99 Food Hacks You Can’t Live Without

Use these tips and tricks to make your time spent in the kitchen easy and efficient.

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Save Time and Money With This Smoothie Hack (2:14)

Take the anxiety and stress out of cooking and preparing meals by using these food hacks in the kitchen. 

1. Use a Cheese Grater to Soften Butter

Most baking recipes call for softened butter as an ingredient, but waiting for butter to soften can take a while. Speed up your baking process by rubbing the butter on a cheese grater to loosen it up.

2. Soften Your Sugar With Marshmallows

Keep your brown sugar soft by tossing a few marshmallows into the sugar bowl. Additionally, if you have sugar that has already hardened, sealing it in an airtight contained with marshmallows will soften it again.

3. Use Dental Floss to Cut Soft Cheese

Soft cheese and breads can be hard to keep intact when cutting. Cut them with precision by using original, unscented, dental floss. Simply cut a piece of dental floss, wrap it around the cheese or bread, and pull until the floss goes through and cuts a slice.

4. Keep Cakes Moist With Bread

If you’re waiting a day before frosting your cake, use a piece of sliced bread to keep your cake soft and moist overnight. All you have to do is place the slice of bread on top of the cake.

5. Make an Ice Cream Sandwich by Slicing a Pint

Making homemade ice cream sandwiches can be easy if you know the right technique. Lay a pint of ice cream on its side and cut one-inch-thick slices through the carton. Place an ice cream slice in between two cookies and peel off the paper carton piece.

6. Stylize Your Lemons With a Peeler

Use a vegetable peeler to make fancy lemons for party drinks. Peel slices of the rind off a whole lemon so the lemon has stripes. Then cut lemons as usual to see the flower design created from the peeling. Throw into homemade lemonade, ice water, or cocktails for a fancy flare.

More: 11 Amazing Uses for Lemons

7. Use a Cupcake Liner to Prevent Sticky Popsicle Hands 

Protect your kids (and yourself) from sticky hands when eating a Popsicle. Punch a hole into a cupcake liner and slide it up the Popsicle stick—that way, as it melts, the Popsicle juice will fall into the liner for easy cleanup.

8. Save Your Coffee With Coffee Ice Cubes

Pour coffee into ice cube trays and freeze. Use your newly made coffee ice cubes instead of regular ones in your iced coffee—that way your coffee won’t get watered down as the ice melts.

More: The Pros and Cons of Drinking Coffee

9. Use Nonstick Cooking Spray for Easier Baking

When measuring out sticky ingredients such as honey, syrup, or peanut butter, spray your spoon or measuring cup with nonstick cooking spray. This will ensure that ingredients will slide right off the spoon and into the bowl.

10. Put Garlic in the Microwave for Easier Peeling

Peeling garlic can be a tedious task that can make your hands smell. Pop your cloves into the microwave for 10 seconds for quick and easy peeling.

11. Ripen an Avocado With a Banana

Ripe bananas produce a significant amount of ethylene gas, which helps fruit ripen faster. Put an avocado into a brown paper bag with a ripe banana and let it sit overnight.

12. Freeze Oatmeal in Muffin Tins

Save time during your morning routine by pre-making breakfast. Cook oatmeal and portion it out in muffin tins and then freeze. Grab the amount of oatmeal you want and microwave it at your house or work and add desired toppings for a quick and healthy-portioned breakfast. Get the recipe.

13. Make Healthy Gravy With Your Chicken

Throw chopped vegetables of your choice into the base of the pan when cooking chicken. Once the chicken is cooked, dump the veggies and juices into a food processor and blend for a healthier gravy alternative.

14. Add Vegetables Into Your Sauce

Hide vegetables in spaghetti sauce to get your kids to eat veggies without them knowing. Chop your vegetables of choice and blend in with the sauce to disguise. Meat sauce works best to help hide the flavor and texture.

15. Add Vegetables Into Smoothies

Make your mornings healthier and help yourself eat more vegetables throughout the day by adding veggies to your smoothies. Try blending baby kale, a handful of spinach, or even half an avocado.

