Even if you absolutely love to cook, it would be great to save a bit of time here and there in the kitchen. Not only does it free you up to do other fun things, but it gets you seated at the table for meals much faster. While you're focusing on saving, cutting costs in the kitchen also adds to the appeal of cooking at home.
Fortunately, a wide community of cooking experts out there have figured out the best ways to get things done. These 30 kitchen hacks will save you tons of time and money.
To Make an Omelet, You Need Some Eggs
Of course, you need to break a few eggs to make an omelet. If you’ve had eggs in your refrigerator for a while, you need to make sure they’re fresh enough to eat.
A Lesson in Improvisation
Picture it: You're almost ready to finish off the crust on your perfect pie when you suddenly realize you don't have a pastry brush to add the perfect glaze on top. There's no need to rush out and buy one — especially if it's a tool you rarely use.
Ready for Pumpkin
Whether you're scooping seeds out of your Jack-o-lantern or prepping a squash for an autumn soup, getting the seeds and other veggie innards out of your vegetables can be time-consuming, difficult — and yucky.
Avoid a Buttermilk Crisis
Most recipes don't call for buttermilk, so it's not the most common ingredient to have on hand. Even when you do need to use it, you probably won’t go through a whole container before it spoils. Rather than waste a bunch of buttermilk, try making your own substitute. Simply mix 3/4 cup plain Greek yogurt with 1/4 cup skim milk to make the equivalent — for recipe purposes — of buttermilk.
Have Your Cake and Eat It Too
Birthdays are a wonderful excuse to dig into some scrumptious cake (with extra frosting, of course. It’s your birthday!) However, unless you throw a party with lots of people, you probably won't finish the cake in one sitting. You certainly don’t mind eating cake another few days — except the cut edges of the cake start drying out overnight.
Just Like New
Your wooden cutting board is probably one of the staples you use almost daily in your kitchen. So, what do you do when your board starts developing stains from all the colorful foods you chop on it? To keep your board looking great and eliminate any food stains, simply scrub it with coarse salt and rub it with half a lemon.
Stop, Drop and Sprinkle
Hopefully, you won't encounter many kitchen fires in your home, but you should always be prepared in case something ignites while you're not looking — or even when you are. Water isn't always the best option for putting out a fire. The solution depends on the type of fire.
A Little Salt Goes a Long Way
If you've ever bought salt in bulk, which generally means in a box instead of in new shakers, then you know what happens when you get to the bottom of the box. Some of the salt just doesn't want to come out of the hole on the side.
Safe From the Splatter Zone
Someones, one of the most difficult tasks when following a recipe is keeping the recipe clean. Splatters of sauce, flour and a whole host of other ingredients seem to magically find their way onto the pages of recipe books. When you're reading your next recipe, try keeping it elevated to keep it safe and out of the splatter zone.
Make Your Own Taco Shells
If you're in the mood for tacos, you want to make them fast. Of course, you may not keep hard taco shells on hand, as they tend to go stale fairly quickly. Fortunately, you can make your own taco shells to cut down on waste, save a ton of money and even improve the flavor.
Although meatloaf might not be everybody's cup of tea, it certainly has a time-honored spot in many people's culinary rotations. (If you haven't ever eaten meatloaf, you should try this hearty, filling American tradition sometime.)
Get Cleaner Fruit
It's a good idea to wash your fruits and vegetables before eating them, but you don't want to rely solely on water to get the job done. On the other hand, using soap and other chemicals to clean healthy food seems counterproductive, considering you don't want to ingest them.
Don't Let the Onions Get You Down
You’ve probably been the victim of an onion-induced weeping episode in the middle of your kitchen. Real emotion or not, it leaves you feeling red-eyed and sniffly. It may be worth it in the end, as onions add so much deliciousness to foods, but you certainly wouldn’t mind finding a better way to achieve it.
Speaking of Onions...
Onions may taste and smell delicious in dishes — almost any savory recipe improves with the addition of an onion or garlic clove — but no-one wants to walk around with hands that smell like onions or garlic. Unfortunately, washing with hand soap doesn't usually eliminate the overpowering scent.
