11 Simple Kitchen Skills That Will Save You Time And Effort

Kitchen Skills That Will Save You Time And Effort

Having raised four kids to adulthood, I now have three decades of experience as a home cook. But even with all that experience, I’ve never felt as though I’ve learned everything there is to know about cooking!

Cooking is a skill that I learned both by watching my mom work in the kitchen when I was younger, and by doing it myself over and over as an adult. But with as much as I picked up from my mom and figured out on my own, there are plenty of useful kitchen skills I never would have known about if I hadn’t read it somewhere or heard about it from someone else!

My point is that no matter how much experience or intuition you have in the kitchen, there is always something new and useful to learn as a home cook. And that’s what today’s blog post is all about, because I have 11 practical cooking tips, shortcuts, and solutions to share with you that will help you take your kitchen skills to the next level! :-)

Check out a brilliant hack for keeping parchment paper in place in a video later in this post!

11 Useful Kitchen Skills That Every Home Cook Should Know

kitchen skills

1. Cut Veggies Lengthwise Before Slicing

From zucchini to carrots, slicing cylindrical veggies that want to roll away from you isn’t a great way to keep your fingers intact. The key to slicing them safely is to give them a flat surface, which you can do quickly and easily by cutting them lengthwise down the center before slicing.

Once you’ve done that, you can rest the veggie on its cut side without worrying about it moving around on you. Your fingertips will thank you!

kitchen skills

2. Chill Raw Meat Before Cutting

Due to its unique texture, slicing a large cut of meat thinly can be tricky at the best of times. You’ll find it much easier to achieve clean cuts if you chill the meat in your freezer for 10-15 minutes before attempting to slice it. The meat will firm up and make slicing much easier (as will using a sharp knife!)

kitchen skills

3. Pit And Slice Avocados Safely

To break down an avocado safely, start by slicing into the center of the narrow tip of the avocado, stopping once you reach the pit. Then rotate the avocado around your knife, slicing the avocado in half around the pit, and separate the two halves.

Carefully “whack” your blade into the pit, then twist your knife to remove the pit. Finally, carefully slice or cube the avocado while it is still in the skin (making sure to avoid puncturing through the skin with the blade), then scoop the avocado flesh out of the skin with a spoon.

kitchen skills

4. Keep Greens And Herbs Fresh

To extend the life of washed herbs and leafy greens by several days, roll them up in a damp paper towel and store them in a partially sealed ziplock bag. This storage method also makes it easy to spot the first sign of decay: darker spots of liquid on the paper towels.

Take this as your signal to use up those herbs or greens within the next day or two.

kitchen skills

5. Revive Wilted Greens

If your fresh produce starts to wilt, try reviving it before you write it off as a lost cause! Fill a bowl with ice and cold water, then soak your produce in the ice water for 15-20 minutes. When you take it out it should be nice and crisp again!

kitchen skills

6. Slice Dessert Bars Out Of The Pan

When my kids were younger, there were a couple of times I naively believed they were more than capable of fetching their own brownie or piece of cake from the pan. The resulting carnage quickly proved otherwise, so I wish I had known this clever tip for slicing dessert bars back then!

While preparing your mix, grease the baking pan as usual and line it with a piece of parchment paper. Leave a couple of inches of overhang on each side, then add the batter or dough and bake the dessert as usual.

After baking and cooling, grab the edges of the parchment paper, pull the dessert out, and place it on your cutting board. Slicing even pieces of brownie has never been so easy!

Related: How To Choose The Right Food Wrap For The Job

YouTube video
Take control of unruly parchment paper.
kitchen skills

7. Know Your Zests

There are three basic kinds of citrus zest that are called for in recipes: peels, julienned strips, and fine zest. Sturdy peels are useful in braises or as a garnish for drinks, and are easy to create with a standard vegetable peeler.

Julienned (or thinly sliced) strips are good in sauces and make a pretty garnish, and you can make them by thinly slicing a larger piece of peel, or using a zester tool. And lastly, fine zest delivers a punch of citrus flavor to dressings and desserts, is easy to achieve with the help of a microplane or fine grater.

kitchen skills

8. Roll Leafy Herbs Before Slicing

Leafy herbs like mint and basil can be tricky to slice because of how soft and thin they are. The best way to do it is by stacking up several leaves, rolling them up into a tube before thinly slicing. (The technical term for this technique is chiffonade, a French term meaning “little ribbons.” Apt!)

kitchen skills

9. Peel Ginger With A Spoon

Fresh ginger root needs to be peeled before it can be used, but slicing the peel off with a knife can be tricky, time-consuming, or remove more than just the peel. One good alternative is to peel ginger root with a spoon, which can squeeze between the skin and the flesh and leave more of the root intact.

