When you’re a busy person, takeout food can be a lifesaver. Unfortunately, it’s also pretty expensive and doesn’t exactly have the healthiest options either. Plus, ordering out mid-week when your budget is tight means that you might not have enough money for groceries to cook healthy meals at home during the week.
What if there was a way to have the convenience of takeout without all those high costs?
The answer is now here. Food hacking will give you the power to have tasty food that won’t cost an arm and a leg. In fact, with these hacks, you’ll be able to save money as well as time! How good does that sound?
Top 10 Food Hacks
These are some of our favorite food hack ideas.
#1. Does peeling garlic seem like a pain in the butt? Not anymore.
Garlic is fairly pesky to peel — the best and easiest method according to most people involves crushing it with the flat of a large blade. There’s a better way, though — grab a jar, chop the tip and top off your bulb so the flesh is exposed, and throw the bulb in the jar. Close the lid, and shake the jar like there’s no tomorrow. Then shake it a little harder. Then open your jar, toss the contents out onto the cutting board, and voila! Peeled garlic.
#2. Peel mango like a pro, with a … glass.
Having a tough time peeling the flesh of a mango cleanly? Get a glass and a knife. Cut your mango open, and slide the edge of the glass between the skin and the flesh of each of the two mango halves, carefully moving the edge of the glass along the skin. Easy!
#3. Tearing up while chopping onions? Take a mouthful of water.
Or a mouthful of anything, really. When the cell walls of an onion’s core layers are destroyed, enzymes are released in a misty gas that either follows the wind or seeks a nearby heat source. Upon contact with water, these enzymes turn into acid — and since your eyes are covered in a thin film of water, you tear up. Not breathing through your mouth means you’re not sucking the enzymes up towards your face.
Another great method is to wrap your onions in plastic foil and stick them in the freezer for 10 to 15 minutes. This reduces the effects of the enzyme without affecting taste. Oh, and remember to keep your knives sharp! That way, you don’t destroy quite as many cells, and therefore release fewer enzymes.
#4. Bake better with yeast by warming up your fluids.
There’s a sweet spot when it comes to milk or water and yeast — too hot, and you kill the yeast; too cold, and it’ll take ages to get going (although it apparently improves flavor). The ideal temperature for active dry yeast to multiply is about 95 degrees Fahrenheit (35 degrees Celsius). Cake yeast takes about the same temperature, while instant yeast needs a decent 120-130 Fahrenheit (48-54 Celsius; check your instant yeast package to see what its recommended temperature is).
#5. Preserve sauces and dips by adding lemon juice.
Preserve color and flavor in dips like guacamole or sauces like pesto by adding lemon juice. It also keeps fruit from browning (an annoying occurrence when making fruit salad).
#6. Wrap glass bottles in a wet paper towel before sticking them in the freezer to quickly cool a drink.
This trick works because of a paper towel’s ability to retain water, and thus keep wet (and cold) over a longer period of time compared to other paper types. A rudimentary experiment showed that a can with water wrapped in a wet paper towel cooled to 39 degrees Fahrenheit (4 degrees Celsius) nearly an hour quicker than a can without the wet paper towel.
#7. Put ice cream in the back of the freezer to reduce ice crystals.
Every time you open the freezer door it lets warm air melt and refreeze the ice cream, creating ice crystals. The key to preventing ice crystals from forming and getting large is to stick the ice cream as far back in the freezer as you can, to ensure that it keeps a nice even temperature until the next time you take it out. Pro tip: use an air-tight container, so the fat in the ice cream doesn’t soak up the odor of the freezer’s air.
#8. Place a frozen ziploc bag of water in a pitcher to keep your beer cold.
This works for any beverage you just want to keep cold, rather than water down with ice cubes. You can also use frozen grapes to retain that coolness without molten ice messing up the drink’s flavor.
#9. Use dental floss to evenly cut a cake horizontally (or vertically!)
Unscented dental floss is the key here (scented dental floss will rub off its flavor on your food, which might not be ideal when you’re trying to cut soft cheese or cake) — simply grab a long bit of floss, then work your way through the cake slowly, sawing from side to side to cut into the cake and prevent squeezing too much. This works much better than a knife for when you’re trying to make a layered cake, and will also help you slice your cake up without having half of it end up stuck to the knife.
#10. Use a paper bag to ripen fruit.
Unripened fruits naturally produce ethylene gas while ripening — put them in a paper bag to speed up the process. Note that only some fruits naturally “ripen” once they’ve been plucked (specifically fruits like bananas, mangoes, pears, kiwis and avocados) — others retain the same level of flavor as when they’ve been plucked, and only undergo aesthetic changes.
