How to Cheat in the Kitchen | Quick Kitchen Shortcuts

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Find that you spend too much time in the kitchen? Believe it or not, there are some easy cheats, or quick kitchen shortcuts to save you some precious minutes.

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Quick Kitchen Shortcuts | Good Cheap Eats

As you must know by now, I love to cook. However, I also like to spend time doing other things, like reading, sleeping, and watching British miniseries with my peeps. So in the name of saving time and effort, aka being lazy, I’ve developed some ways of cheating in the kitchen.

Basically I take shortcuts to save time. They may be a little unorthodox, but so is having your toilet paper automatically delivered to your house each month. Both save me time and money. And late night trips to Walmart when I’d rather be watching Doctor Thorne.

I always knew I did these things, but I didn’t realize what a big difference they made — until I watched my daughter painstakingly measure out 1/2 cup of onion to make chili! Oops. Guess there are still some secrets I’ve kept hidden.

Time to share them!

Here are some quick kitchen shortcuts to help you cheat in the kitchen and save time!

How to Cheat in the Kitchen (or Quick Kitchen Shortcuts)

1. You don’t have to measure things exact for many savory recipes.

Baking is a science, but many savory recipes are not. Sure, with gravy and salad dressing emulsions and things like mayonnaise and Hollandaise sauce, I recommend measuring and following the exact proportions of that formula. That’s what recipes are, after all, formulas.

But, many recipes like chili, stew, soup, and most casseroles? You’re probably okay to throw in those extra bits of onion, chopped vegetables, or ground meat. It’s okay to toss big handfuls of cheese in your lasagna or atop your pizza.

If in doubt, either experiment or ask a question below. I have a feeling you’ll be able to tell the difference between the sciency recipes and the “just go with it” recipes.

bread dough in a mixing bowl

2. You don’t really have to use a second bowl to let the dough rise.

The proper way to write a yeast dough recipe is to instruct the baker to put the dough ball in a second, greased bowl in order to rise. There may be a very good reason for this, but I’ve been breaking this rule every week when I make pizza dough for like the past five years. To no ill effects.

I just can’t handle washing more dishes than I already do on Pizza Night!

Instead, once the dough ball is formed, I scrape the bowl well, spray cooking spray around and under the dough ball and call it good. One less dish to wash. Amen. Hallelujah. This is one of my favorite kitchen shortcuts.

3. Weigh your flour.

Seriously, buy a kitchen scale and start weighing your flour. It’s more exact, saves a ton of time what with the aerating, spooning, and scraping involved with the second-best measuring method, and saves on dishes.

4. Beat eggs in the mixing bowl first.

Recipes are usually written with the largest amount of something written first. For instance,

  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

However, if the directions say to add the milk, eggs, and vanilla together, you don’t need to use a separate dish to beat the eggs before adding them to the bowl. Beat them in the bowl and then add your milk and extract.

dish of chili

5. Just drain beans for soups and stews; you don’t really need to rinse them.

Lots of recipe ask that you drain and rinse canned beans before you add them to the dish. Unless you’re making a salad, I don’t really see the point. For soups and stews, drain the beans well and just toss them in. Bean juice never hurt a soup.

6. Measure liquids at one time if possible.

A liquid measuring cup is best for measuring liquids. I have several two-cup measures that get regular use at our house. If I’m measuring out several liquid or semi-liquid ingredients to be added to a recipe at the same time, I do all my measuring at one time in the same cup.

This is great when you need to measure something messy like mayonnaise or yogurt to mix with other liquids. For instance, say you need 1/2 cup each of buttermilk and mayonnaise. Measure your buttermilk into the cup and then add enough mayonnaise to bring the liquid level up to 1 cup. You save on dishes and don’t leave any mayo to waste in a traditional measuring cup.

7. Limit your dish washing whenever possible.

If you can serve the food in the cooking vessel without looking like a slob, do it. If you can use the same cutting board to chop all the veggies and then the meats last, do it. If you can mix chocolate chip cookie dough right after the sugar cookie dough in the same mixing bowl, do it.

Look for ways to downsize your dishwashing and you will save time in the kitchen.

Have you got some favorite quick kitchen shortcuts? I’d love to hear how you cheat in the kitchen!


Quick Kitchen Shortcuts | Good Cheap Eats

About Jessica Fisher

I believe great meals don't have to be complicated or expensive. There's a better way, and it won't take all afternoon.

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  1. Erica says

    I rinse canned beans all the time because I like to get all the sodium-rich liquid off them before adding them to my recipe. I find the 30 seconds this takes me (if that even!) is worth it. We get was too much salt as it is.

