We spend so much time in the kitchen and not all of it is fun. And yet there are so many things that will make what might be heavy duty chores into something much easier.
I thought it might be useful to share some of my favorite tips for making life in the kitchen easier. Some of these ideas are gadgets, some are organizational tips, some are cooking tips and some are cleaning tips. Even money saving tips are included. All make life easier in the kitchen.
1. A great all purpose cleaner for most kitchen cleaning, from the microwave, to counters to the fridge is a mix of water and vinegar, 50/50. See more great uses for vinegar in the kitchen.
2. Stephanie from Garden Therapy has a vinegar all purpose cleaner that she makes by combining orange peels, distilled white vinegar and a few cinnamon sticks to spice it up. She says it smells divine!
3. Ammonia full strength in resealable plastic bags will clean your burner drip pans easily with no elbow grease.
4. Got ants in your kitchen? Kill them with a mixture of Borax and either sugar. Works like Terro Ant Killer at a fraction of the cost. I recently tested 5 Borax ant killers. See my results here.
5. The quickest way to clean the inside of a microwave is to put a bunch of wet paper towels inside and run the microwave on high for about 5 minutes. The steam from the paper towels will soften the grime. Let the towels cool down and then use them to wipe the interior.
6. Clean oil with oil. Sounds easy, right? That is because it is! Just add a few drops of vegetable oil on a paper towel and use it to clean the gunky range hood where the oil accumulates. The new oil cuts the old and makes clean up a breeze.
Food Preparation Tips:
1. Need room temperature butter but don’t want to wait? Just use a grater to grate the butter. It will incorporate into the flour mixture just like butter at room temperature.
2. Want fresh herbs in the winter when the plants are all dormant? Freeze them in late summer with olive oil. Just put the herbs in an ice cube tray and cover with olive oil. Then take them out later and add them to your cooking. See how it’s done.
3. If you love stuffed peppers but can’t get them to stay upright will you fill and cook them, use muffin trays. They are just the right size for the bottom of the pepper and you can go from preparation to baking in the same pan.
4. Peel an orange in 10 seconds flat! Just slice off the top and bottom of an orange and make a thin slit on one side. Carefully open the orange up to reveal the segments all ready to eat.
5. Peel a whole head of garlic in less than a minute. All you need are two bowls, (one over the other) a bit of muscle and a head of garlic. Shake of several seconds. The shaking action and garlic hitting the top and bottom bowl peel it. It really works. See how to easily peel garlic here.
7. Remember that a cookbook is only a guideline, not a rule book. Feel free to experiment. Some of my best recipes came when I experimented with a tried and true recipe.
8. To get the most juice from a lemon or lime, roll it first under your hand. Rolling breaks the membranes in the flesh of the fruit and releases more juices.
9. To keep an onion from falling apart when you slice it, don’t cut off the root. Slice off the pointed end, peel back the skin and make both horizontal and vertical cuts with the root on. When you get close to the end, it’s time to slice off the root.
10. I have stopped cooking with normal salt a long time ago. I use either sea salt or Kosher salt now. It seems to make the food taste nicer and a little goes a long way. Kelly from My Soulful home feels the same way. She loves sea salt, especiallyMaldon Sea Salt.
1. Want to make brownies but don’t have any eggs? Use a banana instead. 1/2 mashed banana (about 1/4 cup) equals one egg.
2. Hate the silk on corn? I never have that problem now. I just leave the husk on, and cut off the very bottom of the cob. Cooking corn in the microwave for 5 minutes allows you to pull on the top of the cob and the silk comes right off!
3 When you plan to sauté, don’t overcrowd the pan. If you do, you will end up steaming the contents instead of browning them.
4. When cooking pasta, reserve 1/3 to 1/2 cup of the cooking water to add to your sauce. The starch in the water adds body to the sauce and also some creaminess.
5. Add a special touch to cocktails and other drinks by freezing juice in ice cube trays. So much fancier than plain ice cubes and they add a great taste too!
