34 Time-Saving Food & Prep Hacks That Actually Work

Here’s a hint: a pizza cutter can be used for more than just pizza

When it comes to feeding a crew of hungry kids, we’ve never met a shortcut we didn’t like. This is why, it being the season of busy weeknights and early bedtimes, we want to give you as many cooking hacks (scooped from resourceful parents everywhere) as possible. From meal-prep advice to the easiest way to get an egg that peels with ease, here are 36 clever food and cooking shortcuts that’ll save you tons of time. 

Pizza Cutter for Herbs

using a pizza cutter on herbs is a clever cooking hack

Having fresh herbs in the house is nice for creating marinades, dressings, and more, but finely chopping those herbs can be difficult. The good news is, there’s a way to make the process easy. Place the herbs on a cutting board, and roll a pizza cutter through them. Don't worry about cutting in a perfect line, just roll through the bunch as many times as you want.  

Peeling a Mango

cooking hacks: how to peel a mango
Fedor via Unsplash

The skin of a mango is pretty thick, and the peeling process usually involves careful knife skills. We found another way to get that pesky skin off with ease. All you need to do is slice the mango in half and grab a tall glass. Using the rim of the glass, get between the skin and the fruit at the bottom of the slice. Push down, and the skin will slide right off. Voila! You've got a perfectly peeled mango.

Steam Eggs Instead of Boiling Them

Morgane Perraud via Unsplash

Boiled eggs can be a challenge to peel, but if you steam them over boiled water for 10-15 minutes, the shell will come off in no time.  

Add an Ice Cube to Sautéing Onions to Avoid Burning

Cooking hack: add an ice cube to sauteing onions so they don't burn
Simona Sergi via Unsplash

If your onions are on the verge of burning, throw an ice cube into the pan. It'll evaporate quickly and give the veggies a hint of moisture to avoid being overcooked. 

Store Partially Chopped Veggies in The Freezer

a good cooking hack is storing partially chopped vegetables in the freezer
Ashish Ansurkar via Unsplash

Have you ever just chopped half a stalk of celery or bulb of cauliflower, and had to put it back in the fridge where it immediately starts to wilt? If you want to keep your partially chopped veggies fresh, we recommend putting them right in the freezer. This locks in the freshness, and they’ll be ready to jump into the frying pan after a little defrosting time.

Shred Chicken in Your Food Processor


From tacos to salads, casseroles, and beyond, shredded chicken is a staple for family meals. But shredding it all by hand or with a pair of forks can take forever! Amazingly, there’s a quick fix for that—just toss boiled or baked chicken breasts in your mixer, and you’ll have expertly shredded chicken in seconds.

Put Water in Your Microwave to Preserve the Moisture


Whether it’s leftovers or meal-prepped treats, your microwave is a powerful tool. But you’re always at risk of drying out your food when you use it. We’ve got a simple way to avoid that. Toss a glass of water into the microwave with your food to give it a little extra moisture.

Freeze Sauce in Ice Cube Trays


We’re all about making cooking easier. With this meal-prep hack, you’ll be able to create perfectly portioned sauces days or weeks in advance and use them whenever you want. Just mix up your favorite sauces, put the liquid in your ice trays and freeze. Keep the portions frozen until you're ready to use them.

Boil Potatoes for an Easy Peel

Jaye Haych via Unsplash

From fries to mashed potatoes and chips, everybody LOVES potatoes. But, for a lot of recipes, peeling the potatoes is a must, and using a potato peeler or knife can be time-consuming and difficult. We have an easy fix! Boil the potatoes, let them cool, and the skin will peel off in seconds.