More: Dr. Oz's 100 Favorite Smoothies for Weight Loss

16. Boil Water With Your Coffee Machine

If you’re pressed for time and aren’t able to boil water for tea, oatmeal, and other small things, use your single-serve coffee maker. The coffee maker has a button to dispense just hot water, which is helpful when you’re in a time crunch.

17. Use Tongs to Juice a Lemon

If you have trouble squeezing all the juice out of a lemon, use a pair of tongs to help you out. Grip the lemon half with the tongs and squeeze hard to make sure all of the juice gets out.

18. Swap Out Ice Cream for Greek Yogurt

Freeze small portions of Greek yogurt with the fruit of your choice for a healthy indulgence at the end of a long day. Most people can eat at least 300 calories of ice cream in one sitting without knowing it. Control your calories by satisfying your sweet tooth in 180 calories with added protein, vitamins, and nutrients.

19. Turn Cake Batter Into Cookie Dough

Any boxed cake mix can be turned into cookie dough by adding two eggs and a half cup of vegetable oil to the mix. Add chocolate chips to vanilla or walnuts to chocolate for a great batch of cookies.

20. Measure Nuts Perfectly With a Mint Box

Mint boxes are great to use to measure out the perfect portion of nuts. Measure out your one-ounce snack and get your daily dose of healthy fats.

21. Get More Lemon Juice by Using the Microwave

Microwave your lemons (and limes!) for 30 seconds to get more juice out of them. This is a great technique when you need the maximum amount of lemon juice for homemade lemonade, roasted chicken, or a batch of hot tea.

22. Preserve Your Herbs in Ice Cube Trays

If your herbs are going to go bad before you can use them all, freeze them. Fill up ice cube trays with the herb, add a dash of olive oil into each cube, and freeze until you need them.

23. Make Food Healthier With Greek Yogurt

Greek yogurt is a healthy probiotic and high-protein food that can help make your food healthier. Swap out butter, mayonnaise, sour cream, milk, and other high-fat ingredients in popular recipes using this conversion chart.

24. Use a Paper Plate to Prevent Baking Messes

If your mixer usually leaves batter splatters on your shirt, kitchen counter, or wall, use a paper plate to control it. Poke two holes through the paper plate and put the mixers through—this way the splatter will hit the top of the plate before it goes anywhere else.

25. Cut Carbs With Spinach

Using spinach to make pizza crust is a great gluten-free alternative that also helps you cut down your carb and calorie intake. The crust itself is only 63 calories a serving and can be topped with whatever you want—like sauce, cheese, meat, and veggies. Get the recipe here.

More: 6 Delicious and Healthy Veggie Pizza Crusts

26. Keep Cookies Fresh With a Slice of Bread

If you just made cookies and want to keep them fresh, store them in an airtight container with a slice of bread. This will make sure the cookies stay soft until they are ready to be eaten.

27. Swap Buttermilk for Regular Milk

If a recipe calls for buttermilk and you don’t have any around or you don’t want to waste your calories on it, use regular milk. Adding a tablespoon of lemon juice to regular milk is the perfect substitute.

28. Use Veggies for Healthier Pasta

Have pasta noodles made out of vegetables instead of wheat for a healthier dinner alternative. Julienne-peeling an eggplant and sautéing it in olive oil is an easy way to quickly whip up something delicious. Get the recipe here.

29. Use Almonds to Make Sushi Rice

Sushi is delicious, but the amount of rice in each roll can increase your carb intake significantly. Use boiled and chopped almonds to make a rice replacement that is low in calories and delicious. Get the recipe here.

30. Get Perfect Pancakes With a Ketchup Bottle

Clean out a ketchup bottle and fill it up with pancake batter. Squeezing out the batter will give you perfectly shaped pancakes every time, plus it’s a mess-free way to let kids help with breakfast.

More: 13 Easy Pancake Recipes

31. Freeze Wine for Cooking

If you have leftover wine, freeze it in ice cube trays. When your sauce, stew, or soup recipe calls for a dash of wine you’ll have cubes on hand to use.

32. Use Almond Milk Pulp for Baking

Making almond or cashew milk at home leaves behind nut pulp. Use the leftovers to make granola bars or add in stews or soups.

