Kitchen tips

Read these 62 Kitchen tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Mom tips and hundreds of other topics.

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Prepare a Weekly Menu

Prepare a weekly menu before you go to the grocery store. You will focus on buying only what you need instead of making last-minute impulse purchase. Plus, you will not be stumped with what to make for dinner.

   
What can I do with ripe bananas?

Keep bananas fresh longer

To keep bananas fresh longer cut off the tip of it instead of hanging them by it. The peel will still turn brown but the inside will stay fresh for twice as long.

   
How can I get my kids to eat?

Helping Toddlers Learn Shapes

To make eating more fun, cut your children's food into different shapes. Cut scrambled eggs into triangles, or sandwiches and fruit into circles or squares. Don't limit yourself to simple shapes, but use your imagination and create different designs. You might enjoy having a theme for a day. Serve round foods like crackers, cookies, or tortillas for a snack. Mention that all of the snacks are round. Do the same with foods of other shapes or use pasta that comes in shapes, including letters and numbers.

   
How do I freeze berries?

Strawberries That Last Longer

After you have washed and capped fresh strawberries, put them in a colander and pour boiling water over them. By doing so, you kill the bacteria that makes them get moldy & mushy. Afterwards, refrigerate as you normally would, and the berries should last a lot longer.

   
Why do grapes brown so quickly?

Great Grapes

Do not wash grapes until just before serving to prevent premature brown spots and spoilage.

   
How can I keep my cookies from getting hard & dry?

Soft, Chewy Cookies

If homemade cookies have dried out and gotten hard, soften them by placing a slice of bread in the cookie jar overnight. The cookies will absorb moisture from the bread and will be soft and chewy again.

   
How do you keep leftover onions?

Keep onions longer

When you are only using half an onion make sure to save the half with the root. It will stay fresh longer.

   
How do I get rid of that heavy, lingering, oily, fried food smell?

Oily cooking scents?

When you have finished frying foods, and that oily smell surrounds you, pour off the excess fats, add enough vinegar to cover the bottom of the pot/pan and simmer for 20 minutes. This liquid will loosen the baked on grime and the fumes will neutralize the oily smells.

   
Is vinegar used for anything more than ´just´ cooking?

Virtuous Vinegar

1 Tbls salt dissolved in 1 Tbls vinegar is a gentle abrasive that magically removes tea or coffee stains from china and glass cookware.

   
How do I clean cast iron?

Cast Iron

Never wash your cast iron cookware in soapy water. Scour with steel wool, rinse and re-season with oil or shortening.

   
How can I reduce the fat content in my baked goods?

Low Fat Baking

Substitute half applesauce for the vegetable oil in your baking recipes~you'll greatly reduce the fat content! (Example: 1/2 cup vegetable oil=1/4 cup applesauce + 1/4 cup oil)

   
How can I get my kids to eat?

Baby Food from Scratch

Want to make your own baby food? Mash leftover vegetables (no additives like salt ,pepper, butter etc.) Fill ice cube trays with the results. When frozen, pop out, bag the cubes, label with date, use each as a single serving.

   
How do I get rid of that heavy, lingering, oily, fried food smell?

Citrus Scents

Leave lemons and limes in the fruit bowl rather than refrigerator. They act as air fresheners.

   
How can I keep tomato sauce from staining my containers?

Stained Plastic Containers?

Spray your tupperware with non-stick cooking spray before pouring in tomato-based sauces~no more stains!

   
How can I prevent my cakes and casseroles from burning?

Dark/Non-Stick and Glass Pans

Dark nonstick or glass baking pans readily absorb heat and are best used with the baking temperature reduced by 25°.

   
How can fix a ruined recipe?

Quick and Easy

Quick fixes for a botched recipe: If you over-salt a dish while it's cooking, drop in a peeled and cut raw potato, as it will absorb the excess salt (remove potato before serving). If you have over-sweetened a dish add salt.

   
How can I get my kids to eat?

Look-a-like Cups?

Party time or just lots of kids visiting? Don't mix up look alike cups. Use masking tape and marker to label each with the owner's name.

   
How do I get rid of that heavy, lingering, oily, fried food smell?

Virtuous Vinegar

De-glaze the frying pan after pouring off the excess fats and oils by simmering 1/4 " of water and 1/2 cup vinegar. You will notice a remarkable reduction in the lingering oily smells.

   
How can I get my kids to eat?

