30 Time Saving Kitchen Hacks

If you enjoy cooking, then you know the joy of sitting down with those you love to share a meal together.  Something that’s not always easy to do with our increasingly busy lifestyles.

And, as much as we might enjoy cooking, it all takes a lot of time. Meal planning, grocery shopping, preparation, cooking and clean up all cut in to our precious hours.

30 Tips For Saving Time In The Kitchen | Foodal.com

No one wants to be a kitchen slave.  And who has the time to go to the market every day?

If you’d like to save a bit of time in the kitchen, here’s a compilation of 30 of the best time saving tips from professional chefs and every day cooks.  So we can all spend a bit more time with family and friends, enjoying the fruits of our cooking labors.

Planning and Preparation

Have you ever finished a long day at work only to realize you have no idea what to make for dinner?  And even if you did, you know darn well that Mother Hubbard’s cupboards are bare… it’s a sinking feeling, and the last thing you want to do is stop for groceries on the way home.

The solution?  Spend a couple of hours advance planning for the week – it can save valuable time, money and energy in the long term.

1.  Plan ahead.

On the weekend, or before your work week starts, schedule some time into your calendar for meal planning and grocery shopping.

Take a quick inventory of what’s on hand in the kitchen, and plan some meals around what you already have – then fill in any ingredient gaps on your shopping list.

If you’re trying out new recipes, make sure you read them all the way through to ensure you have everything needed. And keep an ongoing grocery list of kitchen staples, adding items as they get low so you don’t run out mid-meal.

When planning your meals, give some consideration to what’s available for in-season produce and meats. The flavors will be more robust, and you’ll save time trying to find hard to source items.

On weeknights, try to plan a few one-pot meals that only need a salad or a side dish to complete – stir fries, casseroles, pastas and stews all work well when time is crunchy.

If you’re stuck for meal ideas, Google some of the items you have in the pantry plus ‘recipe’ for a bit of inspiration.

Post your meal plan for the week on the fridge and stick to it. Not having to think about what to make for dinner is a great stress buster.

And don’t go shopping when you’re hungry, or you’ll be tempted to stock up on convenience items…not the best for the budget or the waist.

Cocoa Puffs may seem like a good idea when your walking down the cereal section with your tummy rumbling, but trust me, they’re not.

Learn how meal planning can lead to a healthier lifestyle.

2.  Wash fruits and veggies before putting them away.

Wash fruits and veggies before putting them away| Foodal.com
Cleaning your fruit and vegetables PRIOR to storing them is a sure fire way to speed up you daily kitchen chores.


No doubt we’d all love to buy organic, but this doesn’t fit into every budget and sometimes the selection of organic produce is limited. And even organic fruits and vegetable should washed before consuming. They’re grown with fertilizers and soil enhancers and have been handled by a variety of workers.

Half fill a sink with cold water and add the following:

  • 1 cup white or cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp. baking soda
  • The juice of half a lemon

This is going to fizz-up like a grade 8 science experiment, so don’t be alarmed. Place all your produce in the solution and let them sit for 5 minutes, turning any bobbing pieces to fully cover all surfaces. Scrub the skins of root veggies with a brush so you won’t have to peel them later. Rinse, and dry leafy greens in a salad spinner, air drying the rest on a tea towel before storing.

3.  Cut up your veggies once or twice a week.

Cut Your Vegetables the Week Prior - Tips for Saving Time in the Kitchen | Foodal.com

For soups, salads and main dishes cut up your veggies for the week and store in the fridge in air tight containers. This way, you’re only pulling out the utensils and tools used for slicing, dicing, grating and chopping once – and only cleaning up once.

* Don’t precut avocado, tomatoes, cucumbers or green leafy veggies that will bruise, discolor or weep. They need to be added freshly chopped.

4. Portion out snacks.

Before putting the groceries away, prepare and portion out snacks. Measure up trail mix, cut cheese into cubes and slice carrots and celery into sticks for quick and handy access.

5.  Pre-set the table.

If your dishwasher’s on daily, don’t put everything away. Set aside the tableware, dishes and cutlery needed for that night’s dinner. Stack them on the table, out of the way until dinner time.

6.  Leave out tomorrow’s pots and utensils.

After the evening meal clean up, pull out the cooking pots and utensils you need for tomorrow’s dinner. Stack in an out-of-the way spot on the stove or at the end of a counter top.

7.  Have a clean, well-organized work area.

For convenience and efficiency, keep your work space and chopping block somewhere within the ‘golden triangle’ formed by the fridge, stove and sink.

