Cooking Tricks That Will Make Mealtimes So Much Easier
1 Keep your greens green longer
How many times have you bought greens that have died before you had time to eat them all? While placing them in the refrigerator will extend their life, there’s another trick that’s even better for keeping your lettuce or cilantro for up to 3 weeks!
Keep the bag that your greens were in when you bought them. Remove any air from the bag and squeeze well, then re-inflate it with your exhaled CO2. Your greens will last much longer that way!
2 Put a Dishtowel Under Your Bowls and Cutting Boards
There’s nothing worse than trying to prepare something in the kitchen while all your tools are slipping and sliding around your counter. Whether you’re mixing in a bowl that keeps trying to get away from you or slicing on a cutting board that won’t stay put, creating a little traction on your counter will lead to easier cooking.
Place a dishtowel or a paper towel under your bowls and cutting boards to keep them from sliding around. The towel should be slightly damp so it will cling to your counter, preventing your tools from escaping your hands. It’s a simple trick, but it can easily save you a lot of frustration in the kitchen.
3 Spray Your Cheese Grater With Cooking Spray
If your recipe calls for shredded cheese, you have to pull out the dreaded cheese grater. It’s not that the cheese grater is difficult to use, but it can be a pain to clean if your cheese tends to get caught in every nook and cranny.
Before you use your cheese grater, spray it with a bit of cooking spray. The cooking spray will keep the cheese from sticking, allowing you to shred faster and clean faster. With this trick, your cheese grater frustrations will melt away.
4 The Best Way To Cook Eggs
A very original, but absolutely great way to cook your eggs is to do it in a pan with mason jar lids and water. It is a method particularly loved by fans of the keto diet, but everyone would benefit from doing it!
Simply place the mason jar lids in your already heated frying pan and crack your eggs in it. Crack the yolks, season, then after about a minute of cooking, add 1/4 cup of water to your pan. Let them cook covered for 3 minutes. You will obtain delicious and perfectly round egg cakes perfect for your English muffins, or even to serve themselves as “bread” for your sandwich!
5 Freeze Leftover Wine or Broth in an Ice Cube Tray
If you use wine or broth to cook, then you know all too well that you often have leftover liquid that you’re not able to use in your dish. You can either toss your excess broth or wine or place it in the fridge, where it might go bad before you get a chance to use it again.
However, there is one other solution. Instead of allowing all that excess liquid to go to waste, pour it into an ice cube tray and pop it in the freezer. Next time you need to use it for cooking, you can pop out a couple of frozen cubes and add them straight to your pot. It’ll be just as good as when you first opened it, and you’ll have better control of just how much liquid you use since you know the rest won’t go to waste.
6 Use Plastic Wrapped Egg Pouches for Poached Eggs
The poached egg is the scourge of most home cooks. While you know that you should crack the egg into a pot of boiling water and wait for it to cook, it often disintegrates into the liquid, leaving you with a messy egg-ish product that looks nothing like the beautifully poached eggs you order at your favorite restaurant.
To fix this problem, cook your egg in a bit of plastic wrap. Before you drop your egg into the boiling water, line a small cup with plastic wrap, spray it with nonstick cooking spray, crack an egg into it, and tie it closed. Then, you can drop each of these plastic-wrapped pouches into your hot water and allow the egg to cook. Once it’s done, simply snip the plastic wrap off the outside of your egg and you’ll have a perfect, poached masterpiece.
7 Ripen Food in a Paper Bag
Have you ever brought home a bundle of fruits, only to realize that they’re not quite ripe enough to eat? While you can wait for the fruits to ripen on their own, you can also speed up the process with a paper bag.
Put unripened food in a paper bag and fold it closed. The bag will trap the ethylene gas inside, allowing the fruits to mature much more quickly than they would in the open air. Just be sure to check on it fairly regularly. If you leave it in the bag too long, you’ll just end up with rotten fruit!