Pizza Cutter

Pizza cutters can be a wonderful kitchen tool for more than just pizza. Use them to take the crust off of kids' sandwiches, cut sandwiches into manageable quarters, cut up pancakes, etc. The wheel-shaped slicers is quicker and easier to use than the more time consuming knife.

   
How can you tell if you have rotten eggs?

Are Your Eggs Fresh?

Fresh eggs have a rough and chalky shell. They will sink and stay horizontal on the bottom of a glass of water. Old eggs, on the other hand, are smooth and shiny. They will float in a glass of water.

   
How do I get rid of that heavy, lingering, oily, fried food smell?

Virtuous Vinegar

By simply adding a few drops of vinegar to the water when boiling cabbage , brussels sprouts or broccoli you will allow all other delicious cooking aromas to share the air.

   
How do I freeze berries?

Frozen goodies

If you plan on freezing lots of small items like blueberries, strawberries, or meatballs, place in a single layer on a cookie sheet and place in the freezer for about 1/2 an hour. Afterwards, bag them. Now they will stay individual rather than a block and make using and measuring much easier.

   
How can I keep the coffee pot from clogging?

Virtuous Vinegar

Keep the coffee pot dripping as fast as possible. Once a month , fill with 1/2 and 1/2 water and vinegar , ( remove the "gold" filter ) and run through the cycle. Follow directly with a second pot of clear water.

   
How can I keep sugar from clumping or getting hard?

Sugar Bowl

Keep a marble in the sugar bowl to prevent clumping

   
How can I make pancakes without the mess?

Pancake Batter

Use a meat baster to "squeeze" your pancake batter onto the hot griddle~perfect shaped pancakes every time!

   
How can I keep foods that should be refridgerated cold in lunches?

Freezer packs

Store your packaged juice containers in the freezer. Not only do the kids not raid them as often, but they make great freezer packs in coolers and lunch bags.

   
How can I make vegetarian dishes?

Low-fat

Replace one-quarter to one-half ground meat or poultry with cooked brown rice, bulgur, cous cous or mashed beans, in casseroles and meat sauces.

   
How do you clean cutting boards?

Preventing Cross-Contamination

To reduce the risk of cross-contamination in your kitchen, have multiple cutting boards. Designate one only for meat, one only for produce, and one only for poultry.

   
Where can I hide chocolate from my kids?

Chocolate

Keep the stash of chocolate in the freezer. It will take a while for the kids to find it and it will not melt as quickly on their hands.

   
Is vinegar used for anything more than ´just´ cooking?

Virtuous Vinegar

For those perfect poached eggs on Sunday mornings , add a tablespoon of vinegar to the water to speed set the egg whites.

   
How do I get rid of that heavy, lingering, oily, fried food smell?

Onion Smell on Your Hands?

Rubbing your hands over a stainless steel object will remove the onion smell from your skin.

   
What can I do with all those crusts that the kids won´t eat?

Crusts

Save the crusts when preparing sandwiches to make your own croutons. Fry or bake in butter and spices of your choosing.

   
How do I get rid of that heavy, lingering, oily, fried food smell?

Virtuous Vinegar

Freshen up those lunch boxes by leaving a vinegar moistened piece of bread inside the closed container overnight.

   
How do you make Low-fat meals?

Low-fat

Substitute Nestle Carnation Evaporated Fat Free Milk for heavy cream in sauce and soup recipes

   
How can I keep tomato sauce from staining my containers?

Out, darned spot

To prevent tomato sauce from staining plastic bowls and containers, spray a thin coating of cooking oil on the surface before serving

   
What should I cook tonight that is quick and easy?

Too Hot to Cook

Too hot to cook? If you must use the oven, prepare the item(s) in the morning and reheat in the microwave.

   
What tools can I use in the kitchen for quick meals?

Low-fat

These items are always good to have for quick dishes:
crockpot for stews, soups, and casseroles

wok for quick stir-frys

hand or electronic chopper to cut up vegetables quickly.

   
What can I do with all those crusts that the kids won´t eat?

Stuff those crusts

Making dozens of sandwiches for a picnic or party? Save the crusts. Dry them out overnight. Bag them and freeze them to stuff the next turkey or chicken.

   
How do I preserve food?

Keeping Pineapple Fresh

If pineapple is not being served immediately, then the fruit should be cut from the shell (preserving as much juice as possible), and refrigerated in an airtight container. Use within one week.

   
Can you give freezees to a toddler?

Baby freezees

Baby's first freezie? Cut it in half across the middle before serving.

   
How do I keep compost contents moist?

Composte Gourmet

Feed the composter with any leftover water used to boil vegetables.

