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Can you identify with any of the following?
- Hours in the kitchen cooking for your family?
- Mountains of dishes and pots to wash?
- Cupboards overflowing with food that needs to be prepared before you can enjoy it?
Real food is hard work!
When you embrace real food, you’ll find yourself spending time on things you used to take for granted. Like making gallons of homemade yogurt and chicken stock every week. You’ve probably found you need to find the most efficient way to do things and make every minute count!
I’m all about efficiency! I’ve got systems for doing the laundry and making decisions, to name just a few. And I put tons of shortcuts to work in the kitchen. To help you out, I’ve gathered some of my tried-and-true favorite kitchen hacks to save you TONS of time.
24 Kitchen Hacks to Save you TONS of Time
1. Leave the measuring scoop in the container. Really. It won’t go anywhere.
2. Skip the measuring – just eyeball it. I rarely measure spices any more – salt, garlic powder, cinnamon, etc. I just pour or tap some into the bowl or pot and taste to adjust the seasonings.
3. Use a stand mixer for an an extra set of hands.
4. Put dirty dishes, measuring cups, spoons, etc. right in the dishwasher. It saves a step and keeps the sink from filling up with dishes. Have multiple sets of measuring cups and spoons (see #1 above).
5. Keep a printed shopping list of common staples on the fridge and check off things as they get low.
6. Teach your kids to clean up the kitchen. This seriously saves me so much time and is an important skill for kids to know! (Free printable to help you do this HERE.)
7. Serve right from the pot – why dirty a serving dish for an ordinary dinner?
8. Teach your kids to clear their places. Even 2 year old can do it!
9. Program the coffee maker at night to brew when you wake up in the morning.
10. Use the slow cooker, and try these yummy recipes!
11. Take the time to organize your kitchen every couple months. Things can get out of hand in a real food kitchen and you’ll probably benefit from some organization. If the thought of this task is unappealing, take some inspiration from my 10 easy ways to start organizing (even if you don’t feel like it).
12. Line your baking pans with foil. If you’re careful, you can avoid a lot of dish-washing.
13. Attach a half teaspoon right to the baking powder jar with a rubber band and use as many scoops as you need for a recipe.
14. Clean as you go. Who wants to tackle a mountain of dishes? It’s much easier to quickly wash a mixing bowl right after use than letting them pile up.
15. Keep a running shopping list for each store (online and physical) you use and the items buy in bulk. You’ll save tons of time (and money) in creating a list and while shopping (especially when you combine with tip #5).
16. Order non-perishables online (check your price book first!). Almond flour delivered with 3 clicks of the mouse? Yes, please! When you’re ordering, make sure you’re taking advantage of these little-known Amazon features.
17. Keep all your spice jars in a basket or a bin. Put the whole bin on the counter when you need a jar and it’ll be easier to find what you need than twirling that lazy Susan around and around.
18. Make up a baking supplies basket. I keep a large a basket with things like baking powder, baking soda, cream of tartar, molasses, kosher salt, xanthan gum, chocolate chips, etc. When I’m baking, the whole basket goes on the counter. No more walking back and forth to the cabinet for each ingredient. Plus, the cabinet stays much neater.
19. Make a double (or quadruple!) batch. Freeze the rest and save tons of time.
20. Use newspaper to line your produce drawers. It’s frugal, super easy to change, and you won’t have to clean the drawers.
21. Meal plan. You’ll avoid the mental fatigue with deciding what to cook at 5:00.
22. Keep it simple. Simple meals are easiest and can taste great.
23. Keep an emergency meal or two (A box of pasta and jar of spaghetti sauce?) for those days when life’s busy-ness just gets in the way.
24. Have a few go-to meals. I can cook a few things almost in my sleep and they take practically no time to put together.
For even more ways to save time in the kitchen, see my top 10 time-saving kitchen tools. The right tools can make ALL the difference in a well-used real food kitchen.
For measuring baking soda, with the lid on tip the can upside down, turn it right side up remove the lid a shake off the 1/4 tsp. of baking soda that is on the rim. repeat as necessary. Clabber Girl 8.1 OZ can. quantity may very for other brands or sizes
Great tip Ken – thank you for sharing!!
I tried to download the Meal plan (link from above) but then had to put in my email address for Gardening on a Dime. Which is great, I can do some gardening but would also like the meal plan.
I’m so sorry Louise! Let’s try this link instead: http://mealplans.dontwastethecrumbs.com/download-a-14-day-sample-meal-plan/
#17 — write the name on the lid in sharpie — makes it easier to find than lifting each one up and down. Especially if you store them in a drawer rather than a box / basket. A friend uses a wire frame basket for storing paints — the spice bottles are about the same size as the 2oz bottles of paints — mounted it to wall next to stove and has the spices (labeled on top) in easy reach.
When I open a (home-canned!) jar of tomatoes and only use some of it, I portion the rest into an ice cube tray and freeze. When a recipe calls for a tablespoon or two of tomatoes or juice, I have it ready without opening another jar or can, and nothing spoils by sitting in the frig waiting to be used.