8 Test For Ripe Avocados at the Stem
Avocados are the most finicky of fruits. It seems like they ripen in seconds. One day they’re tough and nearly inedible, and the next they’re brown and much too mushy to make a good meal. What’s worse, it’s difficult to tell when your avocado is truly ready to eat.
Instead of taking a guess and cutting into a potentially under-ripe avocado, check for ripeness at the stem. If the stem pulls back easily and shows a green interior, you have the perfect avocado. If it’s difficult to pull the stem away from the fruit, it’s not yet ripe. If you pull back the stem and the inside looks brown, the poor fruit is past its prime. By doing this simple check in the grocery store, you can guarantee that you’ll get perfect avocados every time.
9 Preheat the Pan
If you’ve ever looked at a recipe, then you know that every professional instructs you to preheat your pan before you cook. But do you actually follow that advice? You should.
If you don’t preheat the pan, your food will still cook. That’s why it’s such an easy step to ignore. But when you preheat the pan, you guarantee that your food cooks more quickly and evenly than it does when you toss it onto a cold pan. You should preheat your pan for at least three minutes before you add your ingredients. It seems like a simple step to ignore, but it might make all the difference in preparing a delicious meal.
10 Brush Your Fish With Mayonnaise
Eating fish is a wonderful way to fill your diet with healthy protein. But have you ever tried to cook your fillet on the grill, only to have it break apart and end up in tiny, unappetizing pieces? Fish are a fragile food, so keeping your fillet in one piece until you can get it on your plate is a difficult task.
Thankfully, there’s an easy solution. Before you throw your fish on the grill, brush it with a bit of mayonnaise. The mayonnaise will prevent your fish from sticking to the grill. A thin coating won’t change the flavor of your fish, but it will promote even browning for a fish fillet any chef would be proud to serve.
11 Boil Potatoes Before You Peel Them
If you’re going to make a full batch of potatoes, you first have to go through the horrendous process of peeling each and every one. Not only is it time-consuming, but it’s also rather tiring to scrape the skins off of each potato.
Instead of pulling out your trusty peeler, grab a pot of boiling water instead. Trace a small line with a knife around the center of each potato and allow the entire bunch to simmer in the boiling water for fifteen minutes. When the time is up, transfer each potato to a bowl of ice water. When the potatoes have cooled down, you’ll be able to slide the peel off easily and continue with the rest of your cooking.
12 Add Mayonnaise to Your Scrambled Eggs
Light, fluffy, creamy scrambled eggs are the ultimate dream. To achieve that consistency, most cooks add a bit of milk or cream to their egg mixture to keep things moist and rich. Mayonnaise, however, might be just the thing you need to get perfect scrambled eggs every time you cook.
Instead of adding milk to your next scramble, add a spoonful of mayo. The mayo adds enough fat to give your eggs that fluffy texture you’re craving, but the small amount won’t change the flavor. Don’t settle for subpar scrambled eggs when a restaurant-level scramble is within reach.
13 Peel Garlic Cloves In a Jar
If you have a bundle of garlic, you have to take off the skin before you’re able to use each clove. While that process isn’t necessarily difficult, it can be messy and frustrating depending on how many cloves you need.
To simplify your garlic peeling, pop each clove into a jar and screw on the lid. Give the jar a hearty shake and rattle around the cloves for a few seconds. The skin should slide right off, leaving you with clean cloves that are ready to be minced.
14 Create Your Own Burrito Bowls
If you eat at home a lot, you’re probably on the hunt for new, innovative foods that differ from your average dish. Do you know what you’ll never get tired of? A delicious and crunchy burrito bowl.
For this trick, all you need is a muffin tin and corn tortillas. Flip the muffin tin upside down and form the corn tortillas into a little bowl between four of the cavities. Then bake your corn tortillas in the oven at 375 degrees for roughly 10 minutes. When they’re done, you’ll have crispy bowls ready to be filled with your favorite burrito fixings.
