20 Kitchen Hacks to Cook Faster
Updated: 6 days ago
Many of us decide to cook for different reasons, some do it because they want to save money by eating at home or taking their own lunch to work, others need to follow an specific diet for health or exercise reasons, also the ones who want to stop relying so much on fast food, there is even people who just do it because its fun and they want to experiment a wide range of flavors and cuisines from all over the world.
Whatever your reason is, cooking is an essential part of your weekly or daily routine and this is why you want to keep this activity as efficient as possible, there is nothing worse than feeling like a slave in the kitchen working non-stop and not even being able to sit down to eat your own food.
This is one of the main reasons we created this site, to showcase different kitchen gadgets, utensils and appliances that will save you time and help new cooks or people with any type of motor disability have the best experience in the kitchen.
But kitchen gadgets, utensils and appliances are just one part, and they will only aid you if you are organized and have a plan to attack the kitchen.
In this post we want to share twenty hacks that we learned over time and apply to our kitchen routine to make cooking, meal prepping and eating a hassle free experience.
Kitchen Hacks Before Cooking
We can not start the list without mentioning this hack, but more than a hack is an essential to apply to all aspects of your life, kitchen disorganization equals to not being able to find the item you want when you need it and having to turn all your cabinets upside down to get to it.
Another big issue with disorganization is ending up with duplicate items, if somebody does not find an item, they will assume its lost or it was thrown away, thus they go and buy a new one, only to find the old item at the back of the utensil drawer.
All your items must have a home within your home, this way you always know where to find them and where to store them, this concept is key in your kitchen, as this is one of the places with the most items.
Try to organize items by category (appliances, knives, dishes, mugs, etc.) and use (pots near the stove, cleaning kitchen supplies under the sink, etc.5), if you want to read about this topic we have an article with a full guide to give you a general kitchen organization idea.
2 Plant your own Herbs
If you enjoy gardening then this is a win-win, if you have a space where you can place some small pots with herbs like thyme, parsley, oregano or mint.
Anytime you need to add some herbs to any dish just grab your scissors and cut some leaves. This is a practical tip that will also decorate your kitchen.
3 I do not have Green Fingers
We understand that not everyone is good at gardening or want to add another chore to their routines, no problem we have got you covered.
Whenever you buy your herbs at the supermarket, rinse them in a bowl of cool water with vinegar, and then store them in a damp paper towel inside a ziplock bag in your fridge, this will keep them fresh, green and crispy for longer.
Now if too much time has passed, you do not have to throw them away, you can freeze them in ice cube trays with water or cooking oil.
4 Food scraps
Now that we are talking about freezing, do not throw all your food scraps like vegetable peels, bones, etc.
Store them in a freezer safe bag and use them when you want to make broth or stocks to give an incredible flavor to your dishes, and then re-use those scraps to make compost, truly zero waste.
Ideally you want to use organic produce for this but if that is not possible at least wash your produce thoroughly before peeling and cutting.
5 Paper Thin Slices
Have you ever seen those paper thin vegetable slices served at restaurant salads?
Those are not done with a regular knife, not because the chefs are unskilled but because it takes time and they have to rush in the kitchen.
Instead they use a mandolin to get perfectly even slices everytime, the best part they are affordable and some include protective gloves.
6 Under season your Food
This is a key tip for new cooks, there's nothing worse than overseasoned food, like super salty stews, a burning pepper taste or sweet tomato pasta sauce.
When you start cooking follow the recipe as they say but if you are in doubt under season, if for whatever reason your dish lacks salt, then you can add more but if you put too much salt from the get go, then the dish is pretty much ruined.
You do not always have to do this but by practicing and gaining confidence you will eventually be able to eye ball the amounts of seasoning a dish needs.
7 Fish Spatula
Probably not the first item to cross people's minds, fish spatulas do not just serve to flip fish but also seafood, vegetables and any delicate food like thin cookies from a tray.
Their construction is thin and flexible allowing them to slide between the pan and the food without tearing them apart.
This way you won't waste time trying to flip that delicate fish.
8 Freeze Small Batches of Produce
Whenever you are prepping, cut your leftovers too and place them on a small reusable ziplock bags and store them in the freezer.
This way you have produce ready for stews, soups and pretty much anything you need.
We do this trick with onions, green onions, bell peppers, carrots, tomatoes, celery and even ginger but we use these vegetables only on cooked meals as they lose their texture after defrosting.
