kitchen utensils

Author: Cindy Brison, MS, RD, Extension Educator & Dietitian, UNL Extension in Douglas & Sarpy Counties

It's 5 p.m. and your family wants to know what's for dinner. Secretly, so do you! The first thing that comes to mind is preparing something quick-and-healthy. Your family needs to like it also. No matter what you decide to prepare, there are short cuts that can be utilized to make your job a little easier. Give yourself a break, and give one of these ideas a try.


Use a garlic peeler to quickly peel garlic. A garlic peeler is a cylindrical piece of rubber that you place the garlic in and then roll it on the counter with the palm of your hand. The peel will stick to the inside of the peeler, and the garlic will fall out the end. If you don't have a garlic peeler, you can do the same thing with a rubber jar opener.

To mince garlic without having it stick to your knife, add a few drops of water to the garlic and then chop. The garlic sticks to the cutting board and not your knife.


To get the most juice: Microwave lemons on high for 10 seconds, or roll them on the counter with the palm of your hand. This will help free the juice.

If you have too many lemons and don't want them to go bad, slice them into quarters and freeze in an airtight bag or container. You can take out a little or a lot of lemon, depending upon your needs. A frozen lemon wedge is also wonderful in a cold glass of tea while you are making dinner!

Broth and Gravy

To remove the fat from broth before making gravy, take an ice cube and swirl it around. The ice cube will attract the fat in the broth, then discard the cube before it starts to melt.

Freeze extra broth in ice cube trays, and then transfer to an airtight container. Take out a cube at a time to use when making stir-fry instead of using oil. The broth can also be used to make inexpensive flavored rice, instead of using water or a pre-packaged mix.

Mincing Herbs

Kitchen shears work wonders when mincing a small amount of herbs. shears


To peel fresh ginger quickly, without wasting most of it with a potato peeler, scrape with the back of a spoon. This will remove the peel and leave most of the ginger behind. Use the edge of the spoon to get to the crevices.

Tomato Sauce in Plastic Containers

To keep your plastic storage containers from becoming discolored from tomato products, spray with a non-stick cooking spray first, then place your food items inside.

Assemble all Ingredients

Before starting a recipe, assemble all of your ingredients. This is also called "mise en place," in French. It will give you a chance to read the recipe over completely, and save yourself the time of starting to prepare something, then discovering you are missing an ingredient or two.

Test a New Recipe

When you try a new recipe for the first time, follow it exactly. This will give you an idea of how it is supposed to taste. You can make any changes in the recipe the second time around, and you will know if it turned out or not!