If you share our sentiments, you detest cooking but derive pleasure from eating. Regrettably, preparing a delectable meal requires some effort in the kitchen. Fortunately, there are several ingenious cooking shortcuts that can simplify food preparation and reduce time spent. Here are over 40 smart tips for the lazy cook who still desires tasty meals.
A Quick and Healthy Snack
On occasions, you might not feel like preparing a complete snack or perhaps you are in a hurry to get to work and cannot prepare a wholesome breakfast. In both situations, you can use this trick to solve the problem.
All you have to do is put some oats into a nearly empty container of peanut butter. This is not only tasty, but also beneficial for your health, and it is a fast and simple process that allows you to use up the remaining peanut butter. If you want to get creative, you can also mix in some fruits or nuts.
Have Garlic Ready to Go
Many delicious recipes call for fresh garlic, which can be a real hassle to prepare by peeling and chopping. Additionally, the strong odor of garlic can linger on your hands for hours. However, this helpful tip may require some initial preparation, but it will ultimately save you a significant amount of effort in the long run.
Acquire a large amount of garlic, remove the skin and cut it into small pieces, and place it directly into an ice tray. After that, put it in the freezer. Consequently, the next time you require garlic, it will be convenient to use.
Buy One Chicken for Everything
To have sufficient chicken for various recipes, purchase a single large rotisserie chicken. Then, cut portions of it and utilize them over the course of multiple days, up to a week. If you desire chicken salad, it’s already prepared for you!
Would you like some chicken soup? You don’t have to bother with cooking the chicken pieces, instead just add them to some broth along with your preferred vegetables. Instead of making different meals every day, why not just buy a large, versatile chicken once a week?
Fake a BBQ With Smoked Paprika
In case you enjoy the taste of grilled food but don’t have the time for extended grill sessions, there’s an effortless way to address that. Incorporating smoked paprika into your cooking will provide your dish with the distinct, hearty flavor that brings back memories of a BBQ.
Although it’s not precisely identical to a grilled meal, it can be a fantastic alternative for those who are not fond of barbecuing or do not have sufficient area to set up a huge grill at their place.
Buy Frozen Goods
Frozen foods can be surprisingly delicious and much quicker than creating homemade pastries. If you desire a distinctive taste for your desserts, you can add your own personal touch.
Enhance the flavor of your pastry by mixing in vanilla extract or chocolate powder before baking. The possibilities are endless when it comes to customizing a simple pastry according to your liking.
When in Doubt — Go Instant
Instant foods, like instant mashed potatoes, are widely accepted for a reason. Despite there being some common negative perceptions about them, let’s admit the fact that occasionally we all crave for creamy mashed potatoes, and it becomes a hassle to prepare them from scratch by spending long hours in the kitchen.
One way to make your instant food feel like a homemade dish is by adding a personal touch such as a secret spice or sauce. However, if you prefer, you can simply be upfront about using instant food, as there’s no need to feel ashamed.
A Personal Pizza in Minutes
To make pizza, you don’t have to spend long hours making the dough. Even if you’re just one person, you don’t need to defrost a large pre-made dough.
Instead, opt for a flour tortilla or pita bread and cover it with marina sauce. Add your preferred amount of cheese and toppings before placing it in the oven for a duration of five minutes. Voila! You have successfully created your personal pizza.
The Secret to Shredding Chicken
In earlier times, cooking might have required many hours of effort, but that’s no longer the case now thanks to our modern era’s abundance of technology. Therefore, it’s worth asking yourself if you’re making full use of all the kitchen tools at your disposal.
An instance of this can be seen while shredding chicken. Previously, manually pulling apart the chicken was indispensable but not anymore. With the use of a mixer, the chicken can be shredded in a matter of seconds. It’s remarkable that mixers were thought to be exclusively used for mixing not too long ago.
Have Potatoes On-Hand
Potatoes are a highly adaptable food that can be consumed in various dishes throughout the day. To have them readily available, set aside some time occasionally to dice and cook the potatoes, and store them in the refrigerator.
By doing that, you would have already completed half of the work if you need to make something hastily. Additionally, you could simply place them on a frying pan with a bit of butter or oil along with some spices for a fast and effortless snack.
Macaroni and Cheese Popcorn
Elevate your popcorn experience and transform it into a rare treat by adding flavor with instant macaroni and cheese packets. Simply prepare your popcorn in the microwave as usual.
After placing it in a bowl, sprinkle the powder of macaroni and cheese over it and blend it well. After doing so, you are all set for a perfect movie night, relaxing with Netflix, having a quick snack or enjoying all three at once!
Clean a Blender Effortlessly
The process of cleaning a blender can be difficult since there is a danger of harming oneself with the sharp blade. Nevertheless, there is a significantly faster, more convenient, and ultimately safer approach to that, which is allowing the blender to clean itself.