Tools and Utensils

Arrange your tools for easy access | Foodal.com
If your utensils are easily accessible, you’ll always have them in reach and will save you from having to dig through multiple kitchen drawers wasting your time.

Arrange your tools for easy access. And investing in a few good pieces will shorten prep and cooking time.

8.  Have frequently used utensils by the stove.

Find a funky piece of pottery or a wide mouthed jar for storing often used utensils beside the stove. Good for wooden spoons, rubber spatulas, ladles, slotted spoons etc. – the pieces you want to get your hands on fast when cooking. Alternatively, you can hang from hooks or a rack mounted to the wall or ceiling.

9.  Arrange your cupboards for convenience.

Have your cupboards arranged so that larger items of cookware are easy to get at, not stashed behind pieces of your Granny’s good china. Slow cookers, food processors, woks, pots and pans may not be as pretty to look at, but you want an effective arrangement to save time.

10.  Use a recipe stand.

Have a dedicated spot for reading recipes close to your chopping block – this way, you’re not constantly moving them to create more counter space.

11.  Invest in a good set of knives.

Kitchen Knives on a Magnetic Holder | Foodal.com
A good set of SHARP knives placed in a strategic location can help speed up your work in the kitchen immensely.

Have them in a block or on a knife magnet beside the stove or by your chopping block, and keep them sharp.

12.  Use a slow cooker.

A fabulous time saver, put in all the ingredients in a Crock-Pot before leaving home in the morning and come back to a delicious meal.  But, be wary of slow cooker recipes calling for canned soup, as they’re not the healthiest choice. Instead, make your own soup stock and freeze a supply for slow cooker dishes.

13. Purchase a high quality food processor.

The work horse of the kitchen, a good food processor is one of those purchases worth saving for… click on this link to read up on a couple of our recommendations.

Stock Items

Having these basics on hand is a time saver when making your favorite recipes.

14.  Pre-mix your favorite spice combos

Pre-mix your favorite spice combos | Foodal.com
Make your own spice and herb blends tailored to your own tastes! It’s quick and easy.

Thai, Indian, Mexican… most of us have favorite dishes that we use on a regular basis. Mix up batches of spices for your tried and true recipes and seal in spice jars. Remember to label them and store in a cool, dark spot.

15.  Grow your own kitchen herbs

Nothing beats the flavor of fresh herbs. Parsley, basil, rosemary, oregano and savory are all easily grown in pots, even on a small apartment balcony. If the winters in your area don’t allow for outdoor growing, pick up small 4” pots of fresh herbs and keep them on a windowsill that gets some light. Find a greenhouse in your area that sells direct to the public, or pick some up in the produce section at your favorite grocery store.

16.  Freeze fresh herb paste.

If you buy herbs, use what you need for the week’s menus then freeze the rest. Mince up your favorite combos and mix with olive oil or tomato paste, and freeze in ice cube trays. After they’ve set, store in labeled air tight containers in the freezer. These little flavor packets are great for soups, stews and sauces and you don’t have to buy a full bunch of herbs for just one recipe.

17.  Keep a supply of canned beans on hand.

Garbanzos, navy, and kidney beans all work well as the foundation for one-pot dishes and they’re indispensable for quick, meatless meals.

18.  Quinoa in the pantry.

Another valuable staple with a reasonable cooking time, keep quinoa in the pantry as an alternative to starchy vegetables, grains or pasta.

19.  Freezer tomatoes.

Freeze whole tomatoes on a tray then store in zip lock bags, these are great for adding texture and flavor to sauces. Add the whole, frozen tomato to your cooking pot and the skin will slip off easily while cooking.

20. Staple veggies.

Keep these basic veggies on hand as they add flavor and texture to a variety of dishes, and they store well – garlic, onions, carrots, celery, yams and kale. Read more about storing garlic.

21.  Frozen vegetables.

Freezing Fruits and Veggies to Save TIme | Foodal.com
Freezing (or purchasing pre-frozen) fruits and vegetables is a great time saver. Simply grab a handful and add to your smoothie or soup.

Yes, fresh is better, but these work in a pinch and at least you’ll be eating your veggies. Vegetable medleys are versatile and come in a wide variety of combinations.

23.  Freezer fruit.

Have some fruit that’s a little past it’s prime? Freeze whole bananas (skin on), peach and pear wedges and kiwi etc. to add to your smoothies.

24.  Freezer citrus juice.

Good for lemons, limes, oranges and grapefruits that no longer look appealing. Squeeze juice, freeze in ice cube trays then store in zip lock bags.


Here’s a few easy ideas to leverage your time in the kitchen.

