Cooking School: Kitchen Hacks

Photo Credit: mammaamericana via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: mammaamericana via Compfight cc

I haven’t had time to put together another primer on ethnic cuisine (the curry post is coming, I promise!) so instead, here is a random assortment of kitchen tips and tricks from me to you. I’d love to hear yours! Please share in the comments and we can all learn something new.

  • Keep your garlic close to your knives or near where you do most of your chopping. It’s so small and doesn’t require refrigeration, so you can put it almost anywhere, and it saves you one more rummage through the cupboard to get something when you’re chopping veggies.
  • Buy the pre-washed, pre-chopped veggies if it means you will actually eat them. The extra expense is worth it if you’re just going to let the non-pre-chopped veggies rot in your crisper drawer.  (A cheaper option is to do all your washing & chopping at once so it’s just DONE.)
  • If you take dinner leftovers for lunch, pack your lunch containers as you clean up from dinner.
  • Fill one side of your sink with hot soapy water when you start cooking, and drop dirty dishes in as you go. Even if you don’t wash as you go (like some overachievers!), you’ll have a lot less dried-on gunk to deal with later, and you won’t have dirty dishes piled everywhere.
  • Write down kitchen/pantry staples on your grocery list as soon as you use them up. There’s nothing worse than starting to cook, only to realize you bought all the fresh ingredients for a nice meal but you’re missing something that you always have on hand, like spaghetti noodles.
  • Read your recipe all the way through before you start cooking. Make sure you haven’t missed an essential step, like “marinate overnight” or “let rise for 3 hours” that doesn’t fit your expected cooking time. (This tip is mostly for me.)
  • Is there some inexpensive kitchen tool that would significantly improve your cooking experience? (For example, all my dishrags were stained and torn. It was grossing me out every time I washed dishes.). Treat. Yo. Self. A decent vegetable peeler, oven mitt, or new set of dishrags costs less than $5. You’re worth it!

Okay, I was serious about sharing your best tips!  I want to learn from you, too.  See you in the comments!

Welcome to my Cooking School series, which is designed to share what I’ve learned as an experienced home cook with people who want to learn how to cook healthy, homemade food. If you have a topic you’d like me to address, please leave a comment! I try to post a new Cooking School installment on Thursdays.

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8 thoughts on “Cooking School: Kitchen Hacks

    • I think a lot of the way we do things in the kitchen is because that how our parents did it — even if they don’t always make the most sense! — so I think it’s interesting to learn new tips.

  1. I use garlic and ginger from a jar instead of preparing fresh each time a recipe calls for them. Peeling and grating fresh ginger root – just ugh. Life is too short 🙂

    Since red bell pepper can be expensive around here, I buy several when they’re on sale, then wash and dice and store in zip-top bags (about 1/2 cup per bag) in the freezer. I use them in recipes where texture doesn’t matter much – like if the pepper is being sauteed, or added to a soup, or thrown in the slow cooker.

    I also like to keep a “scrap” bowl a la Rachael Ray on the counter when I’m cooking to throw scraps of food and discarded packaging in. It makes clean-up so much easier.
    Shana Norris recently posted…The August Break :: SignMy Profile

  2. When a recipe calls for a portion of an onion (chopped), I chop the whole thing and freeze the rest for the next time I need one. But then I have to remember it’s in the freezer and find it, but my intentions are good.And writing down staple on the grocery list – YES! I’ve trained my family to do this when they finish up something.
    Dana recently posted…Siri is stupidMy Profile

    • Chopping and freezing leftover onion is a great tip! I am constantly finding baggies of half a onion that have been in the fridge just a bit too long, so I end up throwing them away.

  3. Yes, yes yes. I cannot agree more with this post. I have a couple others I try to do to keep myself organized. One that I want to be more diligent with is: sweep the floor when I’m done in the kitchen each night. It takes 2 minutes TOPS and saves a lot of headache, sticky feet later.

    Also — I need a new veggie peeler. Good reminder.
    Kelli recently posted…OceanMy Profile

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