15 Add A Delicious Twist To Your Burgers
Who doesn’t like cheese? Probably no one. And there’s nothing better than cheese in a hamburger to add a little flavor. But the days when you just added cheese slices to your burger right before eating it are over!
A very simple way to add cheese to your burger and make it even better is to add a piece of Babybel cheese directly in the centre of your meatball. When you cook your meatball, the cheese will melt in the centre, and you’ll see, your burger has never been so delicious!
16 Reheat Pizza in a Skillet
Pizza is the ultimate delivery food for those evenings when you just don’t want to cook. If you’re lucky, you’ll probably have plenty of leftovers from your pie that might last for days to come. While some people enjoy a cold pizza, others have to pop their slice into the microwave, which only results in a mushy crust that ruins the flavor of your pie.
Instead of settling for subpar second-day pizza, reheat your slice in a skillet. The skillet will keep the crust crunchy while simultaneously melting the cheese and heating the sauce. The result is a delicious slice that’s just as good as your original pie.
17 Freeze Meat Before You Slice
If you’re getting ready to cook with fresh meat, you may notice that the texture isn’t conducive to precise slicing. You can cut rough cubes or thin portions, but slicing a thin, sandwich-friendly piece off the top or creating uniform cuts is out of the realm of possibility for most home chefs.
To remedy this problem, stick your meat in the freezer before you start slicing. Don’t let it get too hard—15 minutes should be plenty of time. Once the meat is a little colder, you’ll notice that it’s much easier to slice. It’ll be chilled enough to allow for your precise cuts, but you can still toss it right onto the skillet and proceed with the rest of your meal.
18 Cut Herbs With a Pizza Cutter
While knives are perfect for slicing through your favorite veggies, it takes a little more work to cut your herbs. If you use a knife on these leafy greens, you may notice that you often end up with a mushy mess, rather than a collection of fresh herbs that can be tossed right into your dish.
If you want to simplify the process of cutting your herbs, turn to a pizza cutter. Lay your herbs on a cutting board and run the pizza cutter over your greens. The cutter will slice right through them, creating cleaner lines than the ones you often get with a knife. Once you’ve run the pizza cutter over your herbs a few times, you’ll have the collection of leafy greens you need to give your dish a bit more flavor.
19 Mash Your Garlic With a Mortar and Pestle
Minced garlic is the flavor foundation of so many recipes. But getting your garlic into teeny-tiny pieces using a knife alone isn’t easy. It often requires standing over your cutting board for a long time, slicing the same clove again and again. Who has time for that?
To mince your garlic more easily, use a mortar and pestle. Cut your cloves into a few smaller pieces and then grind them into a paste. With this method, you’ll use fresh garlic, but you’ll get the consistency of pre-packaged mince. It’s the perfect way to add that subtle flavor boost into your food without running the risk that you’ll bite into a too-large piece of garlic.
20 Cook Your Mashed Potatoes in Heavy Cream
Now, this cooking trick is made for those looking for an extra-decadent meal. If you’re planning mashed potatoes for your evening dinner, try cooking the potatoes in heavy cream rather than water. When you’ve removed the potatoes from the cream and mashed them, use that same cream to finish off the dish, rather than adding milk.
You don’t want to have creamy potatoes every night, but this trick will give you richer, more flavorful potatoes when you really want to go all out.
21 Use a Plastic Bag for Pancake Mix
If you have the time to make them, pancakes are the perfect breakfast food. But after you mix the batter, you’re still faced with the tough task of ladling it onto your skillet. That’s where things often get messy and you end up with pancakes that don’t quite look like the ones you order in a restaurant.
For quicker, easier pancakes, put your batter into a large plastic bag. Cut a small hole in the corner of the plastic and use it as a piping bag. The hole will control how much batter comes out and you can easily swirl the ideal amount into your skillet. The result is perfectly shaped pancakes that don’t waste any of your precious batter.
22 Cut Fries With An Apple Slicer
Making homemade fries is certainly appealing, but it’s often more time consuming that simply ordering your favorite wedges from a nearby restaurant. Now, you can make your own crunchy potatoes from scratch with the help of an apple slicer.
