You don’t need to be a Masterchef to cook healthy and delicious meals. It’s amazing what you can do with a bit of know-how- so I’ve collected some of the most straightforward hacks to simplify and speed up your time in the kitchen. From storage solutions to ways to peel your veggies with ease – some of these tips are truly mind-blowing.
Keep this list of tips close to hand and they’ll transform your kitchen habits for life.
1. Keep your eggs fresh: If you’re not sure what state your eggs are in, pop one in a cup of water. You’re good to go if it sinks straight to the bottom; if it floats, you’ll know it’s a rotten egg.
2. Fish out eggshell pieces from your bowl: Always chasing those pieces of eggshell round and round with your fingers? Try scooping them out with the remaining piece of eggshell or with wet fingers.
3. Quickly get those eggs to room temperature: My heart used to sink when the recipe I was following required room temperature eggs as I reached for mine from the fridge. Submerge eggs in warm water for a few minutes to warm them up quickly to room temperature.
4. Remove a stubborn lid from a jar: Grab your fave hair scrunchie or a rubber band and wrap it around the lid for extra traction, and voila! It’ll open easily. Alternatively running the lid under hot water for 30 seconds also gets the job done. Applying heat to the lid will expand it slightly, releasing it from its tight grip.
5. Keep your veggies fresh for longer: Pop some absorbent kitchen towel downing the bottom of your refrigerator’s veggie drawer to absorb moisture and keep decay at bay for longer-lasting fresh produce.
6. Keep veggies crisp and crunchy: If your veggies get a bit soggy, give them a quick ice bath with a slice of raw potato, and they’ll revive to their original crunchy state. Honest!
7. Don’t Let Cookies Get Hard: Some cookies are just MEANT to be chewy, and some are just destined for the crunch melt-in-the-mouth consistency, right? The key to keeping your cookies exactly how you want them is to store them separately- crunchy cookies in one container, chewy ones in another- don’t mix ‘em.
8.Repel bugs: Pop a bay leaf into a packet of dry produce or in your cupboard to keep creepy crawlies at bay.
9. Revive stale muffins: Spritz any slightly hardened muffins with a water spray and then warm them in the oven in a paper bag for 5-10 mins. They’ll steam in the heated water and come out fluffy, fresh-tasting and warm.
10. Prevent bananas from browning too soon: Keep your bananas together in their bunch until you want to use them. You can also wrap the stems with a bit of plastic wrap, which prevents the ethylene gas that makes bananas brown from releasing too soon, delaying the ripening process.
11. Keep chopped fruit from browning: Drizzle a mixture of 1 part honey to two parts water over prepared fruit to keep it looking and tasting fresh.
12. Speed up water-boiling time: Shave time off bringing water to a boil in a pan by boiling water in your kettle first and adding it to your pan.
13. Speed up cooking time: From smaller broccoli florets to quartered potatoes instead of halves, smaller pieces of food cook faster, so chop things down to reduce the time you’re waiting for something to boil, bake or fry.
14. Ripen fruit fast: Pop your fruit in a paper bag to compound that ethylene gas that makes your bananas go from green-to-yellow-to-brown, and they will ripen in a day or two instead of a week.
15. Shred chicken fast: Instead of hacking at it with a knife and fork (time-consuming and hard work), your hand-mixer is your best friend! Pop your cooked chicken in a bowl and watch as your paddle attachment or hand mixer does the hard work for you.
16. Simple squash or pumpkin seeds removal: Grab your ice-cream scoop, and away you go. The seeds and inner pith will be swept away with one or two swipes of your scoop.
17. Speedy potato-peeling: Blanch your potatoes in boiling water, then transfer them straight into an ice bath- and watch the peel come right off with your fingers.
18. No more stanky containers: Stuff tubs and containers with scrunched-up newspaper during storage, and it’ll absorb unwanted odours from the pores of the plastic. Better yet, slowly start transitioning to glass containers. Glass doesn’t absorb the colour, odour or flavour of food the way plastic does. Plus, glass storage options can survive the dishwasher and microwave without any negative effects.