Watch: How to Make Fresh Almond Milk

33. Get Perfect Pasta With the Right Technique

To get perfectly cooked al dente pasta, bring water to a boil and add pasta of your choice. Boil the pasta for two minutes, stirring several times. Then turn off the heat, cover, and let the pasta sit for 10 minutes. Drain, top with sauce, and enjoy.

34. Get Smoothies Fast by Freezing Them

Put any fruits and veggies that are going bad into a blender along with your liquid of choice to make a batch of smoothies. Fill cupcake tins with the smoothie mix and freeze. Put each smoothie portion in a freezer-safe bag for easy access in the morning. For an energy boost in the morning pop one of the frozen pieces into the blender and go.

35. Make the Perfect-Size Fries With an Apple Slicer

Use an apple slicer to cut potatoes perfectly for homemade French fries. Wash, cut, and then bake in the oven for crispy fries (that aren’t actually fried!).

36. Make Lemon Ice Cubes With Cupcake Pans

Fill cupcake pans with lemon slices and water, then freeze. Use these fun, fresh, and decorative ice cubes to put in drinks for a party or to liven up your daily water.

37. Make Overnight Oats With Vegetables

Make a sweet and savory breakfast (with a serving of vegetables!) by adding zucchini to overnight oats. Get the recipe.

38. Add Caffeine to Overnight Oats

Increase your morning power by adding caffeine to your breakfast. Skip the coffee and instead try adding chai to your overnight oats. Get the recipe here.

39. Make Breakfast in a Mug

Save time in the morning by microwaving your breakfast in a mug. Get the recipe for a healthy and delicious coconut, banana, and quinoa breakfast mug here.

40. Calm Boiling Water With Olive Oil

When boiling pasta, sometimes the water can overflow and cause a mess on the stovetop. Prevent water from boiling over by adding a splash or two of olive oil into the mix.

41. Make Your Snacks on Spoons

Spoon snacks are great to have around the house—they’re easy to grab when you’re in a hurry, they’re perfectly portioned, and they’re delicious. Get recipe ideas here.

42. Get Eggshells Out of Mix By Using the Shell

If you’ve ever baked a cake, you may have experienced a piece of the shell going into the batter. Trying to pick it out with a spoon or your fingers isn't easy, so use a larger piece of the eggshell to scoop it out—the eggshell is the only thing hard enough to break through the egg white surface and get the shell piece.

43. Remove an Avocado Stem to See If It’s Ripe

Squeezing avocados to see if they’re ripe is not good to do—all it does is bruise the avocado. Instead, pull out the stem piece and look to see what color is underneath. If you see brown, that means it’s overly ripe, but green means it’s perfect. Get the full guide, with a picture tutorial, here.

44. Make Salads in Mason Jars

Make lunch easier by using mason jars to build a salad. Start with the dressing as the base and pile in your veggies and toppings. You can make these ahead of time so you have healthy lunch prepped for the whole week.

45. Wear Gloves When Handling Meat

Reduce your risk for cross-contamination of foods by handling your meat with latex gloves. This way you can throw out gloves when you’re done and cleanup is significantly easier.

46. Remove Strawberry Stems With a Straw

Use a straw to effortlessly prep strawberries for your lunch, fruit platter, or dessert topping. Simply slide a plastic straw through the tip of the strawberry until it reaches (and takes off) the green top.

47. Make Omelets Faster

If you love omelets but can never fold and flip them properly, try using a waffle iron instead. Preheat the iron while you scramble your eggs and toppings together. Then simply pour the mixture on the waffle iron and wait for two minutes until it’s cooked through.

48. Keep Bugs Out of Your Drinks With Cupcake Liners

Bugs are usually drawn to sweet summertime drinks and cocktails. Make sure an insect doesn’t end up in your drink by creating a makeshift top for your glass. Just punch a hole through the base of a cupcake liner and put your straw through it so the liner becomes a protective top.

49. Use a Damp Cloth to Prevent Your Cutting Board From Sliding

Cutting things can be dangerous if your cutting board doesn’t stay firmly on the counter. Slipping and sliding is common, but avoid the issue and a potential accident by putting a wet dish towel underneath the board to prevent movement.