To clean your blender, pour warm water that is not overly hot into it until it’s filled to slightly less than half capacity. Then, add a small amount of dish soap and put on the lid. Turn on your blender for a few seconds. Afterward, pour out the soapy water, rinse thoroughly, and you’re finished!
Microwave Garlic for Easy Peeling
Garlic peeling can be a challenging task that causes a strong smell on your hands. However, it is possible to make it easier. By warming the garlic a little, you can save a significant amount of effort and time.
Microwave a whole garlic for 20 seconds and the skin will easily fall off, making it mess-free and without the need to touch the smelly garlic. This technique guarantees that you have some garlic prepared for cutting.
Don’t Thaw Frozen Fish
It is possible to cook fish directly from the freezer, which eliminates the need to wait for it to defrost. Although this may result in a longer cooking time, it saves time that would have been spent waiting for it to thaw. Whether or not to do this depends on how quickly you need the fish to be cooked.
One advantage of this technique is that you don’t have to make a decision beforehand regarding eating fish. Additionally, due to its frozen state, the condiments and dressings adhere to the exterior of the fish, and the fish won’t be overcooked on the inside.
Shake Whipped Cream
If you whip cream manually, you may end up with an additional bicep. It is better to conserve that energy for exercising, and prepare whipped cream by shaking. Put heavy whipping cream in a jar, mix in powdered sugar and vanilla, seal the lid tightly, and shake until it becomes airy and light.
You can turn up some music, dance around the house, and shake your whipped cream like a maraca without any hesitation. It seems like it could become a popular trend on TikTok, don’t you think?
Use the “Underwater Method” for Pomegranates
Removing seeds from pomegranates is usually a chaotic, aggravating, and difficult task. Fortunately, there is a method to eliminate the seeds from the fruit effectively and devoid of any untidiness involved.
To begin, halve the pomegranate and immerse it in water. Extract the seeds and allow them to descend to the bowl’s bottom, while the pomegranate skin and membranes float at the top. Simply remove the seeds and you’re all set.
Use Baking Soda to Save Time
Preparing polenta or grits can be a time-consuming and energy-draining task. But, there’s a handy shortcut to reduce the preparation time by half, which is adding baking soda. By adding baking soda, you can achieve the desired consistency and texture of the dish without putting in too much effort.
Ensure that you do not add an excessive amount since a pinch is sufficient. In order to obtain a perfect creamy texture, when using baking soda for polenta, it is advisable to mix it with water before adding it.
Microwave First, Oven Second
Some dishes, such as casserole or lasagna, require a long time to warm up properly when using an oven. Nevertheless, if these meals are reheated in the microwave, their original texture may be compromised.
One way to solve this problem is to thaw your food in the microwave beforehand and then continue heating it in the oven. The microwave will swiftly warm the inner part of the food while the oven will heat the exterior, without altering the texture.
Lazy Apple Pie
Very few things taste as good as some warm apple pie. Unfortunately, very few things require as much time and effort to bake as apple pie does. That being said, there’s a lazy option for this classic dessert.
Cut an apple into small cubes and place it into a cup or bowl. Add butter, sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Then, put it in the microwave until the apples get mushy. Finally, sprinkle crushed graham crackers on top. There you have it — five-minute apple pie!
Use Lemon Juice Instead of Lemons
If a recipe calls for squeezing lemons or lime, you can save yourself some time by using bottled lemon or lime juice. It’s a lot less messy, a lot easier, and won’t leave you trying to fish out the seeds.
We’ll be honest, the flavor won’t be as fresh as it’d be if you squeezed lemons or limes yourself. Therefore, you should really just use this hack for recipes in which the food is being cooked or mixed with a lot of other flavors anyway.
Leftover food doesn’t need to go to waste and you certainly don’t need to prepare a new meal every single day. But, don’t think that means you have to eat the same food every day, either! Instead, recycle your leftovers and use them for a different dish.
For example, leftover mashed potatoes can become tater tots. Leftover rice can be used for a buddha bowl or even rice pudding. Pasta can become a casserole or a pasta salad. You get the idea…
Use Dessert Mixes
Boxed dessert mixes are often looked down on but no one can deny that they’re a true time-saver and taste just as good as something baked from scratch. You can even add your own touch to these mixes in order to personalize them.
Throw some ground coffee into a chocolate cake mix in order to give it a mocha flavor. Or splash a bit of milk into a brownie mix to make it creamier. Add chocolate chips, coconut flakes, nuts, or whatever you want!
Salvage a Broken Cake
We’ve all been in that dreaded situation in which we’ve spent time and energy baking a cake, just for it to break and ruin the whole aesthetic.
Not all hope has to be lost, though, as you can easily turn the broken cake into a trifle. Just layer in some fruit and whipped cream and… voilà! No one ever has to know that your perfect trifle was once supposed to be a cake.