33 Food Hacks for Kids
Children are a blessing, but parents have to be prepared for the mess and noise that inevitably comes with raising them. And meal times always seem particular challenging. But fear not, these awesome tips will help you cut down on kitchen chaos.
#2. Making pancakes just got a whole lot easier: use a ketchup bottle to squeeze the batter onto the skillet!
#3. You can even make impressive character pancakes with just five easy squeezes.
Or take a shortcut and use this teddy bear skillet instead.
#4. Create super-quick bite-sized pancake pieces for your toddlers using a pizza cutter .
#5. Lessen snack time spillage by making a peanut butter “dam” around jelly when making a PB&J sandwich.
It doesn’t have to be messy to be delicious.
#7. The secret to soft ice cream? A ziplock bag.
#8. The waffle iron isn’t just for waffles… you can even use it to make delightfully crispy hash browns.
#10. Prepare healthy and mess-free food for that dreaded road trip with some celery sticks and a jar of peanut butter.
Road trip snacks don’t have to be limited to chips anymore!
#11. An easy and fun way to eat oranges is to make an awesome orange strip.
Look ma, no peel!
#12. Reduce popsicle drippage with a cleverly placed cupcake liner.
Simple and brilliant.
#13. On the rare occasion when your toddlers don’t eat every last crumb of cake, keep leftovers from going stale with a slice of bread and toothpicks.
Now you have a reason not to finish the entire thing off in one sitting.
#14. Ice cream sandwiches will be a breeze to make with this clever food hack.
The secret lies in the use of a serrated knife that’s been heated with hot water.
VOILA! Piece of cake — er, cookie.
#15. Serve snacks in an ice cube tray to make cleaning up a breeze.
#16. Capri Sun pouches placed in the freezer overnight make the perfect summer slushies.
#17. No need for the fancy schmancy stuff: use coffee creamer containers for on-the-go snack storage.
#18. Use a straw to easily remove strawberry stems.
#19. Want to save a few precious minutes every morning? Prepare a batch of PB&J sandwiches in advance and store in the freezer.
The sandwiches will keep for four to six weeks, and be fully thawed and ready to eat by lunchtime.
#20. A couple of marshmallows will stop your brown sugar from turning rock hard in storage.
#21. Prevent clumsy accidents by covering cups with saran wrap.
#22. Whole grapes are a choking hazard for small children. Cut a dozen grapes in half in mere seconds with this technique.
#23. Make all-natural watermelon pops with popsicle sticks.
It’s also a trick to save watermelon slices from falling off slippery toddler fingers.
#24. If you can’t find popsicle sticks in your pantry, another option is to cut watermelon into kid-friendly sizes.
#25. Bananas too green? Speed up the ripening process by putting them in the oven.
Now you won’t have to wait several days.
#26. Sponges can serve as cheap and reusable DIY lunchbox ice packs.
They can also be used to wipe the table clean after eating.
#27. Turn yogurt into ice pops using your good ol’ freezer.
#28. Prepare family-sized portions of oatmeal using your rice cooker.
Now you can leave it in there to cook while you do seven other things at once.
#29. Introduce veggies into your kids’ diets by baking them some carrot fries.
#30. A sneakier way to feed your children veggies is to hide it in their mac and cheese.
No one would be the wiser.
#32. Be your kids’ breakfast hero by shaping their hardboiled eggs into hearts.
All you need is a chopstick, rubber band, and milk carton.
#33. Add these golden eggs to your meal repertoire and earn “cool parent” points.
Take a raw egg and place it into a sock/tights. Spin it as hard as you can for at least 10 minutes. When the yolk stops making a moving sound, the yolk will be sufficiently mixed up inside the shell. Boil it as usual. After boiling place it in an ice cold water for a couple of minutes so the shell will come off easily.
20 Food Life Hacks
#1. Stop an avocado turning brown by sprinkling it with apple cider vinegar, or storing it with an onion.
#2. Store pineapples upside-down and they’ll ripen faster and taste sweeter.
#3. Wrap celery and broccoli in aluminum foil to make them last longer.
#4. Fresh berries won’t go mouldy if you keep them in a weak vinegar solution.
#5. Freeze wine in an ice cube tray and throw it into any dish that needs a dash of red wine.
#6. Cut cheese straight through the packaging, then use the plastic to cover up the remaining cheese.
#7. For quick mayonnaise in a pinch, mix sour cream with the yoke of a hardboiled egg and a spoonful of mustard.
#8. Pour hot milk into an almost-empty jar of Nutella for the richest, most delicious hot chocolate ever.
#9. Shake a raw egg for a minute, then boil it. You’ll end up with a golden egg (or very neat, round scrambled eggs).