I also fill ice cube trays with chopped onions or commonly used herbs about once a month or as needed when the tray becomes empty. When you need a tablespoon or two of onion, parsley, etc, you are prepared. This gives me the fresh taste of summer during the holidays when time is short or in winter when it is next to impossible to find fresh herbs where I live (Eastern Europe).
I also meal plan and wash as I go…..
Another good idea for leftovers is a silicon muffin pan for larger “cubes” and you can line or not, depending on what the item is. (For spaghetti sauce, I definitely use a cupcake liner!) Put it in the freezer when you use the first bit, then just chuck ’em into a freezer bag when you’re putting away leftovers — magic!
Smart idea Michelle!
Me too! I’ve been making things from complete scratch for years. I definitely like the basket idea!
If only I had a dishwasher…Haha. We have one, but it’s not set up and I’ve never used it! I cook up a storm a lot and it’s the dishes that kill me. They can take just as long to do as cooking the meal itself! Thank you for this list! Very helpful!
linda m williams
Me neither but I get 2 friends together…one to prep veggies…one to do dishes…I do the cooking…we split the bills and the multiple meals…add alcohol and it’s a perfect girlfriend weekend!
Friends and I are trying to get this going if you have any tips! We already are hitting road blocks with budget and diet but I think we are committed enough to get over it and accommodate.
These are great tips, thanks!
Raki (Outside the Box Mom)
I think #s 12, 20, 23 will be very helpful in my house.
Thanks for sharing.
The Soup Fairy
I do most of these already! A couple of comments:
#5: I use a web/mobile app (Pepperplate) to collect recipes, meal plan, and make out my grocery lists. I have a “recipe” in the app called “Weekly Staples” that contains all the things I would not want to ever catch myself running out of. I add it to the shopping list in the app when I clear the previous week’s shopping list, but then I check everything off. I uncheck things as I notice I’m out of them (or low enough to run out before the next week). I also keep my price list in a Google Drive spreadsheet so it’s always with me on whatever device I’ve got nearby. I tuck my receipts into my wallet so I can update the price list anytime… waiting in the doctor’s office, on the bus, whenever.
#17: A few years ago I made spice cans with 4-oz “tins” (actually stainless steel) and neodymium magnets. The names of the spices are written on the cans and they’re stuck to the side of my fridge within easy reach of my prep and cooking areas. Otherwise, I’d totally do the spice basket!
#18: And I’m definitely doing this!!
#20: I don’t subscribe to a newspaper, but I just line my crisper drawer with a couple of kitchen towels.
I’m also paper free in the kitchen, what I did is I purchased 3 viynal place mats from the dollar store and lined
my refrigerator drawers with them, if they get dirty ,simply wash with warm water dry and put back in place.,
no extra newspapers to fill trash cans, less waste all around.
i have been paper free in my home for a few years now, i spent $3.00 at the dollar store and purchased 3
of those plastic like place mats, cut them to size for my frig drawers, when needed lift out damp rag wipe off and
replace .had the same ones for 3 years now. no extra papers to throw out or fill my kitchen waste basket.
Mrs @Chewing Crayons And Delaware
Golly gee, if I could only get my adolescents to rinse and load their dishes immediately. Sigh. It’s a work in progress. 🙂 Great list.
I really love a bunch of these. Well done! #2 – learn what 1 tbsp looks like. Measure it and really look at it. Remember it. You can do it.
#4 seriously, rinse and right into dfishwasher. DON’T set it down even for a second into the sink or you lose. right. into. dishwasher. Try it. I am right.
Never thought of 13. Attach a half teaspoon right to the baking powder jar with a rubber band. Brilliant!
17. Write the spice name on the lid with a sharpie so you don’t have to lift the bottle up to see what it is. Add the date while yer at it.
Expand on #18 and practice mise en place in all recipes. Gather everything you need before you start. Nothing blows like being halfway through a recipe and finding a key ingredient is out. It really only takes a minute to pull it all together and you are so much more efficient this way.
Meal plan! I only recently started doing this and sm amazed at the results. Frugal and almost zero food waste. If I don’t’ “Feel” like whatever I plannedthat meal, i make myself get over it and i usually do! I know I like all the food I had planned. /why would I plan food I dislike? I need to shut the 2 year old whiny baby that STILL resides in my brain from when I was 2 years old. Really. When I do, WIN!
My 90-yr-old neighbor taught me to always start a sink of hot soapy water when tackling a big day in the kitchen. Great tip, especially for those once-a-month cooking days or even making freezer bag meals for crock pots.
Mrs @Chewing Crayons And Delaware
This is a GREAT idea.
Katie R @ More Apples Please
My favorite piece of advice is #22. Keep it Simple. My tendancy is to get creative and try new things all the time, I have to remember that when things get crazy, simple is good. Simple relieves stress. Simple still fuels your body!
Oh and I love #23. I try to always have pasta & sauce on hand no matter what!
I just read through these and found some new ideas. I putting #18 – The Baking Supplies Basket on my list to do today. I even think I have a box I’ve been saving just waiting for this project! I am going to combine your idea in #13 by storing an extra set of measuring spoons in the basket. Thanks for the inspiration!