If you’re anything like me, you spend a lot of time planning meals and preparing food, making all of those helpful kitchen tips and tricks that save you time (and your sanity) worth knowing! And so, I have rounded up some of the best kitchen tips that just might have you saying “Why didn’t I think of that?”. I certainly wish I had known these a long time ago!
A few of these “secrets” I know I will use often (like fishing out broken egg shells and freezing leftover sauces). Whether you’re a workaholic who barley has time to open the fridge, a busy stay-at-home mom, or are in the running for your own show on The Food Network, I think you’ll find a few hacks here that will make life easier!
1. GRATE COLD BUTTER
I haven’t tried this little trick just yet, but I love the idea! Your stick of butter has to be close to frozen for it to work, and you must work fast to keep it from melting, but the grated butter is perfect for adding to flour before baking biscuits, scones, muffins, etc.. It also makes the butter melt much faster, so if your butter is too cold to spread, consider grating it first and then topping toast, veggies, or a baked potato!
2. SCOOPING UP A BROKEN SHELL
It happens every time! I make eggs for breakfast just about every morning, and the brown organic eggs seem to break off into little pieces so much easier. Instead of fishing around with your finger to dig them out of your bowl (yeah, I do that), use one of the egg shell halves to scoop it out!
3. EGG FRESHNESS TEST
I eat too many eggs for them to ever go bad, but this sure is good to know. I got so excited when I saw this, I dug into my fridge to test it for myself. My eggs seemed to be 4-6 days old — good enough! You’re probably wondering how this works, and yes, there is some science behind it. Eggshells are porous, allowing air to slowly get in over time. As more air enters the egg, it gets lighter and lighter, which explains why it will eventually float.
4. FREEZE ICE POPS THE SMART WAY
I don’t know about you, but I’ve always called these things Otter Pops! I grew up with a freezer full of them in the summer. I especially loved the jumbo ones I could get from the ice cream truck that circled my neighborhood. Our scissors were always sticky with melted popsicle syrup. Too bad I didn’t think of this then!
5. HOW TO PEEL AN ORANGE
This tip is especially useful for those of you that don’t have any nails to dig into the tough skin of an orange. With a few clever cuts of a knife, you can peel an orange and eat it without juice dripping all over your hands. But best of all, it’s FUN! Check out the full details here.
6. FREEZE LEFTOVER SAUCE
How clever is this? I hate wasting food, but sometimes it’s hard to prevent, especially when a recipe calls for half a cup, but the cans are sold in 16 ounce servings (like tomato paste). Essentially you could do this with homemade sauces as well as anything canned that you don’t use up. Simply freeze leftovers in an ice cube tray, and then once it’s frozen, transfer the cubes into a freezer safe bag.
7. PEELING GARLIC THE EASY WAY
This is not the job I like to sign up for (who likes to smell garlic on their hands for 3 days straight?), but this technique looks like too much fun to pass up! Smash, shake, and separate! I’ve also seen this done with two ceramic bowls placed on top of each other (rim to rim) to create a dome for the garlic. The hard surface might work more efficiently than tupperware at breaking apart the garlic.
8. THE SMART WAY TO REHEAT PASTA
Instead of stirring your pasta several times in between the cook time in your microwave, leave a small circle empty in the middle of your plate so that the pasta will cook more evenly.
9. STORE ICE CREAM IN A BAG
A plastic freezer bag keeps the cold air from making your ice cream rock hard. If you like straight spoons and soft ice cream, this trick is worth the extra step! Try to push out as much air out of the bag as you can before putting it in the freezer.
10. KEEP YOUR CUTTING BOARD FROM SLIDING
Because sharp knives are not a good combination with a cutting board that slides all over the counter, use a wet paper towel or damp hand towel under your board to keep it in its place.
11. DIY TRAVEL CUP
This stuff works like magic! Stretch Press’n Seal over any cup to make it a little more kid friendly. Poke a straw through the middle and you’ve got your very own homemade travel cup.