   
What should I cook tonight that is quick and easy?

Quick Meal Resources

Some of your best meal resources are on the labels of soup cans, and on the back of boxes. Try some of their time-saving techniques.

   
Can I still do a recipe if I don´t have enough bread crumbs?

No crumbs? No panic

Try substituting your children's favorite cereal as the basis for needed breadcrumbs that may be in short supply. Unsweetened whole grain oats, rice and corn cereals work best.

   
How do I cut an onion?

Quick and Easy

The easiest way to peel, then chop or slice an onion is first to cut off a thin slice from the top and bottom. Then halve it lengthwise. The peel from each half comes off easily. With the flat side of the onion half on a cutting board, chop or slice as required.

   
Can I still do a recipe if I don´t have enough bread crumbs?

No breadcrumbs?

Bulk up your bread crumb measure by adding parmesan cheese. Add a little garlic powder, basil and oregano for instant Italian twist.

   
How do you prepare an avocado?

Avocados

To prevent browning of prepared avocados, brush lightly with lemon juice.

   
What can I do with ripe bananas?

Bananas Mushy? Make a Milkshake

When a banana is starting to get soft, you could make banana nut bread. Or, for a great summertime treat that doesn't involve turning on the oven, you could make a milkshake! Peel the banana and place it in a sealable plastic bag, then stick it in the freezer. When it is frozen, put it in the blender with a little bit of milk, some vanilla extract, and a touch of sugar for a frosty treat. Yummy, and frugal too!

   
How do I cut the fat in meals?

Low-fat

For each whole egg, use two egg whites

   
How can I save time on cooking?

Quick and Easy

For speedy cut-up veggies, raid the supermarket salad bar

   
Can I still do a recipe if I don´t have enough bread crumbs?

No more breadcrumbs?

The cupboard was bare. You need breadcrumbs, now. Plug in the toaster and toast those crusts no one eats, anyway. Place in a bag and roll into crumbs.

   
What should I cook tonight that is quick and easy?

Recipe reviews

Always follow a new recipe, exactly, the first time. Before you put away the cookbook or paper, add your written comments, right on the page. e.g. "Bland. Try doubling garlic".

   
What can I do with all those crusts that the kids won´t eat?

Crusts

Cut off crusts before you put anything on the sandwich and dry out on the counter. Bag and roll for your own bread crumbs.

   
How can I get my kids to eat?

Baby bottles

Most bottle nipples and rings fit directly on the baby food jars of juice. Try it and save washing out the deep bottles. This juice is already diluted. Do not try warming the container in the microwave.

   
How can you tell if you have rotten eggs?

Ever smelled Rotten Eggs?

Always open each egg seperately and into a small bowl or container before adding to a recipe mix. If it is rotten (smells like sulfur) you won't waste all the other ingredients already in the bowl.

   
How can I clean quickly after preparing a meal?

Quick and Easy

When broiling, line bottom of pan with foil to make clean up easier.

   
How can I use up excess peanut butter?

Excess Peanut Butter?

To dispose of the vast quantities of inferior peanut butter collecting in the pantry; having our children's friends over for any mealtime, breakfast, lunch or dinner, a
socially acceptable method. Offering a simple menu of pb and jam or banana sandwiches is a great idea, any season.

   
What can I do with ripe bananas?

Brown Bananas?

Use overly ripe bananas in any muffin mix. My children's favorite this year is Oatmeal muffins with banana and butterscotch chips.

   
How can I get my kids to eat?

Portion Control for Picky Eaters

Remember to offer child-size servings. Adult portions can be overwhelming and turn off youngsters. Serve one-fourth to one-third of the adult portion to your child. Also, serve less than you think your children will eat and let them ask for more if they're still hungry.

   
Why do tomatoes spoil so quickly?

Storing tomatoes

Do not refrigerate tomatoes as they ripen faster in the cold.

   
What can I do with all those crusts that the kids won´t eat?

Cookie Crumbs

Keep broken cookies in a plastic bag and crush with a rolling pin. Combine and use with graham crumbs for your next recipe.

   
How do I avoid scratching nonstick surfaced pots?

Preserving Non-Stick Pans

Put potholders or soft hot pads between pans when stacking them to avoid scratching the nonstick surface.

   
How can I get my kids to eat?

First Solids for Baby

Here's a tip I wish I'd had before my son started on solids: When baby is getting ready to go to solid foods, begin with veggies. Once we taste fruits, we seem to develop that good old sweet tooth and there's no going back!

   
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Guru Spotlight
Mary White