Any Pizza Can Be Deep-Dish
Believe it or not, any pizza can be made into a deep-dish pizza — without all the effort of making the dish from scratch. Whether or not you live in Chicago, you can still enjoy a deep-dish pizza — even from home!
Buy a pre-made supermarket pizza, let it thaw for roughly 20 minutes, toss it onto an oiled pan, add whatever toppings you want, then bake it for an additional 10 minutes.
Prevent Cuts With Magnets
If you’ve ever cut your finger on the lid of a can, don’t worry, you’re not the only one. Lifting a can’s lid can be a dangerous task if you’re prone to clumsy accidents.
For those who are maybe a bit less agile, we suggest using a strong fridge magnet on top of the lid to lift the lid completely off the can. That way, you won’t end up hurting yourself when trying to reach the can’s contents.
Leave the Potato Skins
Believe it or not, potato skins actually add a lot of texture and flavor to most spud-centric dishes. Given that mashed potatoes can be quite monotonous, potato skins are a great way to break up the flavor and add a little something extra.
Furthermore, you’ll be saving yourself tons of time by not peeling all the potatoes before boiling them. You’d be surprised how being “lazy” about making potatoes can actually result in a unique and delicious dish. Just make sure to still clean them before use!
Get Ice-Cold Drinks Quickly
We’ve all been guilty of forgetting to put a drink in the fridge and then being stuck with having it at room temperature. Sure, you can try to put it in the freezer for a bit but that never works as quickly as you’d like it to.
However, there’s an easy way to make the freezer work much more efficiently. Wrap the bottle in a wet paper towel and then put it in the freezer. It’ll be nice and cold in just a few minutes!
Pico de Gallo Instead of Veggies
Pico de gallo, aka salsa fresco, can be used instead of fresh veggies as a huge time-saver. If you have a recipe that calls for onions, peppers, and tomatoes, you can just throw in store-bought pico de gallo instead.
It contains all those ingredients already chopped and ready to go, and it’ll taste exactly the same as fresh veggies when cooked into a dish. If you’re more of a DIY person, you can always make your own every once in a while, and keep it in the fridge.
Spruce Up Ramen Noodles
Trust us when we tell you that it’s entirely possible to make a delicious dish from instant ramen noodles. Yes, we know how that sounds but stay with us here. Add peanut butter and sriracha to instant beef-flavored ramen and your mind will be blown by how simple, yet tasty, it is!
Of course, if you’re not a fan of sriracha or peanut butter, you can add other ingredients instead. The point is that you can create a delicious ramen dish without starting from scratch.
Cook Spaghetti in a Skillet
Cooking spaghetti in a skillet, rather than a pot, will reduce the time it takes for it to be ready as the water will boil much faster. Furthermore, the leftover water is the perfect base for making a sauce.
It’ll be concentrated and starchy, so you don’t need to start creating a sauce from zero. When the spaghetti’s finished cooking, put it on a plate and use the same skillet to make the sauce, which you’ve already started with the water.
Separate Egg Yolks With a Bottle
Separating egg yolks from the whites is no easy task… unless you know the trick to it, that is! All you need is a water bottle in order to easily extract egg yolks. Crack the eggs into a bowl, hold the mouth of the water bottle over the egg yolk, and slowly release your grip.
When you release the squeeze, the bottle will suck up the yolk. You can then deposit the yolk into a separate bowl, as needed.
Blend Hollandaise Sauce
Despite being absolutely delicious, many people don’t have hollandaise sauce on a regular basis because it’s such a pain to make. This sauce requires endless whisking and perfect timing, in order to come out just right.
However, if you don’t mind cheating a bit, there’s a much easier way to get this sauce. Simply mix the ingredients in a blender and, at the click of a button, it’ll be ready. Feel free to keep this trick a secret so your guests admire your expert “whisking” abilities.
Use Anchovies to Elevate a Dish
Not everyone loves the taste of anchovies but if you use them sparingly, they can elevate a dish without giving off that fishy flavor.
For example, dissolving one or two anchovies into a bolognese sauce will give it that extra oomph that makes it taste like it’s from a gourmet restaurant. It’s also a wonderful alternative to salt! If you’re cooking for other people, just make sure they’re good with eating fish as they won’t taste the anchovies in the dish.
French Toast in a Mug
Who doesn’t love French toast for breakfast in the morning? However, who really wants to spend their whole morning cooking? That’s where French toast in a mug comes in. Rip up pieces of bread and place them in a mug.
Then, create a French toast batter (eggs, milk, sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla) and pour it into the mug. Put it in the microwave for one minute. Take it out, pour maple syrup on it, microwave it for another 15 seconds, take it out again, and enjoy your breakfast!
