Are you looking for some simple kitchen tips? Some helpful hints that will make your homemaking journey easier? I’ve put together some of the top questions I’ve gotten into this helpful blog post!
Simple Kitchen Tips to Make Your Life Easier
Sometimes even something that seems like it should be simple, can bring up many questions. There are plenty of things that we do in the kitchen on a regular basis and sometimes have that passing thought, “Am I doing this the right way?” or “It seems like there should be an easy answer to this…but what is it?!”
Today I’ve compiled some of the top kitchen questions that I’ve gotten over the past 10 years into this article with simple kitchen tips to make your life easier. Call them kitchen hacks, kitchen tips….whatever you call them, hopefully, they will be helpful in answering some of the questions that you have when you are in the kitchen!
How Long Are Foods Good For?
How long past ‘use by date’ is food flavorful, quality OK, safe..and I don’t mean fresh items…Canned …packaged.. baking mixes…… . ??? Leslie B.
As I’m sure you probably guessed…the use by date on the package of the product isn’t always the exact day that you need to throw something out. Most of the time, a product is good for days, weeks, or even a year after that date! It all depends on the product. Here are a few tips on when you actually need to throw something out!
Dairy Products: These go bad the fastest. Sour cream, milk, cream cheese, ect. You can easily tell when the product is no longer usable by just checking how it smells and if there is any visible mold. The expiration date does not apply to dairy products that are frozen because they will be good for much longer. You can find a list of how long things last in the freezer here.
Canned Foods: Canned foods can last a good year after the expiration date. The things to watch for are bulging cans, any discoloring around the rims of the can, or any funny smells. Tomato products may not last quite as long because of the acidity.
Cereals and Crackers: These will only last a couple months after the expiration date before they start to get soggy and lose their flavor. A quick bite into a cracker will tell you if it’s still ok!
Boxed Mixes: As long as these have been kept in a good dry location they should be good for at least 6 months after the expiration date on the package.
And for more info….if you ever wanted to know what month to buy something in and how much to stock up on certain months, check out this article on How to Stock Up. Also if you plan on buying these expired products in a surplus or discount grocery store you will want to check out this article on How to Shop at a Discount Grocery Store.
How to Unstick Plastic Glasses
“I like to stack my tableware to save space but my cups stick together and I can’t get them apart. Help!” – Beth
Fact: Tiny House = Tiny Kitchen.
Fact: Tiny Kitchen = No Storage Space.
Fact: No Storage Space = Needing to Stack Things
Does this describe your kitchen situation? It does mine. I don’t have a lot of cupboard space so I have to make the most use of what I do have which means stacking plates, cups, bowls, ect. Occasionally when I put away a slightly still damp glass or cup it gets stuck together. And it seems like no matter how much I pull or tug or try and rip those cups apart they are determined to stick together. Here’s a little trick to getting them apart!
How to Unstick Plastic Cups:
- Fill the inside glass up with ice.
- Then either run the outside glass under hot water or stick it in a bowl of warm water.
- The heat will cause the outside glass the expand slightly while the ice makes the inside glass shrink allowing you to pull them apart!
Testing if Eggs Are Good or Bad
“I have chickens and I collect a lot of eggs every day. Sometimes they get mixed up in my fridge and I can’t tell what’s fresh and what needs to be used first. Is there an easy way to find this out?” – Cathy
Ever wondered how long that carton of eggs has been in the back of your fridge? Or maybe you found a couple extra eggs hiding in a back coop nest and you are wondering if they were layed yesterday or last week. Here’s how to figure out if the eggs are still good or if it’s time to toss.
Easy Egg Testing Method
- Grab a bowl and fill it with about 4 inches of water. Drop the eggs carefully in the water.
- If the egg sinks to the bottom, it’s still fresh.
- If the egg slightly tips one end up, it’s still fresh but needs to be used sooner.
- If the egg floats, it’s time to toss it.
“Is it really necessary to wash all of the fruits and vegetables you eat? Seems like a waste of money to buy produce wash” – Nancy
Hubby asked me once, “Do you really need to wash that? We just pulled it out of the garden!”
If the look I gave him wasn’t enough it also came with a mini-lecture and here’s my take on it to share with all of you.
So I’m sure that all of us know to wash conventional produce (or at least I hope you do!) but did you know that you should wash any produce that you prepare?
Why wash organic produce?
Even though the produce is grown organically it’s still sprayed with organic treatments and even though those my be non-toxic it’s still a good idea to clean them off before you eat the produce. All produce, even organic, brings a risk of bacteria from being transported from where ever it came from so washing also helps remove this if it’s present.