#10. Limp herbs can still be used — mix them with olive oil and freeze in an ice cube tray.
#11. Use a sharp, hot knife to slice perfect ice cream wedges for an ice cream sandwich.
#12. This is how to make those gorgeous, edible dessert bowls.
#13. Slice cherry tomatoes in a cinch by lightly compressing them between two plates and cutting between them with a sharp knife.
#14. Pierce the shell of an egg with a pin before boiling and it’ll be much easier to remove the shell later.
#15. Reheat leftover pizza in a frying pan rather than the microwave and it’ll taste as good as new.
#16. Can’t find the rolling pin? Use a wine bottle instead.
#17. Potatoes stored next to apples won’t sprout any shoots.
#18. For easy cheesy bread, dice the top of the loaf, stuff with cheese and herbs and pop it in the microwave or oven.
#19. Make your own whipped cream by adding a tablespoon of sugar and a pinch of salt to thick cream, before stirring well.
#20. Use aluminum foil to adjust the size of your pastry.
14 Simple Food Hacks
#1. Use a spray bottle for oil, so you’ll enjoy less oily meals and save money buying oil less often.
#2. Avoid eating a large meal before bed; your last meal should be 3-4 hours before you go to sleep.
#3. Fry with two tablespoons of broth instead of oil for healthier meals bursting with flavor.
#4. Make sauces with natural yoghurt instead of using store-bought sauces, which are often full of additives, preservatives, and sugar.
#5. Use fruit puree as a substitute for butter in baking.
It makes desserts less fatty and tastes awesome, too.
#6. Invest in cast-iron cookware, as it doesn’t give off harmful substances and conducts heat better.
#7. Season broccoli with mustard.
It tastes great and mustard helps you digest all that vitamin B in broccoli.
#8. Make your own mince, as it’s fresher, tastier, and lower in fat than ready-made mince (it tastes better, too).
#9. Buy smaller plates and bowls to stop yourself piling up your plate and overeating.
#10. Try different kinds of flour, like oat or buckwheat, for healthier pastries and to bring new flavors and textures to your baking.
#11. Garnish dishes with sesame seeds as they’re super-rich in calcium — and your meals will look totally Instagram-worthy.
It’s healthier than always using a breadcrumb coating and recipes like this dukkah-coated chicken taste divine.
#13. Keep vegetables fresh in the fridge by wrapping them in paper towels to absorb excess moisture and prevent mould.
#14. Cut down your salt intake by only adding salt to your plate, not the entire pot.
17 Food Hacks to Save Money
Food takes up a good chunk of most people’s budgets… as it should. But if you can save a few dollars on the good stuff, then why not?
Pour coffee over the cubes to take your iced coffee to a whole new level.
Avocados don’t come cheap, after all.
#3. Stick to the perimeter when shopping at the grocery store to avoid unnecessary purchases.
The essentials are kept at opposite ends of the store to force us to pass through aisles and aisles of stuff that we don’t really need. Don’t get distracted!
#4. Wrapping lettuce, broccoli, and celery in tin foil will make them last longer.
They’ll stay fresh and crisp for up to a month!
#5. Pour leftover wine in an ice tray and freeze.
Don’t waste a single drop. Just drop in a cube every time a recipe calls for wine.
#6. Create perfectly portioned patties by sectioning your beef before freezing it.
All you need is a pencil or a barbecue stick.
#7. Grated cheese costs more, so buy larger chunks and grate your own.
There’s no need to pay extra when you can do it yourself.
#8. Fact: Items at eye-level in grocery store shelves cost more.
So look up or down to find cheaper-priced items.
#9. Before your herbs start to wilt, pop them into the microwave.
It’ll only take a minute to preserve their color and flavor.
#10. To make herbs last longer, place them in cups of water and cover them with plastic before refrigerating.
This is the best way to get parsley and cilantro to last longer.
#11. Keep your bananas fresh longer by wrapping the crown in plastic.
This will make them last another three to five days.
#12. Compare prices of grocery items across different stores with apps like favado.
You can get notified when your favorite items are on sale, too.
#13. Find restaurants where kids can eat for free with this handy app.
The Out To Eat With Kids app will save you money on food that probably won’t get eaten, anyway.
#14. Keep brown sugar soft with marshmallows.
Just pop a couple of marshmallows in the bag, and you’re good to go. Weird, but it works.
#15. Freeze your leafy greens, and add them to smoothies.
It’s always a huge waste when greens go bad, so this is a great way to “save” them. Plus, it’s a tasty way to consume them.
#16. Buy chicken in bulk, marinate in sealable bags, and freeze.
Not only does this save you preparation time, but it will also make your chicken extra tasty.