1) Buy squeeze bottles for your oils and vinegars (we have these). There is a reason this is what they use in commercial kitchens – they are super convenient (no lids to remove on or off) and you have much more precise control when dressing a salad, or oiling or deglazing your pan.
2) If you follow tip 1, it means you can afford to buy better oil and vinegar in bulk. Keep them in the pantry, and fill up the squeeze bottles as needed. (We buy these incredibly delicious food service size vinegars from Katz)
3) Keep a big bowl next to you as you chop/prep veggies for compost scraps. All onion peels, avocado pits, stems, etc. you can toss in there as you’re prepping. This keeps your workspace clear and streamlines clean up.
4) Speaking of big bowls, buy more big cheap mixing bowls than you need. We have four of these nesting IKEA bowls and we often use at least 2, if not 3 or 4 during meal prep – i.e. one for salad, one for compost, one on the drying rack, one for tossing veggies before roasting, one for mixing brownie batter (unfortunately not nightly), etc.
5) Use a spoon to peel ginger (also, don’t keep ginger in the fridge).
6) Store fresh herbs upright in a glass with water, like you would flowers. (They last longer and look nice).
8) And of course, always grind your pepper fresh (these are good).
9) When deciding how to store produce, think about how the grocery store does it (i.e. onions, avocados, tomatoes, squash, and basil are typically non-refrigerated).
10) One exception: Citrus looks nice on the counter, but lasts longer in the fridge.
11) For our wedding, we instructed our guests to give us “either no gifts or wine only please.” Our friend Kelsey ignored us completely and gave us a set of glass Snapware food storage containers, telling us that we would be glad to have them. We use them every day and think of Kelsey every time.
12) Try tossing your salad with your hands (wash them first). See how it feels.
13) Don’t waste a good freezer! Anytime you make soup, make double or triple batches. A gift to your future self.
14) Fry your eggs with a lid on for more even cooking between the top and the bottom (solves the problem of an overcooked bottom and the whites still uncooked on top).
15) Don’t keep any food in your house you don’t want to find yourself mindlessly snacking on … because it will happen.
16) Quarter sheet pans are awesome. Great for cooking for 1 – 2 people, reheating something, or for roasting up to 4 different things at once. We have these.
17) Speaking of roasting – don’t overcrowd vegetables on a roasting tray! For maximum brownness, evenness, and deliciousness, veggies on the roasting tray should be cut all the same size and should not be touching.
18) If possible, open your doors/windows while you cook or use the hood/vent. The air quality when you’re cooking is not great.
19) Keep tomato paste around – it is a quick and delicious way to add tomato flavor or make a tomatoey sauce.
20) Broiling in the oven is underutilized. Keep in mind it is effectively the same as grilling (direct heat from the top vs. direct heat from the bottom. And when it comes to cooking, there really is no “top” or “bottom” anyway).
21) You can deglaze your pan (and remove any food that is sticking) with any water-based liquid (water, vinegar, milk, wine, tomato sauce, lemon juice). It makes clean up easier and adds to the deliciousness.
22) Making dried beans is easy, and at least 10x better than canned beans. Plus cheaper. We cook one batch per week and keep them in a fridge in our Snapware (thanks Kelsey!).
23) When you cook from recipes, use them as learning opportunities. Look for techniques or combinations you can use on your own, in any situation. Never be afraid to sub ingredients or experiment, there is very minimal downside.
24) Clean as you cook.
25) In the words of Michael Pollan – “When chopping onions, just chop onions.”