A Half-Dozen Kitchen Tips

I have a short list of kitchen tips that have been really helpful to me lately. You probably know them already, but since I learned them not too long ago, I’m going to share them with you here.

Also, see how pretty and orange those egg yolks are? I can’t believe the difference in things that I appreciate now that I’m a grown-up.

Onward to the list:

1. The best time to clean out your fridge is before you go shopping for groceries. (Obvious, yes I know, so I don’t know why I didn’t do this before.)

2. To keep celery fresh, trim it and put it in a container full of water in the fridge. It will last a long time while it’s covered with water.

3. If you make chicken stock (it’s easy, here is how I do it), keep the onion peel on the onion to lend a richer, more appetizing color to the stock.

4. You know not to wash your cast iron skillet with soap, right? Just give it a good rinse with water and make sure it’s dry. You want that seasoning to stay on the skillet so food won’t stick to it.

5. Using a digital food scale makes your baking better and faster. (I use this one.) Cooking can be done with a little of this, a little of that, but baking requires measurements and precision. I never could figure out why my pie crusts were dry until I started measuring flour by weight and realized I had packed too much flour into each cup. With a scale, pies and cakes turn out consistently good every time. Each cup of all-purpose flour weighs 125 grams. A scale also speeds up the process if you want to make your own bread mix.

6. My favorite tip is one I gleaned from the comments: If you want to have dinner leftovers for lunch the next day, set aside your lunch portion first before you serve dinner. There will still be enough for dinner, and you’ll make sure no one eats too much and consumes your lunch.

What kitchen tips have you found useful lately?
About Rachel

I write about practical tips that will help you simplify at home. Connect with me on Pinterest and Twitter.

Comments

  1. As an FYI, if you do cook something onto your cast iron, you can boil it off. Just fill your pan with water and boil. Everything will come up (though you may have to boil more than once).

    • I hadn’t heard of this one. I guess its similar to making a sauce…once I pour in some chicken broth the cooked on bits come up pretty easily to make a good sauce. Didn’t think about just using water to clean up…dur!
      Kait Palmer´s last post…Nearly 18 weeks

      • Dur indeed. Good Tip. I use salt to get the stubborn stuff on mine. Just rub it in with a tiny bit of water and rinse with hot water. Keeps the patina and delicious flavor… and from getting rusty.

        • I use a potscrubber on my cast iron skillet. I run some hot water into the pan and then scrub scrub scrub without anything but water-works every time. It’s a bundle of broomcorn bound tightly together and the ends of the bristles are chopped off so it’s got a flat bottom. It also keeps the seasoning just as it should be. I scrub and rinse and the water beads right off.

          • the last time that i had a cast iron skillet, i destroyed it. i used liquid soap and i would use metal utensils to cook with , and it really made it look bad. and finally it rusted. i have’nt bought one since. , but i will keep the idea of using a pot scrubber in mind tha next time i buy a skillet.

  2. We love greek yogurt, especially the honey variety, but it’s pretty expensive on our budget. So we do a mock greek yogurt that is a hit! We take a container of yogurt and strain it for a day or two in the fridge to allow all the whey to drain from the yogurt, leaving a creamier, thick yogurt, much like greek yogurt, and add whatever we like to it.

  3. I like the dinner/lunch tip. I really need to start doing that. Would probably help cut down some of my morning rush time too!
    Nicole´s last post…winter weekend part 3 a note on friends

  4. My best kitchen tip is to prepare as much of dinner as you can ahead of time (like, naptime) so when dinner time actually rolls around (and the kiddies are crabby) there’s less to do! I’ll cut up veggies, get sauces ready, etc.

    I am SO GLAD you gave the iron skillet tip!!! I used to never use soap on mine then I once said something to someone about it and they looked at me like I was NUTS!! So, I’m ashamed to say, I started using soap, thinking they might’ve been right!! But NO MORE!! Thank you! LOL!

    Also, I will definitely look into getting a kitchen scale! Thanks!
    Catie´s last post…Scrapbook Sunday

  5. I really love the first one. Of course it’s completely logical to do it this way, but I’m guilty of doing it when it’s full too. But hey, that’s still better than not doing it, right ;)
    Maaike Quinn @ Life with FlyLady´s last post…Why you should clean your bedroom today

  6. Keep fresh herbs in a vase with water like fresh flowers- they can last a week or more this way, especially if you first cut the stems with a sharp knife and remove leaves below the water line. keep them in the refrigerator to eke out several more days.

    • Why haven’t I thought of that? It just goes to show that the best tips are always the simple ones.

