Cutting board or kitchen cart?

marie26November 11, 2008

I have a wall in my kitchen to put a kitchen cart on wheels. I wanted one that I could use for kitchen prep and realized that it had to have a butcher block or granite top. My reasoning is that I can bring the cart near the stove and do all my prep work there. Butcher block is probably not the best idea because you can't place hot pots on it. Besides, they're not cheap and I really don't want to spend all that money. The extra storage space underneath would be nice but I could just buy a cabinet to put there for extra storage.

Someone had mentioned that one of their favorite items was an over-the-sink cutting board and colander. I've been thinking about getting this instead. I have a garbage disposal so I could throw the scraps directly into the sink. It seems that using this type of cutting board would keep my counters clean while I work. Of course, my sink would have to be empty before I began any prep work (lol).

Can you give me the pros and cons of getting a rolling kitchen cart vs an over-the-sink cutting board with colander? Is there any reason I should just buy a normal cutting board to use on the counter? The only counter I have for this purpose is not at all near the stove. The sink isn't near the stove, either. For some reason, I find that in this house I am not sticking to one spot for prep work and moving from counter to counter. I got spoiled in my last house because I had an island right behind the stove which was so convenient to use.

Here is a link that might be useful: Over-the-Sink Cutting Board

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I tried the cutting board over my sink, but didn't like it because I'm short and need a lower surface I can cut comfortably on. Also, needing to keep the sink clear for this particular task seems like a hassle to me when there's a lot of cooking going on. Personally, I love a rolling cart, as long as it doesn't roll on you while you use it. Really, it all depends on the height of the surface you need for your own height, to make a comfortable place to chop.

I often throw a leather oven mitt onto the board when I set something hot down, which has protected the BB. I see the cart being most useful if it's easy to move it over the stove. I tend to do most of my prep at my island (which also has a BB top) because I have a lower surface at one end, and works for me whether I'm cutting, chopping or rolling things out. (I also have a pull-out cutting board at the same lowered height near my range, which is handy.)

Instead of chopping right on the counter, I'll often use a thin, richlite cutting board, which I can easily move to wherever I need to be. (I have two, and like it because it's thin and light-weight; mine also has a handle that makes it convenient. I can also move it if I need additional space to use the board.) While it has the feeling of wood against my knives, it can be put into the dishwasher without harm. If I decide to cut next to the sink, I can still scrape things into the disposal so it's convenient. Because it isn't a thick board, the height isn't raised too much for cutting. It's similar to the one below...

Here is a link that might be useful: richlite cutting board

    Bookmark   November 12, 2008 at 5:09AM
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Marie, I mentioned all my options since it's not unusual for me to chop pecans for a dish in one location, and chop onions for another dish somewhere else. Even if your kitchen is small, I think it's great to have options. Storing a thin cutting board right under your cart would you give every opportunity to move around!

    Bookmark   November 12, 2008 at 2:01PM
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Marie, I would go with the cart and that gives you 2 areas within reach at all times. 1 at the counter and 1 on the cart. The Granite/Silestone/StainlessSteel cart surfaces works best because cleaning is so much easier and can take the heat of pans without marking it.

Here is a link that might be useful: ekitchens have several in a huge price range...kinda cool

    Bookmark   November 12, 2008 at 7:22PM
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I had found one with a stainless steel top but I read that you can't cut on such a surface. I didn't want to have to put a cutting board on top of the kitchen cart.

Can I cut on a stainless steel surface? I understand that, of course, it will get scratched up.

I was so sure that everyone would say to use the over the sink cutting board. I am only 5'1" and I guess that my height might be a hindrance for the board as Claire said.

    Bookmark   November 12, 2008 at 8:43PM
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I used to be 5'1'', and then I lost an inch! Ah well...

No, I wouldn't recommend cutting on SS, if you want to keep your knives sharp. The richlite cutting boards are very thin if that might appeal to you.

    Bookmark   November 12, 2008 at 9:50PM
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We put a rolling cart/island with a stainless top and a drop leaf (for eating breakfast) in our kitchen, and I love it. It not only allows me to configure the work area to suit the job at hand, but also gives me much-needed storage space.
The one we chose was inexpensive, came in a flat pack, with well-marked parts and good instructions..I put it together myself, with help to lift the heavy top. The link below shows the one we chose, which is out of stock, but they have others you can look at, too.
I never cut on anything but a cutting board. I think it's either bad for my good knives, hard on the surface itself, or not as sanitary to use the countertops themselves. I just set my thin composite cutting board across the corner of the sink and whoosh the trimmings into the sink, and the cut stuff into a bowl.