Powder Your Own Sugar
If you suddenly find yourself in need of powdered sugar but realize you don't have any on hand, don’t worry; your recipe isn't ruined. In fact, you don't even have to go buy a giant bag that would contain far more sugar than needed. (Most people never use more than a few tablespoons at a time).
Avoid the Cast-Iron Problem
Although cast iron skillets are amazing for cooking, cleaning them can get a bit tricky. You can’t use soap unless you want to ruin the seasoning on the pan — a huge no-no after spending years to get the seasoning just right — but scrubbing cooked-on food quickly gets tedious with plain water.
It's a nightmare waiting to happen: Your coffee machine breaks, and there's no time to get a new one or you’re flat broke. Fear not, caffeine junkie! There's another way to make coffee.
We All Scream for Ice Cream
It's a real tragedy when ice cream goes bad from freezer burn in your own freezer. (Yes, this actually happens.) It feels like a betrayal of the technology you've counted on for so long. Never waste a bite of ice cream again with this neat hack.
If you want to make chicken stock but don't want to stand watch over a pot for hours on end, try this easier method and make stock in your sleep! Put all the ingredients in a Dutch oven and place it in the oven at 225 degrees. In the morning, your stock will be ready to go.
Save Your Sautée
If you're sautéing onions and they start turning browner than you would like, there's a way to save them without throwing out the whole pan and starting over. Simply toss an ice cube into the sauté pan with the onions.
Get the Butter in the Batter
As you start heading into cookie baking season, imagine this: You’re ready to start mixing your dough, but you forgot to leave the butter out to soften! Normally, you would have to wait at least an hour for the butter to reach a soft temperature, but who has time for that?
Mass-Produced Egg Peels
Peeling the shell off a freshly boiled egg is one of the more tedious tasks in the kitchen, and that only increases when you have a dozen or more eggs to peel in a row. Fortunately, there's a quicker, more efficient way to peel all the eggs at once, saving you valuable time you can spend on other things.
Avoid a Hairy Situation
If you've ever found yourself with more leftover food containers than lids — has anyone ever solved the mystery of where the lids go? — then this is a hack for you. Use a shower cap to help keep food fresh!
Make the Most of Your Lemons
When life — or a great sale at the supermarket — hands you lemons, start making that lemonade! Start by squeezing every drop of juice you can out of each lemon. Don’t let any of that delicious flavor go to waste when you toss out the peels later.
Go a Little Nuts
Some recipes call for you to toast your own almonds, pecans or other nuts. Although roasted nuts are delicious and probably vital to the recipe, it’s more than a little time consuming, especially since you're probably only roasting a few tablespoons at a time, at most.
For the Love of Cheese
Cheese should really be part of every recipe, shouldn’t it? In the meantime, you’ll just have to make the most of all the recipes that include it by making those dishes as efficiently as you can. If you're ever faced with grating a relatively soft cheese — think mozzarella — it’s a great idea to freeze the cheese for about 30 minutes before you start grating it.
Save More Bananas
One of the true tragedies of the kitchen is walking in full of expectation, ready to eat one of the delicious ripe bananas you just bought — only to find the whole bunch apparently turned into mush overnight. To keep your bananas from going bad quickly — and causing frequent emergency shopping trips — try wrapping the tops of the bananas in plastic wrap.
Instant Banana Bread
On the opposite end of the banana-ripening spectrum, sometimes you want your bananas to ripen a little faster for a very delicious reason. You're craving banana bread. If you just can't wait for the fruit to take its natural course, microwave the bananas for a few minutes to add some instant ripening.
Don't Cry Over Spilled Sugar
No matter how hard you try to keep it clean while cooking, it’s a safe bet you’ve had a few spills from time to time. Some of those spills have probably included super messy things like sugar, flour and salt. Is it really your fault if it comes out too quickly, resulting in almost as much on the counter as in the measuring cups?
Ever start drinking a bottle of wine, and there's just a little bit left when you’re done? It's not enough for another full glass, but it doesn’t seem right to throw it away. Instead of tossing small bits of wine down the drain, freeze it into ice cubes!