      • I never thought of this either! I was going to actually recommend this cloth bag that I bought at our large farmer’s market. It was only 2 dollars and claimed it would keep the parsley fresh twice as long. I was skeptical, but I am always throwing away parsley and cilantro, so I bought it. It worked. My parsly lasted probably 3 weeks at least. I am going to buy another one to put my cilantro in as well.
        Bernice
        Living the Balanced Life´s last post…The world really is at our fingertips

    • Fresh herbs in a vase stored in the fridge works better it you put a clear plastic bag over the whole thing, vase and all. This creates a nice envioronment for the greens and keeps fresh longer

  7. I just read this tip in the last 6 months, and it works great!

    When you cook something in your cast iron skillet (which I use almost daily) that sticks to it such as scrambled eggs, you can easily scour it off without using soap. A tablespoon or two of kosher salt and a paper towel or rag acts as a scouring agent bug without the soap to ruin your seasoned pan! Just scrub it around and refresh it as needed!

  8. #6 is one I have to use every night. some how, no matter how much you make it always gets eaten up if it’s right in front of them.

    • Yep, my hubby is bad to eat every last thing I fix and not because he is still hungry, lol! I either intentionally cook just enough for the 2 of us, or if I want leftovers, I do like you said, dish it up before fixing plates.
      And cleaning the fridge and straightening the pantry is an excellent thing to do the day before going grocery shopping. There have been many times I have come home with some to find I already have it in my pantry!
      Bernice
      Living the Balanced Life´s last post…Reach out and take a hand

      • As an ongoing wellness program I exercise “portion control” on my hubby and me. I like tip 6 the best. Saves money, saves your life. Entrees are more time consuming to cook, so load up a larger salad or fruit portion.

    • I learned this tip from experience as well although I didn’t always do it until we had a foreign exchange student come live with us and he showed no restraint when it comes to eating. He thought I was throwing away everything that wasn’t eaten that night because his family only makes enough for one meal at a time so he didn’t want to see the food go to waste. Once I told him he could also take it for lunch the next day he stopped eating so much in the evening and started taking leftovers too! LOL.

  9. The best way to use up leftovers (especially leftover veggies, even rice, potato, or couscous or whatever) is to heat up everything the next day, throw it in a frying pan, dump some scrambled eggs over it, throw it in the oven and VOILA! FRITATTA – and all of the work was pretty much already done. I almost never let leftovers go to waste and this is my secret of how. It’s a shame to throw away food.

    I love my cast iron pans, too – I always use the salt + paper towel method too! And if your pan is look a little “dry”, go ahead and rub it down with vegetable oil before storing it away – prevents rust from happening :-).
    Lindsay@Tell’er All About It´s last post…There are always delays!

  10. Hehe- I especially love number six! Glad to hear it’s your favorite- my small contribution to the blog world. One of my favorite tips is one I learned from watching my grandmother. She always filled the sink with hot soapy water when she cooked. Her kitchen was never a disaster because she cleaned as she cooked. It only takes a minute to wash bowls and utensils in between food prep. Plus having a hot soapy dishrag makes cleaning up splatters super easy!
    Rochelle´s last post…Plastic vs Glass

    • My mother did this as well and she told me my grandmother did too. I have to admit that I only do this when we have large family gatherings. I should start doing it for every meal because I know from experience it helps a bunch!

      • I’ve been trying to get my husband to do this when he cooks with no luck!! So I end up following behind him grabbing bowls and wiping down spills. Hopefully, I can teach my kids differently- haha!

  11. Great tips! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve recommended to my MIL not to use soap on her cast iron.

    My favorite kitchen tip is to use a bit of baking soda on a damp cloth to scrub off the waxy gunk on apples/store-bought cucumbers/etc. You have to rinse well, of course, but it sure beats eating the mystery wax!

  12. the celery tip is revolutionary! Can’t wait to buy some and not throw any out!

  13. I definitely need to use #6. My husband will eat until there’s none left more often than not, just because it’s there.

    I never knew you weren’t supposed to use soap on iron skillets! Thanks for the cleaning suggestions!
    Emily Joyce´s last post…My Thrifty Valentines Day

  14. Another tip for celery – if you have some that has wilted and is bendy, cut the ends off and put the stalks in a tall glass of water. Give it a couple of hours to absorb the water and it gets hard and crunchy again.

    • Same goes for wilty iceberg lettuce – give them a dunk for several minutes in ice cold water. Works wonders!

