I’ve been in a little bit of a cooking rut recently, cycling through the same five recipes or so on repeat. So when Blue Apron sent me a box to try out last week, it got me out of my comfort zone in a very good way.
But prepping all those ingredients got me thinking about some of the kitchen hacks and cooking tricks I use. I do them without even thinking about it anymore, but I’ll but some of these are new to you!
Read on for some of my can’t-live-without cooking hacks, and share your own in the comments!
P.S. Wondering what I made? Well, I cooked up butternut squash empanadas with green tomato salsa and basically felt like I ought to be on the Food Network hosting my own show…
7 Kitchen Hacks and Cooking Tricks
1. Instead of mincing garlic, use a press.
Mincing garlic into tiny bits with a big knife takes ages, is messy, and leaves way too much opportunity for chopping the tips of your fingers instead.
If you need your garlic cut smaller than slices or a coarse chop, pop the peeled cloves into a garlic press. Squeeze to crush the garlic, and then scrape it off with a knife.
2. Prep and arrange all your ingredients first.
Chop, dice, grate, shred, and measure your ingredients all at once before you start cooking.
This is actually my favorite thing about Blue Apron. Everything comes portioned out, and the recipe has you start by prepping the fresh produce and setting out every ingredient you’ll need throughout the recipe.
Then, when you’re cooking
3. Use a bowl to gather scraps and trash.
While you’re prepping all your ingredients, you’re bound to accumulate waste: stems, cores, wrappers, etc. Running to the trashcan after each ingredient interrupts your flow, and if your trashcan is in a cupboard like mine is, you risk getting messy ingredients on your cupboard door.
Next time, just keep an empty bowl on the counter. Throw everything in as you go, and then dump the whole bowl just once at the end.
4. Don’t chop herbs; roll & cut with kitchen scissors.
Instead of hacking at a bundle of fresh herbs with a knife, try rolling the into a tight little bundle or ball. Then, just use sharp kitchen scissors to chop them up into small, even pieces.
5. Briefly freeze soft cheeses before grating.
Soft cheeses like fontina are notoriously hard to grate because they can squish up against the grater. And the longer you hold them, the more they warm up and soften.
Next time, throw the block of cheese in the freezer for 15 minutes before grating. It’ll be easier to shred and will take longer to warm up.
6. Use a silicone baking mat.
Save money and cut down waste by using a reusable silicone baking mat in place of foil or parchment paper.
It works for baked goods, roasted vegetables, or pretty much anything else that goes in the oven. You can just wipe it down after using, and it lasts for ages.
7. Pass onions under running tap water while cutting to reduce crying.
My Honest Thoughts on Blue Apron
After trying out Blue Apron, I have to say I’m a big fan of the concept and the company; I liked it a lot more than I even expected to! It was really fun getting a little outside my comfort zone and trying some new recipes. It also fits really, really well into my busy schedule and our on-the-go lifestyle. There’s no worry about having to make a last-second grocery run because we’re missing a key ingredient, and I appreciate the heck out of that.
One thing to keep in mind is that Blue Apron has ingredients and portion-size down to a science, so there aren’t really leftovers to speak of. So, if you want to have a little something extra (I like to cook enough to have leftovers usually), you should consider sizing up to the next box. The only other thing is that Andrei and I are really conscious of our environmental impact, and I did feel like our box had a lot of separate packaging for various things that could probably be reduced a bit.
If you’re on the fence, I encourage you to go ahead and give Blue Apron a try. You can always cancel after your first delivery if you don’t love it, but it’s kind of like having your own little cooking show in your kitchen! You can get three free meals right here.
Hi just a quick tip from me, I put my onions in my fridge still in their skins and in the veg section of the fridge, have done this for nearly 40 years and I never have a problem with tears when I slice and dice them,
Hi! I’d love to have you try a PeachDish meal kit. We have tons of dietary options like vegan and no-gluten and our recipe cards make upping your cooking game easy with simple steps and tutorial videos!
Great tips, especially #3 and #4. And I’m already a convert to silicone baking mats – so useful!
Thanks for the tips! #3 is so very helpful, instead of taking multiple trips to the trash. 🙂
I’m so glad you found it helpful, Tet! That’s my go-to because I hate opening and closing the cabinet with yucky hands!
I’ve been tempted (for years) to try a silicone mat – not sure what I’ve been waiting for. Like Nikki said, it’s nice to be reminded about how handy they are. (Just picked one out online for my next trip to BB&B.)
Your post changed my thinking about Blue Apron (though, hearing about the extra packaging makes me a little uncomfortable, too). Once I have a proper kitchen again, I’m going to give it a try!
You have to give it a try, Mary Ann! You’ll be totally hooked, promise!
The silicon mat trick is great. So obvious when someone points it out to you!
Yes, I can’t believe how long I went without one now that I know how amazing they are!
Didn’t know the onion trick. Definitely trying this next time I need to chop onions because I always cry like crazy!
I discovered it by accident totally out of desperation. I think washing away all that nasty onion “juice” helps a ton!!!
I’m sorry, butternut squash empanadas??? Wow, that sounds so so epic. I tried Blue Apron before too and if they had a vegan option we would totally do it. I couldn’t believe how fresh all the ingredients were! Also, I have to try out your #7 trick!!!