Hack: (noun) a strategy or technique adopted to manage one’s time and daily activities in a more efficient way. Kitchen hack: the sort of MacGyver tips and techniques that make cooking, baking and dealing with food easier.
I can honestly say that I practice a few kitchen hacks on a regular basis that make life a whole lot easier. Granted, you may have noticed that like to cook and bake… BUT… I am also a busy mom and always strive to make effective use of my time and effort.
No rocket science here, just 9 essential hacks that make the kitchen less stressful, food last longer, and ingredients taste better.
- Reviving an old baguette
Are you ever stuck with old stale half-baguettes? This happens to me all the time since the hubs and I can’t eat an entire baguette. The answer to your problems? Freeze, wet and bake. Let me explain:
- Turn on a faucet, either hot or cold, and stick the loaf of bread right under it. Don’t be afraid, make sure the crust gets water all over. I normally don’t get the actual inside flesh of the bread wet, but if you do on accident, no big deal.
- Heat the oven to 300-325°, and put bread directly on the oven rack. If it’s a small piece, leave it in for 6-7 minutes, for bigger pieces or if bread is super wet try 10-12 minutes.
Enjoy a warm baguette with a nice crisp crust and soft middle.
Tip from: Bon Appetit how to revive a stale bread.
- Freeze fruit and greens for smoothie
Frozen fruit is the best for smoothies! It whips up ultra-smooth and also cold so there is no need to add ice which will end up watering down your drink.
- Bananas – peel them, cut in half and store in Ziploc freezer baggies. Frozen bananas are in almost all my smoothies as they provide mandatory creaminess.
- Fruit – wash, prepare (de-stem, peel or whatever needs to be done to blend fruit) and store in Ziploc freezer baggies. My favorite thing to do is to freeze fruit that is on its way out such as: blueberries, strawberries, mango, pineapple, oranges, grapefruit and other berries.
- Kale and spinach – these leafy greens freeze beautifully in Ziploc freezer bags. Wash, de-stem, dry, pack in bags, and freeze.
- Clean a pomegranate in seconds.
Check out this video: De-seed a Pomegranate in seconds – Life Hacker. It will change the way you clean pomegranates FOREVER! I promise it really works!
- Use a trash bowl.
This is one of the simplest things I do that save me time in the kitchen. Anytime you are chopping veggies, fruit or anything else, keep a large bowl on the counter near you. Use the bowl as your trash bowl. Then when you are done empty the bowl in the trash. This will save you tons of time and back and forth trips to your trash can.
- Homemade buttermilk
No need to buy buttermilk ever again! I probably do this multiple times a week.
- Mix 1 cup of milk (I use 2%) with 1 tablespoon of lemon juice or white vinegar.
- Stir and let it sit for 5 minutes. Buttermilk done. BOOM. (note: it’s totally fine that the milk will curdle. You will not notice the curdles when used in a recipe)
Use buttermilk in pancake, bread, coffee cakes, dressing, marinades, etc.
6. Shredded cheese in the food processor
When I need to shred an entire block of cheese in a hurry, I use the food processor. It takes less than 20 seconds compared to 5 minutes and a cheesy mess when shredded manually. Simply attach the shredding disk on your food processor and insert the cheese block thru the opening on the lid. Freezing your cheese blocks and then shredding also works great!
7. Make celery last for weeks
In the past, my unused celery would get soft and wobbly in just a few days after purchasing. Not anymore! Wash, cut off the ends and dry them. Then simply wrap in aluminum foil and refrigerate. You will have crispy celery for weeks!
8. Reuse jars
Reuse your glass jars and lids from your nut butter, salsa, pasta sauce, coconut oil, or jellies and jams as food storage. Glass jars are the best! Why? They reheat better in the microwave, they freeze better and they are better for your overall health. Plus this is a great and easy way to minimize waste, cut costs on having to buy mason jars and you get extra food storage containers!
Simply use up the food in the glass jar. Remove the label and run thru the dishwasher 1-2 times depending on what was in the jar. For example, some foods can leave a little an odor in the jar, so I run those thru the dishwasher twice. Then reuse the jar to your heart’s content!
Also don’t hate on the plastic jars (such as peanut butter jars). These are great for storing coins, snacks, paper clips, etc.
My favorite uses:
- Tall pasta sauce jars are ideal for storing granola, nuts, or trail mix.
- Smaller pint size jars work well for storing leftover food, homemade sauces, baby food, or soup. Glass jars with airtight lids also work great for freezing foods and liquids!
- Use glass jars as “fat jars” to throw in bacon drippings or leftover liquid fat that shouldn’t go down the drain. Once the fat jar is full, simply cover with lid and throw it out.
- Wide jars make pretty flower vase as seen on Shemazing.
- Store your store-bought honey in a glass container so that if it crystallizes you can simply place the glass jar (without the lid) in some warm water to loosen honey. If honey is fully crystalized place in a little pot of simmering water instead (for about 20 minutes) to loosen. This cannot be done with a plastic honey bottle so glass wins this one!
9. Use the last of the peanut butter jar for overnight oats
When you are down to the very end of your favorite nut butter jar, make yourself some Overnight Oats directly in the container. Glass or plastic jar, doesn’t matter. The overnight oats will soak up the remaining nut butter and make for a delicious/nutritious breakfast. Here is the easy recipe:
- 1/2 cup rolled oats
- 1/3-1/2 milk depending on how thick you like it (Milk: cow’s, soy, almond, any kind you like!)
- ½ banana
- ½ tbsp chia seeds
- Pinch cinnamon
Optional: 1 tbsp wheat bran
Optional toppings: granola, crunchy cereal, nuts, fruit, dried fruit, chocolate chips, coconut flakes, maple syrup, etc.
Mash banana in the jar and add the rest of the ingredients. Screw on lid, shake it up and refrigerate overnight. In the morning, add any of the optional toppings. I would highly recommend at least adding something crunchy J I love adding nuts or granola.