      • Thanks for the celery and lettuce tips. I don’t know how much produce I’ve thrown away because i try to buy when on sale and then I end up with too much at once. Also I do not live in town and work on the very edge of town so I do not pass any grocery stores on my way to work and that is one chore i consider drugery so i try to buy enough to last at least a week or more when I go.

  15. Actually I didn’t know half of those!

    I wrap my celery in foil – it can last for months that way!

    And during our last CSA season where we got more greens than we could eat in a week, I found that cutting the stems on kale, chard, etc. and sticking them in water kept the fresh and perky for a lot longer than if they were just laying in my fridge. Or you can keep them in the fridge and pop them in water a few hours before cooking to get their shape back.
    Kait Palmer´s last post…The Best Love Stories Are True Ones

  16. Cooking is about confidence. If you believe that you can and you are blessed with young children, everything is possible. I am 35 and have successfully avoided the kitchen until now. Currently, I am cooking at least one full dish each day. My 5 year olds love it, my husband approves of my mistakes – what’s not to love about cooking? :)

    Eszter

  17. lol i love tip 6 but honestly how many mums can set aside lunch before dinner without feeling a little quilty.
    love it.

    • I can. That way we don’t over eat. So it’s actually healthier. I wouldn’t do it if there weren’t enough there to begin with.

      • Exactly! When we first got married I would take my portion and then my husband would take his. There was never anything left, and he started gaining weight. I quickly figured out that he is a “don’t want to waste food” type, so whenever I cooked, I started to not only dish up my leftovers first thing but also to prepare his plate for him with a reasonable amount of food. If there was still food left, I put it away before calling him to dinner so he wouldn’t see it. He never complained about not getting as much to eat. One day I asked him about this, and he hadn’t even realized he was eating so much less! I don’t buy many ready-to-eat foods like chips or crackers for the same reason, because once he sees it on the shelf, it’s like he’s compelled to eat it, and it’s gone within a day or two . . .

        • I hear ya on the ready-to-eat foods too. I rarely buy them. When I do I try to put some in ziptop bags or plastic containers for lunches much like putting away lunch for the next day from dinner. If its already packaged for lunches we are not as tempted to eat the whole bag or box until it is gone.

  18. I like #3! I’ve got an order of pastured chicken arriving today and stock will be made within the next week. I’m going to try it out!
    Kelly´s last post…Wellness Wednesday- February 9th

  19. Another one on the veggies if you buy the carrots w/stems attached, snap off all the stem/leafy parts and toss they will stay fresher longer. I worked at Whole Foods and I learned that there. People would complain if you bent the leaves to fit in a bag and the produce guy actually told me that tip, when I told people they were like I never knew that. It’s really true if you forget those carrots will be shriveled in a few days.

  20. Yup to the last one: I put a lunch box out on the table with our dinner plates and put a serving of food into it for my husbands lunch the next day when I dish up. Then his lunch is practically packed and ready to go!!! If I don’t do it when we serve dinner then it would never happen and he would literally starve!!! Have a great day!!!

  21. Take care with keeping celery in water; if you are going to do that, change the water out frequently. I have found purchasing organic celery lasts longer. I also use the “leaf” parts also.

    Keeping kale and other dark greens fresher, immediately wash in container with a vegetable cleanser solution (you can make on your own). Let it sit to cleanse and then rinse well and drain. Let it dry as much as you can and put in zip plastic bags, keeping air out. Put in your refrigerator. It can be frozen if you dry it first before packing it. Date bags. (BTW, kale stems tend to be sweet if eaten raw. I drink green kale drinks all the time.)

    Keep some of the shopping cloth bags in your car so if you stop at a store on an errand, you will have them. This will save you some pennies at some stores that charge you if you don’t bring your own bags.

    I have been frustrated with boiling eggs for some time. I started boiling them when I was 12 so you would think I would have them down. Even some of the top chef tips didn’t work for me, maybe it’s my stove. Recently I have started boiling a dozen at a time. I put them in a medium size pot, put enough water to cover the eggs and about .5″ inch more. I toss in some salt then I turn on the heat to medium. I set the timer for 40 minutes and walk away (well, don’t if you use gas, have children, etc.). When I come back 40 minutes later they are just right. Rinse them first before you put the eggs in a zip bag for the refrigerator or use in egg salad, etc.

    If you make chicken soup for colds, etc., you can use one chicken breast and lots of onions, garlic and carrots.

    Don’t toss the stems on broccoli. You can make a great slaw using the stems that have been shredded in your food processor. Add crunched up raw Ramen noodles (not seasoning pack), sliced almonds or sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds, and a little olive oil and apple cider vinegar. Keep in refrigerator at least 8 hours before serving.