Cut off one end of a potato and stand it up on a hard surface. Position your apple slicer over the potato and push down to create perfect, even wedges. In seconds you’ll have a tray full of potato wedges that simply need to be baked to crispy perfection. Making your own fries is that easy.
23 Put An Ice Cube In Your Burgers
When grilling burgers at home, even good cooks struggle to keep the burgers nice and juicy while fully cooking the ground beef. As it turns out, an ice cube might provide the perfect solution.
While forming your burger patties, put an ice cube in the center of each burger and form the patty around it. Then toss the burgers onto the grill and cook them as you normally would. The ice will melt into the patty while it’s cooking, keep your meat nice and juicy. Say goodbye to dry burgers forever with this trick.
24 Microwave Your Lemon For More Juice
Juicing a lemon isn’t always an easy task. Sometimes it requires a whole lot of muscle for just a little bit of fresh lemon juice—the effort isn’t even worth the output.
Before you juice your next lemon, toss it into the microwave for a short seven to ten seconds. Once the timer goes off, roll the lemon back and forth across the counter underneath your palm, applying a little bit of pressure. Then cut it and juice it as you normally would. You should get much more juice with significantly less effort when you use this method.
25 Remove a Strawberry Stem With a Straw
If you’re using fresh strawberries in a dish, the process of removing the stem from every berry is time-consuming and frustrating. Simplify your stem-removal by grabbing a plastic straw.
Insert the straw at the pointy end of your strawberry and push it up through the center until the stem pops out. You’ll still have a whole strawberry you can use for cooking, and the stem removal will be significantly easier than cutting every strawberry with a knife.
26 Fix Tomato Sauce With a Carrot
If you’ve had tomato sauce sitting in your fridge for a while, it’s probably gone a bit acidic. You could still use it in a dish, but the flavor won’t be as appealing as fresh tomato sauce. Thankfully, you don’t have to throw it away.
Instead, peel a carrot and toss it into a pan with your sauce. Simmer the sauce for a few minutes until it’s heated all the way through, then remove the carrot before serving. The carrot will add a bit of sweetness that takes away the acidity of the tomato sauce, leaving you with a fresh sauce that’s almost as good as new.
27 Cook Fish in Parchment
While you can certainly toss your fish right onto the grill to prepare a quick evening dinner, there are a few benefits to cooking fish in parchment paper. When the fillets are sealed into individual packets, they’ll soak up whatever flavor you include in the parchment.
When making your next fish dish, wrap your fillet in parchment paper alongside seasonings and vegetables. Not only will this method make for a quicker clean-up, but it will also result in single-serving packets that are bursting with flavor.
28 Put Your Herbs in Water
When you buy a big bunch of herbs from the store, you likely won’t use the entire bunch at once. But if you leave the herbs in your fridge, they tend to wilt and go bad before you can use them again.
Instead of watching your herbs waste away, try storing them a little differently. Take your bunch of herbs and trim off the stems. Then, put the entire bunch into a glass of water and cover the top with a plastic bag. You can put the herbs into the fridge or even store them on the counter and ensure fresh leaves for weeks, rather than days.
29 Roast Your Chicken Perfectly
To roast a chicken perfectly, just listen to Chef Daniel Boulud. To do so, simply use one or the other of his tricks, or even all 4 at once for optimal results. First, mix about 3/4 cup of salt, 1/2 cup of sugar and 1/2 cup of honey in a gallon of water that you will boil, then let it return to room temperature. Put your whole chicken in the water, cover and place in the refrigerator for 18 hours. Then take your chicken and place it on a roasting rack.
If you feel comfortable, try tying your chicken with twine so that it is in a position to roast all parts evenly. Then let your chicken dry in the refrigerator, uncovered, for about 12 hours. Once dry, add the spices of your choice to your chicken. Place it in the oven at 425°F for 15 minutes to roast the skin, then at 350°F for about 20 minutes to cook the chicken. Boulud recommends cooking your chicken at 90 or 95%, then letting it rest in a warm place for about 30 minutes before cutting it.