22.  Eat your veggie skins.

If you’ve cleaned your veggies as outlined in Tip #2, there’s no need to peel your root veggies. Plus, you’ll consume more nutrients and healthy fiber by eating the skins of carrots, potatoes, yams, parsnips, and young beets.

23.  Double up cooking portions.

Cook extra portions of chicken, turkey, salmon, beef, pork, rice, and quinoa and re-purpose into another meal for the week.  These extras also work well in salads and sandwiches for lunches.

Our recipe for honey mustard pork chops is super easy to make in bigger portions!

Apply the same idea to dishes that freeze well.  Cook extra portions of lasagne, shepherd’s pie, pasta sauces, soups etc. then seal and freeze.

24.  Hard boil some eggs.

When making dinner, on a back burner, boil up half a dozen eggs for lunches, snacks, and salads.

25.  Make your own salad dressings.

Make a basic oil and vinegar salad dressing that can be switched up with seasonal herbs and berries for tasty vinaigrettes. We have a basic herbed vinaigrette recipe in Foodal’s vinegar guide. 

26.  Stock up on stock.

Make your own tasty soup stock from the bones of beef, chicken, turkey and ham. Freeze in two portion sizes – one for adding to sauces and other dishes calling for stock, and a large size for when you have the time to make soup.

27.  Make lunches before you clean up dinner.

Portion up salads and make sandwiches for lunches before putting everything away so you’re not taking it all out again later.

Clean up

28.  Fill a sink with hot soapy water.

Clean As You Go To Save Time | Foodal.com
Do your dishes as you use them to keep you from having to tackle a huge pile at one time.

Clean pots, pans and utensils as you go, multi-tasking while waiting for something to cook.

29.  Compost, recycle and garbage.

Have your open compost pail by the sink for veggie scraps, and toss everything else into one sink. When all of the preparation is done and dinner’s cooking, separate and dispose of the garbage and recycling once only.

Party Time!

30.  Meal swaps and canning parties.

Get together with neighbours and friends for a monthly meal swap get-together. Plan ahead and double up on a dish in your menu plan for the meal swap, so you’re not spending extra time cooking for it.

Jars of Home Canned Food | Foodal.com
Think about home canning…many meals can be prepared just by dumping contents into a pot and heating. Think of it as pre-pressure cooked!

And at harvest time, have an antipasto or canning party – share in the washing, chopping, and preparation of making delicious home-made canned foods such as pickles, stewed tomatoes, antipasto, canned fruits, jams and jellies. This can be a lot of fun, and it’s a great time and money saver.

30 Tips For Saving Time In The Kitchen| Foodal.com

And there you have 30 of the best time saving kitchen tips. How about you? Do you have some great kitchen hacks you’d like to share? Tell us about it in the comments, we’d love to hear from you.

About Lorna Kring

Recently retired as a costume specialist in the TV and film industry, Lorna now enjoys blogging on contemporary lifestyle themes. A bit daft about the garden, she’s particularly obsessed with organic tomatoes and herbs, and delights in breaking bread with family and friends.

42 thoughts on “30 Time Saving Kitchen Hacks”

  1. Wow great tips, almost all of them are on point. I cook a lot for my family and for several volunteer organizations so I do all of these regularly. I was classically trained in cooking and picked up these kitchen hacks while I was apprenticing. It really does save a lot of time, and money too!

    • Thanks for your comments Tommy, always nice to hear a back-up from someone trained in the trade. It’s surprising how small, little steps accumulate into an hour or two of saved time – and a few extra dollars for the food budget.

  2. I’m especially a fan of cleaning your fruits & veggies with vinegar as well as water if they are not organic. It amazes me how many people I know toss their items in a salad spinning after rinsing them & thinking they’re good to go. Insanity!

    • Thanks for your comments Joan, vinegar’s an amazing liquid. It’s great for killing bacteria and mold on produce, and the mild acetic acid dissolves any pesticide/herbicide buildup on the surface of produce as well as the wax used to make skins look shinny.

  3. Some great tips here. My knives are all really blunt so chopping up my vegetables can be a real effort sometimes I really should invest in some sharper knives and I’ll buy some soon. I do grow herbs in my kitchen and that is a huge time saver you never really accurately take note on the stock level of your herbs and spices so to have them constantly growing and restocking themselves makes life a lot easier and creates more cupboard space for other cooking supplies. I also get out the utensils I will be using for my next meal that I plan to make and it shaves about 5 minutes off of the cooking which on a hectic day can mean a lot!

