Better yet, they only require items you already have laying around.

By Betty Gold and Maki Yazawa
February 10, 2020

We should all be meal prepping more—it’s a surefire way to eat healthier, cook more at home, and save money. Many fancy appliances and products promise to make prepping meals ahead of time easier, and as much as we love the Instant Pot, these tools aren’t really necessary. Whether you’re a culinary pro or novice, a kitchen minimalist or already stacked with a full suite of luxe gadgets, you’ll love learning these genius meal prep hacks that’ll transform your everyday common household items into the kitchen shortcuts.

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1
A Simpler Way to Separate Your Egg Yolks

Most baking recipes require very specific egg yolk-to-egg white ratios. But for novice bakers (and let’s be honest, some experienced ones), separating yolks from whites for dishes like angel food cake or egg-white frittatas can be a messy and painstaking process. Next time you find yourself in this sticky situation, here’s a simple trick to streamline the process.

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Select a regular water bottle, remove the lid, and wash clean. Carefully crack your eggs into a large bowl without breaking the yolks (spoiler alert, this is the hardest part). While gently squeezing your empty water bottle, hover over your selected egg yolk and begin to release your grip creating a suctioning vortex that’ll scoop your yolk right into the bottle. Drop your separated egg yolk into a new bowl and voilà, separating those three cartons of eggs never looked easier.

2
Eliminate Garlic Odor for Good

If the secret to making your broccoli and Brussels sprouts taste better is adding more garlic (we see you), then this trick is for you. Before your prep work results in stinky garlic-scented fingers for the week, try rubbing your hands with stainless steel, like your sink faucet, a stainless steel pan, or the handle of a spatula—whatever’s closest. Sounds odd, but this trick comes down to a simple scientific calculation. Garlic contains sulfur, which turns into sulfuric acid, and when mixed with water, the stench becomes ever more intense. However, you can rely on your trusty metal spoon to work its magic, as stainless steel binds with the sulfur molecules, thus transferring the smell off your fingers. Lucky for you, you won’t need to break up with garlic just yet.

3
Cook Perfect Pancakes (Before You've Even Had Your Coffee) 

Whether you’re hosting brunch this weekend or you just like to jump-start your day with a stack of delicious pancakes, this trick will up your breakfast game. Next time your ketchup bottle runs out, don’t chuck it in the recycling bin. Instead, wash it out and fill it up with your freshly made pancake batter for easy pouring. This will make your flapjack making a breeze and will spare you the tedious gunky, splattered batter clean up. Make too much mix? No worries, close the top and save it for tomorrow’s breakfast in bed.

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4
Double Your Ziploc Size in an Instant

Ever reach into your Ziploc box only to find out you’ve used the last of your large gallon bags—just when you were ready to save all your freshly-diced fruits and veggies inside? The worst. When all you’re left with is your small sandwich-size bags and your extra-tall asparagus are too large to fit, you can use this life-saving hack to quickly double the size of your Ziploc’s capacity.

Gather two same-sized Ziploc bags and turn one inside out. Place the contents you wish to store inside of the inverted bag, letting the ends that do not fit stick outside of the top. Cover with your remaining bag and align the seals together to close the bags using one another. 

5
Create a Safe, No-Slip Cutting Board

Save your fingers from any chopping mishaps—and the inevitable slicing slow-down that comes with a slide-y cutting board—by placing a wet kitchen towel beneath your board to prevent any slipping. You can also try rolling your wet towel and forming a circle to place around a bowl to prevent movement while whisking.

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