Most people don’t have time to spend hours in the kitchen, but at the same time are reluctant to resort to a life of bland microwave meals and energy bars.
Good news! If you enjoy a home-cooked meal but can’t stand the thought of wasting an entire afternoon chopping veggies by hand, there are plenty of convenient kitchen prep hacks available. Some of them are pure genius.
Ahead, check out the most valuable time-saving hacks that will save you hours on kitchen prep work.
1. Use a water bottle to separate egg yolks
Egg yolks | svehlik/iStock
There’s no need for a fancy tool if you need to separate your egg whites from the yolks — just grab an empty water bottle! Gently crack the egg into a shallow dish and position the empty water bottle above the yolk. When you squeeze the bottle, the yolk will get sucked up like magic, allowing you to put it into another bowl or discard.
Next: This is the only way to prep corn.
2. Prep corn with a Bundt pan
Corn | ConstantinosZ/iStock/Getty Images
Removing cooked corn from the cob is a messy, time-consuming task — unless you know the right way to do it.
For this hack, simply stand the cob in the middle of a Bundt pan and hold it firmly. Then use a sharp knife to remove the kernels in a swift downward motion. The kernels will collect in the bottom of the pan, making cleanup a breeze.
Next: You’re probably making this common mistake when cooking pasta.
3. Never rinse pasta noodles
Pasta | Vladimir Kokorin/iStock/Getty Images
You may not realize it, but the water you cook your pasta in collects starch, which helps the sauce stick to the noodles. That’s why you should never rinse your pasta after draining it.
If you want your noodles to taste even better, reserve a bit of the water before you drain it and add to the pasta before you add sauce. It’ll stick to the noodles and make your dish taste better.
Next: This one small tool is so versatile.
4. Put your pizza cutter to work
Pizza cutter | Tonkovic/iStock/Getty Images
Don’t assume your pizza roller is only good on pizza nights. Use this quick cutter for tasks like chopping herbs, cutting up kids’ meals like pancakes and sandwiches, making uniform dough cuts, and so much more. Most times you’d use a knife, a pizza cutter can accomplish the task even faster.
Next: It’s amazing how much time you can save with this simple trick.
5. Collect trash on the counter
Kitchen scraps on counter | MementoImage/iStock/Getty Images
Sure, it’s nice to keep your trash can tucked out of sight most of the time. But that’s not exactly convenient when you’re cooking up a storm and accumulating scraps and trash at a quick pace.
Instead of stopping what you’re doing and heading to the bin several times while you’re cooking, keep a small bowl for trash on the counter where you’re working instead. Then dump it all at once to save time.
Next: You’ll be sorry you didn’t learn this genius trick sooner.
6. Clean a blender in 10 seconds
Blender | starush/iStock/Getty Images
Awkwardly dipping your hand into a blender to get it clean takes too much time — plus you could get cut on the sharp blades. Clean your blender the easy way by adding warm water and soap and turning the device on low. Voila! You’ll have a clean blender in seconds with minimal effort.
Next: Never put this one thing in the fridge.
7. Keep butter on the counter
Stick of unwrapped butter | littleny/iStock/Getty Images
Did you know you don’t need to refrigerate your butter? Keeping a stick at room temperature in the butter dish is incredibly convenient for both spreading on toast and for baking. Then you won’t have to guess how long to put rock-hard butter in the microwave to soften it.
Next: This unlikely kitchen tool can help cut fruit.
8. Quickly dice fruit
Fruit salad | unpict/iStock/Getty Images
Cutting fruit by hand can be so time-consuming. Make quick work of those delicious fruits by employing an egg slicer, which can cut everything uniformly in one quick motion. This is perfect for enjoying a side of fruit with your meal or prepping that fruit salad.
Next: You need this trick for your next party.
9. Pre-scoop ice cream
Ice cream | StephanieFrey/iStock/Getty Images
Planning to serve ice cream at your next party? Forget hacking away at rock-hard frozen cartons or dealing with a melted, soupy mess. Prep ahead of time by scooping individual servings into plastic cups and storing them in the freezer. Then when it’s party time, you’re all ready to go!
Next: Use your microwave to make prepping this item easier.
10. Peel garlic without the mess
Garlic cloves and sliced garlic | dulezidar/iStock/Getty Images
This tip seriously couldn’t be simpler. Take the aggravation out of peeling garlic by using the microwave! When you’re ready to cook, throw the whole head of garlic into the microwave for 20 seconds. It’ll make the garlic slide right out of the skin and won’t leave behind stinky, sticky messes.
Next: This quick substitute might be better than the original.
11. Sub Ritz crackers for breadcrumbs
Breadcrumbs | YelenaYemchuk/iStock/Getty Images
Out of breadcrumbs? Crumbling up Ritz brand crackers makes a great substitute and adds a bit of buttery flavor to any dish. You can also use stale hot dog or hamburger buns instead of store-bought breadcrumbs.
Next: Just store this kitchen necessity in the freezer.
12. Freeze fresh herbs
Herbs | merc67/iStock/Getty Images
Ice cube trays are so much more versatile than you realize. If you have an abundance of fresh herbs but you don’t plan on using them all right away, consider freezing them in ice cube trays with olive oil. This works great for portions of pesto, too. Either store them in the trays or pop them out and keep them in a labeled plastic storage bag in the freezer.
Next: Create less waste and save money, too.
13. Don’t toss veggie scraps
Frozen food | BravissimoS/iStock/Getty Images
You have a few options for those leftover veggie scraps — either collect them to use for compost in your garden or toss them in the freezer to keep until you’re ready to make soup. Then you can make your own delicious, homemade, additive-free vegetable stock instead of wasting money on the premade version at the grocery store.
Next: Doing this for five minutes can save you an hour of time later.
14. Prep a little extra
Cutting board vegetables | xmocb/iStock/Getty Images
Once you’re prepping vegetables, it’s so much easier to just keep chopping than it is to break out the cutting board multiple nights per week. Plan your meals ahead of time so you can cut all the fresh peppers, onions, or other items you need and store them in airtight containers. Or just splurge on the pre-cut vegetables at the grocery store!
Next: The smartest shoppers take advantage of this perk.
15. Order groceries online
Groceries | diane39/Getty Images
Does the thought of stopping at the grocery store after a long day of work make you want to hit the drive-thru? You’re not alone. Luckily, lots of grocery stores offer curbside grocery pickups for free with a minimum purchase amount. Sometimes they even deliver for a small fee. It takes the headache out of grocery shopping and cuts down on impulse purchases, too.
Read more: Try These Fridge and Freezer Tips to Save Some Money
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