    • Thanks for your comments oCammy – you might want to consider investing in a good knife sharpener rather than new knives… there’s a link in the post above. And growing your own herbs is great – it saves time and money, and the flavor is superb!

      • Knives
        cheap knives are Often dull because the really do not hold an edge. IMO it is good to have at least one decent knife. Cooks illustrated suggests a Forchner Chef knife as the most cost effective choice

  4. The sub-topic that really caught my eye is that one about…taking time to invest in a good set of knives…currently i am in that same mission…so far, not great…am falling by a long short in that area…when i think i have bought a good knife…i come home and its morphed into a fruit knife…now i have like 5 fruit knives and one multi-purpose knife…what is happening here 🙁 ? Awesome kitchen hacks, i must say 😉

    • Too funny Diane! I wonder what message the kitchen gods are trying to tell you? I find four knives cover all my basic needs – a Chef’s knife, a parer, one with a serrated edge and a carving knife. Everything else is a bonus. Of course, a good fruit knife (or five) is always nice to have!

      • Maybe the message they are sending is; i ought to eat a lot of fruits 😉 … thank you for the insight on the names/types of knives i should be looking for, of course a little more research in that case ought to be undertaken…without further ado i begin my quest 🙂 .

  5. There’s quite a few good tips in this post like portioning our your snacks and planning out meals. I try and make a few days worth of breakfast in one day so I can eat healthy throughout the week. Washing your fruits and vegetables all at once is also a habit I picked up from my mom when I was a small child.

  6. Good point about breakfast Christian. It’s such an important meal and the one we’re likely to skip when time is tight. Portioning out for a few days worth and/or prepping for breakie the night before is a great idea. Thanks for sharing.

  7. There are some fantastic tips here, I’m always looking for ways to spend less time in the kitchen – particularly on weekdays. I’m especially keen on rinsing fruit and vegetables off with vinegar as I do get quite concerned about the pesticudes I could be ingesting. Vinegar is invaluable in the kitchen anyhow and probably deserves it’s own article.

  8. Glad you like the tips missbishi. Weekdays/workdays are so time stretched, saving even 10 minutes helps. And thanks for the idea about a post on vinegar, stay tuned…

  9. Lots of great tips, Lorna. I can vouch for planning ahead as well as washing up as you go. This is especially true for holidays and other big meals. It makes a huge difference.

    In fact, as far as planning and getting ready goes, I try to make as many things as possible the day before. Then, I lay out everything I will need for the next day. Washing up as I go means far less to do afterward, plus I don’t want a mess sitting around when I have company coming.

    Great ideas!

    • Thanks for your comments Zyni, I find that cleaning up as I prepare a meal, especially a big, holiday one, to be quite Zen like, it helps to keep me focused and calm. And planning just makes sense – it frees up so much time to spend on things I enjoy.

  10. All these handy tips in one post, super useful! There are some I definitely follow already, like pre-mixing spices, using frozen veggies, keeping canned beans in stock, and cleaning up as I go, but there are loads of things here I hadn’t even considered. And a few things I’d like to do but just haven’t started yet (proper meal planning, growing my own herbs). This post is going straight into my bookmarks.

    • Awesome Leopard, my son has just started writing out a weekly meal plan on their white board in their kitchen and he’s totally impressed with how much time it’s saving him and how it reduces stress. And of course, growing your own kitchen herbs is a great stress buster in itself, plus you have fresh herbs at your fingertips!

  11. I’m so glad to see that I actually do some of these. I think I probably learned some of them from my mom, and began doing others because in a small kitchen, it’s even more important to stay organized. I love your idea about the herb paste, and portioning out snacks, which is great for size/portion control, as well.

    • I know I got a lot from my Mum too Diane, God bless ’em! And a small kitchen really does need a certain level of organization to keep things running smoothly… glad you like the ideas.

  12. At first I figured this post was just going to be the same old tired “lifehacks” that don’t really do much.
    But these are ALL awesome! Simple common sense idea’s that will actually save you time.
    I really like the buy good knives advice. A good knife is just SO MUCH BETTER!

    • Thanks jony, I appreciate your comments… and in my cookbook, good knives make or break the kitchen! They’re well worth investing in good ones.

  13. What a great article! My husband and I already put a lot of these tips to good use! It really is such a time saver to utilize the crock pot and make big batches of things like rice. The thing that has really saved us is doing a food prep day once per week. It allows us to make several items to easily put together meals throughout the week, and it also allows us to eat much healthier as well.

    Thank you for your great tip on washing fruits and vegetables. I’ve never used a solution like that before for washing, and I’m excited to try it out soon!

