My Top Kitchen Hacks & Simple Food Prep Tips | AD

How to buy smarter, save more and store your food effectively…

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If there’s one thing I got from my Grandma, aside from being a curtain-twitcher who enjoys exaggerating a story, it’s her love of cooking. She’s a wonderful cook who hand-wrote me a notebook featuring all her favourite recipes when I moved out to live with Mark. It features a sponge recipe that she makes for everyone’s birthdays, my Grandad’s favourite pasta dish made from leftovers and her mince pie recipe that’s had for years. I remember making these recipes with her when I was younger, and it’s not only that that’s she’s passed on, but it’s her kitchen management tips too: how to keep a loaf of bread going for weeks, how to store leftovers, how to make really massive portions of dinner so that you can feed your freezer and not have to cook a dinner from scratch every single night.

Want in on my Grandma’s top tips? Well have a read of the below and I’ll tell you the kitchen hacks that we use to make the best out of our weekly Waitrose & Partners shop…

STOCK UP ON FROZEN FRUIT. Fresh fruit and veg can not only be pricey, but also a pain to use up before it goes off if you live on your own, or even if you’re cooking for two. So utilise frozen bags that keep for longer and are easier on your pursestrings too. I always have a bag of the Waitrose & Partners Essential Berries in the freezer. Not only are they good for smoothies, they are so delicious as an afternoon snack straight from the freezer in the summer, and I like to defrost them in the microwave for a minute or two to create a juicy compote to put over puddings or porridge.

THE BREAD TRICK. Love bread? DON’T WE ALL!? I store our loaf of Waitrose & Partners Waitrose 1 Spelt Sourdough Bread in the freezer, taking out two slices at a time in a sandwich bag in our fridge to defrost, so that it’s ready when we need it. When we’ve used up the slices in the fridge, we replace them with two more slices from the freezer. Easy peasy. Mouldy bread is a thing of the past and you always have a slice for toast, a sandwich or if you just fancy a slice with a thick ol’ layer of salted butter on.

SAVE ON HERBS. I don’t know about you, but I find that fresh herbs go bad – quick. They have the whole avocado ‘blink and you miss it‘ moment of perfection. I often find I don’t need to use the whole lot either, so end up with huge bunches that I’m not quite sure how to use. You could rustle yourself a herb-laden omelette (YUM), or you could make your own oil/herb cubes. Chop up your herbs and distribute them across an ice cube tray, fill it up to the top with oil and then freeze. Pop out a herby cube next time you’re making dinner. Instant seasoning right there.

LONG-LASTING SALAD. Bags of salad and leafy greens have to be used up pretty quickly, so if I’m trying to eke out a bag for a day or two longer I wash the leaves and place them in a sandwich bag with a paper towel, which helps to mop up all the moisture. Meaning that I can get some extra shelf-life on my Waitrose & Partners Wild Rocket. I use this trick if we’ve only got halfway through a side salad too; it works for all your leafy leftovers.

FREEZE YOUR CHEESE. Our friends who now live in Amsterdam actually ask us each time we visit to bring over a block of the Waitrose & Partners Extra Mature Cornish Quartz Cheddar for them. I’m not even joking. Crumpets and cheese – that’s all they ever ask for! They are onto something, because this cheese is something else and I always make sure I have a block in the fridge. We don’t struggle to get through it before the best before date, but if you do then you can actually freeze cheese. It changes the texture slightly so is best utilised for cheese that you’d use in cooking, but you can chop it up into blocks, or grate and store in freezer bags and defrost chunks whenever you need them.

KEEP YOUR EGGS FRESH. I would always bulk-buy huge packs of eggs as they are something that we go through pretty rapidly in our household. We use them in baking, pancakes, omelettes, frittatas and just poached, scrambled or fried for a weekend breakfast. However eggs are always better the fresher they are. So instead by your Waitrose & Partners Duchy Organic Medium Free Range Eggs in a six pack and replenish frequently. Sounds like an odd one, but I’ve really noticed a difference.

COOL YOUR COOKIE DOUGH. You know when you’re making cookies and the recipe specifies to pop the dough in the fridge for an hour before baking? Yeah, it’s almost physically impossible to do. I’d reluctantly cool the dough for 15 minutes, ducking into the fridge every three minutes to take a spoonful, resulting in one or two measly cookies that were off texture-wise because I hadn’t followed the instructions. Well, did you know that the chilling of the dough is to rehydrate the flour? Which results in a chewier, crisper cookie? I KNOW. Next time you make this cookie recipe? Let it sit and chill and wonder in your homemade cookie wonders.

KEEP YOUR CONTAINERS. My Mum has about 17898 ice cream cartons in her kitchen cupboards, I’m not sure if she has ever thrown one away. She keeps them and uses them to store soups, homemade bakes, leftovers, biscuits – E.V.E.R.Y.T.H.I.N.G. If you’re low on Tupperware boxes then do the same; they work really well to store things in the freezer too. Forgot to save your containers? Keep a roll of the Waitrose & Partners Essential Recloseable Medium Bags on hand. They are such a space-saving way of storing soup leftovers in your freezer. You’ll be able to store a whole month’s worth of lunches in there!

Photos by Emma Croman

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