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6 Kitchen Hacks that Save you Time and Money

6 Kitchen Hacks that Save you Time and Money

Most people hate spending time in the kitchen. Whether you are cooking a meal or washing dishes, you tend to find yourself wishing you were somewhere else, doing something better and more productive with your time, if you’re like most of them. An hour spent baking, delicious though it might be, could have seen you reading a book or typing out a blog post.

If you were a millionaire, you wouldn’t hesitate to hire a maid and a personal chef so you would never have to spend time in the kitchen again. Unfortunately, you don’t have that type of money (yet!) So, while you wait for your fortune to accrue, you might as well want to have a glance at some kitchen hacks, which will help you spend less time in the kitchen.

So, what exactly is a kitchen hack? It’s simply a technique you can use that cuts out steps in a normal process or uses a tool in a way you never thought about before. Some of them will also allow you to save money by forgoing an expensive gadget. Most of all, they’re ways to save you time, allowing you to do more important things.

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Over the last few months, I’ve tested as many kitchen hacks I’ve come across as possible. The ones I found most useful are compiled below. Enjoy!

1. Make all your meals for the week in bulk

First off, this is probably the trick that will save you the most amount of time. Instead of cooking meals every night of the week, simply cook five dinners at once, pack them all into individual containers, and then stash them all in the fridge.

Begin by doing this: Every Sunday evening, make five lunches and five dinners. Vary the meals depending on your mood, but make sure usually each meal involves one serving of carbs, one piece of meat, and vegetables. You could cook a pot of rice, a pot of quinoa, and a handful of sweet potatoes—that takes care of the carbs for the week. Then bake five or so chicken breasts and broil five or so fillets of salmon—that would take care of protein. After that, bake a couple of sheets of assorted vegetable to round out a balanced meal. Mix and match vegetables, carbs, and protein into individual containers, and voila, you have meals ready to be microwaved whenever you need.

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Storing all these meals is the tricky part. You’ll have to invest in some more Tupperware containers – and also clear out some serious space in your fridge. But if you fully commit to this plan, and stay consistent with it, you’ll save an insane amount of time. Plus, it will keep you on a very healthy diet plan!

2. Have a flexibly-sized dining room

This one isn’t so much a kitchen hack – it has more to do with serving the food and entertaining guests. You may not have a big dining space, but everyone once in a while will want to have over a lot of people for a special occasion.

If you’re like me and have big dinner parties only occasionally, don’t invest in a big table to accommodate everyone. Instead, buy a smaller dining table that can convert into a bigger one. Experiment with diverse ideas on how to plan your dining space in a way that accommodates different configurations.

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3. Use floss to cut cake

Your knives may not be sharp, and if you use a dull knife to cut a cake, you might squish and deform your desert. Don’t do this! Instead, simply use a length of dental floss to cut the slices of cake. It cuts cake perfectly and gently, and it allows you to cut perfectly sized pieces, unlike using a knife.

4. Use a hammer and nail to open a wine bottle

We’ve all been in a situation where you really need to open a wine bottle but there’s no wine opener in site. What do you do? Go sober for the night?

Fear not. If you don’t have a wine opener, you can simply use a nail (or screw) and a hammer. If using a nail, place it with the head side flush against the top of the wine cork. Then gently strike the hammer onto the thin end of the nail. This will drive the cork down into the inside of the wine bottle. You won’t be able to get the cork out – or recork the wine – but you’ll now have an open bottle of wine. Drink up.

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5. Clean your microwave easily with lemon juice

If your microwave is anything like mine was, it’s probably encrusted with residue from dozens or hundreds of dishes. Bagel bite sauce that I never cleaned off caked onto the microwave’s ceiling. They become pretty disgusting – and they’re difficult to clean.

The easiest way I’ve found to clean the inside of a microwave is this: Take a bowl and fill it with one cup of water, then squeeze the juice of one or two lemons into the bowl. Microwave the bowl on high for three minutes. Once it’s done, the boiling lemon water will have done some magic to the surfaces inside the microwave. Now all you have to do is wipe the inside with a sponge or cloth to clean off all the food residue – no scrubbing required.

6. Ripen a banana instantaneously in an oven

Bananas are a fickle – though delicious – mistress. Often times in the store they’re an unripe green, at which stage they are hard, bitter, disgusting things. But after a few days, they often go sailing past the unripe stage straight toward the mushy, black-spotted overripe stage. It’s hard to get a banana exactly ripe when you want it.

There’s a quick fix for this! If you have an unripe banana, simply stick it into an oven set to 250 degrees F and wait around 15 minutes. It’s a little tricky to get the timing right (if you wait too long, it will hit that cloyingly sweet, overripe stage.) But when you do get it right, it will be a regulatory experience – a ripe banana whenever you want it.

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The Gentle Art of Saying No

The Gentle Art of Saying No

No!

It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

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But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.

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What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

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But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here are the Top 10 tips for learning the Gentle Art of Saying No:

  1. Value your time. Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”
  2. Know your priorities. Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time? For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.
  3. Practice saying no. Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.
  4. Don’t apologize. A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.
  5. Stop being nice. Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets. Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.
  6. Say no to your boss. Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning. But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.
  7. Pre-empting. It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting, “Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”
  8. Get back to you. Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them: “After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.” At least you gave it some consideration.
  9. Maybe later. If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say, “This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].” Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.
  10. It’s not you, it’s me. This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time. Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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