Cooking can be a fulfilling process. It can relieve stress. It can be a creative endeavor. It can be a family bonding activity. Conversely, it can be a stress-inducing nightmare, particularly when you’re strapped for time and surrounded by chaos.
Here are some tips that’ll help streamline things so you’re working in a kitchen that’s clean, organized and optimized for turning out the best food in the least amount of time.
Fill A Frosting Bag More Easily
If you’ve ever struggled to get frosting or filling into a pastry bag so you can ice a cake or other pastry, this tip from Creations by Kara might help. Find a tall cup, fold a pastry bag into and over it, and then fill the bag bit by bit. The cup is a steady holder.
Use Paper And File Organizers To Maximize Storage
Folder and paper organizers aren’t just for the office. Aunt Peaches has multiple suggestions that will help out in the kitchen. Store paper bags in one organizer. Stick cutting boards and baking sheets between the slots in another. Stick an organizer in the freezer for extra shelf space.
Check How Fresh Eggs Are In Water
Not sure how fresh those eggs in your fridge are? Put them in water. If they float, they’re likely older. If they sink, they’re really fresh. The older eggs float higher because, as the egg ages, the air pocket inside the shell gets larger and larger, eventually leading the egg inside to dry up.
Crimp Pie Crust With Common Items
Do your pie crusts look less than stellar? King Arthur Flour suggests several ways to use common kitchen implements to make creative crimping patterns on your crusts. Sauce whiskers? Tongs? Measuring spoons? These are just a few of the items you might use besides your fingers or a fork.
Keep Your Bananas In A Bunch
There’s a lot of conflicting info out there about the best way to keep bananas from ripening too quickly. But one way to slow down your banana browning is to not separate your bananas from the bunch. Instead, keep them together to slow down the rate of ripening.
Turn Natural Peanut Butter Upside Down
Flip your lid, on your natural peanut butter that is. Storing organic and natural peanut butter upside down forces the oils to travel through the peanut butter again, as the oil naturally rises and separates out in warm temperatures. Flip your jar back the other way once the oil has migrated to the top again.
Freeze Soft Cheese Before Grating It
If you’re trying to grate soft cheeses, it’ll be a lot easier if you freeze them prior to grating. Freezing makes the cheese more solid and much easier to grip, plus it won’t tear apart as you’re grating.
Freeze Herbs In Olive Oil
Want to make your dinner process easier? Put fresh herbs in olive oil in an ice cube tray and freeze them. When you’re ready to cook dinner with a recipe calling for herbs and olive oil, pop a cube into your frying pan. You can also do this with extra wine or stock for easy portion-controlled cooking and a way to waste less. It’s a lot better than letting that carton of chicken stock or bottle of wine get old on your fridge door.
Keep Water From Boiling Over With A Wooden Spoon
Putting a wooden spoon on top of a pot in which you’re boiling water will keep it from boiling over as quickly. The spoon pops the water bubbles.
Hardboil A Bunch Of Eggs At Once
Pressure cooker to the rescue! You can hardboil up to a dozen eggs in your Instant Pot or other electric pressure cooker quickly. And they come out perfectly hardboiled and easy to crack. This is a great tip for when you’re prep cooking for the week and want a bunch of hardboiled eggs on hand for snacks or lunches. Or if you’re throwing a party and need to make a lot of deviled eggs or prep for an Easter egg hunt.
Wax Paper For Clean Faucets
Did you know wax paper is great for creating glistening faucet surfaces? The wax creates a coating on chrome finishes that’ll protect from water spots.
Grate Your Butter For Easier Baking
Here’s a quicker way to handle a baking recipe that asks you to mix your butter into your flour mixture. Grate the stick of butter first and it’ll be a lot easier to mix it up with the other ingredients. Grating butter is also a way to reduce its melting or softening time when a recipe calls for it to be liquified or room temperature.
Use Cream of Tartar On A Toaster
Got a grimy toaster? Get that chrome exterior looking shiny again with a little bit of cream of tartar. The citric acid in it will break down gunk. Cream of tartar is also useful in cleaning lots of other things like pots and pans, dish scratches and coffee pots. And it can keep the color in your vegetables and fruit.