    Find out if your grocery store has online coupons that you can download to your grocery card. Go to the store’s website.

    You don’t need a fancy “garbage” bowl when preparing your meal. Grab a bowl and put the eggshells, etc. in it and then dump the bowl contents in the trash. It saves a few steps and a few dollars. Also makes it easier if you compost your kitchen scraps.

    • I line the garbage bowl with the plastic bags they provide at the grocery to put loose produce in, so after I’m done tossing in the egg shells, onion and garlic peel, and anything else, I grab the whole bag, toss it in the trash, and the bowl goes right back in the cabinet =)

  22. To keep SOS pads from rusting and extend their use, put them in a ziploc baggie and store in the freezer!

  23. Storing our spinach in the salad spinner means no soggy/slimy spinach- even if it sits in our fridge for over a week! When I leave it in the plastic bin or bag it comes in from the store, I inevitably end up having to throw away soggy or slimy pieces. For whatever reason, the salad spinner keeps it nice and fresh!
    Katherine@YeOldCollegeTry´s last post…I wish I could take credit for this

  24. I always peel citrus fruits over the disposal and then I run it for a bit with a little water or ice. It helps clean the disposal and leaves a fresh scent.
    Megan @ Faith Like Mustard´s last post…Bible in 90 Days Week 6 Recap

  25. You just made my day, and I can’t believe I didn’t think of it before I read this. #5 – I was recently looking at a food scale to weigh my partially-used skeins of yarn, and I thought well…only if I can find another good use for it… Boom. Done. Thank you!
    Maggie´s last post…Enter the Fallow

  26. We butcher our own beef each year and package our ground beef in two pound packages. When browning the beef for a meal, I always freeze the extra pound for another day. Having ground beef already browned, and measured, makes for easy prep after a long day.

    I also chop the entire onion and all of the celery when preparing for a meal. I also freeze the already-chopped celery and onion in their own quarter zip bag, labeled of course!

    Thanks for YOUR tips!

  27. wrapping celery in aluminum foil keeps it fresh for weeks. no trimming/cleaning required until you’re ready to use it.

    fried rice or a fritatta is an excellent way to clean up the bits & pieces in the fridge. will help you clean out the fridge before you go shopping :)
    nancy´s last post…the partys over and im left with a food hangover

  28. I posted my go-to garlic sauce recipe- http://remnantofremnant.blogspot.com/2011/02/garlic-je-taime.html
    easy, yet makes everything taste yummy

  29. A good one I just learned today is to make time to “prep” your veggies i.e. wash them, cut them, and put them in baggies or containers. You are much more prone to reach for and eat the veggies if you already did the dirty work.

  30. Wow. I love tip #6… great idea!

  31. Have an easy go-to recipe, and always have the ingredients on hand. I can’t tell you how much this has simplified my life!
    Maggie´s last post…My Favorite Frugal- Nourishing- Grain-Free- Comforting- Stretchable- Versatile Dinner Recipe

  32. I got a cast iron skillet for Christmas and washed it (with water) for the first time yesterday. When I came home it was all rusted on the inside? What am I doing wrong and what should I do now?
    Stacy of KSW´s last post…What I can’t stop eating

    • The first thing you need to do is wash it again and scrub the rust out. Dry it off and set it on a warm stove burner to make sure it gets completely dry. It sounds like you need to season it again. Then it will be less likely to rust since it will have a protective coating on it and not be exposed bare iron (which can rust easily). Each time you wash it, make sure it gets thoroughly dry, and if you need to, you can use a paper towel to wipe a little more oil into the bottom to build up the seasoning.

  33. I like your ideas about the kitchen to do tips.. thanks for this! this would be a great help! Keep posting..

  34. it only seems to be in america/canada that cooking ingredients are measured in cups. I have a really hard time converting recipes online to measurements I can actually use without a US cup measure. baking really does need precise measurements, sugar and flour don’t weigh the same for volume so scales really do make life easier. they are also great when watching portions of pasta/bread etc,

  35. Wonderful tips! I don’t know why, but I always tend to clean out my fridge AFTER I buy groceries! Lol. Which of course makes me realize stuff that I was out of that I forgot to buy at the store. Doing it before makes so much more sense!

    xoxo
    Jennifer
    The Art of Being You
    Jennifer M.´s last post…Keep Dreaming

  36. I love all these tips! I do the same thing you mentioned with celery with carrots — Works like a charm!
    Mimi´s last post…Non-spring forward