dishwasher. I like knowing that my dishes are sanitised and that the dishwasher probably didn’t miss a spot 🙂

  • Reply
    30 April, 2018 at 2:53 pm

    I dread doing dishes. Thanks for the ideas. With my 3rd baby due any day now, I am def going to meal prep to help with the upkeep of dishes (and overall home).

  • Reply
    30 April, 2018 at 2:25 pm

    I may need to try this! We have a dishwasher and we still drown in dishes! Haha

  • Reply
    30 April, 2018 at 2:22 pm

    Oh man! This is such a great read! Thank you! I don’t know why we don’t do meal prep more often but you’re right, it does cut down on dishes!

  • Reply
    Clarice Lao | Camping for Women
    30 April, 2018 at 4:59 am

    I will definitely try this. The household chores are drowning me. It’s unending. Thank you for the tips.

  • Reply
    29 April, 2018 at 9:01 pm

    I love this! I hand wash soooo many dishes!!

  • Reply
    29 April, 2018 at 8:59 pm

    washing dishes are my LEAST FAVORITE chore so i’ll definitely keep these tips in mind!

  • Reply
    Elizabeth Auwarter
    29 April, 2018 at 8:49 pm

    This is great! I like setting a time to do this and planning accordingly.

  • Reply
    29 April, 2018 at 1:14 pm

    I’m going to be fully honest and admit that I never do dishes, unless my hubs is out of town… I’m definitely going to keep these tips in mind for those occasions though!

  • Reply
    Autumn Murray
    29 April, 2018 at 11:23 am

    I love to try anything that will save time!

  • Reply
    29 April, 2018 at 1:22 am

    I find when I do dishes as we go then it isn’t as overwhelming. I think meal prepping would make it even easier!

  • Reply
    Kareen Liez Datoy
    28 April, 2018 at 11:41 pm

    Meal planning is hard especially if there are certain types of food that are not allowed for a family member to eat. And yes, apart from meal planning, washing the dishes is all part of it. I have no problem with washing and I do everything by hand. But the tips you gave are indeed helpful.

  • Reply
    28 April, 2018 at 10:49 am

    This sounds like a busy mom’s secret to more time on week days! Thanks for the inspo! Gotta try something like it!

  • Reply
    28 April, 2018 at 10:26 am

    You are so right that the unspoken downside of cooking is the dishes! Love the meal prep AND it’s superpower!

  • Reply
    27 April, 2018 at 10:48 pm

    Get your husband to do them.

    • Reply
      Ruthy Kirwan
      28 April, 2018 at 6:31 am

      lol I do that as often as possible, believe me!

  • Reply
    27 April, 2018 at 2:56 pm

    Sounds dreamy. How do you reheat all the items you prep, though? The sweet potato fries, for example – wouldn’t they produce a baking sheet post cooking? And would the fish be cooked in a pan or baked in one of your glass dishes? Maybe I took this too literally and there were some pots and pans to wash throughout the week? Do you heat other things in the microwave or oven straight in the glass containers they’re stored in? I guess I’m a bit confused as to how this all works. Some good ideas for prep though – I never though to make an egg wash ahead of time!

    • Reply
      Ruthy Kirwan
      28 April, 2018 at 6:37 am

      Ok, yes- there are still a few items throughout the week I have to wash, like sheet pans for things like sweet potato fries, or the Instant Pot liner. However, having as much as possible prepped ahead of time just cuts down so dramatically on the dishes overall that it’s not a big deal! Since I store almost completely in glass (and some plastic) containers, that makes it much easier for them to go straight into the microwave to be reheated. I think especially when you’re raising a family, you’ll never be COMPLETELY free from dishes (and I inevitably wind up making pasta for someone on a dinner strike, ha!), but meal prepping reduces it a ton. Maybe I was a little too exaggerative 🙂

  • Reply
    Edyta at Innocent Delight
    27 April, 2018 at 2:09 pm

    Oh gosh, this is so good. I hate all these dishes. I need to get my plan asap 🙂

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    27 April, 2018 at 12:49 pm

    I absolutely hate washing dishes, too! I finally landed in an apartment with a dishwasher this year so that was a huge plus. But I still struggle with the once-a-week meal prep even so. Sounds like you have a good system going though!

    • Reply
      Ruthy Kirwan
      28 April, 2018 at 6:38 am

      lucky you with the dishwasher! And yes- even when we HAD a dishwasher, I found myself handwashing all the time. I can’t get away from it!

  • Reply
    27 April, 2018 at 12:13 pm

    Totally a fantastic plan! Who doesn’t hate washing dishes? It’s the worst! I will see if I can’t get organized enough to accomplish this!

  • Reply
    27 April, 2018 at 11:49 am

    I hand wash a lot of dishes even with a dishwasher. I couldn’t imagine not having one.

  • Reply
    Veena Azmanov
    27 April, 2018 at 11:48 am

    Thank you for sharing this great post! I like.

  • Reply
    sue | theviewfromgreatisland
    27 April, 2018 at 11:09 am

    These are such great ideas, I am the absolute worst at planning, and getting better about meal prep is my goal for 2018!

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