19. Measure sticky stuff mess-free: We’ve all been there- a sticky trail of honey or molasses from jar-to-spoon-to-bowl (and across the counter as you go!). Dip your spoon in hot water before scooping and watch your sticky substance drop right off the spoon mess-free.
20. Freeze waffles and pancakes: If you have extra waffles or pancakes leftover from your weekend brunch, single-freeze them in air-tight bags. You can then grab them and pop them in the toaster for an instant, tasty breakfast later.
21. Don’t let salt harden: Add a few rice grains to your salt to absorb moisture and prevent your salt from clumping and hardening.
22. Keep Herbs Longer in the Fridge: Keep those fragrant green bunches of herbs fresh as long as possible by trimming them and standing them in a glass of water. Then tie a small plastic bag over the top, and your happy herbs will thrive in your fridge for a few weeks.
23. Keep herbs fresh in the freezer: Place bunches of fresh herbs in sealable plastic bags in the freezer. Add them directly to dishes when cooking and snip off what you need if your recipe requires a smaller amount.
24. Don’t waste lemons: For a recipe that requires just a few drops of lemon, puncture a lemon with a metal skewer, and you can squeeze a few drops out without having to cut the whole fruit in half.
25. Juicier fruit: Get more juice out of your fruit by rolling them on your counter before squeezing them – it gets those juices moving around and ready to be released for easier juicing.
26. Turn flat champagne bubbly again: If you couldn’t finish a bottle of your fave bubbles, never fear- drop a few raisins in it and watch the natural sugars from the dried fruit transform your champers good as new.
27. Slime-free mushrooms: Simply wrapping mushrooms in paper towels stops them from going slimy. Genius!
28. Keep Cheese from drying out: Spread a bit of margarine or butter around the sides of hard cheese to lock in moisture and keep it fresh.
29. Prolong your soft cheese’s life: Turn soft cheese containers (or other dairy products like sour cream) upside down in your refrigerator, and they’ll last longer. If the container is upside down, it slows down the growth of bacteria that causes it to spoil.
30. Quickly core a strawberry: Skewer through your strawbs with – a straw! A reusable metal straw will work best- push it right through the middle vertically and remove the fruit’s middle in one motion.
31. Separate egg yolks from whites: This one really will blow your mind, I know it did mine! After you’ve cracked an egg and dumped the insides into a bowl, grab an empty water bottle and squeeze the sides in, squishing out all the air. Hold it with the open nozzle above the yolk. Let the bottle’s opening gently touch the yolk and release the bottle. The yolk will shoot up into the bottle leaving the white behind.
32. Instantly chill your wine: OK, not instantly, but you can get your fave bottle of vino cold in 20 minutes by sliding the bottle into a pitcher with ice and a bit of salt. Rotate it around every few minutes. But if you want to avoid this problem in the future and always have your wine ready to serve at the optimal temperature, consider buying a wine fridge future. Here is a cute one I found. Cheers!
33. Keep your appetizers cool: Next time you’re hosting, try this: If you fill a few bowls with ice and lay some lettuce leaves over the top, you’ve got an attractive and ready-made serving cold-plate for appetizers such as shrimp or salmon.
34. Keep butter tasty: Did you know you can freeze butter? Whether you keep your butter in the fridge OR the freezer, make sure you put it in an air-tight container to stop it from absorbing any other tastes (no one likes onion-y butter on their peanut butter and honey toast.)
35. Soften butter: Bring rock-hard butter down to room temperature quickly by chopping it into smaller chunks. It’ll soften up more rapidly than if left in one large block and it will be soft and pliable in about 20 minutes.
36. No more stirring natural peanut butter: If you store your PB jar upside down, when you take it out of your cupboard and flip it over, the nut oil will automatically rise to the top, making it easier to stir.
37. Retain moisture in pasta: Stop cooked pasta from hardening by storing it in plastic ziplock bags in the fridge. When you want to use it again, freshen it up by adding it to some boiling water for a few minutes.
