Clever Food and Kitchen Hacks

Tips for cutting down on prep time for meals.

These days we hear a lot about food and kitchen hacks as a way to up your game in the kitchen, but for food professionals, finding ways to save time in the kitchen is less of a commodity and more of a lifestyle. Two local experts from Your Family RD and ChuckWagon Catering share their best tips.

Tools of the Trade

Andrea Potashnick, a family registered dietician, has learned a few ways to cut down time spent in the kitchen—as well as bringing some nutritional tips from her business, Your Family RD. She provides nutrition counseling, individual coaching, group workshops and seminars on healthy family eating.

Potashnick’s favorite tool to keep the kitchen organized? The Lazy Susan. “I keep one on the top shelves of my pantry and refrigerator, as well as my spice rack,” Potashnick says. “It’s a great way to reach things that are towards the back.”

Another visibility tip Potashnick advises is to keep leftovers in clear containers. “You’re more likely to eat them up this way versus forgetting about them.”

Healthy Eating on-the-go

Mason jar salads are a great option for a quick lunch or dinner. “Dressing should go first on the bottom. Next any grains or proteins,” Potashnick says. “Add any fixings and your lettuce greens on top and when you’re ready to eat, either shake up and eat right out of the jar, or pour into a bowl.” The best part? These mason jars can be prepared two to three days in advance.

Prep your snacks ahead of time, Potashnick advises. “Fill reusable snack bags and keep them ready to go at eye level so you’ll be more likely to choose a healthier snack option.”

Prep Makes Perfect

Potashnick would have you go one step further and prepare some of your food and snacks directly after grocery shopping. “If you have time, prepare all of your produce as much as possible. For example, wash your fruit, roast your veggies or chop the produce as needed so it’s ready to go.”

Meal, and even snack, prep can save you time in your day-to-day. Potashnick recommends hard-boiled eggs as a great snack to prepare for the week. “These are great for breakfast, making egg salad sandwiches or tossing in a salad,” she says.

Planning a party? ChuckWagon Catering executive chef Ken Minder has time-saving tips for cooking for more than a few, especially with time-consuming produce.

Avocados are no  a popular addition to the culinary scene, but can take time and careful maneuvering to prepare. For any recipe involving cutting or mashing avocados, Minder has a trick to cut down on time. After carefully cutting the avocado in half and removing the seed, Minder suggests pressing the cut side through a baking rack. “This works best if your knife skills are suspect, or if you have to make guacamole for a high school football team,” Minder shares.

Minder’s tip for bell peppers begins with cutting off both ends of the pepper. Next, “stand the pepper up on the cut end and make a vertical cut all the way through the pepper.” Follow that with laying it on its side and cutting out the seed side and you’ll have a flat, usable shape that’s easy to grill, Minder says.