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Our 11 Favorite Food Hacks Will Change The Way You Cook

Cooking is much easier than people think, especially when you incorporate some basic food hacks into your life. A handful of simple tricks can help you save money, save time, and reduce your hassle. When you know a simpler and more efficient way to do anything, including cook your food, it makes the process more enjoyable and increases your chances at doing it more often.

Let’s take a look at 11 food hacks that will teach you more about food and make you more confident in the kitchen, starting today.

Turn your natural peanut butter upside down

Who said food hacks have to be complicated? Natural peanut butters typically separate from their oils, sinking with gravity to the “bottom” of the jar. If you simply flip the jar and let the butter “sink” to the top of the jar, the next time you use it you won’t have to remix the excess oils back into the butter (because they will already be at the bottom of the jar).

Microwave bread products with water

If you’ve ever warmed up a slice of cold pizza in the microwave, you know that the crust becomes doughy and chewy, no matter what is tasted like fresh. The key is adding a mug of water into the microwave as you reheat the pizza (or any bread product). As the water evaporates, it will rehydrate the pizza, making it more like an original slice. It’s not perfect, but it’s way better than microwaving it alone.

Grate butter for easy spreading

If you’ve ever tried to spread cold butter on a piece of toast, our condolences go out to you. It’s simply not possible, and the only way to circumvent the issue is to soften your butter ahead of time, or make sure the toast is so hot that it literally melts the butter. Neither option is great.

Grate your cold butter with a cheese grater instead. The small shards of butter will soften quickly and spread easily, especially on a warm surface. You can even perform this step ahead of time and freeze the shards.

Substitute nutritional yeast for cheese

Vegans swear by this hack — the flavor of nutritional yeast really does mimic the flavor of a sharp cheddar cheese. Add it to popcorn, nacho cheese sauce, or anything dairy-free that needs some salty, savory flavor.

Keep iced coffee cold without watering it down

If you’re an iced coffee lover, you’ll kick yourself for never thinking of this hack yourself. Instead of adding ice cubes to your coffee, simply freeze coffee in ice trays. Once frozen, you can add the frozen coffee to the iced coffee, killing two birds with one stone and not watering down the flavor. Pour over some cold milk and you have an iced latte that would normally cost $6 at a shop.

Add pasta water to your spaghetti sauce

When you cook pasta in boiling water, starch leaves the noodles and floats in the water. You’ve probably noticed that your pasta water gets cloudy during the cooking process — that’s the glutenous starch of the pasta. Once your pasta finishes cooking, don’t throw it all away just yet.

Instead, ladle a spoon or two of the starchy water into the pasta sauce simmering on a different burner. Stir it in well, and you’ll notice that your sauce actually thickens up a tad. Plus, the starch helps the sauce bind to the wet pasta better, so it doesn’t slip off every time you try to take a bite.

Microwave lemons before juicing

If you simply cut a lemon in half and try to squeeze it, you’re missing out on a TON of juice. The best way to maximize your lemons is to first roll them under hand on the counter to soften them up, then microwave for 10-15 seconds. You don’t want to cook the lemon, just add some heat to soften the fibers inside. Slice that rolled, heated lemon and be prepared to be amazed at the amount of juice inside. A life changing food hack, indeed.

Clean stained food containers

Tired of eating leftover beef stew and then seeing a stained residue on your Tupperware for months afterwards? Soap and water, alone, won’t always remove grease stains from plastic. Reach for some baking soda, instead: make a watery paste with the powder, scrub it on the surface, let it sit a few hours, then wash it normally. Voila!

Soy sauce goes great on more than rice

The flavor of soy sauce is known as “umami,” which is a savory experience that American cuisines often overlook. We often think it tastes “salty,” but technically it’s a completely different flavor profile. But you can add it as a salt substitute to may different sauces, spreads, and snacks for an additional depth fo flavor you weren’t necessarily expecting (try it with melted butter over popcorn, yum!).

Make compound butters

This food hack also doubles as a restaurant secret. Butter makes everything better, and adding fresh herbs to raw butter makes what’s known as a compound butter. Parsley, dill, rosemary, thyme, and tarragon can all be added to soft butters to enhance the flavor. Put a dollop of compound butter on your next sizzling steak and see what we mean.

Blanch vegetables for more crispness

Overly cooked, mushy vegetables don’t just taste bad, but they also offer way less nutritional substance than when raw. Luckily, there’s an easy way to cook your veggies just right each and every time.

Blanch your vegetables (cook in boiling water) for around five minutes, just to take the raw edge off. Then strain them out of the boiling water with a fine mesh strainer and dump them in an ice bath. The cold water will end the cooking process immediately, helping your veggies retain their color, crispness, and nutritional profile. If planning on adding them to a sauce later, just wait until you’re about to serve, and toss them in the warm sauce before plating. The heat of the sauce will reheat the veggies without cooking them much, leaving you with a much better tasting final product.

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