Repurpose Leftovers Into a Quiche
Remember, leftovers never have to go to waste while there’s still no need to eat the same thing every day. Making a quiche or frittata is a great way to utilize any savory foods that may need repurposing.
This whatever-goes type of cooking is also a great way to use up vegetables that are going to go bad soon. Use them in any sort of baked egg dish — it’s pretty much impossible to go wrong with those.
Cooking bacon can make you feel like you need to wear a full-body shield. Frying this delicious food will leave grease splatters all over your kitchen — and all over you.
In order to avoid the mess but still enjoy a bacon-filled breakfast, bake your bacon in the oven rather than frying it. Line a baking pan with tin foil (you can also use a cooking sheet), put the bacon on it, and pop it into the oven. There you have it!
The Egg Peeling Trick
Peeling eggs can be pretty frustrating and time-consuming — if you don’t know the trick to it, that is. In order to peel hard-boiled eggs quickly and painlessly, put them in a jar of cold water.
Then put the lid on (make sure it’s screwed on tight), and shake the jar. When you go to take the eggs out, the shell will come right off! This trick should cut down your egg salad prepping by half!
No More Onion Tears
Peeling onions isn’t really anyone’s favorite task. It’s difficult to do, it stinks up your hands, and most people get teary-eyed from it. A simple solution is to soak the onions in hot water for a few minutes before starting to peel them.
This trick will make peeling the pesky vegetable much easier and help a bit with the crying (sadly, it won’t completely eliminate the tears). Another trick to help with tears when cutting onions is to put the onions in the freezer for 10-15 minutes before cutting them.
Cheat at Cake Decorating
We all want people to be impressed with our amazing cake-decorating skills. That being said, not all of us have those abilities handy. Luckily, you can fake it by placing cookies into the cake, making it look like you’ve drawn the design on with frosting yourself.
If your conscious can handle cheating even further, you can buy several different-sized cakes and pile them on top of each other. That way, it’ll look like you’ve baked a huge three-tiered cake!
A true first-world food problem is reaching for a handful of popcorn only to discover that you’ve eaten a mouthful of bitter kernels. Apparently, the bag that microwavable popcorn comes in is designed to prevent that very instance — but no one uses them properly!
The bag is meant to be opened just a small bit, at first, so that you can shake the kernels out into a bowl. Once they’re all gone, you can open the popcorn bag all the way and enjoy without fear of a bad bite.
Be Ready for Taco Tuesday
Everyone loves taco Tuesday — except for when all of the contents of our taco fall out of the tortilla and onto our hands, that is. In order to keep your taco whole, place the tortilla in a microwave-safe cup.
Then, fill the tortilla with whatever you want in your taco. Microwave it, and only take the taco out of the cup when it’s ready to eat. That’s how you get an (almost) mess-free taco.
Never Burn Grilled Cheese Again
Most people use butter on their grilled cheese. While delicious, it’s pretty easy to burn if you’re not careful or willing to keep a close eye on it. An alternative, and equally tasty, option is to use mayo instead.
It’s a lot less likely to burn and needs less attention when being grilled. Bonus points for the fact using mayo saves you the time of needing to soften the butter so you can spread it.
Switch to Powders
When it comes to onion and garlic, powders are just as good as the fresh stuff. We admit that, at first, they’re a bit less flavorful. However, that can easily be fixed by simply mixing the spices with a touch of water.
Anyway, you won’t really notice if the recipe in question calls for the onions or garlic to be cooked into something. Powders will save you the time you would’ve spent peeling and chopping, and they’ll also save you a whole lot of mess.
Always Have “Fancy” Ingredients Ready
Certain ingredients can make any basic dish seem fancy. For example, sun-dried tomatoes have the magical power of always feeling gourmet. Figure out what your “fancy” ingredients are and make sure to always have them on hand to quickly spruce up a meal.
If you’ve got excellent culinary skills, you can make an actual fancy meal. However, if you’re in a rush or cooking just isn’t where you shine, fake it with a “fancy” ingredient.
Egg Slicers Aren’t Just for Eggs
Who says egg slicers have to be exclusively for eggs? This useful tool can be used for pretty much anything that’s soft and needs slicing. You can use egg slicers for strawberries, mushrooms, soft cheeses, olives, and so on.
Why sit there, spending your time chopping all sorts of foods, when you have an egg slicer that can be used for so much more than its original purpose? Feel free to find multiple uses for your other kitchen appliances as well! Get creative with it!
Two-Ingredient Caramel Sauce
Caramel sauce can be a true pain to make, as it requires endless whisking, quite a few ingredients, and will burn unless you keep an eye on it. However, there’s a way for even the laziest chef to cook caramel sauce — and it only requires two ingredients.
Mix condensed milk with boiling water, let it sit for roughly three hours, and you’ll have caramel sauce! The best part is that there’s no need to stand over it while it cooks.