Unless it is to bake yummy, fresh, fun and oddly shaped cookies, or to brew your morning cup of coffee; no university student wants to spend any more time in the kitchen than they have to. These kitchen hacks will not only help you save money when on a tight budget, but also time and energy, so you can focus on much more important things…like buying new clothes, going out clubbing, and of course, studying.
Kitchen Hacks to Save Time
1. Slow cooking, faster eating.
What could be better than coming home after a long day to find a steaming hot bowl of soup just waiting for you? Investing in a slow cooker means that with only a little preparation in the morning, you can leave a meal to cook throughout the day and it will be warm, fresh and ready to eat as soon as you come home. It also works for pasta sauces, casseroles, curries and plenty other delicious recipes!
2. Grate it up, don’t chop it up.
Just admit it, you don’t have the speedy knife skills of a professional chef. Using a grater to quickly cut up fruit and vegetables for soups, sauces and salads (or even cold butter for baking) is not only a million times faster, but it also eliminates the risk of stabbing yourself with a knife.
3. Use the kettle to boil water before putting it in the sauce pan.
This may seem like common sense, but a lot of people still don’t know this awesome hack, and they are missing out! Boiling water in the kettle before pouring it in the sauce pan for cooking pasta, eggs or rice etc. is a great way to speed up the cooking process and have food ready to eat ASAP.
4. Wrap up your plates!
You will never have to wash your dishes again with this simple trick. Wrap your plates with cling film or aluminium foil before serving your food, so that when you are done, you can just dispose of it, leaving clean plates without any effort. You can even try using the foil on baking trays to avoid even more cleaning up!
5. Cover the stove top too!
Similar to the previous hack, you can utilise that foil to avoid even more cleaning up. Cover your stove top with foil to avoid having to wipe up spilled oil or pick up tiny rogue bits of vegetable. Depending on how messy you are, you can use a little like the people at The Flying Nest Blog:
Or a lot like this crazy (yet smart) person.
6. Consider Sunday meal prep.
The organisation lovers out there will adore this trick. Preparing your meals for the week in advance will save you so much time, as there will always be a meal ready to be warmed up. I advise you to get this all done in a few hours on a Sunday, and you will never have to cook all week, yet still have delicious and healthy homemade meals. It can also help you with portion control for those looking to drop some pounds!
Kitchen Hacks to Save Money
7. Grow your own food/herbs.
Free fruit, vegetables and herbs; what more is there to say? As long as you remember to water them regularly, the plants become an essentially unlimited supply of free produce.
8. Use an iron in place of a panini press/sandwich toaster.
Make your own paninis with an iron! Wrap your sandwich in tin foil and press the iron on top for 5 minutes, flip it and repeat on the other side, and you have a warm, toasty, golden-brown panini in no time.
9. Rinse beans without a strainer.
For beans or chickpeas that come in a can, use a can opener to open the lid most of the way on one end, and then flip it upside down and open the other end fully. Now you can pour water straight from the tap through the fully open end, which allows the water to run through the other end, without the contents of the can falling into the basin.
10. Freeze everything.
Especially vegetables. Buying and storing them fresh will soon become a massive hassle due to their short shelf life and fast expiry date. Freezing them means that they will last longer and they will still contain the same nutrients and taste. Other surprisingly freezable foods include bread, milk, pasta and wine (all your essentials, in other words!). Freeze leftovers and you’ve got a cheaper/healthier alternative to take-aways and shop-bought snacks too.
11. Hair pin utility.
The number of uses for hair pins/bobby pins is virtually infinite; including multiple uses in the kitchen! One of which is using hair pins to keep large crisps bags closed, which will keep them crispy and fresh for longer.
12. No more stale lettuce.
Store lettuce with a paper towel on top to soak moisture and keep it fresh for an extra week. That’s another whole week that you can procrastinate going grocery shopping for!
Kitchen Hacks to Save Space
13. Buy in bulk.
Everyone knows that buying food in bulk is a massive money saver, but where will you put it all? Store dry goods like rice, pasta, flour in sanitised or plastic wrapped bins, which will definitely be large enough to keep it all safe, as opposed to oddly shaped, flimsy plastic bags.
14. Reuse old containers.
Tic tac containers make for a great way to store spices. They can be easily and efficiently packed together and dispensed when needed. Don’t forget to label them though! (Bonus tip: use an envelope and cut the corner off to funnel them into their new containers!)
15. Use a tissue box to hold plastic bags.
Avoid the new 5p shopping bag charge and save the environment by reusing plastic bags. After you are done putting away the groceries, put the bags in an empty tissue box, as an easy way to store the bags for your next shopping trip.
Other Random Kitchen Hacks!
16. Separate eggs using an empty bottle.
Just crack open an egg onto a plate, squeeze an empty water bottle over the yolk and unsqueeze to suck up the yolk, hereby separating the egg quickly and easily.
17. Even out your microwaving.
Put food in a donut shape when microwaving, for even heating. It will ensure everything is warm and ready to eat, with no weird cold surprises!
18. Use this trick for double microwaving.
Use a mug to fit two bowls in the microwave rather than just one. Now you can warm up meals for you and a friend…or just have both bowls for yourself :’)
19. Get lump free brown sugar.
Keep your brown sugar lump free by storing it with marshmallows. How does that work? No idea, but it definitely does. Give it a try if you don’t believe me.
20. Store pancake batter in old ketchup bottles.
Not only will it make dispensing the batter super easy, but it is a great tool to try out pancake art. Yes, you heard me correctly, pancake art. Try Google or YouTube for inspiration.