Here is a link that might be useful: Rolling island cart

    Bookmark   November 13, 2008 at 10:00AM
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Here are some of the other variables that I think figure into that decision: what do you think you most need--do you need more counter space for cutting? do you need counter space in a different and specific location? is the layout of your kitchen such that a movable cart would let you add the surface in a useful position--typically positioned as a center "island" to work around, or as a "L" to an end counter run, or alongside a stove that might have no counter space on one side, for example. How do you cut and cook? One reason I don't feel the need for "cuttable" counter surfaces is that then I would have to scrape the cut bits up and put in pot, or whatever, so this area would always need to be right next to the stovetop with no crevices. I am more likely to use the method of scraping things OFF of a cutting "board", which as noted in some above posts, now is available in a host of materials, not just a block of wood, and includes thin flexible sheets. So if I had a cart, I would most especially transfer things from there to stove or wherever on some kind of cutting sheet, and I wouldn't especially need a hardwood top, but you might if you absolutely prefer to cut directly on the cart surface (fruits/veggies, and not raw chicken). Otherwise, I would get a heat-proof top and combine with some kind of cutting board.In my some-day new kitchen, I want an undermount sink in the counter run most used for cutting, 'cause I want easier cleanup by sweeping bits directly into sink and not up and over a lip.

Also, would it bother you if bits of herbs and vegetables fall off your cart onto the floor? Or put another way, do you currently have counter space that is BETTER for cutting, but you need more counter space to do the other things needed when cooking? Then you could think about whether the cart is specifically for cutting, or whether it is to free up better prime counter space that's already in a good location--the cart in this case could hold items pulled out from the frig, or bowl of something else you're mixing up, or whatever.

The oversink thing seems really great to me from the standpoint of cleanup, but one thing I found is that I tend to have things roll off or bounce off and I would be pulling good stuff out of the sink, so I don't like that balancing act. Plus, I'm a composter, and I no longer put major vegetable matter like tops and peelings down the disposal--just crumbs and bits and sweepings.

Again, that gets back to your kitchen layout and what you're most needing to accomplish with an added item. So I don't think of "prep work" and "hot pots" as the same function, but if you got stainless steel and added a cutting surface, you of course can accomplish both things, and the cart can add buffet service space, or drinks and ice at a party, and lots of things.

    Bookmark   November 13, 2008 at 3:26PM
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I'm the one who loves my over the sink chopping board and colander, but like Frankie said, it really gets back to the layout of your kitchen. My board and colander came with the sink, so are a perfect fit. Also, my sink is a double bowl with draining boards on either side. Also the garbage disposal is connected to our recycled watering system so all the nutrients from the scraps end up on the garden anyway. So the good stuff goes straight into the colander, the scraps go in the other sink bowl with the disposal and it all gets washed down in the one spot. I love it too, for the fact that there is enough bench space around the prep area to catch the crumbs and scraps. Again like Frankie, I'd be bothered by bits and pieces going on the floor from a cart. You know those pull out chopping boards that are in some kitchens? I could never work out how they worked if you wanted to chop anything, because the juice or crumbs had nowhere to go but the floor.
But my sink is in the middle of a large island bench which is central to everything, and I only have to take one step and a half turn to access my fridge, stove, oven etc.
So that's why it works so well for me.
In my previous kitchen the sink was away against one wall, and I used to use a table in the middle for food preparation, and would have loved a large rolling cart there instead.
This might sound silly, but could you set up a kind of temporary make-do cart for a week or so, to see if it will work? Boards or a box on wheels... just to get the idea before you buy one? A couple of plastic totes stacked on top of one another with a cloth and board on top?
I used to dream of a rolling island bench, but then knew a few of my friends who had them, who found them too heavy and inconvenient to actually roll around, so they just used them as a standing bench. Perhaps there are lighter ones now.
Hope you find the solution that suits you.
Cheers Lily

    Bookmark   November 13, 2008 at 4:44PM
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I placed hot pots on my butcher block ALL the time.