1. My friend Heather loves her new expandable and flexible wooden cutlery drawer liners. I must say, I love them too Heather!
2. Store your spices in a cool, dark place such as a pantry not right over the stove. Even though they are handy near the store, the heat, light and humidity will make them lose their flavor sooner.
3. Attach a cork board to the inside of a kitchen cabinet door. It’s a great way to pin recipes, hang a measurement converter chart and also attach hooks for hanging measuring cups and spoons.
4. Use a tension rod under the sink cabinet to use as a place to hang the bottles of cleaning liquids. It saves the limited floor space and they are always handy.
5. Save space in drawers by hanging a magnetic knife block on the kitchen wall. The knives will always be handing and the drawers and counters will be saved for other items.
6. Don’t have much under counter space? Think outside the box. Grab an inexpensive kitchen cart for things you often use. It can be rolled away for storage and brought closer when needed. Sort of like and island on wheels!
7. Use drawer dividers. Enuf’ said!
8. If cupboard space is limited, use lazy Susan’s. I use them for my dried spices and they are very easy to get to and inexpensive.
9. Granny Good-Food, a fan on my Facebook page says that she has switched over to square storage containers instead of round ones. She finds that she makes better use of available space this way.
Money Saving Tips:
1. Never buy spring onions again! Purchase (or grow!) one batch. Add them to a glass of water and keep them on the counter. When you need them for cooking, just slice off the green part and use it. The bulb will regrow soon. Free onions!
2. If you make more sauce than you need for a recipe, freeze the left over in ice cube trays for a later date. Saves both money now and time later!
3. Lengthen the time that greens will last by wrapping them in a damp paper towel and placing in a resealable plastic bag. They will last about four days longer.
4. Buy produce in season. It will save you tons of money at the cash register. Some items that are in season are:
- Spring – apricots, spinach, broccoli
- Summer – tomatoes, green beans, blue berries
- Fall – sweet potatoes, cranberries, apples (think Thanksgiving!)
- Winter – winter squash, cabbage and snow peas
5. Buy generic brands. Just like it is with prescriptions, generic food brands cost less. Check the labels, the ingredients are almost identical. Why pay for a fancy outside (and advertising?)
6. Make your own snack mixes. Buy your favorite items, such as nuts, seeds and dried fruit, in bulk and mix together in zip lock baggies. Not only will they be cheaper but will have no additives.
7. Save money in the summer (and all year long) by using your crock pot. It uses a fraction of the electricity that an oven uses and you can make some really delicious slow cooker meals in it.
My top Five Cool Kitchen Gadgets:
It was hard for me to choose just five things. I had to think long and hard about the five things that I just could not do without in my kitchen. But for better or worse, here they are:
1. I love bananas but hate the spots that form after just a day or so. I have one of these banana holders and, believe me, they work! These holders keep bananas fresh for a week or more for me.
2. I love my silicone baking mats. They have become one of my favorite baking tools. It saves tons of money on parchment paper and is easy to clean. Best of all the baked goods come out great every time.3. Cutco Kitchen Shears. My daughter sold Cutco cutlery when she was in high school about 6 years ago. I bought a pair of Cutco kitchen shears (as well as a full set of knives and block) from her at the time and have never looked back.
Are they expensive? Yes, indeed. Are they worth it? Yes, yes, yes. These things will cut right through a whole chicken carcass in seconds.
4. I love my silicone pastry brush. I kept having to replace brushes that had hair tops that got singed whenever they hit the heat.
My silicone brush is heat resistant and is still going strong even after using it on meat on a BBQ!
5. My Kitchen Aid Mixer is high on the list of my must haves. I waited a long time to be able to afford one that was in my budget (thank you T J Maxx!) but now I have it and use it all the time.
What kitchen gadgets are at the top of your must have list? Please leave your comments below. Also feel free to add your favorite kitchen tips. I’ll add my favorites to the article with a shout out to your name.