12. A BETTER WAY TO CUT WATERMELON
This tip will come in handy this summer! Watermelon is my go-to fruit, especially when I’m craving something sweet. It’s hard to believe this stuff is good for you. I like to cut it up into small pieces and store it in a large tupperware bowl so it’s easy to grab and eat. I’ve found this cutting technique to be the easiest and fastest way to get the perfect little bite-size pieces.
13. REPURPOSED PIZZA CUTTER
If you have kids, you know how handy this simple tip can be. I have two kids that I have to cut pancakes for (and then my own) — this makes it so much faster and easier! It works with a stack of pancakes, waffles and spaghetti noodles, too.
14. MAKE YOUR OWN YOGURT POPS
A sweet frozen treat that you don’t have to feel guilty about! Unfortunately, I don’t think the Yoplait brand would work because of the way their containers are shaped (could be hard to get them out once frozen), but most other individual yogurts with a soft top that will allow a popsicle stick to slide in will work just fine.
15. KEEP LETTUCE FRESH LONGER
Wondering how this works? The dry paper towel absorbs moisture from the lettuce, which is one of the main reasons why it wilts and turns soggy so fast. It’s also important to get the lettuce as dry as possible before storing in the first place.
16. THE EASY WAY TO PIT A CHERRY
Cherry pie anyone? With this clever tip, you might actually want to make one! Use a chopstick to poke cherry pits out while still keeping the cherries in one whole piece. All of the pits go into the bottle, making clean up easy. You just have to make sure the bottle opening is smaller than the cherry. 🙂
17. FLOSSING FOOD
Whether you want perfectly even layers of cake or to cut delicate cheese with ease, unscented dental floss can help you pull it off! Did you know there is a such thing as a cheese wire? It’s basically a knife made for crumbly soft cheese, but floss will ultimately give you the same results. Nice trick!
18. ROLLING CITRUS FRUIT
I use lemons almost every day in my ice water. Why has it taken so long to find this out?! If you roll while applying a bit of pressure to your citrus fruits (lemons, limes, oranges, etc.), you will get so much more of that yummy juice.
19. THE BEST WAY TO CHILL WINE
I love to eat frozen grapes in the summer time, but they are also fantastic little cubes for keeping your wine chilled without watering it down. You can also plop one or two in a glass of red wine that has been kept at a room temperature that is too warm.
20. PARCHMENT PAPER TO THE RESCUE
Just in case you were wondering, parchment paper is different than wax paper (I had to Google it because they seemed like the same thing to me). Apparently, parchment paper will hold up to the heat of the oven, while wax paper won’t. A lot of you probably already do this, but I’m not going to lie, I’ve always just made my brownies right in the pan and served them up in a nice crumbly blob, and I also enjoy spending time scrubbing out the pan afterwards, but don’t do what I do. Make your life easier and line your pans with parchment paper.
21. DIY MUFFIN LINERS
Well, shiver me timbers! People are smart. The next time you find yourself out of muffin liners with a full box of cinnamon streusel muffin mix to make, just use parchment paper. I need to invest in some of this stuff.
22. THE EASY WAY TO SHRED CHICKEN
If you own one of these bad boys, you’re in luck the next time you make shredded chicken! Put the chicken breasts in your KitchenAid while they are still hot and it will shred it in less than a minute. Nice to know!
23. PEEL GINGER WITH A SPOON?
I’ve tried this, and it works great! That skin isn’t as tough as it looks; The edge of the spoon takes it off with very little effort (even in all of the little crevices and bumps). Leave your knife in the drawer and use a spoon!
24. HOW TO CUT A BELL PEPPER FAST
You wouldn’t think you’d need instructions on how to cut a bell pepper, but apparently I do. I just kind of randomly cut chunks off of the pepper, but this method is so much easier, and leaves the core in one piece to be easily removed.
25. COAT CUPS WITH NON-STICK SPRAY
When measuring sticky stuff like honey, molasses or peanut butter, spray your measuring cups with a non-stick spray (or make a quick coat with oil) so that it slides right out.
