I’m a firm believer that when it comes to cooking, you either love it or loathe it, and that’ll never change. For most of my life, my feet were firmly planted on the side of hating cooking—that is, until I started relying on cooking hacks that would easily transform raw ingredients to a meal on a plate.
Unless I’m cooking with friends or family, 99 percent of the time, I want to get it over with as quickly and efficiently as possible. I envy people who enjoy chopping and grating and treat cooking like the ultimate form of self-care—I’m just not one of them. So instead of forcing myself to be, I use a few go-to tricks to make homemade meals in a way that doesn’t make me feel like it took all day.
Ready to transform your cooking skills? These are some hacks I use in the kitchen that have transformed my cooking experience from dreaded to enjoyable.
1. I treat myself to Blue Apron
One of my biggest issues with cooking used to be that I would eat the same five or so meals over and over again. Even if they’re five meals I really like, it quickly gets boring and makes the cooking process feel redundant. To curb kitchen boredom, I’ve turned to Blue Apron to push me out of my comfort zone and introduce me to new, delicious meals.
With up to 35 meal options available each week, there’s something for everyone, regardless of dietary restrictions or taste preferences. If there’s something about the recipe you don’t like or can’t have, you can add, swap, or upgrade your ingredients to make it perfect for you.
My favorite part of Blue Apron is how much it’s made me look forward to cooking. The parts I don’t like (last-minute grocery store runs and searching the aisles for hard-to-find, expensive sauces I might not ever use again) are already done for me , and I can truly look forward to having a well-made, delicious meal that I can make in my own kitchen. None of them are too difficult or time consuming, since most of the recipes can be prepared in under 35 minutes. If I’m busy or out of town, Blue Apron is flexible and allows me to skip weeks or change my plan with zero hassle. Blue Apron’s meals have taught me to enjoy the process of cooking, and it spices up my weekly meal without takeout or delivery fees.
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2. I turn to my air fryer to do the heavy-lifting
There’s nothing that I use in my kitchen more than my air fryer. I’ve always been a bit weird about meat, and while I’ll eat it, I absolutely hate preparing it. With my air fryer, I can season my meats and veggies however I want. Then I toss it in, and it does everything for me, leaving me with the perfect crispy-but-tender results every single time. From homemade french fries to baked oats, my air fryer makes delicious foods like a little chef who lives in my kitchen and makes everything just a bit better than I can.
Compact Air Fryer
I have a small kitchen, and this is the air fryer I bought to save space. I absolutely love it and find that despite it’s smaller size, it does the job just as well as my parent’s larger, full-size one. I’ve recommended this to just about everyone who will listen.
3. I freeze my herbs
It took way too long to realize that the reason my cooking was so underwhelming was because I wasn’t using enough spices and herbs to give it flavor. To solve this problem, I started growing a few of my own—basil, mint, and cilantro—on the windowsill in my apartment to always have access to a few fresh ones. To make sure none of my precious harvest ever goes to waste, I regularly trim them and keep what I’m not using in Ziploc bags in my freezer. That way, I always have them ready to add to soups, sauces, and smoothies—no trip to the grocery store necessary, and no waste in sight.
4. I pay attention to the order I measure ingredients in
One of the least beloved parts of cooking is obviously the cleanup process. I used to measure my ingredients any which way, but now, I pay close attention to the order so cleaning up isn’t so tedious.
When I’m using wet and dry ingredients, I measure the dry first to make sure I’m not putting dry ingredients into an already-wet measuring cup where they’ll be sure to stick. If I’m using any sticky ingredients (like honey or agave), I’ll measure the oily ones first, which helps the sticky ones slide right out when it’s time to wash dishes.
5. I prep sauces and dressings in bulk
While I’m not opposed to using pre-made dressings and sauces, I usually like knowing what’s going into mine to avoid any unnecessary additives. I often turn to a few easy, go-to combos—like mayo and sriracha or olive oil and lemon juice—to top off my meals.
It isn’t difficult to reach for a couple of different bottles, but when you’re doing it every day, it can add to the headache of cooking. For sauces and dressings I use multiple times a day, I’ve started making them in bulk and keeping them in glass jars in the fridge to speed up the process. I’ve noticed that when I’m hurrying to throw together a meal during my lunch break or at night before a workout, this little change makes all the difference.
6. I shortcut halving produce
Cutting produce like cherry tomatoes or small potatoes can feel tedious, so when I do need to do it, I place them between two plates, then hold the top one down and slice through the middle. It makes the entire halving process take less than 10 seconds, and anything that speeds up chopping is an immediate yes from me.
7. I pre-prep smoothie ingredients
I drink a smoothie almost every day, most of them a mix of both fresh and frozen ingredients. Rather than pulling them all out every day, at the start of each week, I throw single-portion ingredients into plastic baggies (which I keep to re-use every week) and put them in the freezer. Then when it’s time to make my morning smoothie, all I have to do is grab the baggie and put the ingredients in my blender with some almond milk, and I’m good to go.
This post contains a sponsored inclusion of Blue Apron, but all of the opinions within are those of The Everygirl editorial board.