    • Good to know! I often buy sodium-free beans, and we’re not watching it so much at this point, but I’m glad you shared this point. Thanks!

  2. Tasty says

    Since hubby had heart surgery a year ago, we have been very careful with sodium content so, yes, there is a very good reason to rinse canned beans.

  3. Helen says

    I always thought ingredients were listed in order of their use/mention in the recipe.

    I love to use trick 6 all the time – applesauce, yogurt, any of that. Displacement is perfect.

    • They are, but when you add three or four ingredients at one time, they’re listed from largest amount to smallest. In those instances, it doesn’t really matter what goes in the bowl first.

  4. Lori says

    6 is great! I will have to get a 2 cup measuring cup. I like to rinse the dishes as I go, then when I wash later it is so quick

  5. Sandi says

    I often rinse the beans as I feel that a lot of the gas released from the beans is in that liquid. I do that when I soak dry beans, too. Maybe it isn’t really like that, and I don’t have an issue with sodium so sometimes I do skip that step, but if I can help avoid the toot toots, I’m all for it. They say you can use that juice to make meringues and such (aquafaba, I think is what they call it) but I’ve always been leery of trying it just for trapped gas quantities.

    Tip 6 is one my dad taught me as a little girl. Even if we weren’t measuring other things, we’d just put some water in there to measure out semi-solid things like peanut butter or Crisco and then pour off the water. SO much easier than trying to measure it in the little cups. Then it just plops out, too, no scraping required.

    • I don’t think I would ever want to use bean juice in meringues. Wow. 😉

      • Sandi says

        I’ve heard it does not taste at all like beans. I’d love to try it sometime when I hadn’t been told what it was before I ate it. 🙂

        • Sharyce Newby says

          canned Chick pea liquid is supposed to be a really good egg replacement for vegans… never tried it though. I do also rinse all beans, even if I buy sodium free ones, especially for things like dips.

  6. BUSY MOM IN AL says

    My tip is leaving the top off the cooking spray can! 🙂 I usually have dough covered hands or something and had the hardest time getting that lid off. I just toss it in the trash and put my new can in the pantry. So freeing! LOL!

  7. Alice E says

    My Mother taught me #6 when I was a pre-teen baking. I also use this method when measuring multiple liquid for corn bread I measure the cup of buttermilk leave it in the cup and add the 1/3 cup of oil and add them at the same time.

    I make bread by hand and mix and knead the dough in my great big green Tupperware bowl. The recipe calls for oil, so I set the measuring cup to the side. After kneading I use wipe out the cup with my hand and grease the ball of dough spreading the oil on the top, then flipping it and lightly oiling the other side, then cover with a damp towel and let it rise.

    I also occasionally use freezer paper as a disposable cutting board or countertop. I usually put a terry kitchen towel under it, then add a layer of the freezer paper shiny side up. It will help it lay flat if you fold back a half inch of the side edges, the ones that you didn’t tear. This fold trick also works for parchment or waxed paper if it wants to roll after you tear it off.

    Thanks for all your hints and ideas.

  8. Emily says

    I think the reason for rinsing the beans is to reduce the amount of salt that goes into a dish.

    • Yes, that’s what I’ve heard from other people. I’ll still cheat since I tend to undersalt most things anyway. LOL!

  9. Janet says

    Wash, slice, dice, shred your fruits and vegetables once and then use them all week. Every weekend I spend a couple hours prepping my produce. For example, I usually buy a 2 pound bag of carrots every week. I shred half for tossed salads and soups and slice the other half into sticks for lunch boxes. By doing this, I only have to wash the cutting boards, box shredders, and peeler once. I also find I am much more likely to use my produce throughout the week if it is prepped and ready to go. Some nights after work the last thing I want to do is get out the salad spinner and wash up spinach for a salad.

    Also, before I start cooking I prep a sink of hot soapy water. I drop everything but sharp knives into the sink as I go. By the time dinner is over the dishes are rinsed and ready for the dishwasher.

    • Great strategies. And my husband would be so pleased to hear that you don’t put sharp knives in the sink. That is one thing we disagreed on early in marriage. My family always did it and, for good reason, he insisted that I stop. 😉

  10. Mindy says

    Parchment paper has been a game-changing shortcut for me in the kitchen. Line cookie sheets, 9×13 pans, everything. Not having to wash a pan is sooooo nice! I line the pan when I do baked oatmeal, bars, drumsticks, nachos…just about everything! Plus Costco sells a huge roll for cheap 🙂

    • Amen! I love parchment. My husband stocked up (14 boxes!) at Costco after they went out of stock once. We’re on our last two rolls, so now I’ll have to buy more. LOL!

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