If you share the same sentiment, then cooking might not be your favorite thing but eating definitely is. However, cooking is crucial in achieving a delectable dish. Don’t worry though, there are innovative cooking methods that can simplify food preparation and speed up the process. We’ve compiled over 40 clever tips for those who want to make quality meals without putting in too much effort.
A Quick and Healthy Snack
At times, you may not feel like making a snack from scratch or you might be in a rush to head to work and unable to prepare a healthy breakfast. Regardless of the scenario, this tip will come in handy and fulfill your needs.
All you need to do is to add oats to a peanut butter jar that’s nearly empty. This is not only tasty and easy to make but also has nutritional benefits. This way, you won’t waste any leftover peanut butter. And if you have more time and want to enhance the flavor, you can also put fruits or nuts into the jar.
Have Garlic Ready to Go
Many scrumptious meals need fresh garlic, but preparing it can become a cumbersome and unpleasant process, as it’s difficult to peel and chop. Additionally, the strong smell of garlic can linger on your hands for an extended period of time. However, by making some preparations beforehand, this useful trick will make your life much easier in the long run.
Acquire a considerable amount of garlic and then proceed to remove its skin and cut it into small pieces. Afterward, place the chopped garlic into an ice tray and freeze it. By doing this, you can conveniently access frozen garlic for immediate use.
Buy One Chicken for Everything
To ensure that you have an adequate supply of chicken for various recipes, you can easily purchase a single large rotisserie chicken. Afterwards, you may slice off portions of the chicken and utilize them for multiple days, possibly even a week. If you desire to make chicken salad, you already have access to the chicken that is ready to be used.
Would you like some chicken soup? Save time and effort by just adding chicken chunks, broth, and your preferred soup veggies all together. Instead of cooking multiple meals every day, have one big chicken that can be used for various purposes throughout the week.
Fake a BBQ With Smoked Paprika
In case you enjoy the taste of grilled dishes but have limited time for grilling, there is a straightforward solution. You can use smoked paprika as a spice to add a rich and intense flavor to your food, resembling that of barbeque.
Although it is not an exact replica of a grilled meal, it can still serve as a great substitute for those who aren’t fond of barbecuing or have limited space for a large grill at home.
Buy Frozen Goods
Many times, frozen products can be surprisingly delicious and require less effort than creating homemade pastries. If you desire your desserts to maintain a distinct taste, you can always add a personal touch.
You can customize your pastry before baking by adding vanilla extract or chocolate powder. There are countless possibilities to make a simple pastry unique.
When in Doubt — Go Instant
Instant foods like instant mashed potatoes have gained popularity for valid reasons. Although they may have some negative connotations, the truth is that there are times when you crave mashed potatoes but don’t have the time or energy to cook them from scratch.
One way to make your instant food unique and homemade is by incorporating a special seasoning or sauce. Alternatively, you can simply be transparent about its instant nature, as there is no reason to feel embarrassed or ashamed.
A Personal Pizza in Minutes
It’s unnecessary to spend a lot of time making pizza dough. Additionally, there’s no need to thaw a large pre-made pizza dough, especially if you’re only making pizza for one.
Rather than doing that, opt for a flour tortilla or pita bread, apply marinara sauce on top, include some cheese and any toppings of your choice, then place it in the oven for five minutes. Congratulations, you have successfully made a personalized pizza!
The Secret to Shredding Chicken
In the past, cooking used to require a significant amount of time, but with the advanced technology available today, that’s no longer the case. Therefore, it’s worth considering whether you’re utilizing all of your kitchen devices to their full potential.
Nowadays, you don’t have to waste your time pulling apart chicken to shred it. Instead, you can simply use a mixer and the chicken will be shredded within seconds. It’s surprising to think that mixers were previously only used for mixing.
Have Potatoes On-Hand
Potatoes have a vast range of applications and are suitable for any meal of the day. To maintain a convenient supply of cooked potatoes, allocate some time occasionally to dice and cook them before storing them in the refrigerator.
“If you prepare in advance, it can save you time when you need to create a quick meal. Moreover, you can quickly cook them by adding butter, oil, and spices to a frying pan, making it an effortless and speedy food.”
Macaroni and Cheese Popcorn
You can elevate your popcorn experience by adding flavored instant macaroni and cheese packets to create a unique and occasional snack. Prepare your popcorn using your standard microwave method.
After you place the macaroni in a bowl, add the cheese powder on it and stir it thoroughly. This will prepare you for a comfortable movie time, enjoying Netflix or a quick bite, or even all of them together!
Clean a Blender Effortlessly
It can be challenging to clean a blender due to the potential hazard of accidentally injuring yourself on the blade. Fortunately, you can clean the blender in a much simpler, faster, and, more significantly, safer way by allowing it to work on its own.