26. WOODEN SPOON TRICK
Place a wooden spoon over boiling water to keep it from boiling over. There is a lot of science behind this, but the easiest way to explain why this works is because the spoon pops a lot of the bubbles once they come into contact with it, and it also absorbs some of the moisture. Apparently, metal spoons don’t work because they heat up too fast. It’s worth a try!
27. SAVE YOUR CAKE AND EAT IT, TOO
If you’ve ever taken leftover cake home and went to eat it later, it’s just not the same (kind of gross, actually). The edges are always stale and crumbly after sitting out. Next time, place a few pieces of bread on the outer edges to keep it soft and moist!
28. MAKE YOUR HONEY LIKE NEW AGAIN
Have you ever thrown out crystallized honey because you thought it couldn’t be saved? I have! But it turns out the crystallization of honey is natural and not harmful. You can revive your little honey bear by placing it in a pot of hot water to warm it up. It will stay soft for a long time!
29. FREEZE HERBS IN OIL
If you freeze your herbs in olive oil it will prevent them from browning and getting freezer burnt. Not to mention they will always be handy, whether in season or not. Toss the cubes in a pan for sautéing meat and veggies, or use them as a sauce for pasta.
30. OPENING JARS WITH EASE
There’s always that one jar that pisses you off! I usually just hand it over to the husband, but when you need a little bit of assistance, just put on a rubber kitchen glove, or place a thick rubber band around the lid. The rubber gives you just the right amount of grip to get the job done without tearing a muscle.
31. CHERRY TOMATO HACK
I usually just pop these in whole, but if you are using them for a salad or other dish, here is a trick using 2 sturdy plastic lids to cut them quickly! Make sure you are using a large, sharp knife.
32. MAKE CRYSTAL CLEAR ICE
I want to try this simply for the fun of it. Apparently, the process of boiling filtered water eliminates dissolved air and decompresses minerals in the water. That’s way too much science for me, but this would make for pretty cubes, especially if you’re freezing them with fruit for a water pitcher. Read more about it here.
33. RIPEN BANANAS QUICKLY
Just in case you’re making banana bread or any other recipe that requires ripe bananas, here is a trick that will have them ripe in less than an hour. The black looks awfully scary, but if you take a peek inside of the peel, you’ll see that they are just right for baking. Read the full instructions here.
34. COOK FISH ON LEMONS
Because fish sticks and falls apart so easily on a grill, this is the best way to cook it! Not only does the fish soak up the citrus flavor of the lemons, but it keeps your fish in one piece and makes clean up really easy.
35. MUFFIN PAN CITRUS CUBES
This is a fabulous idea for a water or sangria pitcher! A muffin pan gives you much larger cubes, making the ice last much longer. This also looks beautiful with the whole lemon slices in there. You could also do this with oranges; maybe even throw in some mint or sliced strawberries!
36. DIY FRUIT & VEGGIE WASH
Don’t waste your money on those sprays they sell at the store. Not only is this a lot cheaper, but it’s also all natural. Even if you buy your produce organic, giving it a good wash is important. I’ve also seen a few recipes with vinegar, but I don’t like the smell. Purchase a small spray bottle, and then fill it with one cup of water, one tablespoon of fresh lemon juice, and one tablespoon of baking soda. Shake gently to mix it together (it will bubble and fizz a bit).
37. HOW TO PEEL A KIWI
My kids absolutely love kiwis, so I find myself chopping them up into little bite sized pieces quite often. I used to use a knife to carefully and slowly slice away the hairy skin, until I discovered this neat little trick that will not only save you a ton of time, but it’s kinda fun too!
Use a spoon! Simply cut the ends off of the kiwi, and then insert a regular sized spoon into the flesh of the kiwi and roll it all the way around the edge of the skin. The edge of the spoon works like a knife on a ripe kiwi, cutting right through the flesh. Just make sure your kiwis are ripe. You don’t want to eat a sour, unripe kiwi anyway. 🙂