30 Cook Perfect Potato Chips
The chips sold in the store are delicious, but sometimes we need to pass our potatoes that will soon be no longer good, or we just want healthier chips, or chips seasoned to our taste. But getting them right isn’t as easy as you might think!
To make good crispy chips, cut them about 1/8 thick. Place them in a large bowl and cover with cold water to rinse. Drain, then add 1/2 cup of white vinegar and 6 cups of water. The vinegar will make them crispy! Let them soak for 30 minutes to 2 hours, then drain and dry. Then, put about 4 inches of oil in a medium sized pot and raise the temperature to 300°. Fry your potato chips, turning them regularly, until they are golden brown and crispy, so for about 5 minutes. Finally, season them to your liking!
31 Store Peanut Butter Upside Down
Anybody who eats natural peanut butter knows that it can be annoying to have to stir the oil that often collects on top of the jar. This happens because natural nut butters don’t contain the stabilizers, so the peanut oil separates from the butter. The folks over at Reader’s Digest have a useful tip that requires zero elbow grease.
Store your peanut butter jar upside down to prevent the oil from separating since liquids tend to rise. This will force the oil to work its way back down into the peanut butter. Simply rotate the jar after every use.
32 Shred Chicken With A Hand Mixer
The most common technique for shredding chicken is to use two forks, but that can be time consuming and doesn’t always shred the chicken uniformly. The cooks at Food.com offered a smart hint to make shredding chicken easier and faster.
They suggest using a stand mixer. Place the boneless chicken in the bowl of a standing mixer and snap the paddle attachments into place. Turn the mixer on at low speed and leave it for a few minutes until it shreds the chicken. You can also use a hand mixer, just be sure to break the chicken up before mixing.
33 Slice Soft Foods With Dental Floss
There is one unexpected tool you should add to your kitchen that will save you so much time. Next time you’re at the grocery store, grab some dental floss and keep it handy while you’re cooking. You can use it to slice soft foods with ease and it creates a nice, clean line.
Dental floss can be used to cut cheese, dough, and even watermelon. Many bakers use this secret trick to cut layers into their cakes. Just be sure to buy non-flavored floss so you don’t accidentally add a minty flavor to whatever you may be slicing.
34 Rescue Salty Soup With Apples
How many times have you been making soup when you find yourself getting a little overzealous with the salt shaker? It can be frustrating to over-salt food in the midst of cooking, but there is one hack that can save that pot of soup. Taste of Home has the perfect tip to correct salty flavors.
“Toss in a few wedges of raw apple or potato. Simmer for 10 minutes and discard the wedges to get the flavor back to normal,” one contributor wrote. This is a simple solution that can save you time and money in the kitchen.
35 Add Powdered Milk For Moist Cookies
When it comes to making moist chocolate chip cookies, one surprising ingredient can produce the chewiest cookies that would satisfy the pickiest pallet. You can make your baking so much better if you add milk powder to your recipes. It’s not just for cookies, though. It can also make a more golden pie crust.
Milk Bar chef and founder Christina Tosi told The Kitchn that she uses it in her kitchen.”My hidden secret ingredient to make everything taste better is a tablespoon of nonfat milk powder,” she said. “It just makes everything taste so much better!”
36 Use A Waffle Iron For Perfect Hash Browns
If you’re a fan of brunch, then you will love this next tip. A simple way to dress up your meal is to make hash browns in a waffle iron. It makes the potatoes so much more crunchy because it steams them to perfection. The process streamlines cook time and the inside of the potato waffle is silky smooth.
You can use fresh potatoes, frozen hash brown rounds, or you can even make them with tater tots. Why not get creative and add onions to the mix? The possibilities are endless and your brunch guests will be so impressed with your amazing hash brown-making skills.