To clean your blender, pour warm water into it until it reaches slightly less than halfway. Avoid using overly hot water. Add a small amount of dish soap, secure the lid, and turn on the blender for a few seconds. Once done, get rid of the dirty water, rinse the blender, and voila, it’s now clean!
Microwave Garlic for Easy Peeling
Peeling garlic can be a challenging undertaking and it may cause a strong smell on your hands, but there’s a simple solution. By warming up the garlic, you could easily reduce the effort and time required.
If you microwave a whole garlic for about 20 seconds, it will become easier to peel off the skin. This technique will save you from dealing with any messy juices, unpleasant odors, or dirty hands, as you’ll end up with garlic that’s prepared and ready to be sliced.
Don’t Thaw Frozen Fish
Fish can be cooked even while frozen, meaning that you can skip the stage of waiting for it to thaw. This might increase your cooking time but you’ll save more on all the time you would have waited for it to reach room temperature. So it all depends on how urgently you need it ready.
What’s nice about this method is that not only do you not need to decide in advance if you want fish, but, since it’s frozen, the spices and sauces will stick to the outside and the fish won’t get overcooked inside.
Shake Whipped Cream
Whipping cream by hand can leave you feeling like you’ve just grown an extra bicep. Save that energy for the gym, instead, and shake your whipped cream. Pour heavy whipping cream into a jar, add powdered sugar and vanilla, close the jar tightly, and shake it until it’s nice and fluffy.
Feel free to blast some music and dance around the house while shaking your whipped cream like a maraca — it sounds like a soon-to-be TikTok trend, doesn’t it?
Use the “Underwater Method” for Pomegranates
De-seeding pomegranates is often messy, frustrating, and seemingly impossible. Luckily, there’s a trick to getting those pomegranate seeds out efficiently and without any messiness involved.
First, cut the pomegranate in half, and then soak it in some water. Pick out the seeds and let them drop to the bottom of the bowl. The pomegranate membrane and rind will then float to the top. Just drain the seeds and you’re ready to go!
Use Baking Soda to Save Time
Making a dish like polenta or grits can take quite a bit of time and energy. However, there’s a quick trick to getting these meals ready in half the time: add baking soda. The baking soda will get your food to the right consistency and texture, without all the effort.
Just make sure not to overdo it — you don’t need more than a pinch. For polenta, mix the baking soda with water before adding it in and your dish will end up perfectly creamy.
Microwave First, Oven Second
Certain foods, like casserole or lasagna, take ages to heat up in the oven. However, if you heat them up in the microwave, they’ll lose their original texture.
The solution to this dilemma is to defrost your food in the microwave first, and then finish warming it up in the oven. The microwave will quickly heat the insides of the dish and the oven will heat up the outside, while still maintaining the texture.
Lazy Apple Pie
Very few things taste as good as some warm apple pie. Unfortunately, very few things require as much time and effort to bake as apple pie does. That being said, there’s a lazy option for this classic dessert.
Cut an apple into small cubes and place it into a cup or bowl. Add butter, sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Then, put it in the microwave until the apples get mushy. Finally, sprinkle crushed graham crackers on top. There you have it — five-minute apple pie!
Use Lemon Juice Instead of Lemons
If a recipe calls for squeezing lemons or lime, you can save yourself some time by using bottled lemon or lime juice. It’s a lot less messy, a lot easier, and won’t leave you trying to fish out the seeds.
We’ll be honest, the flavor won’t be as fresh as it’d be if you squeezed lemons or limes yourself. Therefore, you should really just use this hack for recipes in which the food is being cooked or mixed with a lot of other flavors anyway.
Leftover food doesn’t need to go to waste and you certainly don’t need to prepare a new meal every single day. But, don’t think that means you have to eat the same food every day, either! Instead, recycle your leftovers and use them for a different dish.
For example, leftover mashed potatoes can become tater tots. Leftover rice can be used for a buddha bowl or even rice pudding. Pasta can become a casserole or a pasta salad. You get the idea…
Use Dessert Mixes
Boxed dessert mixes are often looked down on but no one can deny that they’re a true time-saver and taste just as good as something baked from scratch. You can even add your own touch to these mixes in order to personalize them.
Throw some ground coffee into a chocolate cake mix in order to give it a mocha flavor. Or splash a bit of milk into a brownie mix to make it creamier. Add chocolate chips, coconut flakes, nuts, or whatever you want!
Salvage a Broken Cake
We’ve all been in that dreaded situation in which we’ve spent time and energy baking a cake, just for it to break and ruin the whole aesthetic.
Not all hope has to be lost, though, as you can easily turn the broken cake into a trifle. Just layer in some fruit and whipped cream and… voilà! No one ever has to know that your perfect trifle was once supposed to be a cake.
