Wednesday, November 2, 2011

A Good Idea to Evaluate

I had a reader comment the other day that really made me stop and think...

"Love your site! I don't want to be critical, but running the dishwasher three times a day?!! wow, I get mad at my family (of 6 also) for filling it up once a day! I agree with Jennifer, I make my kids use the same cup all day and even a plate gets reused if it only had a sandwich on it. BUT. . .I would run the dishwasher more if we had a sickness going around or were extremely busy, which could be your reason."

It made me wonder if I could be doing things different. It's always great to take some time and re-evaluate your methods and routines to see if it's worth it to make some adjustments. So today I kept an eye on my dishwasher to see just what I was filling it with. Here's how it looked.

At breakfast I whipped up some apple muffins so I filled the dishwasher with: a few dishes from last nights dinner that wouldn't fit in, two muffins tins, two giant mixing bowls, 6 plates and cups, a spatula, measuring cups and spoons, a knife and the pieces to my food processor.

Load 1

At Lunchtime everyone had leftover spaghetti so we had 6 big dinner plates, 6 more cups (cuz gross, we don't re-use cups unless it's just water) utensils and empty tupperware.

At dinner time I made homemade mac and cheese (skillet, pasta pot, 2 mixing bowl, utensils, casserole dish, food processor) green beans (another pan and lid) and PB and J cupcakes (muffins tins, mixing bowls, frosting piper, and various utensils.

Load 2

We had guest for dinner so we had 8 plates, glasses and sets of utensils, and various pots and pans that wouldn't fit in the previous load. Still some space left to be filled with late night snack dishes.

Which will be Load 3

With all six of us home most days (hubby has a home office) we tend to have two to three meals around the table as a family....with actual place settings. We like it like that. Plus cooking from scratch for generally two meals of the day requires lots of bowls and tools that need to be washed before I can cook again. Since time needs to be balanced too, I'm not willing to hand wash all those dishes (or assign it to a kid). So in evaluating, I'm ok with two to three loads per day.

Do those of you that are home all day, cooking from scratch find that your dishwasher is always full?


Tara said...

I'm home all day and make at least 2 meals from scratch every day. I run my dishwasher once a day, but there are only 3 of us in this family. I can totally see why you'd run your dishwasher at least twice a day for a family of 6.

That said, I do think it's a good idea to reuse what you can (like water glasses certainly). I know when I bake, I always have a ton of dishes to wash.

I think the trade-off is worth it by cooking everything homemade. :)

The Lovely One said...

I don't think this is unreasonable. My family of 4 is only home for dinner and I always run the dishwasher once a day, so 3 times for a family of 6 that's home for all 3 meals sounds about right!

Melissa said...

Yes, it seems like it's always full here. I have four children as well, but my hubby goes off to work. Since I homeschool, we have a hot lunch everyday, but I usually don't make breakfast for them. They eat, but have cold cereal, oatmeal, etc. I run it once or twice per day and like you, I'm not willing to hand wash too much stuff. I do hand wash bigger things that take up too much space, but for the most part everything goes in.

{ MELBOURNE ROAD } said...

we have lived in this home for almost two years without a dishwasher. we homeschool and cook from scratch and I CANNOT wait until this next two weeks when my dishwasher will be hooked up...yes!!

There are many ways in every different family's lives that they may seem wasteful to others, but only we know of the other ways that we are helping out and the ways that we cannot give up family time or work time for.

CherubMamma said...

We're a foster family so the actual number of people in our family changes every now and then. I used to fill the dishwasher (roughly) once a day when there were just six of us. My three boys went to brick & mortar school and so we only had two meals together with ALL of us.

Now though we are a family of eight. My oldest is going to an online high school and I've got two little ones at home. I swear -- the top rack of my dishwasher is ALWAYS full. I try to hand wash some. And I try to not run a half-full dishwasher. But we run the dishwasher (at least) twice a day.

I feel your pain. :) We only reuse water cups. And it seems the pile of dishes is never ending.

Roxie700 said...

I run my dishwasher at least 2 times a day and sometimes 3. I also almost always wash the pots and pans by hand. It just seems normal to me to run the dishwasher after meals. We have breakfast and lunch dishes in 1 load. The dishes from making supper go into the next load...then the actual supper dishes from the meal...that is load 2 for sure. Then often times there is a snack made before bed. Depending on the snack and if there were dishes left from supper there might be a load 3 done.
My dishwasher is an energy efficent unit. It super heats it own water. I have a home day care so there are lots of dishes, bottles, and cups. The dishwasher runs. I wish I had room in my kitchen for a 2nd dishwasher. It would be super handy. I have 2 fridges......I have 2 freezers...

Lisa - the Granola Catholic said...

I find that I am always doing dishes. But that is because we cook all day long here too. My kids are at school about 1/2 the week. But the days we are home we cook, and we cook a lot. We definitely use a lot of dishes. We are a two load a day minimum house.