50. Fry Chicken Without Breading or Oil

Make sure you dry raw chicken with paper towels before cooking. Then, toss your chicken drumsticks and wings with a mixture of baking powder and salt, which encourages bubbles to form when the chicken cooks, creating more surface area for the chicken skin to crackle and crisp up. Use one teaspoon of baking powder and a pinch of salt for each pound of raw chicken wings. Roast after tossing or for even crispier chicken, you can chill the chicken uncovered in your refrigerator overnight to dry out the chicken even more. Chicken with the least amount of moisture will turn the crispiest when cooked. Get the full recipe.

51. Cook Rice Without Standing Over the Stovetop

You could stand and stir for 20 minutes, or you can cook white rice easily by baking it. Simply preheat your oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit and combine boiling water, rice, oil, and salt together in a square baking dish. Cover your baking dish with a double layer of aluminum foil and bake the rice when your oven is fully heated until there’s no more water left. Get the full recipe.

52. Cut Rice Cooking Time

The night before you want to cook brown rice, soak each cup of brown rice with two cups of water to cut cooking time in half (from about 45 minutes to 20 minutes).

53. Make Ice Cream With Only 1 Ingredient

Think you need at least five ingredients to make ice cream? Think again! All you need is a can of coconut milk and any additional toppings you want to enjoy. Just shake the can of coconut milk until all layers of the milk are thoroughly combined, pour into a parchment paper-lined baking sheet or an ice cube tray and freeze. Blend frozen coconut milk pieces together until mixed and enjoy with your favorite mix-ins. Get the full recipe.

54. Snack on Guilt-Free Cookie Dough

Instead of using eggs, butter, and flour, add Greek yogurt to your cookie dough for a creamy, indulgent dip. If you’re craving a frozen treat, chill the dip in the freezer or mix it in an ice cream maker to achieve a frozen yogurt-style consistency you’ll love. It’s a sweet and delicious snack with an extra protein boost so you’ll be satisfied till your next meal. Get the full recipe.

55. Hack Your Mac and Cheese

Swap milk, butter, and flour in traditional mac and cheese with Greek yogurt, which cuts up to 350 calories per serving. You’ll get the same smooth and creamy texture when mixed with sharp cheddar cheese. It’s a healthy twist on cheese sauce that’s quick and easy to prepare anytime. Get the full recipe.

56. Frost Cupcakes With Greek Yogurt

Blend a cup of Greek yogurt into homemade frosting that’s perfect on your favorite cookies and cakes. The yogurt works just as well as butter without all the saturated fat and cuts down on the amount of cream cheese you need to use without sacrificing texture. Get the full recipe.

57. Make Over Your Pasta Sauce

Combine a container of Greek yogurt with hot cooked pasta. The Greek yogurt will melt into a tangy and creamy sauce and only takes seconds to make. It’s a decadent replacement for your typically fatty cream sauce and pairs well with roasted vegetables or lean protein as well.

58. Swap Out Sour Cream

Substitute Greek yogurt for sour cream in your favorite Mexican dishes. Try topping your fish tacos with a mixture of Greek yogurt, ground cumin, and freshly squeezed lime juice.

59. Try a Savory Breakfast

Make savory yogurt cups for breakfast without the sugar. Combine Greek yogurt with grated garlic or ginger and herbs, top with roasted veggies and salted nuts or pumpkin seeds.

60. Substitute Mayonnaise for Greek Yogurt

Use Greek yogurt as a sandwich spread in place of mayo. Full-fat Greek yogurt is thick enough to spread on slices of bread and is great with sliced avocado, roasted vegetables, and egg sandwiches. Get the full recipe.

61. Make Greek Yogurt Dip

Fold chopped and cooked spinach and artichoke hearts into a cup of Greek yogurt to make a nutritious dip. If you prefer a sweet dip, try the Almond Butter Greek Yogurt Dip instead. Both dips are guaranteed to be crowd pleasers at your next dinner party.

62. Add Extra Protein to Chicken Salad

Whisk Greek yogurt with freshly squeezed lemon juice, herbs, salt, and pepper to make a creamy sauce for your next chicken salad.

63. Perfect Your Pancakes

Make protein-packed pancakes by replacing sour cream, butter, or oil in a traditional pancake recipe with Greek yogurt. Try this hack with our Banana Cinnamon Protein Powder Pancakes recipe.