    • The one food prep day a week is a huge time saver, and as you point out makes healthier eating much easier. Thanks for your comments, glad you found the post useful.

  14. Great read! I strongly agree with the point about growing your own herbs and spices. It’s very simple to do, rewarding, and it really alters the taste! And once you get the hang of growing something simple like that, you can try your hand at growing other kinds of fruits and vegetables. Nothing beats the taste of something that you grew in your own backyard!

    • A very rewarding practice B, using your own fresh herbs and spices truly makes cooking a joy! And those fresh flavors and aromas… heavenly!

  15. Cleaning up the kitchen is my job. Then by there being so many of us in the home it gets hard trying to clean dishes only to turn around and see more! Having a dishwasher would save me time but we don’t have one. Maybe even getting a maid would be nice but we can’t afford one. I tend to wait until I know for sure everyone is done eating, then I clean. If we are inviting guests, we buy paper plates.

    • Cleaning’s an important part of cooking Jasmine, and even if it is a bit tedious it still needs to be done. But you’re right. A maid would be nice!

  16. This. This because while they are already things that I do (mostly), I like that I haven’t seen MOST of these on a list before. That leads me to believe that a lot of actual thought went in to these, and they are not regurgitated by some mommy blog. Good Show, indeed.

    P.S., I love the herb paste idea.

  17. I already cut vegetables once a week, but I can’t stress enough just how much time it saves. I remember years ago before I did much cooking, I saw a recipe that was supposed to only take 10 minutes, but it had a lot of cut veggies in it. At the time I was like “Who the heck keeps containers of cut up veggies in their fridge”, and now I’m one of those people. lol. It saves so much time and dishes. These are all great ideas. Great post!

  18. The proof really is in the pudding misamisa! And once you start pre-cutting veggies, it is surprising what a time saver it is. Thanks for sharing…

  19. Being the pintrest junkie that i am, i have seen dozens of lists like these, but this one has quite a few suggestions i actually haven’t seen before! definitely making some freezer tomatoes after our next grocery run, and already want to make up a guest list for a canning party! i have been wanting to try canning but have been nervous, maybe with some friends (and wine) i can finally face my fear! lol thank you for posting!

    • A canning party’s a great way to go if you’re new to home preserving xina4581. It really saves on time and labor, and you get to share the glory and the mistakes! (and some wine…) Glad you enjoyed the list.

  20. These are great tips. I’ve only started living on my own recently, so I’m gonna need this stuff.

    I’m torn about the washing before refrigerating the vegetables part. Not because of my own experience (as I said, I don’t have that much of it), but because my mother would flinch at this idea. She always warned me that washing a fruit or vegetable meant you had to consume it that very day, or it would spoil or at least lose qualities (go soft, etc). Does she have a point, or is this the sort of myth that gets passed on?

    Truth be told, I have taught her some tricks I learned online, many of which she could barely believe (“you can remove bubble gum from clothes using vinegar?!”), hahaha.

  21. Anything with a rind, peel, or skin should be good for pre-washing Nomnomathon, but some delicate, leafy greens could get a bit bruised. And nice tip about the vinegar!

  22. Some of these tips may seem a little obvious, but believe it or not, I’m a sucker for not taking the time to plan ahead in the kitchen. Probably my biggest mistakes are not planning ahead my cooking sessions and not keeping my kitchen organized. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve set aside time to make a delicious meal, only to realize that I was missing some of the key components of the recipe. This usually ends up with me suffering through a meal that’s barely prepared properly, and feeling upset at myself for the rest of the night. Definitely not a good feeling. I’ll try to make sure that I have everything on deck before I start cooking. I guess you could say that’s similar to my second problem, though. Much like my bedroom, the cupboards in my kitchen are absolutely disorganized. I rarely take the time to set everything up properly so I can get to what I need with ease. I usually have to spend 5 or so minutes just to find one spice, which definitely can’t be a good thing to do. I’ll probably go and organize my cupboards after I finish this post, so thanks for the reminder and tips!

  23. Organization and planning do go hand in hand joshuakaton21. And beating yourself up sucks big time! So, I hope you get those cupboards sorted out, it can certainly make cooking more relaxing and enjoyable!

  24. I do a number of those things – I haven’t peeled veggies for years!

    Freezing tomatoes is a new one for me – I’ve always avoided that because they wouldn’t defrost well, but throwing them into a sauce while frozen would work.

    I have only started using a slow cooker this year and it is very nice to have a meal pretty much done when it comes to the evening rush. I need to learn more about it but I do like it.


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