36 Time-Saving Food & Prep Hacks That Actually Work

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When it comes to feeding a crew of hungry kids, we’ve never met a shortcut we didn’t like. This is why, it being the season of late nights and random dinner times, we want to give you as many cooking hacks (scooped from resourceful parents everywhere) as possible. From meal-prep advice to the easiest way to get an egg that peels with ease, scroll down to see 37 clever food and cooking shortcuts that’ll save you tons of time. 


Pizza Cutter for Herbs

Having fresh herbs in the house is nice for creating marinades, dressings and more, but finely chopping those herbs can be difficult. The good news is, there’s a way to make the process easy. Place the herbs on a cutting board, and roll a pizza cutter through them. Don't worry about cutting in a perfect line, just roll through the bunch as many times as you want.  

SteveBP via Pixabay

Peeling a Mango

The skin of a mango is pretty thick, and the peeling process usually involves careful knife skills. We found another way to get that pesky skin off with ease. All you need to do is slice the mango in half and grab a tall glass. Using the rim of the glass, get between the skin and fruit at the bottom of the slice. Push down, and the skin will slide right off. Voila! You've got a perfectly peeled mango.

Heather Schwartz via Unsplash

Steam Eggs Instead of Boiling Them

Boiled eggs can be a challenge to peel, but if you steam them over boiled water for 10-15 minutes, the shell will come off in no time.  

Geraud Pfeiffer via Pexels

Add an Ice Cube to Sautéing Onions to Avoid Burning

If your onions are on the verge of burning, throw an ice cube into the pan. It'll evaporate quickly and give the veggies a hint of moisture to avoid being overcooked. 

Lisa Redfern via Pexels

Store Partially Chopped Veggies in The Freezer

Have you ever just chopped half a stalk of celery or bulb of cauliflower, and had to put it back in the fridge where it immediately starts to wilt? If you want to keep your partially chopped veggies fresh, we recommend putting them right in the freezer. This locks in the freshness, and they’ll be ready to jump into the frying pan after a little defrosting time.

Loren Castillo via Pexels

Shred Chicken in Your Food Processor

From tacos to salads, casseroles and beyond, shredded chicken is a staple for family meals. But shredding it all by hand or with a pair of forks can take forever! Amazingly, there’s a quick fix for that—just toss boiled or baked chicken breasts in your mixer, and you’ll have expertly shredded chicken in seconds.


Put Water in Your Microwave to Preserve the Moisture

Whether it’s leftovers or meal-prepped treats, your microwave is a powerful tool. But you’re always at risk of drying out your food when you use it. We’ve got a simple way to avoid that. Toss a glass of water into the microwave with your food to give it a little extra moisture.


Freeze Sauce in Ice Cube Trays

We’re all about making cooking easier. With this meal-prep hack, you’ll be able to create perfectly portioned sauces days or weeks in advance and use them whenever you want. Just mix up your favorite sauces, put the liquid in your ice trays and freeze. Keep the portions frozen until you're ready to use them.

Jaye Haych via Unsplash

Boil Potatoes for an Easy Peel

From fries to mashed potatoes and chips, everybody LOVES potatoes. But, for a lot of recipes, peeling the potatoes is a must, and using a potato peeler or knife can be time-consuming and difficult. We have an easy fix! Boil the potatoes, let them cool, and the skin will peel off in seconds.


Try Silicone Baking Sheets

Do you hate cleaning cookie sheets? We know that cleaning them can be difficult because the grease and grime are baked in deep. Using a silicone baking sheet, which makes removing all of your tasty morsels as easy as pie, will change your life. We like this one

Agto Nugroho via Unsplash

Use Lemon Slices as a Base for Grilled Fish

Your filet of salmon will stay intact much easier if you line it on slices of lemon. Plus, the juices will seep up, making a flavorful dinner. See one of our favorite recipes here

ckjeziorny via Pixabay

Put Marshmallows in Your Brown Sugar

Brown sugar is a baking necessity for cookies, cupcakes and pies, but unlike white sugar, it can dry out very quickly, which means you’ll be stuck breaking up hard blobs of sugar when you want to use it. But, there’s an easy fix for this. All you need to do is throw a few marshmallows into the airtight container with your brown sugar to conserve the moisture and make it easy to scoop.