64. Cut the Carbs in Your Croutons

You don’t need day-old bread to make homemade croutons. Simply heat up shredded or grated Parmesan cheese on a grill or pan or in the oven until crispy. It’s a savory, no-carb crouton alternative that takes just 3 to 5 minutes to prepare. Get the full recipe.

65. Use Coconut Water in Cocktails

Substitute simple syrup or sugar with naturally sweet coconut water for healthier and lighter cocktails. Try it in mojitos, margaritas, and your other favorite mixed drinks.

66. Swap Cabbage for Pasta

Use white cabbage instead of pasta noodles. Substitute thinly sliced steamed white cabbage for linguine and toss with meaty sauces like Bolognese. If you’re out of cabbage, try this method with thinly shredded kale and mix with marinara or tomato-based sauces.

67. Mix in Mushrooms

Replace half of the ground beef in recipes with chopped mushrooms. To chop, you can pulse the mushrooms in a food processor until coarsely chopped. Then, sauté the chopped mushrooms till they’re reduced to a liquid before incorporating them into your recipe. This strategy works well with meat sauces, sloppy joes, meatloaf, and even burgers (just add an egg to bind the burger patties together).

68. Make the Most Out of Guacamole

To cut fat, boost protein, and stretch out your guacamole recipe, add green peas to the mix. To make “peacamole,” add two cups of thawed green peas to a classic guacamole recipe and puree until smooth.

69. Make DIY Frozen Waffles

This weekend, skip the freezer aisle and make large batches of pancakes or waffles in advance. Once cooled, store them in resealable plastic bags and freeze. During the week, simply reheat in your toaster and enjoy with fresh fruit, Greek yogurt, or nut butter.

70. Repurpose Dinner for Breakfast

Use leftover quinoa or brown rice from your dinner as a breakfast cereal. Thin a bowl of the cooked grains with warm milk and add your favorite sweet or savory toppings. Try it with a poached egg for extra protein.

71. Make Dairy-Free Chocolate Milk

Homemade chocolate coconut water is a lighter alternative to chocolate milk and easy to make at home. Combine a cup of coconut water with 1 1/2 teaspoons of unsweetened cocoa powder and a tiny pinch of kosher salt in a mason jar. Seal the jar and shake well for a sweet and low-calorie drink that’s high in potassium.

72. Dry Herbs Faster

Make spice mixes more quickly by using your microwave to dry out leftover herbs.

73. Enjoy Eggs in a Flash

Crack eggs into a microwave-safe mug and scramble them with kale or spinach.

74. Make Breakfast Pudding

Need a quick grab-and-go breakfast option? Make chia pudding the night before and refrigerate to set so you can scoop and enjoy in the morning. Try this tropical Coconut Chia Pudding or this rich Chocolate Chia Pudding.

75. Stop Boiling and Start Baking

Not a fan of boiled eggs? Bake them instead for a super-easy breakfast you can make ahead of time. Freeze extra portions and reheat the following week.

76. Reheat the Smart Way

To ensure even heating in a microwave, spread your food in a circle instead of piling it in the center of your plate.

77. Fluff Up Pancakes

Swap the milk or water in your pancake or waffle mix with plain seltzer or add a splash of plain seltzer to beaten eggs to make your pancakes or waffles extra fluffy.

78. Don’t Microwave Your Day-Old Pizza

Don’t settle for soggy, leftover pizza. Use a pan to reheat a pizza slice and cover the pan with a lid and warm over medium heat for a crispy crust.

79. Check Your Baking Powder

Make sure your baking powder or baking soda is still fresh by sprinkling a small amount into hot water (or vinegar if checking baking soda) and watch for fizzing and bubble formation. If the powder fizzes, it’s still good to use.

80. Keep Your Cookies Intact

Use unwaxed, unflavored dental floss to release cookies from sticky baking trays or uncooked dough from sticky countertops.

81. Peel Eggs Faster

To peel your eggs more easily and quickly, steam them instead of boiling them. Get this trick and more eggs tips.

82. Keep Asparagus Fresher for Longer

Store asparagus stalks upright in a glass of water to slow down the drying process.

