Basic Kitchen Tips are here to help you in the kitchen. Navigating the kitchen is easy and a few tips can make it easier. Below you will find our tips and links to a few of our favorite how to’s and kitchen resources.
Inventory – keep inventory of what’s in your pantry. According to the USDA, Americans waste about 40 percent of their food each year. On average, a family ends up throwing away around 20 pounds of food every month. Inventory can be kept with a simple whiteboard, on a handy apps like Fridge Pal and Fresh Box. Knowing what you have on hand will help you to better plan your meals.
Meal Planning – to make the most of your inventory plan your meals in advance. Meal planning can be a fun activity for the entire family and will reduce your trips to the grocery. FMP suggests planning how many meals you want to cook in a week, and remember leftovers make for quick easy lunches. A meal plan will help you generate your shopping list and prevent you from asking what’s for dinner. Create your own meal plans, use our recipes, let your kids pick a meal, and of course there a several meal planning apps out there, making it super easy! Most apps can be set up to your families preferences, likes, dislikes and other dietary needs. Some of our favorites are: Meallime, Food Planner, MealBoard ($4) and Real Plans, on the more expensive side for an app but it is filled with several features. Any app from this list will meet the needs of most families.
10 Basic Utensils all Kitchens should have:
- Knives – a chef’s knife, paring knife and a slicer(serrated) are the 3 most used knives in a kitchen, when selecting a knife quality is important, brands that won’t break the bank are Victorinox and Zwilling J.A. Henckels. Buying knives in a set or in a block can save money and remember keep them sharp!
- Cutting Boards – a few different sizes is always handy. Plastic and Bamboo are affordable board types. FMP suggests using bamboo or other wooden boards for cutting your vegetables and plastics for proteins. Keeping different boards in general for veggies and proteins keeps food safe and free from cross contamination. For heavy chopping projects placing a damp kitchen towel under you cutting board, will create a more secure and slip resistant surface.
- Mixing Bowls – variety in size makes it easy to prep for different projects. Glass and Metal are preferred to plastic, and tend to have a longer life span in your kitchen. Often glass bowls sold in sets come with lids making them great for leftover storage and meal prep.
- Measuring Cups & Spoons – metal is suggested as they have a longer life span in the kitchen. But as you being to try new recipes and doing more scratch cooking, you will find your cups and spoons very helpful. Remember a liquid measuring cup is also handy.
- Can Opener – FMP suggests getting a sturdy manual can opener, while some prefer an electric opener, you can never go wrong with a classic manual style!
- Colander – a more useful tool then you think, from daring pasta, to washing your veggies and rising canned beans, no kitchen should be without a sturdy colander. FMP suggests a metal or silicone colander large enough to hold a least 32 ounces. Remember a fine mesh style colander can also be handy when strain liquid like homemade chicken broth!
- Vegetable Peeler – your veggie peeler is more handy than you think, peeling vegetables is its number one job, but helping with salad prep, creating carrot curls, thick zucchini noodles and even shaving asparagus make it essential. FMP recommends a sturdy stainless steel peeler.
- Wooden Spoons, Whisks, Spatulas, & Tongs – a good variety of these tools is important to all cook projects. Spoons for soups and sauces, whisks for salad dressings and eggs. Spatulas for scrapping the last bits from the blender or your baking bowl. Tongs and FMP favorite for fluffing pasta, flipping steaks, and keeping hands at arm’s length when pan-frying! Bamboo and silicone spoons, whisks and spatulas work best and stainless steel is the best for tongs!
- Meat Thermometer – may not be the first thing we think of but is surprisingly useful, as you begin to cook, bake and roast more meats having an easy to calibrate and read thermometer will keep your food safe and cooked to perfect temperatures!
- Towels and Hot Pads – A good set of towels and hot pad set make your kitchen look beautiful and protect you from burns.
Knife Skills –
Having a few basic knife skills will keep you safe in the kitchen and make cooking a breeze.
Knowing how to handle a knife is just one piece of the puzzle, keeping your knives sharp is just as important as proper knife handling. Several counter top/handheld sharpeners or honing steels are available and should be a part of you kitchen.
Proper chopped onions, our favorite kitchen tip and time-saving trick. Onions are a kitchen staple and full of nutritional benefits. Knowing how to properly chop an onion will save you tears and enhance your cooking experience. Below are a few simple steps to have you chopping onions like a pro: How to Chop an ONION! Check out the link for video instruction!
- Cut the top, then slice in half
Using a sharp chef’s knife, slice about a half an inch off the top of the onion and discard. Turn the onion to rest on this flat end and slice in half vertically.
Tip: If you’re only using half of the onion, leave the skin on and wrap what you’re not using in plastic wrap.
- Peel off the papery layers
Remove and discard the skin.
- Chop vertically
Take one onion half and lay it flat on your cutting board. Holding the root end, carefully cut vertically, making sure not to slice all the way through.
Tip: Leave the root side intact to make chopping easier.
- Chop horizontally
Rotate the onion and slice vertically down through the onion, still leaving the root end intact. Discard the root end and repeat with the remaining half of the onion.
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