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Here’s the bad news: The average person spends about an hour a day prepping and cooking in the kitchen.* Here’s the good news: If you’re cooking at home tonight, there are ways to make your kitchen time a whole lot shorter.
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 to use a food prep hack to your advantage.
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 spaghetti squash into rings before roasting.
No more suffering through spaghetti squash inconsistencies. Cut your squash into rings (as opposed to lengthwise), roast it up, and effortlessly peel the spaghetti squash from each ring without leaving any tendrils behind.
3. Cut your cake like a (cake) boss.
Run hot water over a cake knife, and wipe it off with a towel. While it’s still warm, cut your cake into lovely, incredibly clean, professional-quality slices.
4. Freeze leftover herbs in an ice tray.
Fresh herbs can go bad faster than you can say, “Let’s order pizza tonight!” So, if you’ve got leftover herbs, chop them up, put them in an ice cube tray, and cover them in olive oil. This helps the herbs retain their natural flavor — and helps you cook faster in the future.
5. 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 regular ice.
6. 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 foil or plastic wrap.
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7. 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.
8. Make your guac last longer.
Avocados turn brown when 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. This will keep the avocado from being oxidized by air and help your guacamole last for up to three days.
9. Peel garlic without peeling it.
Instead of individually unwrapping your garlic, place it all in a Tupperware container (or between two bowls), 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 in the trash.
10. 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 quite simple. Use the empty eggshell to scoop out that tiny piece. It’ll stick right to it.
11. Save leftover broth in an ice cube tray.
Freeze leftover broth in an ice cube tray, and you’ll always have some extra in the freezer for those times when you want to make soup for one.
12. Scoop up your pumpkin seeds.
It’s a huge pain to de-seed a pumpkin or squash. So, instead of using a spoon, get the seeds out with an ice cream scoop. The sharp edge will help you cut through all the goo and get to the good stuff.
13. Secure your cutting board.
Place a damp cloth or kitchen towel underneath your cutting board to prevent it from slipping as you chop or slice fruits and veggies.
14. Soften brown sugar in the microwave.
Ever open up a jar of brown sugar, only to find 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.
15. 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 faster.
16. Spoon-cut your potatoes.
It’s your go-to Hasselback hack: To flawlessly slice potatoes in mere minutes, stabilize each potato on a serving spoon or spoon rest, and use a sharp knife to cut it into neat, little slices. (Take care not to cut all the way through.) Then cook them up using this tasty recipe.
17. 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.
18. Wash off hot pepper residue with oil.
legend science, there’s a simple way to save yourself the timesuck of multiple handwashings or a potential trip to the ER when cutting hot peppers. Rub your hands with a neutralizing oil, like canola, which basically binds to the capsaicin in spicy peppers. Then wash well with dish soap, and carry on.
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For educational purposes only. Please contact your qualified professional for specific guidance.
Sources are deemed reliable but not guaranteed.