Try Silicone Baking Sheets

using a silicone baking sheet is a good cooking hack

Do you hate cleaning cookie sheets? We know that cleaning them can be difficult because the grease and grime are baked in deep. Using a silicone baking sheet, which makes removing all of your tasty morsels as easy as pie, will change your life. We like this one

Related: 15 Genius Kitchen Organization Hacks

Use Lemon Slices as a Base for Grilled Fish

Agto Nugroho via Unsplash

Your filet of salmon will stay intact much easier if you line it with slices of lemon. Plus, the juices will seep up, making a flavorful dinner. See one of our favorite recipes here

Put Marshmallows in Your Brown Sugar

storing marshmallows with brown sugar to keep it soft is a cool cooking hack

Brown sugar is a baking necessity for cookies, cupcakes, and pies, but unlike white sugar, it can dry out very quickly, which means you’ll be stuck breaking up hard blobs of sugar when you want to use it. But, there’s an easy fix for this. All you need to do is throw a few marshmallows into the airtight container with your brown sugar to conserve the moisture and make it easy to scoop.

Separating Strawberry Tops

Call Me Fred via Unsplash

Strawberries are healthy and delicious. But chopping the green tuffs off the top of every piece of fruit takes so long! Use this fun trick to get them off without a knife: Take a straw and push it from the bottom of the fruit to the top in one swift motion—it'll pop those little green leaves right off.

Flatten Ground Meat

ground beef, which can be flattened to freeze, a genius cooking hack

No matter how hard you try, it seems like there’s never enough freezer space. We have a fun way to help you create extra room. Take your ground beef out of its package, put it in a Ziploc bag, flatten it, and put it back in the freezer; you'll be surprised by the extra open space. You can also write the expiration dates on the bags to make sure your meat is always fresh.

Cut Corn Over Your Bundt Cake Tin

Mohd Hafiz Yahya via Unsplash

Let’s face it, chopping fresh corn is a pain, mostly because the kernels get all over the counter. But there’s a way to make sure it never happens again. Grab your bundt cake tin, flip it upside down, stand the corn up in the middle, and slice the kernels off; they’ll fall perfectly into that round tin, so cleaning up is a breeze!

Stabilize Your Cutting Board

Samantha Fields via Unsplash

Slicing and dicing are a big part of cooking, which means you’re always reaching for the cutting board. But it’s important to make sure that it isn’t slipping and sliding all over the place, so make it stable by putting a damp dishtowel underneath it. It'll keep it in place and make clean-up even easier. 

Cupcake Liner Catches Popsicle Drips

Allison Sutcliffe

Popsicles are a childhood fave, but they can turn into a bit of a sticky mess. Prevent all of that dripping by slipping cupcake liners onto the bottom of your kids' popsicles. Slide the liner up so that it cups the bottom of the popsicle to make sure it catches all of those little drips.

Cut Cheesecake with Dental Floss

using floss to cut cheesecake is a smart cooking hack
Karolina Kołodziejczak via Unsplash

Cheesecake is a dessert that kids and parents love, but cutting it equally can be difficult. Well, we've got an easy way to slice it perfectly every time. Try using dental floss. Just make sure the dental floss is unscented, so you don’t get a minty surprise with your dessert.  

Grate Your Butter

using a cheese grater on butter is a cooking hack

Softened butter is a staple for all bakers out there, but putting solid butter in the microwave isn’t always the best way to get that soft consistency you're looking for. Try grating it with a cheese grader instead.

Use White Bread on Your Birthday Cake


Birthday cake is yummy, but when the party’s over, you're left with half a cake that'll be stale by tomorrow. What if there was a way to preserve this delectable sugar overload? Try putting slices of white bread on the interior sections of the cake where you cut into it—the bread locks in moisture.

Use Cookie Molds for Fun Food

Maja II via Unsplash

No matter what time of year it is, you can always use cookie cutters. And they can be used for much more than just cookies. You can also use them to create pancakes or eggs with designs like flowers, cartoon characters, and more. 

Related: 30 Storage Hacks Every Parent Needs

Binder Clips in the Fridge

Public Domain via Pixabay

If you need an easy way to keep all of your favorite munchies fresh in the fridge, may we suggest binder clips? Yes, you read that right. Grab some binder clips, and clip all of your bags of food directly onto the rungs of each shelf. This saves space and keeps everything nice and fresh.  

