The same scenario happens every night: You finally get home from a long day of working and commuting, and the last thing you want to do is cook dinner. But you don’t have to order delivery every night just to save time. Instead, use these simple hacks that all take about a minute to do and you’ll save time, calories and fat in the process.
1. Crush garlic with the side of a kitchen knife
Skip the painstaking process of peeling garlic cloves; simply place the clove under the flat side of wide knife blade and crush it with the heel of your hand. If you’re making a paste, chop the garlic after smashing and then smash again with your hand or the knife until it’s the consistency you want.
2. Grate parmesan cheese at room temperature
Ask any chef and they’ll tell you to keep parmesan cheese at room temperature at all times. There’s a reason for that: “Warm” parmesan grates much, much faster than cold cheese. If you’d rather keep your block refrigerated that’s absolutely fine, just bring it to room temperature before cooking.
Boiling water can take upwards of 10 minutes, but only a minute or so in an electric kettle.
4. Wear gloves when working with meat
Working with meats can be a total time suck because you risk cross-contamination—and serious illness—if you handle other ingredients right after prepping the meat. Washing your hands multiple times increases the cooking time considerably, so only prep meat when you’re wearing gloves—and then take them off for the rest of the cooking process.
5. Read the full recipe before cooking
This seems so simple, but sometimes we get in a rush to cook that we forget to read the recipe before starting. Keep a time-consuming step from blindsiding you by reading through the whole recipe before you start. That way you’ll be prepared for any daunting step before you get to it.
6. Use the ‘float test’ to test egg freshness
Can’t remember when you bought those eggs? Don’t fret; eggs are typically good well past their expiration dates. But you can always do the “float test” to check their freshness before you ruin dinner—and other food—by adding spoiled eggs. It’s simple: Just put an egg in a bowl of water. If they float, they’re bad; if they sink and lay horizontally, they’re good to go.
7. Build a meal strategy
Don’t decide what you’re having for dinner right before you start cooking. Instead, make a master meal plan for the week ahead on Sundays and then write out the ingredients you’ll need for each. It makes for easier shopping—and you only have to refer to your plan before starting the dinner-making process.
Now that you have your meal plan for the week, take one minute each night and put all of the ingredients you’ll need in two separate baskets: One for dry ingredients and one for cold ingredients. Then, you’ll just have to grab the basket when you get home after work and start cooking!
9. Cut jalapeños with kitchen shears
Jalapeños add fun flavor to dishes without a lot of added calories, but preparing them is anything but fun. Quickly fly through your peppers by cutting them with kitchen shears. It keeps you from accidentally getting juice in your eyes because you aren’t handling the actual peppers.
10. Grate butter before melting in microwave
Many recipes call for melted butter and the microwave is the perfect place to do that quickly. However, just throwing a stick of butter in there makes for uneven cooking—and evaporated butter if you cook until it’s all melted. Whip out a cheese grater for a minute to get the butter into small pieces before cooking.