10 Cooking Hacks To Make Life Easier
Managing a family is hard work. From household chores to extracurricular activities, homework and your job - there is always something keeping you busy. Add cooking on top of that and you're basically working overtime.
When it comes to cooking − some people love it and some people hate it. Either way, it can often feel like there's a lot on your plate (pun definitely intended). So, how can we make it easier on ourselves? Read on to find ten cooking hacks that make cooking easier.
1. Plan Ahead
One of the most helpful cooking tips is to plan. Many types of electronic and paper planners are available to keep track of the meals you plan to make each day of the week. Be sure to allow yourself room for takeout and dining out in your weekly planner. The flexibility to not cook and prepare for a meal either outside the home or already prepared is a hack in itself!
By planning ahead, you'll eliminate mid-week trips to the grocery store and avoid the frazzled dash to figure out what you're eating at night. Making new recipes is fun, but trying something new every day might be out of the question, so keep your favorite recipes in rotation and dedicate one meal each week to something new.
Tips for Planning Ahead
At the beginning of the week, document your plan and hit the grocery store to grab the ingredients. With your plan in-hand or written somewhere to memory will ensure that you won't have any missing items when it’s time to cook the meals. Some people prefer to write their weekly meal plans out on a whiteboard in a place they pass frequently such as your kitchen, an office or entryway.
There are also apps that you can use to keep track of your meals. Some are more health-focused while others are simply a means to organize recipes and ingredients on a calendar.
2. Meal Prepping
Meal prepping is perfect for those who have a jam-packed schedule.. If you can dedicate a couple of hours on the weekend or whatever day works best for you to prepare meals, you can accomplish all of your cooking at one-time. Now, this takes a bit of organization and time, yet this hack can save you a ton of time throughout the week.
It's best to get storage containers for each meal. Rice and veggies are easy to mass-produce. Cook your proteins to mix and match with vegetables and starches throughout the week.Even if you aren't into the idea of preparing all of your meals in advance, you can begin with a couple of days' preparation. Perhaps when you're cooking one night, you’ll make more of the same meal or some of the same ingredients to use for the next day.
3. Utilize Your Crockpot
Want to know one of the most useful cooking tips? Crockpots! This magical kitchen gadget allows you to throw in your ingredients and come back hours later to find a piping hot, delicious meal.
Of course, you'll still have to chop and measure, yet this device does all the cooking work for you. This means you can even be at work and cooking dinner at the same time. If you've never tried out a crockpot, then you must get to the store and pick one up.
There are endless amounts of recipes that you can try in a crockpot. You'll be surprised at just how many types of meals you can make in it. Cooking in a crockpot results in a large amount of food, even more in larger pots,, making it a good choice for cooking multiple meals.
As we head into fall, crockpots are wonderful for making those warm and filling comfort foods we all love to eat in colder weather. Soups are a particularly great food to make as they can last over many meals and event be frozen. They require minimal effort yet produce a hearty punch of flavor and satiate the whole family.
4. Quick Ripening
It seems like every time you’re ready to consume a fruit or vegetable, they're either over-ripened or not ripe yet. If you know that you'll need an item soon, yet it isn't ripe, you can actually speed up the process.
All you’ll need to get that banana to perfect ripeness is a brown paper bag and some ethylene gas. From avocados to apples, stick your produce into the brown paper bag. Fold it closed and wait. The produce will ripen relatively quickly due to the ethylene gas it emits. The gas is trapped inside the bag and works its magic to ripen the item inside it.
This little tip will ensure that you use all of your produce before it turns. Because let's be honest, you have like two hours to use that avocado before it goes bad. (Haha)
5. Preheat the Pan
When in a hurry to get dinner on the table, we are all guilty of doing everything as fast as possible. However, if you're looking to elevate the flavor of your meals, you should try out this cooking hack. A few minutes before you add your food to your pot, pan, skillet or sheet, allow it preheat.
Preheating your cookware will help you get crispier veggies and a fantastic meat sear. This is one of the cooking tips that even chefs follow, so you know you're on the right track to a five-star meal.
6. Quick and Easy Rice
Rice is one of the easiest and most nutritionally-dense foods to add to a meal. You can season it in many different ways, making it super versatile. A rice cooker is a great gadget to add to your kitchen to help you simplify your cooking process.
While rice cookers still do involve some cooking time, you don’t have to be as hands on as other cooking methods This frees up time for you to focus on the rest of the meal and to spend quality time with your family. All you'll need to do is measure the rice and your chosen liquid and flip on the switch. Finish your other cooking and shortly you'll have perfectly cooked, steamy hot rice to add to your plate.
7. Bad Egg Test
This is one of those tips for cooking that doesn't seem real, but it totally is. To find out if your eggs are still good, grab a tall glass of water. Drop an egg in and see if it floats.
If the egg sinks to the bottom, crack that sucker and throw it into apan. If it floats to the top, throw it in the trash. When the egg floats to the top, it's a sign that too much gas has built up on the inside.
8. Freeze, Freeze, Freeze
Haven't you discovered the usefulness of the freezer yet? Hello freezer, meet my new friend.The things that you can actually do with a freezer in terms of cooking are endless. For example, if your favorite bread is on sale, but it's about to expire...stock up. You can store loaves of bread in your freezer for up to eight months.
Frozen veggies and fruit are also a super simple way to keep pre-chopped and long-lasting produce on hand. If you constantly find rotten produce in the back of your fridge, then give the frozen food aisle a go.
Other Useful Freezer Hacks
Freeze leftover broth or wine in an ice cube tray for pre-measured ingredients to pop in meals. Or, check out these even easier bouillon cubes that can get your cooking done faster.
When meal-prepping, you can utilize the freezer as well. Unthaw the meals you plan to eat the next day.Really, the freezer deserves its own article. But, you've learned a few frozen food-related cooking tips here.
9. The Ever Popular Air-Fryer
Air-fryers have essentially become a household staple. It seems like everyone and their mother has one. And there's a reason for all the hype.
There are so many recipes for the air-fryer. You can make anything from steak to vegetables, sandwiches to macaroni and cheese; the possibilities seem endless. It's also excellent for reheating leftovers as it circulates hot air and creates a really amazing crispy texture.
An air-fryer is an essential kitchen appliance these days and works to eliminate a lot of the hands-on work involved in cooking and gives your oven a rest.
10. Organize Your Foods
While this doesn't necessarily relate to the process of cooking...it's incredibly important. If you've got a messy fridge or pantry, then you're probably struggling to get any cooking done. You can't find anything, things go missing, food ends up expiring and you're feeling lost on how to put meals together.
You don't have to be Kloe Kardashian and organize your Oreos. But, having a general system is a great place to start.
Tips for Organizing
There are tons of ways to create a space that works for you. While this isn't the most exciting cooking hack, organizing your fridge can be a real game-changer. Some people like to put things into their own reusable containers.
Remember organization requires ongoing work.. You'll have to regularly maintain your newly organized fridge and pantry to keep it in working order.
Take Your Cooking to the Next Level With Cooking Hacks
It's no secret that juggling family life along with busy work schedules is no small task. Cooking is especially one task that takes up a lot of time and can be super frustrating. With these cooking hacks, you don't have to spend all evening in the kitchen. Free up time to spend with your family or to relax and take your cooking to the next level while you're doing it.
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