83. The Easy Way to Cut Squash

Microwave squash in a glass dish for up to 5 minutes to make it easier to cut.

84. Make Your Meat More Tender

Score cheap cuts of steak against the grain and score again to make a cross-hatch pattern to make the meat more tender and retain more spices and flavors.

85. Save Flat Wine

Add a raisin to a bottle of flat champagne, sparkling wine, prosecco, or cava to restore the bubbles.

86. Clean Your Grill Pan Easily

Use a knife to cut grooves into a sponge that match the grooves on your grill pan. This technique makes it easy to rub the soapy sponge over the pan’s dirty nooks and crannies.

87. Separate Egg Yolks Cleanly

Crack one egg into a small bowl and squeeze the mouth of the plastic bottle over the yolk. The egg yolk will get scooped up into the bottle without any of the egg white.

88. Say Good-Bye to Soggy Salad Greens

Extend the shelf life of fresh salad greens by up to an extra week with this simple trick. Place salad greens in a clean plastic bag and blow air into the bag before sealing it tightly to trap in carbon dioxide.

89. The Trick to Balance Taco Shells

If you’ve ever tried keeping crispy baked taco shells upright, you’ll understand how difficult it can be. On your next taco night, try this simple hack: Turn a fork over with the tines facing down. Gently nudge a taco shell on two of the fork tines without breaking the shell and rest the taco shell and the remaining two fork tines on a plate. This arrangement will keep the taco shell from falling over so you can fill it up effortlessly.

90. Pour Oil Without Making a Mess

Instead of breaking the foil seal on a new bottle of olive oil, salad dressing, or syrup, use a fork to poke holes in the seal. This way, you can control the liquid flow without going overboard.

91. Make Your Own Cooking Spray

All you need to make your own nonstick cooking spray is oil, water, and a clean spray bottle. Use 5 parts of water for every 1 part of oil and cut out all the agents and ingredients found in store-bought cooking spray.

92. Ripen Green Bananas in 5 Minutes

Place unripe bananas on a baking sheet and bake for 5 to 7 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit. You’ll have quick-ripened, sweet and gooey bananas that are ready for your banana bread, smoothie, or any other recipe.

93. Prop Up Cookbooks With a Hanger

Pants or skirt hangers with metal clips can easily double as cookbook holders, helping you save space in a small kitchen. Clip magazine cutouts, small cookbooks, and recipe printouts with ease and hang the pages from a cabinet handle, knob, or shelf at eye level for easy reference.

94. Clean Your Coffee Grinder Quickly

Blend uncooked white rice kernels briefly inside your coffee grinder to release any leftover coffee, nut, or spice residue. Toss the rice and residue mix and wipe your grinder clean before reusing.

95. Make Your Own Roast Pan

Skip bulky and expensive roast pans and save time and money by making your own with stove grates and aluminum foil. Wrap foil around the stove grates and poke holes in it. Place the covered grates into your roasting pan and place your roast on top. While your roast cooks in the oven, the fat drippings will catch in the foil. This makes cleanup fast and easy—just toss when done!

96. Instantly Cook Your Vegetables

Blanching is a cooking technique that’s practically foolproof. Give it a try next time you’re cooking spinach for instance. Place washed spinach leaves in a colander and pour boiled water over it. The heat from the boiled water will immediately cook the spinach. Once the hot water has drained, rinse the cooked spinach under cold water instead of making another ice bath bowl for quick cleanup.

97. De-Stem Herbs Stress-Free

Fresh herbs like parsley or rosemary have a hard stem that you need to remove before eating or cooking with them. To quickly remove herb leaves, hold the herbs by the stem over a bowl and run a fork along the stem without pricking your fingers or making a mess.

98. Soften Hardened Brown Sugar in a Breeze

You don’t need a hammer to break up chunks of hardened brown sugar. Simply microwave the brown sugar with a slice of bread for 15 seconds to warm it up without melting it down. The moisture from the bread will help loosen up and break down the sugar clumps.

99. Wash Berries in Vinegar

Clean fresh blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries with vinegar to minimize and stop mold growth.

Watch: The Best Way to Wash Your Fruits