9 Grate your Butter and Cheese
Baking recipes usually call for grated butter and you might want to add some grated mozzarella cheese on top of your pizza or pasta dish but these are soft and mushy ingredients, and grating them is a bit of a hassle as they will leave your grater oily and sticky.
The best way to grate these two ingredients is by freezing them and then grating the whole piece by hand (not going to lie this is some cardio level work out) but if you grate a lot and keep it in bags in your freezer you will have perfectly grated butter and cheese at hand all the time.
10 Microwave Mushrooms
This is a hack just for mushrooms but it works and saves a lot of time. The issue with mushrooms is they are rich in water and if you want to sauté them it will take a while as they must release their liquid and it has to evaporate.
Instead place them in the microwave for a couple of minutes (depending on your microwave power) and they will lose that moist fast, also toss the mushrooms on a hot pan to sear them fast.
Kitchen Hacks When You Cook
11 Mentally Prepare
If you are gonna do a lot of stuff in the kitchen, take just one minute to mentally envision all you have to do, this way you won't be standing around thinking what to do next.
This is true to most routines we could do in life, like working on a laptop or exercising but in the kitchen is crucial as you will see all the steps that you must take beforhand and won't find yourself stopped in the middle of your cooking because you forgot to boil the water or pre-heat the oven.
If you have more than one dish to cook, then a white booard might help as you can write down your plan, to refer it as you cook, this way you clear your mind and can focus on your cooking.
We know this may seem like an unncessary extra step but trust us this will save you so much time and stress.
12 Take Everything Out
This tip is tied to the first tip about organization, know where each item you own is, this way when you want to cook you can easily grab everything and place it on your counters, take a step further and place them by groups, this way you have a prepping, cooking, serving areas.
If the recipe asks for the oven, turn it on in this first step aswell, there is a reason recipes ask you to do so, to avoid wasting time waiting for it to heat up.
13 Load a Kitchen Basket
Specially if you have a big kitchen or the fridge/pantry are not close, some people use their pans or pots, we personally prefer to use a kitchen basket to prevent contamination just in case the products are dirty.
By going to the pantry and fridge with your basket you grab all you need to cook and stop yourself from going back and forth which is a waste of time.
14 Boil water
Just like the oven, if the recipe wants you to boil, start by heating that water, because depending on the amount of water it could take a lot of time (large batches of paste for example).
An extra tip is to always put a lid on your pot, this makes water heat faster as steam is kept inside and you will also save on your energy bill.
15 Wash Produce in one Go
Whenever possible cut and peel all your produce at once and wash it together on a large colander, this will save you a lot of time as you do not have to go back and forth rinsing your utensils and drying your hands, especially if you are prepping a lot of vegetables or fruits.
And always remember to have a dedicated cutting board for vegetables and fruits.
This is recommended for experienced cooks, recipes usually let you know all the steps which works as a guide but if you have good timing, you can multitask, like chopping vegetables as your meat sears or scrambling eggs as your onions caramelize.
17 Smaller Sizes
Cutting vegetables, fruits and proteins in smaller pieces will cook them faster, as they have less volume, a thinly sliced carrot will cook in minutes while a whole carrot would take way more time, or a chicken nuggets will take 4 minutes while a bone-in chicken brest maybe 30.
18 Small Garbage Bowl
Composting is great to reduce our waste and keep our garden healthy with natural products but if the compost bin is not close, food scraps will be all over the floor as you walk back and forth, wasting time and energy.
Instead buy a small garbage counter bowl or use any small bowl you have laying around, when you are finished cooking take your bowl and throw the scraps in the compost bin, just one trip.
19 Wide Pans
Whenever you want to sear food use wide and shallow pans, this gives more heated surface touching your food, reduces liquid and food browns faster, this will lock the flavor and moist inside the protein.
An extra tip is to use a paper towel to pat dry the protein, you want to remove the excess moisture, this helps to make sure your sear is dark, crisp, and flavorful.
20 Clean as you Go
Like multitasking cleaning as you cook is crucial to maintain an organized kitchen, if you are done prepping and are just waiting for that stew or cake to cook, do not sit or start looking at your phone, take that time and wash your utensils or place them in the dishwasher, store your appliances, clean your counters, and take out your dishes or tupperwares to serve each meal.
With these tips in mind, we are sure your cooking time will be drastically reduced, giving you time to enjoy your meals for longer.