38. Keep honey clear: Did you know that honey can’t spoil? Even if it goes cloudy or clumpy? Nevertheless, zap it in your microwave 30 seconds at a time, and it’ll go clear again and look as good as new.
39. Keep brown sugar soft: Storing your brown sugar in the freezer to stop it from hardening. Leave on the counter for 15 minutes and it will be ready to use.- and if it’s too late, pop it into a sealed bag with a piece of bread, and it’ll soften right up.
40. Combat meat toughness: Make any cut of meat as tender as a premium cut by marinating it in any of these everyday liquids: vinegar, beer, apple cider, or citrus juices. Try my special steak marinade recipe here.
41. Get meat to room temperature: You don’t want to overcook grass-fed beef or lean cuts of meat. Just 30 minutes of letting your meat rest on the kitchen counter will mean it will cook more evenly.
42. Utilise leftover java: Leftover coffee is precious- pour it directly into an ice-cube tray and freeze- perfect for adding to iced coffee later. This is much better than using regular ice cubes, this way your coffee won’t lose its strength as the cubes melt.
43. Revive stale bread loafs: Slice stale bread and freeze as separate portions. When you need a quick snack later, you can grab one and pop it directly into the toaster.
44. Save a scorched pan: Instead of scrubbing a dirty pan to death, add equal parts hot water and vinegar with two tablespoons of baking soda. Watch it dissolve grime and grease before your eyes.
45. Save Your favourite single-serving sauces: Upcycle those egg cartons or grab your ice-cube trays. Pour in those delicious sauces that you can’t bear to throw away, into sections of the egg cartons or ice-cube trays, cover with saran wrap and freeze. Transfer the frozen ‘sauce-cubes’ to sealable freezer bags. When ready to use, melt in your skillet for quick and easy sauce ready to go!
46. Get out your pizza cutter: That spinning wheel of sharp steel is PERFECT for dicing and slicing things like herbs and greens.
47. Make yourself a big-batch cooling rack: If you don’t have enough counter space in your kitchen- hello, ironing board! Pop it up for instant extra space for meal prep or remove the cover, and voila! Put down some oven-proof paper, and you’ve got a giant cooling rack to lay out that big batch of cookies.
48. Keep ice cream cold: Next time you’re taking your fave tub of ice cream to a friend’s house on a Friday night- wrap it in some bubble wrap for its journey- and you’ll arrive with actual ice cream instead of ice-cream-soup.
49. Slice and plate your desserts like a Master Chef: Before serving a dessert or cake, warm the knife’s blade under some warm water, then dry it with a towel. You’ll cut tidy slices with a clean edge for all your guests. Here is one of my favourite (and easy) chesdl recipes to try too.
50. Keep potatoes white: No one wants grey potatoes. Keep chunks of potato fresh and white by covering them in cold water until cooking.
51. Keep tomatoes fresh: Store them upside down, stem underneath. This traps moisture inside the fruit and stops air from getting instead, preserving them for a long shelf-life.
52. Peel ginger easily: Put down the peeler and step away- gently scrape the skin with a teaspoon or small spoon instead.
53. Easily de-kernel a cob of corn: A bundt pan is your friend. Line up the end of the corn cob above the hole in the middle of the pan and press downwards. Watch those kernels slice right off and slide directly into the pan.
54. Keep saucepans from boiling over: Lay a wooden spoon over the top of the pan. Did you know the water will be repelled by it because wood isn’t a good heat conductor? Genius!
55. Measure your olive oil: Did you know you can measure out your olive oil with the spout on the bottle? A standard spout on olive oil pours out oil at one tablespoon every 6 seconds. Count to 6 to pour the perfect tablespoon of oil, and multiply for other recipes.
56. Reheat Pizza: Is there anything better than leftover pizza? When you microwave your favourite crispy base or deep-pan, pop a cup of water in there too. It’ll stop your pizza from drying out- ideal for tasty pizza round-two!