May 18, 2018.
It might light a fire under you to cut down on your cooking time when you learn that the average person spends 37 minutes a day prepping, serving, and cleaning up in the kitchen. If your kitchen is your favorite room in the house, or if you fancy yourself a master chef in training, this may not be a problem. But if you have a long to-do list without an end in sight, food prep shortcuts can keep your kitchen time to a minimum.
Here’s the good news: If you’re cooking at home tonight, you’re already ahead of the game.
As common sense tells us, and as University of Washington School of Public Health researchers officially confirmed in 2017, those who cook at home are more likely to eat healthy (and cheaper). Based on the results of the 2014 ERS Eating & Health Module of the American Time Use Survey, published by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in 2016, living la vida healthy could add up to over four hours of kitchen time each week. Women also typically spend more time on meal prep than men. The labor is well worth the payoff when it comes to establishing healthy food habits for you and your family. And yet, shaving off even 10 minutes a day could give you an hour of your life back.
How to meal prep like a pro in the least amount of time
Taking shortcuts doesn’t mean you still can’t cook delicious, nutritious, and even gourmet meals. You just have to know when a food prep hack will make your life easier:
1. Care for your cutting boards with coarse salt.
Spread coarse salt over your wooden cutting board and scrub it down with half a lemon. This will freshen it up and clear out any extra bits of food. Clean off your board and rub it down with mineral oil to make sure it lasts a long time.
2. Cut your cake with the perfection of a baker.
Run hot water over a cake knife and wipe it off with a towel. While it’s still warm, cut your cake into lovely slices of perfection.
3. Freeze leftover herbs in an ice tray.
Fresh herbs can go bad faster than you can say, “Let’s go out to eat tonight!” So if you’ve got leftover herbs, cut them up, place them in an ice cube tray, and cover them in olive oil. This helps the herbs keep their natural flavor and helps you cook faster later on.
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4. Ice your coffee without watering it down.
Add room temperature coffee to an ice cube tray and freeze. Whenever you want iced coffee, use your coffee cubes instead of ice cubes!
5. Keep your bananas from ripening too fast.
Bananas ripen by releasing ethylene gas through their stems. You can slow down this process by separating each banana and then covering its stem in plastic wrap.
6. Keep your ice cream soft and silky.
You know how your ice cream is just fine and then one day you realize it’s been taken over by freezer burn? That won’t happen when you store the entire container in a large Ziplock bag.
7. Make your guacamole last longer.
Avocados turn brown when they’re exposed to air. To prevent your guacamole from looking gross after only an hour, transfer it to a jar and then add a thin layer of water to the top before sealing it up. This will keep the avocado from being exposed to air and help your guacamole last for up to three days.
8. Peel garlic without peeling it.
Instead of individually unwrapping your garlic, place it all in a Tupperware container and shake vigorously. Your garlic will come apart and you can easily pick out the cloves from there. Clean up is even easier — just pour everything into the trash!
9. Pick up eggshells with eggshells.
It’s so irritating when a piece of eggshell falls into your bowl. But what works best to get it out is actually really simple. Just use the empty eggshell to scoop out that tiny piece. It’ll stick right to it!
10. Save leftover broth in an ice cube tray.
When you freeze leftover broth in an ice cube tray, you’ll always have some leftover broth in the freezer for when you want to make a batch of soup for one.
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11. Scoop up your pumpkin seeds.
It’s a huge pain to de-seed a pumpkin or a squash. So instead of using a spoon, get the seeds out with an ice cream scoop. The sharp edge will help you get through all the goo and get on to the good stuff.
12. Secure your cutting board.
Place a damp cloth or a kitchen towel underneath your cutting board to prevent it from slipping as you cut up fruits and veggies.
13. Soften brown sugar in the microwave.
Ever open up a jar of brown sugar only to find that it’s as hard as sheetrock? There’s an easy solution — place the brown sugar in the microwave next to a small cup of water. The moisture from the water will help soften it right up.
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14. Soften your butter quickly with a grater.
Instead of waiting a whole hour for your butter to get soft, use a cheese grater to separate it into little pieces that will soften much more quickly.
15. Test your eggs in cold water.
Are those eggs really egg-spired? Find out by placing them in a large pot of cold water. The ones that sit at the bottom are still good while the ones that float to the top are goners.
Don’t waste time in your kitchen and definitely don’t waste time on your mortgage. Download our free LoanFly app and get prequalified for a home loan while you’re waiting for your water to boil.*
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For educational purposes only. Please contact your qualified professional for specific guidance.
Sources are deemed reliable but not guaranteed.