Make Oatmeal in Your Rice Cooker

Alex Motoc via Unsplash

Oatmeal is a warm alternative to cold cereal, but it does take a little more time to make in the morning. Try using your rice cooker to make the oatmeal instead. This way, you don’t need to worry about watching, stirring or remembering to turn off the stove. Just put everything inside, and within minutes you’ve got scrumptious oatmeal.

Use an Apple Corer to Make French Fries

Lisa Carpenter

An apple corer/slicer can instantly transform a plain potato into everyone's favorite side. That's right, you can make homemade fries in a snap with a utensil you may already have in your kitchen drawer. Grandma's Brief has all the delicious details.


Freeze Herbs in Ice Trays

freezing herbs in an ice tray is a good cooking hack to use

Want fresh basil, thyme, and rosemary all year long? No problem. This cooking hack is worthy of Martha Stewart, sans the effort. Just put fresh herbs in ice trays, add oil, and freeze. Freezing the herbs in oil also prevents them from turning brown or getting that dreaded freezer burn. 


A Thrifty Mom

Wedges are so 2022. No, not the ones you wear on your feet; those are still fabulous. We're talking about watermelon wedges. Instead of slicing the melon into wide wedges that inevitably get juice all over everyone's face and chin, cut the fruit in half, then slice it in a grid. You'll get evenly sized slices that each have just enough rind on the bottom for little hands to grab.


Cut Pancakes with a Pizza Cutter

Cook and Craft Me Crazy

The trusted pizza slicer really is a mom's best friend. From sandwiches to pancakes, you can use this snazzy slicer to save time and messes. 


Cook Eggs in the Oven

Nick Evans

It is a literal Egg McMuffin. Nick of Macheesmo shows us how to make a breakfast sandwich even more amazing by simply baking the eggs in a muffin tin. Best part? You can add other ingredients to the eggs (think spinach, ham, cheese) and then freeze the whole thing for busy on-the-go mornings. Find the original recipe here and the updated version here.


Frozen Grapes Taste Great

grapes, can be frozen for a snack, which is a great cooking hack
J Yeo via Unsplash

Pop grapes into the freezer for a sweet and crunchy treat that tastes like candy. A refreshing snack any time of the year, this is also a great way to make sure you always have fruit on hand.


Use Magnets to Keep Water Cups Handy

Dana Williard via Made Every Day

Talk about having a “why didn’t I think of that” moment. If your kids are anything like ours, then you probably go through a few water cups every day. Cut down on needless dishes with this awesome cup hack from Dana over at Made Everyday.


Related: 23 Life-Saving House Cleaning Hacks

Cut Up Noodles

Christine Sandu via Unsplash

Use your noodle: Cut up spaghetti, linguine, and ramen with scissors. Smaller bites and shorter bits will ease frustration at the dinner table and make after-dinner clean-up easier.  


DIY Uncrustables

Jill Nystol via One Good Thing

You like the idea of making PB&J (or some "other butter" and jelly) ahead of time, but don't really know how to make a good freezer version. Good news! One Good Thing by Jillee explains the how-to here, and shows you how to seal that sandwich—no fancy gear needed.


Coffee Filters as Snack Containers

Kimberly Harris via The Nourishing Gourmet

A brilliantly simple idea from The Nourishing Gourmet, swap out plastic baggies or even bulky reusables in favor of a biodegradable coffee filter. Psst! If you’ve gone Keurig, we’re betting you’ve got a box of these collecting dust somewhere in your kitchen.


Ice Cube Trays as Snack Holders

Jennifer Bishop

Having a stash of snacks is a must for every parent. But, having a bunch of different canisters, bags, and boxes on hand is difficult for travel and storage. Well, we’ve got the perfect hack for you! Try using silicone ice cube trays as snack trays for at home or on car trips.

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