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    Updated on Dec 20, 2019. Posted on Jul 28, 2018

    12 Little Things You Can Do To Make Cooking At Home Easier

    Because cooking at home is cheaper, better, and way more fun.

    Hannah Wong/BuzzFeed

    Cooking at home takes time and effort — and sometimes you're just way too tired to cook at the end of a long day.

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    But with a little planning (and a few clever tricks) you can make cooking at home quicker and easier — and avoid the expensive cycle of take out.

    So here are 12 little things you can do to make cooking at home more accessible:

    1. Hang a grocery list on your fridge and update it whenever you run out of an ingredient.

    Instagram: @twoavocados_signs

    Keep a dry erase or chalk board on your fridge, then just write down anything fresh you use the last of. That way, you won't forget to buy things like milk and eggs during your weekly shopping trip and will always have a stocked fridge ready for impromptu cooking.

    More: 21 Clever Ways To Keep Your Refrigerator Organized

    2. And keep your pantry well stocked with staple ingredients like grains, spices, and oil as well.

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    A well-stocked pantry makes cooking easier — and having staples on hand allows you to both experiment and follow recipes without having to buy a laundry list of ingredients. A few good things to always have within reach are olive oil, salt, red pepper flakes, canned goods (like beans or tomatoes), and your most-used grains or dry goods (like rice or pasta.)

    More: 23 Ingredients You Should Always Have In Your Kitchen

    3. Prep bases — like grains — in advance and keep them on hand to make cooking off-the-cuff a possibility.

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    Preparing grains (like rice) is often the most time consuming part of cooking, so why not get a head start and cook some during the weekend to have on hand during the week? That way, you can whip up a fried rice, grain bowl, or stir-fry in no time at all.

    More: How To Cook Perfect Rice Every Time

    4. Cut the cooking time of veggies — like potatoes, brussels sprouts, and carrots — in half by pre-cooking them in the microwave.

    Claudiodivizia / Getty Images, Rostislav_sedlacek / Getty Images

    Certain foods can take a long time to prepare — like potatoes — so they're not always ideal for weeknight cooking. One way to get around that is to par cook (or partially cook) them in the microwave. For potatoes, cook them until they're soft — about five minutes — then sauté or roast them until the outside is nice and brown. This technique can be used for veggies like brussels sprouts to get a head start and make sure the center is cooked through.

    More: How To Steam Broccoli In The Microwave

    5. Use a bench scraper to make both cooking and cleaning less of a chore.

    Instagram: @qhop56

    Professional chefs love using bench scrapers — and the simple tool can make cooking at home easier. They're great for scooping and transferring ingredients off your board and into a pot — and equally as great for cleaning up. Just scrape the mess off your board and into the trash.

    More: How To Work With A Bench Scraper

    6. Utilize your morning to get a head start on dinner.

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    For many people, mornings are when you're the freshest and most motivated. By prepping ingredients for dinner before work or class, you can make sure it's easy to put together when you're exhausted. (Because no one wants to chop onions after a long day.)

    More: Tips For Fitting Cooking Into A Busy Schedule

    7. Get your dinner (or breakfast) cooking several hours in advance so it's ready when you're hungry.

    Instagram: @stayfitmom_com, Instagram: @carmen__sb

    Slow cookers are the perfect tool to help new cooks venture into the kitchen. And lots of slow cooker recipes just tell you dump everything in and let it cook for several hours — so they're the perfect thing to get going in the morning. You can also utilize them to cook breakfast — getting things like oats started the night before and having them ready when you wake up.

    More: 25 Cozy Slow-Cooker Meals That Basically Make Themselves

    8. Store prepped ingredients like minced garlic and diced onions in your freezer to make cooking less of a burden.

    Instagram: @theurbannanna, Instagram: @amandadnutrition

    Ingredients like minced garlic, diced onions, and diced peppers freeze surprisingly well and can make weeknight cooking faster. For onions and peppers, freezing and storing them in Ziploc bags works great. For garlic, freezing them in covered ice cube trays is a smart way to grab just what you need.

    More: How To Mince And Freeze Garlic

    9. Prep the same ingredient several different ways so you don't get bored of it.

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    For people living by themselves, the problem with cooking at home is having to eat the same thing over and over again. One way around this is to be conscious about prepping the same ingredient in several different ways. For carrots, you could dice half of them for a stir-fry and shred the remaining for a salad. For chicken, you can shred half in a slow cooker and roast the remaining to use with grains.

    More: 16 Practical Tips For Meal Prepping For One Person

    10. Plan out a week's worth of dinners so you can prep and shop all in one go.

    Instagram: @the_wealthy_healthy_home

    You don't have to plan every meal, but planning just some of your meals ahead of time can help make cooking during the week easier. This way, when you go shopping on the weekend, you'll know exactly what to get and you won't need to make several trips to the grocery store during the week.

    More: 13 Ways To Up Your Meal Prep Game

    11. Invest in quality food storage containers to store your prepped veggies, meats, and grains in.

    Instagram: @ankebester, Alisoncohenrosa / Getty Images

    Good food storage containers — like ones made out of glass — last a very long time and are super easy to clean. (Plastic containers are great too, but you run the risk of cracking or warping them.) Storing prepped ingredients in either makes it easy to heat up, cook, and upgrade the existing foods you already have on hand.

    12. Invest in a good cast-iron pan and Dutch oven to cook just about everything you could ever want in.

    Mizina / Getty Images, Rudisill / Getty Images

    Most dishes can be made in either a cast-iron skillet or Dutch oven. Dutch ovens are great for boiling water, making soup, and braising meats in — just about anything you need a big pot for. Cast-iron pans are great for anything sautéed or fried and can be used as a nonstick pan when seasoned properly. If you have these two pots, you're pretty set to tackle anything you want.

    Let's get cooking!

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