Who doesn’t love shortcuts? Haven’t we all taken the shortcut on a vacation. . . .and sometimes ended up in Tinbuktu? Well my shortcuts won’t lead you astray. These are some life hacks that I have stumbled upon by accident when I needed to make things easier. I hope you can use some of them!
1. Filling ziploc bags for freezing
This has to be one of my favorites and most recent discovered life hacks. It’s so simple that I’m mad at myself for not coming up with it sooner! I like to prepare and freeze my meals to make dinnertime less hectic with a little child who wants to be right with me in the kitchen. But the thing that always bothered me was when I made a mess trying to fill the bags. The chicken juice would get on the ouside of the bag or I would get something on the ziploc teeth. And it is not easy to clean a those ziploc teeth! So here is what I do: Grab a tall (preferably wide mouthed) cup. Take your ziploc bag, put your hand inside. Then go over to the cup and stuff your hand (with the bag on it) inside the cup. Fold the bag over the outside rim of the cup and voila. . . . .easy to fill bag. No mess. If you need to fill a bag that is larger than a quart size, find a small bowl and do the same thing.
2. Frozen onions
Hands down the best frozen item that I have ever purchased. Chopped onions in a bag. What? Yes it can be that simple. Onions are in so many recipes & while slicing is pretty simple, chopping is time consuming and let’s be honest. . . .they make you cry! I didn’t know frozen onions even existed in the supermarket. Genius. And if you’re ambitious, try chopping your own and freezing them. After you chop, lay them on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and then spread the chopped onions out flat. Place them in the freezer for 1-2 hours. Then take them out and put them in a freezer bag.
3. Cook those stuck on bits of food
Have you ever had a pan with so much stuck on food that you didn’t even want to bother cleaning it. . . . .maybe it’s easier to throw it away?!?!? Well here is the solution. Cover the bottom of the pan with water, put it on the stove on med-high heat. After the water is hot (5-10 minutes), start scraping the bottom with a utensil that won’t damage your pan. It’s truly wonderful.
4. Make your produce last longer
Tupperware makes an amazing product called FridgeSmart Containers. Instead of having our strawberries go bad within 2-3 days, we can still eat them after a week or more! These are well worth the investment, especially since you won’t be wasting all that produce! Each container has a valve to let less or more air in along with a printed guide on the side for the correct setting you will need with each type of produce. Genius.
5. Homemade frozen cookie dough
If you love making those cookies that you just break off and bake, then you will love this easy idea. Make a batch of cookies and bake whatever you want. With the dough that is leftover, take a dough scooper (looks like a mini ice cream scoop) and scoop out the dough, placing it on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Put it in the freezer for 1-2 hours until the dough is frozen. Place all the little cookie dough balls into a freezer bag and freeze! Write the baking instructions on the bag. Then when you want to bake a few cookies without making 3 dozen, you can just grab the amount you want, and toss them in the oven. No need to thaw. Just add extra time to the baking time. You will need to watch your cookies the first time you do this and calculate the time. After the 1st time, you will know!
6. Chicken broth cubes
I always have leftover broth!!!! Most recipes I use call for less than 1 can of broth. I hate pouring the rest down the drain. Here’s the solution. Take a traditional rectangle ice cube tray & fill it with broth. Put it in the freezer for several hours or until completely frozen. Pop out the broth ice cubes, place them in a ziploc bag & store in the freezer until you need them. Each cube is approximately 1 oz (depending on the size of your ice cube tray)
7. Baking with butter
I LOVE baking!!!! But I hate baking with oil & crisco unless I absolutely have to. Yuck. I can taste the oil in my brownies and other baked goods, so I decided to try something. This isn’t really a life hack, but it can be if you’re out of oil and have only butter on hand. And get ready to take notes because this is complicated. If the recipe calls for 1/4 cup oil, melt 1/4 cup butter and use it in the recipe. 🙂 If the recipe calls for 1/4 crisco, soften 1/4 cup butter and use it in the recipe. You can thank me later. You will have a great tasting masterpiece.
8. Use vinegar as a deodorizer
This one comes from my mom! If your car has a terrible smell or your tupperware/plastic storage bowls stink from the chili you stored weeks ago, vinegar will take the smell away! Place a cup of vinegar in a cup holder in your car for 8+ hours. Pour 1/2 or so of vinegar into your storage bowl and place the lid on top. Let it sit for 8+ hours. Vinegar is a miracle worker!
9. Lost keys–problem solved!
I can’t tell you how many times I have walked out of a store and couldn’t find my keys. They were usually hidden at the bottom of my purse, the bottomless pit! This wasn’t a big deal when I was childless, but once I had a baby and now a toddler, I had to find a solution. You can make this as simple or a snazzy as you want! I started off with a carabiner attached to my keys and would simply hook it onto my purse or belt loop as I left the car. But I was worried about my key ring slipping off of the carabiner, so I found a “made for keys” solution. I got a key fob from Thiry One Gifts for $5. You can either hook it directly onto your purse, or wrap it around your purse or even wrap around and hook it onto your wrist! All of these solutions can prevent you from the lost key panic. And with a child in tow, this is a BIG deal, people!
10. Monthly Meal Planning
This has truly changed my life. I have more time, more sanity, less stress, less frustration & better meals. Check out my post about this to learn more. There are several methods available on cyberspace that will work for any personality. I urge you to give it a try for at least 3 months.
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