Jenna Hamra via Pixabay

Separating Strawberry Tops

Strawberries are healthy and delicious. But chopping the green tuffs off the top of every piece of fruit takes so long! Use this fun trick to get them off without a knife: Take a straw and push it from the bottom of the fruit to the top in one swift motion—it'll pop those little green leaves right off.

Furbymama via Pixabay

Flatten Ground Meat

No matter how hard you try, it seems like there’s never enough freezer space. We have a fun way to help you create extra room. Take your ground beef out of its package, put it in a Ziploc bag, flatten it, and put it back in the freezer; you'll be surprised by the extra open space. You can also write the expiration dates on the bags to make sure your meat is always fresh.

Mohd Hafiz Yahya via Unsplash

Cut Corn Over Your Bundt Cake Tin

Let’s face it, chopping fresh corn is a pain, mostly because the kernels get all over the counter. But there’s a way to make sure it never happens again. Grab your bundt cake tin, flip it upside down, stand the corn up in the middle, and slice the kernels off; they’ll fall perfectly into that round tin, so cleaning up is a breeze!

Samantha Fields via Unsplash

Stabilize Your Cutting Board

Slicing and dicing are a big part of cooking, which means you’re always reaching for the cutting board. But it’s important to make sure that it isn’t slipping and sliding all over the place, so it stable by putting a damp dishtowel underneath it. It'll keep it in place and make clean up even easier. 

Allison Sutcliffe

Cupcake Liner Catches Popsicle Drips

Popsicles are a childhood fave, but they can turn into a bit of a sticky mess. Prevent all of that dripping by slipping cupcake liners onto the bottom of your kids' popsicles. Slide the liner up so that it cups the bottom of the popsicle to make sure it catches all of those little drips.

Ponce Photography via Pixabay

Cut Cheesecake with Dental Floss

Cheesecake is a dessert kids and parents love, but cutting it equally can be difficult. Well, we've got an easy way to slice it perfectly every time. Try using dental floss. Just make sure the dental floss is unscented, so you don’t get a minty surprise with your dessert.  

Luisa Brimble via Unsplash

Grate Your Butter

Softened butter is a staple for all bakers out there, but putting solid butter in the microwave isn’t always the best way to get that soft consistency you're looking for. Try grating it, instead. Grab a cheese grater and you’ll be on your way to having soft butter you can mix in a snap.


Use White Bread on Your Birthday Cake

Birthday cake is yummy, but when the party’s over, you're left with half a cake that'll be stale by tomorrow. What if there was a way to preserve this delectable sugar overload? Try putting slices of white bread on the interior sections of the cake where you cut into it—the bread locks in the moisture.

Conger Design via Pixabay

Use Cookie Molds for Fun Food

No matter what time of year it is, you can always use cookie cutters. And they can be used for much more than just cookies. You can also use them to create pancakes or eggs with designs like flowers, cartoon characters and more. 

Public Domain via Pixabay

Binder Clips in the Fridge

If you need an easy way to keep all of your favorite munchies fresh in the fridge, may we suggest binder clips? Yes, you read that right. Grab some binder clips, and clip all of your bags of food directly onto the rungs of each shelf. This saves space and keeps everything nice and fresh.  

Alex Motoc via Unsplash

Make Oatmeal in Your Rice Cooker

Oatmeal is a warm alternative to cold cereal, but it does take a little more time to make in the morning. Try using your rice cooker to make the oatmeal instead. This way, you don’t need to worry about watching, stirring or remembering to turn off the stove. Just put everything inside, and within minutes you’ve got scrumptious oatmeal.

