Finding shortcuts in the kitchen can save you money, energy, and time while also making the whole cooking experience more enjoyable. Here are 10 killer cooking hacks that will make your time in the kitchen easier.
Cut the Acidity of Tomatoes
If you’re like most families or amateur cooks, pasta and tomato sauce are staples in your kitchen and on your dinner tables. Fresh tomatoes, canned tomatoes, and sauces have different levels of acidity and can really vary in flavor profiles. If you find yourself making a sauce or adding fresh tomatoes to a dish and it is too acidic, there are a couple of tricks to cut it back. Try adding a pinch of sugar, some grated cheese, or milk/cream to the recipe. This will cut the tomatoes acidity and make the dish more balanced in flavor.
If you are seeking to stretch your dollar and cut your time in the kitchen, chose recipes that serve double-duty and can be eaten in a variety of ways. Chili, for instance, can be eaten straight, over pasta or on hot dogs. Once you find a good multi-purpose recipe; double it. Freeze what you don’t eat quickly. It will save you time and money.
There are certain meals that I always double so that half can go in the freezer! Here are a few family favorites:
The Amazing Non-Stick Spray
Non-stick cooking spray can be used in a variety of ways beyond the obvious. You can spray measuring cups and bowls before using them to make sure ingredients slide right out. You can also spray wraps and and foil before freezing items. This will keep the wrap and foil from sticking when they freeze.
Baking Soda Everywhere
Baking soda has a lot of uses. You’re probably already aware of its use in the freezer and refrigerator to absorb odors, but it also is found in many recipes and can even be used to create self-rising flour in the event you don’t have yeast. Another good trick; use baking soda and water to get the smell of onions or garlic off your hands.
Cut Down Trips to the Trash
Keeping a bowl for all of your cuttings, scraps and trash handy while you do prep work can save a lot of time walking back and forth to the trash can. If you don’t believe it, try tracking how much time you spend going back and forth next time you are cooking. You’ll be amazed.
Boiling water is a part of so many recipes and who hasn’t stood there waiting for the water to boil while people go hungry? A good idea for eliminating the wait is to make sure the tap water is as hot as possible before filling the pot. This will cut the heat time drastically. Also, think about setting the pot of water on the stove before you even start cooking. This way it will be ready for you when the time comes. Just be careful not to allow it to boil over or evaporate.
No More Tears
To reduce the amount of gases released by onions when you cut them, put them in the freezer for ten to fifteen minutes before cutting. And always remember to breath through your mouth when cutting. Both of these tricks will cut down the tears.
You’ve probably seen chefs do this on television; before cutting garlic cloves, place the flat side of the knife down on top of it and give it a good whack. This will allow you simply pull the skin off for easier cutting.
Take a page out of a professional chef’s playbook and do your cutting and prep-work in advance of actually getting to the steps of cooking. By separating out the tasks and doing them in advance, you’ll find yourself much more prepared to focus on the cooking tasks and really follow recipes more closely. Stopping to cut, chop, mix and dice while trying to cook can break momentum and create stress.
Keeping the following in my freezer cuts down prep time for many meals:
Mise en Place
This is an old cooking term that builds on the prep work theme above. It’s a French phrase that means “everything in its place.” It’s a great rule to live by in the kitchen. Keeping an organized and logical cooking station where everything has its place and is set up in advance, can drastically cut the time you spend looking for things, traveling back and forth to the drawers, cabinets, and trash.