12 Ridiculously Easy Kitchen Secrets

Cooking Tips

You know those seemly perfect women who have it all together, serve gourmet meals at home, and bring those delicious dishes to potlucks? Their secret is shortcuts or lots of free time. Since you don't have free time to spend chopping away, it is time you learned some of these shortcuts, too. From learning what changes to make in preparing food to easy cleanup tips, here are 12 ridiculously easy kitchen secrets.

1) Starting at the grocery store, what you buy matters regarding how much time you will spend in the kitchen later on. Always keep your eyes open for new products that could help you slash that time.

2) Frozen vegetables are already prepped for dinner. This means no peeling, no cutting, no chopping, and no more tears with pre-chopped onions. With the hard work done for you, you simply open the bag and pour in the ingredients. There are blends of chopped onions and peppers as well as specialty blends for soups and stews. Imagine how many fewer knives, peelers, and cutting boards you will have to wash by using this method.

3) Crushed, canned tomatoes come in handy for a variety of recipes that call for chopped tomatoes, like salsa. What's the secret to quick potato salad? Canned potatoes. They are already cooked and peeled. Just chop and add mayo and spices.

4) You don't have to be a slave to recipes anymore. Simply pick up a spice blend and add it to your favorite dishes. Save time and money and eliminate the spice clutter by having a few go-to spice blends in your spice cabinet. If you're serving Italian, use an Italian spice blend. If you want Mexican, there is a blend for that, too. Seasoning salt seems to go well on all meats.

5) Now that you've got your vegetables and spices taken care of, what about a starch? Pre-cooked rice to the rescue. These wonders of the modern age mean that rice (white or even brown) can be yours in just about a minute, and they pack well for lunch.

6) Speaking of lunch, you can buy eggs that are already boiled and peeled, so you can whip up a bunch of egg salad sandwiches in no time, or have them for a quick breakfast. If you need inspiration for a potluck, get a bag of the pre-boiled eggs and make deviled eggs in under 10 minutes with no boiling, cooling, or peeling.

7) What about the main dish for dinner? That underutilized appliance, the slow cooker, shines for creating easy, tasty dinners. There is a wide variety of dump recipes that require you to just open a can or two and dump the ingredients in. Before you know it, dinner is on the table.

8) But now you have to clean the slow cooker. A little prevention goes a long way. By using slow cooker liner bags, you will find that cleanup is as easy as removing and tossing, with no more scrubbing. And because you're using the liners, you can set up the ingredients the night before and store them in the refrigerator overnight. In the morning, you just put the bag in the crock pot and go.

9) Cooking in the oven? Parchment paper doesn't stick to food, and cleanup is just a matter of tossing it away. Just be aware of parchment paper's limitations. If you're cooking at over 400 degrees, you'll be setting off the fire alarm, as parchment does burn at high temperatures. Every time you don't use it and end up scrubbing a baking dish, you will wish you had.

10) If you have a dishwasher and want it to work so you don't have to, turn up the heat on your water heater. If the dishwasher can start with well-heated water, it will wash your dishes that much better, making re-washing and much pre-washing a thing of the past. Be careful not to turn the water up too high, though. It is possible to get burned.

11) You might still have an endless stack of little bowls and cups to wash. You may not want to go to paper plates and plastic ware just yet, but keeping a few 3-oz. paper cups around will save you so many hassles. Just big enough for a little snack or a taste of something sweet, they automatically serve as portion control, and there's no cleanup afterward.

12) If you want to impress your guests or stun at a party, sprinkles are your ticket. Somehow, even into adulthood, sprinkles still bring a smile, and just adding a few to hot chocolate or a cake make it seem that much more finished. Keep a few varieties of colors in your pantry; with just a shake of the sprinkle container, you will have people wondering how you do it all.

From vegetables and spices to prevention and cleanup, these 12 ridiculously easy kitchen secrets will save you time in the kitchen and make you look like the kitchen diva you already are.

About the author:  Michele Cleary has been in the business for over 35 years and holds a CLTC designation. She believes that life insurance can give you and your family peace of mind, especially when you have other things to worry about. Michele now has 4 grown children and knows that proper planning is essential. You can reach her at 1-800-651-1953 or MCleary@Pivot.com.