Use Salt And A Potato To Clean Cast Iron
You may have read that you shouldn’t use soap when cleaning cast iron appliances because it’ll remove the seasoning on the pan that keeps food from sticking to it too much. But here’s an interesting way to make sure you get all the gunk off your dirty cast iron. After you’ve gently scraped off as much of the food stuck on the pan, pour in some coarse salt and use a cut potato to scour away at the pan. This technique will safely remove stuck-on food. You can then re-season the cast iron by oiling and heating it up in an oven. But you only have to do this every now and then. Otherwise, just rub some oil on the pan after the salt and potato step.
Clean Strawberries With Vinegar
Want to make your strawberries last longer? Bathe them in a water and vinegar bath before storing them in the fridge. It’ll get germs and dirt off the berries and consequently allow them to keep longer before they start to rot.
Use Common Household Ingredients To Unclog A Drain
A slow-draining sink, bathtub or shower is frustrating. Not only do you have to wait for the water to drain, but you’re left with a residue to clean up. Who wants that?
If you don’t want to use harsh chemicals to unclog your drain — or don’t have any on hand — you can follow the following DIY remedy: First, boil water and pour it down the drain. Then, pour 1/2 cup of baking soda down the drain (some DIYers recommend mixing in a 1/4 cup of salt) followed by 1/2 cup of white vinegar. Let it sit for 10 minutes, then flush again with hot water from the tap. Voila!
Use Tofu For Perfect Mousse
Tofu and dessert aren’t a natural match in many people’s minds. But you can make a healthier alternative to your classic chocolate mousse by using silken tofu, chocolate and maple syrup.
Use Lazy Susans In Deep Pantry Cabinets
Bins are great for deep shelves in pantries to keep things organized and accessible. But one of the best ways to use those spots in your cabinets that can otherwise hide pantry items is to put lazy susans in there. Spinning organization means you’ll be able to quickly see what’s in those awkward back corners.
Use A Tension Rod Under The Sink
Hang cleaning bottles from a tension rod underneath your kitchen sink to free up space and keep bottles visible.
Put Bread On Edges Of Cut Cake To Keep It Fresh
Cake tends to dry out once you cut it, leaving the ends exposed to air. If you don’t have a cake dome or storage container handy, stick some slices of bread on the cut ends of the cake using toothpicks. The bread will dry up but keep the cake covered and moist.
Heat Leftovers More Effectively
Microwaves are great for heating up food, but oftentimes they reheat unevenly. If the food you’re trying to heat up can be shaped (a.k.a. not soup), form it into a ring with a hole in the middle. It’ll reheat faster and more evenly so you’re not left with hot and cold spots.
Clean Your Blender By Blending Soapy Water In It
Right after you’ve used your blender (or food processor), scrape out any big chunks and fill it again with soapy water. Hit blend and the soapy water will get your appliance clean. Rinse and dry.
Use A Shower Caddy In Your Pantry
A shower caddy attached to an over-the-door hook is a great space saver in small pantries. Load it up with whatever you like, but spices are one great use for it. You can also attach a caddy to the inside of a cabinet or pantry door with strong sticky hooks.
Use Non-Stick Spray On Your Measuring Cups And Spoons
If you hate it when you can’t get all the honey off of a tablespoon or the peanut butter out of a measuring cup, spray your measuring spoons and cups first before putting sticky ingredients in them. The cooking spray should make them slide right out and into your bowl of ingredients.
Use A Towel Bar As A Pot Rack
Attach a towel bar to the side of a cabinet and then use S-hooks to attach pots and other items to the towel bar. This is a great way to maximize your kitchen storage when you’re tight on space. It also keeps your items more easily at hand.
Use Orange Peels Or Marshmallows To Keep Your Brown Sugar Soft
Brown sugar tends to dry out quickly. Keep it soft by putting a slice of orange peel or a marshmallow in with the sugar. Both will add moisture to the brown sugar, and both are good scents with which to infuse the sugar if any of the smell transfers over. A slice of bread is another option.