(And if your recipe falls for minced ginger, you can save yourself even more time by grating it on a microplane instead!)

kitchen skills

10. Scoop Out Stray Eggshells

We’ve all cracked an egg into bowl only to realize a bit of eggshell went in along with it. Although it may sound a bit backward, the quickest way to fish it back out is using another piece of eggshell. Eggshell pieces attract each other like magnets, making it an essentially foolproof retrieval method.

kitchen skills

11. Keep Your Kitchen Clean

If your kitchen tends to look like a disaster zone when you’re finished cooking, there are two things you should learn to love: the garbage bowl and the bench scraper. Having a designated garbage bowl gives you a place to put scraps and trash while you’re work in the kitchen, which keeps your counters tidier while cutting down on the amount of trips you have to take to your garbage can.

A bench scraper can serve a variety of useful functions in terms of keeping your kitchen clean. You can use it like a broom to “sweep” spilled flour and bits of food into a pile for easier cleaning, and you can use it to scoop up scraps or ingredients to move from point A to point B. When used in tandem, the garbage bowl and bench scraper system makes it easy to keep your workspace tidy!

Which kitchen skills have made cooking easier for you?

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Jill Nystul (aka Jillee)

Jill Nystul is an accomplished writer and author who founded the blog One Good Thing by Jillee in 2011. With over 30 years of experience in homemaking, she has become a trusted resource for contemporary homemakers by offering practical solutions to everyday household challenges.I share creative homemaking and lifestyle solutions that make your life easier and more enjoyable!

About Jillee

Jill Nystul

Jill’s 30 years of homemaking experience, make her the trusted source for practical household solutions.

About Jillee


Food & Recipes

  • Ok I’ve tried this for avocados.if you’re mashing it, Cut an end off and squeeze it out the hole! If you need nice slices though, I use a spoon to scoop it out.

  • I stopped cracking eggs on the rim of a bowl and crack them instead on a flat(ter) surface like the side of the bowl. I have many fewer eggshell bits to fish out now.

  • I’ve always cleaned messes immediately while I’m cooking. We don’t even use a garbage bowl. Instead my clever mom just attaches a plastic bag with handles to the knobs on the cupboard by the kitchen sink and puts the scraps and other trash in. Then when the bag is full we just put it in the trash can. It also makes our kitchen trash less icky to deal with.

  • Please amend your post about cutting avocados to include placing the halved avocado on the counter before striking the pit with the knife. Do not hold it in your hand and strike with a sharp knife.

    • A brownie mix, there are several on the market. If someone in your family is gluten free, they have G.F. brownie mixes that are delicious. I know as my husband is G.F. and he loves those G.F. Brownies.

      • Many thanks Carla ! I am going to have a look in my supermarket but not sure to find a GF here in France !
        Have a nice day !

    • If your store has Baker’s unsweetened baking chocolate, there is a recipe for one-bowl brownies on the back of the box. Seven ingredients (six if you omit nuts), and they are my favorite! I don’t know if they carry that in France, but I’ll bet you can search online for the recipe. Happy eating!

  • I just wanted to remind people to use a plastic knife when cutting brownies into bars. It really does make a difference for neater looking bars especially when they’re still slightly warm.
    Another tip that I only recently learned of is for hard boiled eggs. After they’ve finished boiling, you can cool them in cold water if that’s what you normally do, or just wait until they’ve cooled to make for easier handling. When ready, drain the water out of the pot and cover. Then vigorously shake the pot, one hand holding the handle and the other hand on the lid. When the shells looked cracked all over, peel the shells off. They usually come off in whole pieces, as the shells stick to that membrane that surrounds the egg. This trick considerably cuts down on the time it takes to peel eggs!

  • If you want centered eggs in a deviled egg lay it on its side when in the fridge. Another egg hit is this if you need to separate the yolk from the whites refrigerate the eggs. It is easier.

    • Gosh, I thought that eggs had to be kept in the refrigerator, unless you use them immediately after you gathered them from the chicken.
      Ms. Chicken will be most unhappy when you go into the henhouse to gather those eggs. LOL

      • Our chickens were happy to have their nesting boxes cleaned out…room for more!! In the USA we need to refrigerate the eggs (if store-bought) because we have a thing about germs. Most countries don’t wash the eggs, and eggs have a wonderful coating that keeps them fresh without the frig!

  • I like this method of using ginger best. Grate the whole piece of ginger – peel and all – with a large grater. Then pick up the pile and squeeze the juice into a bowl. You get ginger juice instead of chunks that can cause funny-tasting bites if you eat a large piece or clump.

  • One more thing that makes finding small pieces of shell where you don’t want them. Opt for brown eggs, rather than white. I don’t think there is any difference in flavor.

  • Wow these suggestions are fantastic! I knew how to do a few but I’m glad I know now. I knew something like the parch ament paper for easy baked goods removal but specifically for baked bread so it maintained perfect shape.

  • When I have several ingredients, such as mushrooms and peppers, that have different cooking times and need to be added at different intervals into a dish, I keep them chopped onto separate on paper plates. Then I add them as needed into the skillet and just throw the paper plate away. It helps me keep the recipe straight and nothing gets over cooked or mushy. I never use foam as it doesn’t degrade in landfills and if it gets too close to the stove, it can melt!

  • Microplaning ginger is a pain for me, especially since I go through so much of it! I’ve found a much easier way by actually blending a whole lot of peeled ginger in a blender, and then freezing it in ice cube trays.

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