Share or Pin for Later
I love to cook BUT…only when I feel like cooking, which as it turns out isn’t necessarily every night after a long day at work. I bet you can relate. So any tips that can make food prep and clean up easier are always appreciated. Here are 35 quick kitchen hacks to simplify your life and make the time you spend in the kitchen more of a breeze and less of a chore.
1. Defrost foods 30% faster by putting them on an aluminum pan. Aluminum conducts heat/cold quickly so will allow the defrosting to take place faster than if you placed the item on the on a glass, ceramic or other surface.
2. Read the recipe all the way through before you start cooking. You don’t want to get halfway through and realize you don’t have an ingredient or you used all the flour in one part when you were supposed to divide it and use a portion in a later part of the recipe.
3. Quickly peel a boiled egg by putting it in a glass, add water to cover. Put your hand over the top of the glass, turn the glass to the side and shake vigorously. (Do this over a sink because some water is likely to come out of the glass.) Pour out the remaining water and the shell will slide right off the egg.
4. Use a muffin pan like a big ice cube tray to freeze lemon or lime slice “ice cubes.” Because the cubes are bigger they won’t melt as fast and the fruit slices look beautiful in a glass of lemonade or ice tea or whatever you like to drink.
BONUS! Tired of trying to figure out what’s for dinner every night?? Click here for my free meal planning printable bundle. There are weekly and monthly meal planning helpers as well as recipe cards designed to help you get your favorite recipes organized and ready to use. It’s amazing how little things can make such a big difference in your day!
5. “Hot pan, cold oil, food won’t stick” – Jeff Smith – Frugal Gourmet. Heat your pan first and then add the oil. There will be much less sticking. Does anyone remember the episode Jeff Smith did cooking with Sesame Street’s Elmo where he taught Elmo this rule? It aired years and years ago, but sometimes the image of Elmo dancing around singing “Hot pan, cold oil, food won’t stick” still pops into my mind when I’m adding oil to the hot pan!
6. Peel ginger with a spoon instead of trying to do it with a peeler or paring knife. It’s easier and you’ll waste a lot less ginger.
7. No salad spinner available? Dry freshly washed greens in a dish towel. Just put the greens in the middle of a large dishtowel. Gather the corners together and swing the towel around until the greens are dry.
8. Freeze leftover wine in ice cube trays. Then put the cubes in a ziplock bag and pull out as needed to add to soups, casserole and pasta sauce recipes.
9. Want really thinly sliced meat for stir-fries or stew? Freeze it first to make it easier to slice.
10. Freeze fresh herbs in olive oil to keep them from getting brown and freezer burned. Then just pop a cube into the pan to sauté meat or vegetables or in a pan of sauce to flavor it.
11. If you’re roasting or frying, don’t overload the pan. To get things crispy they need space so they don’t “steam” and end up soggy. So give your veggies a little more room on that sheet pan while you’re roasting them.
12. Lay a wooden spoon across the top of a pot to keep it from boiling over. Bubbles will touch the spoon and pop, rather than building up to end up going over the rim of the pan.
13. The smaller you cut it the faster it will cook.
14. Have a plate of veggie crudité that you need to keep fresh and looking its best? Arrange your vegetables on a platter, cover with damp paper towels and then wrap the platter in plastic and refrigerate.
15. Want ice tea or iced coffee that doesn’t get watery when the ice starts to melt? Make your coffee or tea double strength. So for tea, you’d used 2 tea bags for every cup of water. For coffee try ¼ c. coffee per 8 oz. of water. Or freeze regular strength leftover coffee in ice cube trays and use that to ice your coffee drinks.
16. Freeze leftover tomato paste (from a can) in tablespoon sized portions in an ice cube tray then transfer to a freezer bag. Label with date frozen and size portion so you don’t need to open another whole can of tomato paste when you just need 1 tablespoon for a recipe.
17. Freeze your butter ahead of time and grate it to incorporate it into biscuits, pie crust or any type of pastry where you want to keep the butter cold while mixing.
18. Soften butter for cookies or recipes more quickly by cutting sticks into pieces, spread out on a plate and in 10 minutes your butter should be softened and ready to use.
19. Use a paper clip (metal ones work best) to pit cherries.
20. Line the bottom of your refrigerator drawers with paper towel to absorb any moisture that will make your vegetables go bad more quickly.
21. Turn your container of sour cream or cottage cheese upside down in the fridge and it will stay fresher longer. Turning it upside down creates a vacuum seal that will keep bacteria from growing.
22. Soup or stew too salty? Add half a peeled potato to the pot and simmer for 10 minutes. The potato will absorb the salt. (An apple slice will work as well if you are out of potatoes.)
23. Tired of having your blueberry muffins end up with all the blueberries on the bottom? Keep them from sinking by putting them in a bowl with a little bit of flour. Shake the bowl to coat them with the flour then add them to your batter and they won’t sink. This works with chocolate chips and raisins, too!
24. To help your fruit ripen more quickly put it in a brown paper bag. To get it ripe even faster, put an apple in there with it. Apples release ethylene gas that speeds ripening.
25. To keep greens fresh, store them in a plastic container. First line the bottom and sides with paper towel. Put in the greens. Don’t pack them down, give them room. Then put paper towels on top. Pop on the lid and your greens should last at least a week.
26. Freeze grapes and pop a few in a glass of white wine to chill it without watering it down.
27. Trying to get a stubborn jar lid unstuck but having no luck. Put a rubber band around the lid and that will help you get a grip. A rubber glove can be work as well.
28. Love to cook fish on the grill but tired of having pieces fall through the rack? Lay lemon slices on your grill rack and then place the fish on top of those. The fish will absorb the flavor of the lemons and stay in one piece!
29. Need just a little bit of lemon juice? Don’t cut the lemon in half and squeeze. Puncture it with a metal skewer and just squeeze out what you need. Then pop the lemon in the refrigerator. The lemon will stay fresher longer than if you cut it in half.
30. In a pinch, you can whip cream by shaking it in a mason jar. Let the kids help. They’ll love it!
31. Honey is nonperishable. It won’t go bad. So, if your honey is crystallized, just put the jar in a bowl of hot water to get the crystals melted and your honey clear again.
32. Don’t have a rolling pin handy? Use a wine bottle. Just give the outside a wash (remove the label if you can so your dough doesn’t stick) and you’ll be able to roll out pie crust, cookie dough, you name it!
33. Make store-bought frosting go further and look fancier by whipping it with your electric mixer before using. The fluffy frosting looks prettier and even seems to taste a little better.
34. Wash as you go. Don’t leave all the pots, pans and utensils to wash after you’re done cooking. While you’re waiting for the water to boil wash the dishes and utensils you’re done with. That way, after dinner you’ll only have the dishes from the table to do.
35. Clean copper pots with ketchup. Just coat the copper with a thin layer and buff off with a clean cloth.
And there you have it! 35 awesome quick kitchen hacks to make cooking less of a chore and more fun. If you have any favorites to add, please feel free to comment below!
Want some ideas for easier meal planning? Check out this great post on meal planning: 3 Steps to Conquering the “What’s for dinner?” Blues
For 4 delicious and easy sheet pan dinners check out: 4 Scrumptious Sheet Pan Meals to Make Your Own!
And don’t forget to grab your free meal planning printables bundle here.
P.S. If life is feeling too complicated and hectic these days, The Seven Days of Simplicity Action Plan can help.