Any Pizza Can Be Deep-Dish
Believe it or not, any pizza can be made into a deep-dish pizza — without all the effort of making the dish from scratch. Whether or not you live in Chicago, you can still enjoy a deep-dish pizza — even from home!
Buy a pre-made supermarket pizza, let it thaw for roughly 20 minutes, toss it onto an oiled pan, add whatever toppings you want, then bake it for an additional 10 minutes.
Prevent Cuts With Magnets
If you’ve ever cut your finger on the lid of a can, don’t worry, you’re not the only one. Lifting a can’s lid can be a dangerous task if you’re prone to clumsy accidents.
For those who are maybe a bit less agile, we suggest using a strong fridge magnet on top of the lid to lift the lid completely off the can. That way, you won’t end up hurting yourself when trying to reach the can’s contents.
Leave the Potato Skins
Believe it or not, potato skins actually add a lot of texture and flavor to most spud-centric dishes. Given that mashed potatoes can be quite monotonous, potato skins are a great way to break up the flavor and add a little something extra.
Furthermore, you’ll be saving yourself tons of time by not peeling all the potatoes before boiling them. You’d be surprised how being “lazy” about making potatoes can actually result in a unique and delicious dish. Just make sure to still clean them before use!
Get Ice-Cold Drinks Quickly
We’ve all been guilty of forgetting to put a drink in the fridge and then being stuck with having it at room temperature. Sure, you can try to put it in the freezer for a bit but that never works as quickly as you’d like it to.
However, there’s an easy way to make the freezer work much more efficiently. Wrap the bottle in a wet paper towel and then put it in the freezer. It’ll be nice and cold in just a few minutes!
Pico de Gallo Instead of Veggies
Pico de gallo, aka salsa fresco, can be used instead of fresh veggies as a huge time-saver. If you have a recipe that calls for onions, peppers, and tomatoes, you can just throw in store-bought pico de gallo instead.
It contains all those ingredients already chopped and ready to go, and it’ll taste exactly the same as fresh veggies when cooked into a dish. If you’re more of a DIY person, you can always make your own every once in a while, and keep it in the fridge.
Spruce Up Ramen Noodles
Trust us when we tell you that it’s entirely possible to make a delicious dish from instant ramen noodles. Yes, we know how that sounds but stay with us here. Add peanut butter and sriracha to instant beef-flavored ramen and your mind will be blown by how simple, yet tasty, it is!
Of course, if you’re not a fan of sriracha or peanut butter, you can add other ingredients instead. The point is that you can create a delicious ramen dish without starting from scratch.
Cook Spaghetti in a Skillet
Cooking spaghetti in a skillet, rather than a pot, will reduce the time it takes for it to be ready as the water will boil much faster. Furthermore, the leftover water is the perfect base for making a sauce.
It’ll be concentrated and starchy, so you don’t need to start creating a sauce from zero. When the spaghetti’s finished cooking, put it on a plate and use the same skillet to make the sauce, which you’ve already started with the water.
Separate Egg Yolks With a Bottle
Separating egg yolks from the whites is no easy task… unless you know the trick to it, that is! All you need is a water bottle in order to easily extract egg yolks. Crack the eggs into a bowl, hold the mouth of the water bottle over the egg yolk, and slowly release your grip.
When you release the squeeze, the bottle will suck up the yolk. You can then deposit the yolk into a separate bowl, as needed.
Blend Hollandaise Sauce
Despite being absolutely delicious, many people don’t have hollandaise sauce on a regular basis because it’s such a pain to make. This sauce requires endless whisking and perfect timing, in order to come out just right.
However, if you don’t mind cheating a bit, there’s a much easier way to get this sauce. Simply mix the ingredients in a blender and, at the click of a button, it’ll be ready. Feel free to keep this trick a secret so your guests admire your expert “whisking” abilities.
Use Anchovies to Elevate a Dish
Not everyone loves the taste of anchovies but if you use them sparingly, they can elevate a dish without giving off that fishy flavor.
For example, dissolving one or two anchovies into a bolognese sauce will give it that extra oomph that makes it taste like it’s from a gourmet restaurant. It’s also a wonderful alternative to salt! If you’re cooking for other people, just make sure they’re good with eating fish as they won’t taste the anchovies in the dish.
French Toast in a Mug
Who doesn’t love French toast for breakfast in the morning? However, who really wants to spend their whole morning cooking? That’s where French toast in a mug comes in. Rip up pieces of bread and place them in a mug.
Then, create a French toast batter (eggs, milk, sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla) and pour it into the mug. Put it in the microwave for one minute. Take it out, pour maple syrup on it, microwave it for another 15 seconds, take it out again, and enjoy your breakfast!
