Kitchen Quick Tipsposted by Andrea | 06/2/2014
Although I really do enjoy cooking and baking, my goal is almost always to cook/bake/freeze/prepare/clean as much as I can while spending as LITTLE time in the kitchen as possible — especially when the weather is nice and we just want to be outside.
So since Summer is fast approaching (I never thought it would get here after the winter we suffered through this year!) here are a few of my favorite “kitchen quick tips” that have saved me oodles of time, money, and energy in the kitchen. Some of them are cleaning and maintenance tips, others are food preparation and cooking tips. Either way, I hope some of these will help you as well!
Always run the garbage disposal with the water ON — and use very cold water whenever possible. I’m told this helps flush the food out better and prevents slimy foods from clogging up the disposal and sticking to the sides of the pipes.
Running ice through the disposal will help sharpen the blades.
Throw your citrus peels down the disposal to freshen any bad odors.
Before you run the dishwasher, turn the kitchen faucet on until the water is very hot. This will assure that the water going into your dishwasher is VERY hot and won’t force the heating elements on the dishwasher to work as hard (hopefully extending the life of your appliance).
Regularly check the drain on your dishwasher and see if there is any junk stuck inside. Our dishwasher has a removable mesh strainer/drain. I try to remember to remove it every month or so and rinse it out. I’m always amazed at the junk it collects!
Run your dishwasher on the quick/economy cycle. I always run our dishwasher on the “quick” cycle and use half as much detergent as it suggests. Our dishes are always sparkling clean and I save a bundle on detergent, plus almost 2 hours of energy and water usage each time.
Pour vinegar into the rinse aid cup instead of expensive JetDry. Works like a charm!
Also, here’s a HUGE list of things you can wash in the dishwasher — many of which you might have never considered!
Take note of your refrigerator and freezer settings. If you have an energy-saving setting, try that for a while. If you don’t have an energy-saving setting, try turning the temperature UP one notch so the appliance doesn’t run as long or as often.
Line your refrigerator drawers with paper towel to make cleaning any potential spills much easier.
Organize your refrigerator by temperature to keep your food the freshest for a longer period of time.
I use various drawer organizers (the cheapy kind you find at the dollar store) to keep food in my refrigerator drawers more organized
Store chocolate and nuts in the freezer. I’ve always done this… and although I’ve been told this is weird, they really do stay fresh MUCH longer and I don’t even wait for them to defrost if you’re using them in a baking recipe.
I also store our gum in the refrigerator (especially when it’s hot and humid out). The un-chewed gum lasts longer, it doesn’t get “mushy” or soft, and I honestly think it extends the minty flavor.
Store freezer meals in gallon size zip-top bags so they take up less room in the freezer and defrost faster. This is also a great way to “gift” a meal to others as you don’t need to worry about getting your dish back.
Use square and rectangle containers to store food (or anything else) as they take up less space and store more than round or oval containers.
Wrap your loose-leaf lettuce in paper towels and store in a large food storage container — it will last SOOOO much longer!
Put meats and block cheese in the freezer for 10-15 minutes before slicing to make them much easier to slice. However, I would recommend setting a timer for this as I have forgotten and left them in the freezer for too long 🙂
Use a kitchen scissors to cut raw meats as they seem to work much faster and cut more quickly than a knife (at least for me).
Chew minty gum while chopping onions to keep your eyes from watering (can’t remember who told me this tip, but it works well for me!)
Prep your fruits and veggies the same day you buy them. This makes snack time and future dinner prep quick and easy. I also try to slice up large amounts of block cheese at the same time too (it’s one of Nora’s favorite snacks and she requests it daily!)
Make anything you possibly can ahead of time. There are many, many days when I have dinner ready to go into the oven (or on the grill) at breakfast time because if I don’t have it ready early, I always seem to run out of time during the day.
There are so many things I could list here — but instead, I’ll just tell you to “Google it”. Honestly, ANY time I don’t have a certain ingredient in the house, I just google “cooking substitutions for ______” and I’m always amazed at what I find. Often times the recipe tastes even better with the substitutes!
Also, if I can’t find a substitution and the ingredient is not a main ingredient, I’ll often just leave it out and “experiment” a little. There’s no sense making an extra trip to the store and I’ve only had one or two times where the food didn’t turn out.
I’ll often double-line our kitchen trash can to make emptying the trash a little easier. On one hand, you can empty the trash and the new bag is ready and waiting for you. On the other hand, if something does leak through the first bag, you’ll most likely catch it in the 2nd bag — and that means less clean-up for you!
I keep a container of baking soda behind the trash can to absorb some of the odors.
Kitchen Clean up:
Whenever possible, I ALWAYS try to clean up as a cook. It makes life after dinner SO much easier. I’ll often have the sink full of hot soapy water so I can wash dishes as I cook.
I’ll play a game with myself and try to clean one thing, put something away, or wipe down parts of the counter in between stirring pots on the stove — I’m always amazed how much I can get done in just 30-45 seconds.
(click on the links below to see how I clean the following items)
Gas Stove (this was in our old kitchen)
I’m sure I could keep going and going with this list for a while — but for now, this is where I’ll stop. This list is in no way exhaustive of all kitchen quick-tips, but these are the ones I use on a very regular basis in my own kitchen.
What are your best kitchen-related quick tips that have helped you save time, money, and energy in the kitchen?