9 Kitchen Tips and Tricks to Make Your Life Easier

Cooking hacks you'll love

By Nicole Hickoff, publisher of Macaroni KID Williamsport, Pa. May 17, 2023

Sometimes it feels like all I do is cook and feed my family.

So I love shortcuts and hacks in the kitchen (and everywhere else too!). They save time and make my life more simple.

Here are my 9 favorite cooking hacks:

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1. Use your air fryer

An air fryer is GREAT for heating up leftovers and much more. You can use it to make fries (of course), wings, reheat pizza, cook hotdogs ... the list goes on and on. You can even make grilled cheese in your air fryer!  

2. Cut bacon into pieces

I love using bacon in just about everything. What I hate doing is cooking said bacon and then chopping it to use in recipes. So I cut the bacon into bite-size pieces and cook in the pan (use your kitchen shears)! I learned this from my girl Rachael Ray!

3. Use foil pans lined with nonstick foil on the grill

I like to cook on the grill as much as possible. One reason is that I don't dirty any pans or containers and it is an easy clean-up! I line my foil pans with nonstick foil so that I can reuse the pan many times. I learned this from my mother-in-law.

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4. Use kitchen shears to cut up food for your kids

I learned this from the show OutDaughtered! I always hated trying to cut my children's food into small pieces. Then I saw Adam Busby using kitchen shears to cut up a corn dog. I was blown away. It saves time and it makes it way easier using kitchen shears instead of a knife.

5. Rename food so your kids will eat it

We like to eat salmon and other fish recipes. The kids aren't really into fish, so we make fish sticks for our kids. But we don't call them fish sticks because then they won't eat them. We call them Swimming Chicken Sticks. The kids love them. It's a win!  

6. Use a hand mixer to shred chicken

I always love to have shredded chicken, but I hate the process of shredding it or pulling apart a rotisserie chicken. My mom's tip: Take your cooked chicken breasts and place them in a bowl. Grab your handheld mixer. Use the mixer to shred your chicken. It really works!

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7.  Cook and clean as you go

My husband has taught me this (although sometimes I admittedly forget). As you cook, wash or put your used items in the dishwasher. Don't let your cooking utensils or containers pile up until the end. Rinse and put in the dishwasher as you use them.

8. Freeze your pepper tops and veggies that are getting overripe

I learned this from Chef Paul at a wine pairing event I attended. We all have veggies that are about ready to go bad or ends of veggies that we don't use. Pace those pieces in a plastic freezer bag and freeze. Use them for making sauces, stocks, or any other dish that requires veggies to enhance the flavor.

9. Use cookie cutters to cut off the crust of sandwiches

My kids HATE crust on their sandwiches. I got tired of using a knife to cut the crust away. So, I broke out my cookie cutters and biscuit cutters to help me remove the crust. It makes a cute shape or circle, and it is done in one cut! I don't have to cut all four sides separately.

Nicole Hickoff is the publisher of Macaroni KID Williamsport, Pa.