Repurpose Leftovers Into a Quiche
Remember, leftovers never have to go to waste while there’s still no need to eat the same thing every day. Making a quiche or frittata is a great way to utilize any savory foods that may need repurposing.
This whatever-goes type of cooking is also a great way to use up vegetables that are going to go bad soon. Use them in any sort of baked egg dish — it’s pretty much impossible to go wrong with those.
Cooking bacon can make you feel like you need to wear a full-body shield. Frying this delicious food will leave grease splatters all over your kitchen — and all over you.
In order to avoid the mess but still enjoy a bacon-filled breakfast, bake your bacon in the oven rather than frying it. Line a baking pan with tin foil (you can also use a cooking sheet), put the bacon on it, and pop it into the oven. There you have it!
The Egg Peeling Trick
Peeling eggs can be pretty frustrating and time-consuming — if you don’t know the trick to it, that is. In order to peel hard-boiled eggs quickly and painlessly, put them in a jar of cold water.
Then put the lid on (make sure it’s screwed on tight), and shake the jar. When you go to take the eggs out, the shell will come right off! This trick should cut down your egg salad prepping by half!
No More Onion Tears
Peeling onions isn’t really anyone’s favorite task. It’s difficult to do, it stinks up your hands, and most people get teary-eyed from it. A simple solution is to soak the onions in hot water for a few minutes before starting to peel them.
This trick will make peeling the pesky vegetable much easier and help a bit with the crying (sadly, it won’t completely eliminate the tears). Another trick to help with tears when cutting onions is to put the onions in the freezer for 10-15 minutes before cutting them.
Cheat at Cake Decorating
We all want people to be impressed with our amazing cake-decorating skills. That being said, not all of us have those abilities handy. Luckily, you can fake it by placing cookies into the cake, making it look like you’ve drawn the design on with frosting yourself.
If your conscious can handle cheating even further, you can buy several different-sized cakes and pile them on top of each other. That way, it’ll look like you’ve baked a huge three-tiered cake!
A true first-world food problem is reaching for a handful of popcorn only to discover that you’ve eaten a mouthful of bitter kernels. Apparently, the bag that microwavable popcorn comes in is designed to prevent that very instance — but no one uses them properly!
The bag is meant to be opened just a small bit, at first, so that you can shake the kernels out into a bowl. Once they’re all gone, you can open the popcorn bag all the way and enjoy without fear of a bad bite.
Be Ready for Taco Tuesday
Everyone loves taco Tuesday — except for when all of the contents of our taco fall out of the tortilla and onto our hands, that is. In order to keep your taco whole, place the tortilla in a microwave-safe cup.
Then, fill the tortilla with whatever you want in your taco. Microwave it, and only take the taco out of the cup when it’s ready to eat. That’s how you get an (almost) mess-free taco.
Never Burn Grilled Cheese Again
Most people use butter on their grilled cheese. While delicious, it’s pretty easy to burn if you’re not careful or willing to keep a close eye on it. An alternative, and equally tasty, option is to use mayo instead.
It’s a lot less likely to burn and needs less attention when being grilled. Bonus points for the fact using mayo saves you the time of needing to soften the butter so you can spread it.
Switch to Powders
When it comes to onion and garlic, powders are just as good as the fresh stuff. We admit that, at first, they’re a bit less flavorful. However, that can easily be fixed by simply mixing the spices with a touch of water.
Anyway, you won’t really notice if the recipe in question calls for the onions or garlic to be cooked into something. Powders will save you the time you would’ve spent peeling and chopping, and they’ll also save you a whole lot of mess.
Always Have “Fancy” Ingredients Ready
Certain ingredients can make any basic dish seem fancy. For example, sun-dried tomatoes have the magical power of always feeling gourmet. Figure out what your “fancy” ingredients are and make sure to always have them on hand to quickly spruce up a meal.
If you’ve got excellent culinary skills, you can make an actual fancy meal. However, if you’re in a rush or cooking just isn’t where you shine, fake it with a “fancy” ingredient.
Egg Slicers Aren’t Just for Eggs
Who says egg slicers have to be exclusively for eggs? This useful tool can be used for pretty much anything that’s soft and needs slicing. You can use egg slicers for strawberries, mushrooms, soft cheeses, olives, and so on.
Why sit there, spending your time chopping all sorts of foods, when you have an egg slicer that can be used for so much more than its original purpose? Feel free to find multiple uses for your other kitchen appliances as well! Get creative with it!
Two-Ingredient Caramel Sauce
Caramel sauce can be a true pain to make, as it requires endless whisking, quite a few ingredients, and will burn unless you keep an eye on it. However, there’s a way for even the laziest chef to cook caramel sauce — and it only requires two ingredients.
Mix condensed milk with boiling water, let it sit for roughly three hours, and you’ll have caramel sauce! The best part is that there’s no need to stand over it while it cooks.