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Ever wish you had an extra hand around the kitchen? How about an extra sink? It seems that the latest "must have" item for today's kitchen is the food prep sink. It's no surprise, since the convenience of an additional water source in a bustling kitchen can make all the difference.

Commonly referred to as a bar sink, these smaller basins are about half the size of a standard sink. They have been traditionally used in home recreation areas to mix drinks and clean glassware. With an upturn in home cooking, the bar sink has moved into the kitchen; not only as a bowl for preparing food, but for a host of other uses as well.

There are only a couple of reasons not to add a prep sink: space and budget. If you have a tight kitchen with limited counterspace, you'll probably be happier with just one sink. And, although an island is the most popular place to install a prep sink, if your family sits around yours to meet and eat, they may not find it appetizing to dine next to a sink. So if you can't comfortably accommodate a prep sink, but like the idea of separating your kitchen chores, consider compromising with one of the many standard sinks divided into a large and small basin. If you're on a limited budget, the sinks themselves are usually inexpensive, but the new plumbing required to install a prep sink could get costly.

The uses for a prep sinks are endless, well beyond their obvious ability to provide an isolated spot to trim fruit, vegetables and meats. While cooking, it's a safe space to drain canned foods or pasta, to fill pots with water, or just to rinse off messy hands. Tonight's dinner can defrost in there undisturbed, or blanched veges can be cooled in an ice water bath before freezing. And a garbage disposal added below can make this the definitive spot to prepare your food and rinse those plates afterwards.

Maybe you want a place just for the kids to use, away from the dirty dishes. This can be their faucet to wash hands or get a drink of water. And if you are going to designate its duties; how about making it your coffee station? And, on the weekend it can be turned into a cooler for parties, when filled with ice and your favorite beverages.

The most popular prep sinks are stainless steel and they're available either as an undermount or a drop-in design, usually around 15 inches wide. If you prefer to add a little diversity to the room; copper, bronze, and composite sinks, many in non-traditional shapes, are constantly being introduced.

No matter the style or size, it's easy to see that if you have the room, a prep sink is a great way to make your kitchen more efficient.