The same scenario happens every night: You finally get home from a long day of working and commuting, and the last thing you want to do is cook dinner. But you don’t have to order gut-busting delivery every night just to save time. Instead, use these simple hacks that all take about a minute to do and you’ll not only save time, you’ll save calories and fat in the process. That means you’ll have a little wiggle room to squeeze in a workout, spend time with your family, or just catch up on your favorite Netflix show. And while these hacks are all about time-saving, you can get even more brilliant tricks for smart swaps and waist-friendly culinary secrets with these 32 Kitchen Hacks for Healthy Eating!
Crush Garlic with the Side of a Kitchen Knife
Skip the painstaking process of peeling garlic cloves; simply place the clove under the flat side of wide knife blade and crush it with the heel of your hand. If you’re making a paste, chop the garlic after smashing and then smash again with your hand or the knife until it’s the consistency you want. (Psst! Don’t miss our guide of 35 Easy Ways to Pick Perfect Produce Every Time!)
Grate Parmesan Cheese at Room Temperature
Ask any chef and they’ll tell you to keep parmesan cheese at room temperature at all times. There’s a reason for that: “Warm” parmesan grates much, much faster than cold cheese. If you’d rather keep your block refrigerated that’s absolutely fine, just bring it to room temperature before cooking.
Boil Water in an Electric Kettle
Boiling water can take upwards of 10 minutes, but only a minute or so in an electric kettle. Genius!
Wear Gloves When Working With Meat
Working with meats can be a total time suck because you risk cross-contamination—and serious illness—if you handle other ingredients right after prepping the meat. Washing your hands multiple times increases the cooking time considerably, so only prep meat when you’re wearing gloves—and then take them off for the rest of the cooking process. Speaking of meat, have you heard that March is #MeatlessMarch? Find out how to rock the entire month with our advice in Meatless March for Meat Lovers.
Read the Full Recipe Before Cooking
This seems so simple, but sometimes we get in a rush to cook that we forget to read the recipe before starting. Keep a time-consuming step from blindsiding you by reading through the whole recipe before you start. That way you’ll be prepared for any daunting step before you get to it.
Use the ‘Float Test’ to Test Egg Freshness
Can’t remember when you bought those eggs? Don’t fret; eggs are typically good well past their expiration dates. But you can always do the “float test” to check their freshness before you ruin dinner—and other food—by adding spoiled eggs. It’s simple: Just put an egg in a bowl of water. If they float, they’re bad; if they sink and lay horizontally, they’re good to go. Check out these 25 Ways to Use Almost-Spoiled Food for more smart tips.
Build a Meal Strategy
Don’t decide what you’re having for dinner right before you start cooking. Instead, make a master meal plan for the week ahead on Sundays and then write out the ingredients you’ll need for each. It makes for easier shopping—and you only have to refer to your plan before starting the dinner-making process.
Bin Dinner Ingredients for Easy Grab-and-Cook
Now that you have your meal plan for the week, take one minute each night and put all of the ingredients you’ll need in two separate baskets: One for dry ingredients and one for cold ingredients. Then, you’ll just have to grab the basket when you get home after work and start cooking!
Cut Jalapeños with Kitchen Shears
Jalapeños add fun flavor to dishes without a lot of added calories, but preparing them is anything but fun. Quickly fly through your peppers by cutting them with kitchen shears. It keeps you from accidentally getting juice in your eyes because you aren’t handling the actual peppers. For food inspo, take a peek at these 20 Spicy Recipes That Will Fire Up Your Metabolism!
Grate Butter Before Melting in Microwave
Many recipes call for melted butter and the microwave is the perfect place to do that quickly. However, just throwing a stick of butter in there makes for uneven cooking——and evaporated butter if you cook until it’s all melted. Whip out a cheese grater for a minute to get the butter into small pieces before cooking.
Use Your Hands to De-Stem Hearty Greens
Hearty green like kale need to be de-stemmed before you eat them, but cutting them out takes more time than you think. The alternative? Use your hands! Simply hold your kale or green leaf upside down, holding by the stem. Grab the leaves with the opposite hand and pull straight down to “strip” the leaves off the stem. Love kale? Check out these 20 Fresh Tips for How to Cook Kale.
Keep Scraps in a Bowl
The time it takes to go back and forth to the trashcan to throw away scraps doesn’t seem like much, but it adds up when you’re trying to speed up the food prep process. The alternative: Take all of the scraps and peels, put them in the same bowl throughout the cooking process and then throw away at the end. You could even use the scraps to make compost—but that will take way longer than one minute.
Use a Plastic Bottle to Separate Egg Whites
You can technically buy egg whites in cartons at the grocery store, but some companies add sketchy ingredients. Instead, separate the yolks from your egg whites with an empty water bottle. Get two bowls; crack the eggs in one bowl, then take the empty bottle, squeeze over the yolk and release. The yolk will get sucked into the bottle. Then, just squeeze it out into the other bowl. Voila! Watch our video if you’re wondering “Should I Eat the Yolk?”
Peel Potatoes Like a Genius
For this one-minute hack, you’re only going to peel one horizontal line around the circumference of the widest part of the potato. Then boil the potatoes until tender and run them under cold water—which is when the peels will easily come right off.
Freeze Herbs in Ice Cube Trays
Fresh herbs add serious flavor to recipes without added calories, but sometimes they spoil before you’re able to use them. Stop that from happening—and take out a step in your sauteing routine—by combining olive oil with herbs in ice cube trays. Simple freeze and pop out whenever a recipe calls for herbs and spices. Bonus: You’ll save money by not throwing away herbs you couldn’t use! For more budget-friendly ideas, check out these 17 Simple Ways to Save $255 a Month on Groceries.
Pre-Heat Your Pans
Rookie cooks, we’re looking at you: Putting your ingredients in pans and then turning on the stove can add precious minutes into your cooking time. Instead, heat up your pans for a minute before throwing on your ingredients.
Use Frozen Fruits and Vegetables
Fresh fruits and vegetables are the most desirable for cooking because you know they’re quality. Unfortunately, fresh means plenty of preparation by way of chopping and peeling. Cut out that step by purchasing the frozen versions of the vegetables you need for cooking. Most frozen vegetables are flash-frozen when they’re fresh, meaning they’ll still have the same vitamins and minerals as fresh versions without all the extra preparation time. Just make sure you’re getting the plain vegetables and not ones covered with sauces or extra ingredients.
Use Plastic Lids to Cut Cherry Tomatoes
Cutting small cherry or grape tomatoes can be pretty tedious if you do it one by one. There’s a super simple fix that only takes minute. First, get two similar-size plastic lids and put one on the counter. Place your tiny tomatoes on top of the lid and then put the second lid on top of them. Lightly place your hand on top of the lid to keep them in place and cut horizontally between the lids (away from your body!). You’ll end up with perfectly-sliced tomatoes instead of wrestling with each little guy, one by one.
Shred Chicken With a Hand Mixer
Shredding low-cal chicken for enchiladas, tacos, salads and more can be a total time suck if you do it with a fork. Save a bunch of time with this quick hack: Put chicken in a bowl (plastic is safest) and use a hand mixer to shred it in seconds. Just be sure to use it on the lowest setting, otherwise you might get chicken everywhere!
Microwave Lemons and Limes for Faster Juicing
Zap lemons, limes, or oranges for 15 seconds in the microwave before squeezing them. The fruit will yield twice as much juice. Wondering what to do with freshly-squeezed lemon? Check out these 20 Amazing Things You Can Do With a Lemon.