Melissa said...

I usually had wash bigger items as I cook. That way I am not running the dishwasher more then once or at the most twice a day. I have one of those sponge wand thingys that have dishsoap in them. So I am using just a few seconds to hand wash the big items. We re-use all glasses no matter what was in them. I have the kids rinse them out after a meal if it was something other then water in them. I do this myself also.

Jackie said...

I thought three times a day sounded like a lot too, BUT we only have three in our family. We usually run ours every other day.

I know time is definitely an issue, but most of my pots/pans/mixing bowls/casserole dishes get washed by hand. To me, they take up SO much room, that they should just be washed by hand. Example--if I could put three dishes in a spot where only one pan would go in the dishwasher, I would so rather wash the pot by hand rather than wash three dishes. Plus, my thought is dishes more so need to be sterilized than a pot you cook in and not eat off of.

But that's just me...we each do what works for us! I don't really think there is a right or wrong method. ;)

Fifitr said...

I hadn't picked up in the original post about using the dishwasher 3 times a day. I think it's probably a difference in UK/US frugal thinking, but I found it quite shocking that you and most of your posters seem use the dishwasher every day, let alone more than once! It uses a huge amount of water and energy compared to part filling a sink or washing up bowl and doing it by hand. I use mine perhaps a dozen times a year, when we have a big party and there are dozens of plates and glasses to wash and I want things out of the way quickly rather than piled up. I used to have a slimline dishwasher and put it on more frequently but once I realised how much water it used I stopped. The one I have now I inherited with the house, and if I were designing the kitchen again I honestly wouldn't bother to include one. I appreciate that washing up can seem to mount up as I cook three meals a day from scratch and bake a lot, but actually it's a brisk 5-10 minute job in my household to wash up, and we do it together. If that sounds hellish, try washing the big dishes and pans by hand, and leaving the dishwasher for smaller items so you can get a lot more in. Also if you're baking or dishing up a dinner with lots of pans, have a sinkful of sudsy water ready and as you finish with items, wash them and leave them to drip dry - it's very quick and that way things don't mount up. I often have most of my pans and utensils washed by the time the family have sat down at the table. I hope some of you will give it a try – I know everyone's circumstances are different but it sounds to me like it's very acceptable in the States to use a dishwasher and most people would feel deprived if they didn't have one. Over here we're encouraged to be very frugal with water and energy, but less so with money - I spend about $150 a week on groceries and household goods, for instance, and most people would consider me pretty mean! Keep up the good work, it's a brilliant and very balanced site, and I've enjoyed cooking many of the dishes you and your readers have been kind enough to share.

Anonymous said...

I usually run the dishwasher once a day, sometimes twice when we have guests. There are 6 of us, and I make almost everything from scratch, but I rarely bother taking up space in the dishwasher with larger mixing bowls, frying pans, or larger pots--I wash them by hand quickly. I also don't clean my bread pans after every loaf, because the bread comes out without sticking since the pans have become nonstick over time. Likewise with muffin tins since I use papers.

4 of us are home for every meal every day. 2 of the kids each lunch at school. I also don't give the kids a plate when they have something like a muffin. The muffin wrapper is plate enough.

Gina said...

I'm with you, Gayle!

Cooking from scratch uses LOTS and LOTS of dishes! But is so worth it! Also you have big kids and they eat more than little dabbles, so they use full size dinner plates. That's the nature of the beast!

When my two girls were home (my husband and I both work away from home), we still ran the dishwasher twice a day (with only two girls) because one load was filled with scratch breakfast preparation (to make muffins, baked oatmeal, etc.), scratch snacks, etc. along with the dishes to eat those things, dishes to get lunches prepared (because we all took our lunch each day in re-usable containers) and then supper, which I tried to make well balanced so I was using many dishes / crockpots, etc. to pull that off, and the dishes to eat and drink from. Its just a whole pile of dishes any way you go about it! Taking into consideration that I (like you) re-use my ziploc bags, which sometimes go through in the dishwasher as well(inside out).

The dishwasher doesn't make me feel bad! The delicious, nutritious meals I am serving to my family makes me feel empowered, proud, and deliciously full LOL.

Keep on keeping on! That dishwasher is music to my ears. Means we are blessed with full tummies, full pantries, and WE DIDN'T EAT OUT! LOL.

Dove said...

The are only three of us so far (one is a 6 wk old baby!) and we run the DW every 2-3 days! I cook from scratch but I hand wash all cooking dishes, bowls etc. That will probably change are our family gets bigger, start homeschooling etc.

We don't reuse milk/smoothie glasses but will reuse water, tea cups etc.

Donna Becker said...

