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.
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.
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.
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.
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.