If you *really* were worried, you could keep one of those flat silicone trivet/potholder things on the butcherblock just in case you need it. (they can usu. go in the dishwasher, and I think you cn find them in tan, which would make them less obtrusive)

I have also expanded my work area by setting an oversize cutting board over the sink (sometimes leaving a little gap for water to go through. Not one w/ a colander; a big restaurant-size one. It's *very* sturdy there.

I find that I do not actually *want* to prep right next to my stove.

I prep on the opposite side of my galley kitchen, near the sink. w/ lots of elbow room (and the pieces of the chopped food don't go all over the stove).

Once it's all chopped and measured, THEN I move it all to the stove. The only thing I need near the stove is landing room to set that stuff down on (though usually, since my kitchen is narrow, I just turn around and get it off the prep counter.

If you find you don't have convenient surfaces near your stove, I'd be *so* tempted to go with the rolling island w/ a butcherblock top.

And I *TOTALLY* agree w/ Lily, that you should rig up some temporary trial version (a typing table from CraigsList?)

    Bookmark   November 13, 2008 at 8:03PM
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Thank you, everyone, for responding. You have given me some things to really think about. I do have a cart on wheels in the kitchen now that is old and I don't like anymore. It only has a shelf underneath and the surface can't be used for cutting or for hot things.

I never thought to use this as a tryout to the cart I would like to purchase. Thank you, Lily, for this suggestion. I will definitely try it.

I do need a surface near the stove. I have a counter there right now with the fridge on the other side. But there are items on there that I have no other spot in the kitchen for which takes up quite a bit of room on the counter. And it's not near the sink which is a problem. But I would still have to wash the food and bring it to the cart or keep moving the cart around.

I am just so used to being able to wash the food, cut it and then put it in a pan with hardly any steps in between. But that was my old house.

    Bookmark   November 13, 2008 at 8:22PM
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I have a kitchen cart I use as an island. I do find it extremely handy to move just where I want it, but unlike talley_sue, I have found you CAN leave burn marks on the wooden top. It faded after a long, long while, but it was annoying and unsightly. My mother was fond of her cast iron, God love her, and anything heated to over 450 is likely to leave noticeable scorch marks on wood. Me, I throw a potholder down before placing anything I think is too hot, atop the wood.

There is the issue of foods rolling off. There are many cutting boards with rims, designed specifically to eliminate this problem. You can get plastic or wood, your choice. A plastic one is a less expensive way to try this idea out:

The best selection of kitchen carts is at JCPenney's website. Order it shipped to you, or you can pick it up at any local store. They often offer free shipping, although sometimes very heavy items don't qualify! But it's worth asking the phone rep when you order.

I have an over-the-sink cutting board, but prefer using the cart. Works better for me, but YMMV.

Here is a link that might be useful: JCPenney kitchen cart search results

    Bookmark   November 13, 2008 at 10:29PM
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jkcom51, thank you for the link. Although I like the larger ones better because of the storage space, I'm thinking that they'll be too heavy to pull. Is this something that I should consider?

I also like the link to the cutting board. I've been looking for something like that. Does it have rims on all sides?

    Bookmark   November 13, 2008 at 11:18PM
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You know, I never put stove-top pots on my butcher block. Just oven pans. I have never wanted to set a stove-top pot down. No, wait, i take that back. I guess it's just that it was never possible, so I am completely trained not to do it.

So I wouldn't ever worry about "pans on the countertop." Bcs I never try--except for roasting pans or cookie sheets.

    Bookmark   November 21, 2008 at 11:32PM
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I've been doing a lot of research on kitchen carts and have found one that I think will serve me well. Tonight, when I made an easy supper, I realized I used 4 different kitchen counters while preparing the one-dish casserole. There is really no reason for this other than the fact that the stove and sink are not very close to each other and then the cutlery drawer is under another counter. Maybe this is just me not having the discipline to work in one area but I've not done this in most kitchens I've had.

The only downfall to getting a kitchen cart is that the one I've decided on will fit on my one empty wall but the depth will make the room seem a bit smaller. But this cart will let me do practically everything in one area.

Here is a link that might be useful: Here's the link to the kitchen cart I want to buy

    Bookmark   November 24, 2008 at 9:04PM
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That looks like a wonderful choice, Marie. Elegant and functional. And small is relative in a kitchen...sometimes less acreage for walking around is an advantage!

    Bookmark   November 26, 2008 at 9:48AM
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