With just the two of us, our dishwasher gets full about every second day. I hand-wash pots and pans because the dishwaster just doesn't clean as well with them included.
On most days we have simple meals. I haven't usually made many things from scratch, but am adding one or two items each week that are more complex.
I'm disabled and need to keep cooking simple so that I don't spend a lot of time on my feet (our kitchen isn't handy for sitting down to work).
We sometimes re-use glasses for beverages. But because my husband works in a "cubical farm," I encourage using clean containers to keep germs check.
But everyone's personal values and goals will affect their choices.
I agree with you, Gayle, that we should often re-examine our habits to make sure they support our values and goals.

Michelle said...

Washing dishes by hand for my fam of 4 is soooo time consuming! It literally can take me 2hours, I've done it(maybe more depends on menu)outof my day.

Standing at the sink for a good hour hand washing, drying, & putting away back in cupbards after a meal, um NO!

* So rinse your dishes and fill that baby!!(dishwasher!)

Regardless of # of loads, key is THEY ARE CLEAN for our families! :)

Pounds4Pennies said...

My husband doesn't like how much we use the dishwasher and how fast it gets full. Same with the trash can. I think he still thinks of his bachelor days when it took him a week to fill both. With four to five of us in the house at all times both fill quickly. I don't like to reuse glasses except for water, but he insists on it. I do wash bowls, pans and muffin tins all by hand myself to save space. I know you think about time, it does take time to empty the dishwasher when it is empty. If you hand washed and put away right away it might take the same amount of time. My daughter has dish duty after dinner only, otherwise I do the dishes that never seem to end.

Anonymous said...

My UK mil was shocked that I usually only run my dishwasher once per day. She claims she runs hers at least daily, and it's only the two of them!

Anonymous said...

Dear Gayle,

I started off washing tons by hand in order to only run the dishwasher one time per day.
Next, I did like your currently doing and wow our electric bill went up for that month.
So, now I wash all the really big , very big items by hand and put everything else in the dishwasher which has me running it on average 1.5 times per day.

I know everyone needs to do what works for them but this is my compromise. If the dish is large and really dirty it still goes in the dishwasher. Unless, I happen to just be in the mood and then it is hot soapy water to the rescue.

Becky D. said...

There's 5 of us. We hand wash all large pots pans plastics. I don't like how plastics come out and all the big pots etc take up so much room it's much easier to just wash them. We only use the dishwasher for plates cups silverware etc. We run one load a day. I would go batty if our dishwasher ran anymore. It takes at least 2 hrs for a cycle and it's load so we delay start it to run at night.

Becky said...

Weren't you just complaining about the high cost of electricity in your area? The drying cycle is the energy eater. If you are drying all three loads per day, you could be wasting a lot of energy. We homeschool and there are 4 of us home all day, canning, cooking from scratch, etc... One load of dishes per day. That said, it's just a matter of personal preferences. I would rather turn the heat up a degree and wash the big stuff by hand. If you hate washing mixing bowls, more power to ya.

Gayle said...

We run the energy efficient cycle, with one teaspoon (rather than the enormous amount the directions state) of dish powder and let them air dry. It's a very short cycle. I'm not sure I was "complaining" about electricity prices recently. Maybe another blog you were reading? Although I did do a post on ways to save on electricity about a year ago. Maybe that's what you're thinking of.

April said...

during the week, i only have to wash dishes once a day(kids at school, hubby at work)When everyone is home, I can manage with twice a day. I dont have a dishwasher(nor do i want one)There is 5 of us and i cook from scratch also(and without the convienence of a microwave either) Everyone reuses the same cup all day take very little effort to rinse it out if they need to

Anonymous said...

Sounds like what you are doing with the dishwasher works for you and your family. I have never had one since I been on my own. I hand wash after every meals. The only time I want a dish washer is when the family is sick but then I boil water and throw it in the sink with the dishes and let them cool down before washing.

Anonymous said...

Actually, several studies have been done and using your dishwasher on an energy efficient cycle actually uses LESS water than hand washing.

Gina said...

For 6 people, we run the dishwasher only once a day, sometimes twice. This is because we all pack lunches in a lunchbox, and we all eat a small breakfast that doesn't require many dishes. And we drink out of the same glass all day because we usually only drink water.

Anonymous said...

We don't have a dishwasher, but I end up washing dishes by hand at least twice a day (and that's for five people). I should probably do it three times a day, but I'm lazy. Maybe to cut down on how many times you use your dishwasher, you could wash the cups by hand, then your family could re-use the same cups all day. A quick wash by hand for six cups would free up a lot of space in the dishwasher for other (bigger) items. :-)

Anonymous said...

We have 7 total home almost all day everyday.
I have to say each family has to do what is right for them.
We have cups and plates that are certain colors for each person and each person washes their own after breakfast and lunch. (Except hubby I do his)
Dinner we all eat together at the table and we use the white set and we rotate who does dishes. Large items are the person on kitchen duties job.
Everything goes in the dishwasher at the end of the day even if we run it twice but we run it all at night so that the rates are cheaper and it is after showers. (So basically the stuff we use for breakfast and lunch gets sterile at night.(We can run it on rinse only for the items that have been hand washed just to get them extra clean for the next day.