Lisa Carpenter

Use an Apple Corer to Make French Fries

An apple corer/slicer can instantly transform a plain potato into everyone's favorite side. That's right, you can make homemade fries in a snap with a utensil you may already have in your kitchen drawer. Grandma's Brief has all the delicious details.


Cottonbro via Pexels

Freeze Herbs in Ice Trays

Want fresh basil, thyme, rosemary all year long? No problem. This easy food hack is Martha Stewart worthy, sans the effort. Just put fresh herbs in ice trays, add oil and freeze. Freezing the herbs in oil also prevents them from turning brown or getting that dreaded freezer burn. 


The Kitchn

Rubber Band Apples

Sure, an apple a day keeps the doctor away. But, how do you keep away the brown part after slicing it? Easy, just grab a rubber band. Cut the apple and then bind it back together like it's never been touched. Your kid will think he's munching on a freshly cut piece of fruit, even if it's three hours later.


A Thrifty Mom

Wedges are so 2014. No, not the ones you wear on your feet; those are still fabulous. We're talking about watermelon wedges. Instead of slicing the melon into wide wedges that inevitably get juice all over everyone's face and chin, cut the fruit in half, then slice it in a grid. You'll get evenly sized slices that each has just enough rind on the bottom for little hands to grab.


Cook and Craft Me Crazy

Cut Pancakes with a Pizza Cutter

The trusted pizza slicer really is a mom's best friend. From sandwiches to pancakes, you can use this snazzy slicer to save time and messes. 


Nick Evans

Cook Eggs in the Oven

It is a literal Egg McMuffin. Nick of Macheesmo shows us how to make a breakfast sandwich even more amazing by simply baking the eggs in a muffin tin. Best part? You can add other ingredients to the eggs (think spinach, ham, cheese) and then freeze the whole thing for busy on-the-go mornings. Find the original recipe here and the updated version here.



Frozen Grapes Taste Great

Pop grapes into the freezer for a sweet and crunchy treat that tastes like candy. A refreshing snack any time of the year, this is also a great way to make sure you always have fruit on hand.


Dana Williard via Made Every Day

Use Magnets to Keep Water Cups Handy

Talk about having a “why didn’t I think of that” moment. If your kids are anything like ours, then you probably go through a few water cups every day. Cut down on needless dishes with this awesome cup hack from Dana over at Made Everyday.


Christine Sandu via Unsplash

Cut Up Noodles

Use your noodle: Cut up spaghetti, linguine and ramen with scissors. Smaller bites and shorter bits will ease frustration at the dinner table and make after-dinner clean up easier.  


Jill Nystol via One Good Thing

DIY Uncrustables

You like the idea of making PB&J (or some "other butter" and jelly) ahead of time, but don't really know how to make a good freezer version. Good news! One Good Thing by Jillee explains the how-to here, and shows you how to seal that sandwich—no fancy gear needed.


Kimberly Harris via The Nourishing Gourmet

Coffee Filters as Snack Containers

A brilliantly simple idea from The Nourishing Gourmet, swap out plastic baggies or even bulky reusables in favor of a biodegradable coffee filter. Psst! If you’ve gone Keurig, we’re betting you’ve got a box of these collecting dust somewhere in your kitchen.


The Kitchn

Yogurt Containers as Popsicles

The kids are dying for a popsicle, but all you have is yogurt. Time for a hack. Just push a stick straight through the top of your family's favorite yogurt and pop it in the freezer for an insta-pop! For more ways to make popsicles without a mold "pop" over to The Kitchn.


Jennifer Bishop

Ice Cube Trays as Snack Holders

Having a stash of snacks is a must for every parent. But, having a bunch of different canisters, bags and boxes on hand are difficult for travel and storage. Well, we’ve got the perfect hack for you! Try using silicone ice cube trays as snack trays for at home or on car trips.


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