10 genius kitchen hacks Tips and Tricks

10 Genius Kitchen Hacks

Let’s be honest: the cooking struggle is REAL. It can be fun on the weekend when you have the time to plan, shop, cook, AND clean up. But during the week, between the time and the cost, it’s not always realistic. There are ways to game the system, though. These hacks will help you to up your kitchen hustle, decrease the amount of time spent in the kitchen (including cleaning up), and get the maximum reward for the least amount of work and money.

  1. Work once for food all week long: Three hours on a Saturday or Sunday will help feed you Monday-Friday. So cue up your favorite playlist or some podcasts you’ve been wanting to catch up on and get prepping and cooking!
    • Vegetables and meats can be roasted ahead of time.
    • You can wash and chop your vegetables in advance for dishes like chopped salads or the inside of a yummy omelet (keep in mind that potatoes should be stored in water so that they don’t brown).
    • Salads, sauces, and dressings can also be made in advance (think potato salad, marinara sauce, and vinaigrettes). HOWEVER, make sure to keep vinaigrette/dressing and salad greens separate until right before serving, otherwise you’ll get wilted, mushy salad greens.
  1. How to get several meals from two hours of using your oven: Wanna know a secret? Your oven is pretty big and can cook more than one food at a time. A few rules:
    • Most vegetables can cook at 400 F, but if you stuff your oven, feel free to up that to 450 F to account for drop in temperature from the extra food.
    • Put foods that cook at the same rate together on the same pan, like root vegetables and squash, broccoli and cauliflower, etc.
    • Then get creative: add veg to a frittata, use cooked greens in sandwiches, make a salad with roasted vegetables, or add veg to some broth with cream and herbs to make quick and easy soup.
  1. Use your water for something else: If you’ve ever steamed or boiled a vegetable in water, you might notice that the vegetable juice runs into the water. That’s flavor, so don’t throw it away – you can use it as part of the liquid in a homemade soup. Also, if you have a bunch of things to boil, that same boiling water can be used for everything! For example, boil broccoli, then use the water to hard boil eggs or blanch fresh beans, and then cook pasta or potatoes. The only rule is to start cooking with the least starchy food and end with the most. Even after you’ve cooked several things in your boiling water it still has one final genius use…
  1. Cooking spinach in 5 seconds: If you have spinach to cook, use your boiling water for that: put the raw spinach in a colander and pour your boiling water over it – Voila! Cooked spinach in seconds.
  1. Always make extra and freeze. When you make something from scratch, make extra and freeze 1 meal portions in freezer bags. Think of it as a way to hook up your future self! Things to freeze well: chili, soup without cream or potatoes, meatballs (uncooked or cooked), lasagna, pasta/pizza sauce, stew, polenta, braised beef or pork for taco/quesadilla fillings.
  1. Save that nice loaf of bread. A good loaf of bread is an investment. Make it last. Use what you need, then cut the rest into thick slices and freeze in bags. It makes great French Toast, bread pudding, croutons (I cut the slices into cubes and toast in 400 F oven with olive oil, salt and pepper), or breadcrumbs (chop the slices into breadcrumbs, then toast in a pan with butter, salt and pepper). 
  1. Turn food waste into future meals: Save those scraps! Vegetable scraps like carrot peels, celery leaves and trimmings, even onion skins can be frozen and used for making stock. Same goes for meat bones, like beef, pork or chicken: have the butcher save the bones they trim out from your meat and freeze to use for stock or soup. Apple peels can be tossed in olive oil, sugar and cinnamon and roasted into a chip.
  1. Make a can of chipotle peppers last you a year: Place one pepper in each slot of an ice cube tray with a little adobo sauce and freeze until solid. Pop out the frozen pepper and store in a freezer bag in the freezer–because they were “individually” frozen in the ice cube tray, they won’t stick together. Also works with: broth/stock for sauces, coconut milk, chopped garlic, minced ginger, tomato paste, Thai curry pastes, and Indian flavor pastes (salt optional). You can freeze chopped mirepoix (onion, carrot, and celery) on a tray in the freezer, and store it in a freezer bag so it’s ready for you to scoop out what you need and start cooking immediately.
  1. Always have fresh ginger and hot peppers on hand: You’d be surprised how many fresh ingredients freeze well. If in doubt, a quick Google will give you the answers. I like to freeze leftover jalapenos, other fresh hot peppers and fresh peeled ginger root on a tray, and then store them in a freezer bag. When you need a little hot pepper or ginger, take out a frozen one, and use a grater to get what you need. 
  1. How to save vegetables or fruit dying in your fridge: Instead of letting extra produce just sit in your crisper drawer, dying a slow death, give it a second life by turning it into a quick pickle! Pickles sound fancy, but the truth is, if you can boil water, you can pickle fruits and vegetables. Plus, they last forever in your fridge and make you look baller af. Use a little pickled onion on your next grilled cheese, add pickled cherries to a spinach salad and serve pickled beets with sausages to cut through the fat. Learn more here.

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