Why wash garden produce?
Let me ask you this…would you go outside, play with a couple bugs and then stick your hands in your mouth? Of course not! You may not spray anything on your garden produce, organic or otherwise but there is still dirt and bugs that have been on it. It’s a good idea to wash it off before you use it.
Do I have to wash all the produce?
Yes, all of it. Even the produce with a thick skin that you don’t intend to eat. You are still going to use a knife to cut that produce and the knife will come in contact with the outside of the fruit or veggie and the inside part that you will be eating.
How do I properly wash produce?
Just like you’d wash your hands. Spray or drop produce wash onto the item and rub it under a steady stream of water for a good 20-30 seconds. For berries or other smaller produce, place in a colander and spray with produce wash. Toss under running water until clean.
If I have to buy produce wash I prefer the BioKleen brand. It’s nice and thick but not too thick that I can’t keep it in a spray bottle. It’s all natural and non-toxic too. What’s the use of having a produce wash if it adds more chemicals to your food?
I also enjoy making my own Produce Wash. The recipe is in my book: Little House Living: The Make Your Own Guide to a Frugal, Simple, and Self-Sufficient Life.
Easy Table Shiner
“My tables look dull and dingy but they are real wood. How do I make them look clean and new again?” – Joan
This method may sound a little weird to most of you but I promise it works! After we first got married I was on the hunt one day to find something that would remove water spots from my table.
After trying a few different things I came across a phrase in an old book that said to try mayonnaise. I grabbed a bottle of the plain from-the-store stuff and tested it out. To my disbelief, it worked! Not only did it take away the water spots but it made my table nice and shiny.
Since mayo is so expensive I rarely buy a bottle from the grocery store for this cleaning habit but I often find it at my local discount grocery store for $0.50 for an expired bottle (it doesn’t matter if it’s in date, you aren’t eating it!) If you really wanted to, you could use Homemade Mayonnaise.
*Note: my table is made from real wood.
Here’s a before and after shots.
The Method for Shining Your Table
I wipe the mayo all over the table. Then with a wet rag, I wipe it completely off. Then I dry it with a dry towel. None of the mayo is actually left on the table, it just leaves it nice and shiny thanks to the oils in the mayo! Make sure to get it all off otherwise it will be a little greasy.
5 Random Kitchen Items I Can’t Live Without
“What are some of your favorite kitchen items that we might not necessarily consider to be “must-haves”. – Anne
I have some very favorite kitchen things that I feel like don’t get mentioned enough. These are things I use every single day in my own kitchen and I don’t think I could live without them! They make my life easier and more simple. So without further ado, they are:
Ice Cube Trays: I always have something freezing in my ice cube trays in the freezer! I go through them like crazy (cheaper ones tend to crack) so I buy them at rummage sales or auctions when I get a chance. High-quality trays would be worth it for me so they are on my wish list. I like to my Cream Cubes, Freeze Milk, Freeze Chicken Broth, and more! I’ve even made mini desserts in them. 😉
Blendtec Blender: This little powerhouse is amazing. I do not have a food processor but just use this blender for all of my grinding needs. It could even grind grains if I wanted it to. I’ve gone through about one blender per year since I’ve been married but since my Blendtec has an 8-year warranty, I don’t have to worry about that anymore.
L’Equip Dehydrator: Ok I’ve mentioned this one a couple times but it’s definitely on my list of can’t-live-without. I literally use mine every single day in the summer and fall. I use it mostly to make dried fruits and snacks, Homemade Fruit Roll Ups, and even Dried Chicken Broth.
Plastic Jar Lids: If you eat through your canning pantry in the winter as we do, these lids are a must! They are awesome for storing open canned goods in the fridge, topping off jars with spices in them, and storing things short term in jars as I make some new concoction. We also have a set of Cuppow lids and I actually use these on my jars with homemade salad dressing, Dorthy Lynch, or Ranch Dressing!
Rada Tomato Knife: While I love the entire brand of Rada Knives, the tomato slicer is my favorite. It also works extremely well for tomatoes (I like it to slice up my cherry and grape tomatoes for Sun Dried Tomatoes!), lettuce, other soft fruits and vegetables, and more.
What do you think about these simple kitchen tips? Have you utilized any of them? What are some simple kitchen tips that you can share with us?
This post on Simple Kitchen Tips is a compliation of blog posts written on Little House Living from 2012 – 2013. It was been updated as of January 2019.