What to CookOn the CheapWeeknight Cooking

5 Money-Saving Kitchen Hacks

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Cooking on the cheap shouldn't mean minute rice and buttered pasta every night. With a little creativity and a little planning, you can make the most of a tight budget -- without sacrificing flavor or variety. 

Today: Gabriella shows you how to make the most of what you already have by teaching old tools new tricks.

There are certain kitchen gadgets that I unapologetically lust after -- like KitchenAid Mixers, and Vitamix blenders.

But, realistically, I've moved seven times in the past five years and I learned early on that packing and unpacking a kitchen over and over again is a pain in the ass. Glasses get shattered, tools get tossed, weirdly aggressive email chains about tupperware ownership transpire between former roommates. So now, I travel light. 

One day, I'll start stocking up. I'll have stand mixers and enormous food processors, matching plates and complete knife sets, cherry pitters and tart pans. In the meantime, I have these hacks to help me out when I don't have any of these in stock:

1. A Double Boiler

If Amanda can go decades without ever using a double boiler, then so can you. Boil some water in a large pot, then stick a metal bowl or smaller pot inside it. Use this to achieve perfectly melted chocolate because you know better than to be using the microwave. Or, whip up hollandaise for eggs benedict and save the money you would've spent on brunch.

2. A Tart Pan

You have a baking sheet and aluminum foil, don't you? Learn how to fashion them into an impromptu tart pan and bake all the tarts.

3. A Cherry Pitter

Alright, I know for a fact that you won't have to look too hard for an empty beer bottle and a chopstick in your kitchen. If you've missed cherry season, just keep this trick in your back pocket for the next time it rolls around. Then it'll be a breeze to make a cherry pie filling that you'll want to stick in everything.

4. A Salad Spinner

My kitchen is basically the size of a salad spinner, so there's no way I'm buying one anytime soon. Fortunately, all I need is a dish towel and a sink to make sure my greens are cleaned properly. We've got two techniques: one basic, fairly static one and another that doubles as an upper body workout

5. A Food Processor for Pesto

Do you think pesto was invented in a food processor? Nope! Like Emiko says, “'Pesto', after all, comes from the word pestare: to pound, grind, smash." Roll up those shirt sleeves, gather up your basil, and start smashing. Hey, it's theraputic. 

Tell us: what are your favorite kitchen hacks?

Tags: my broke kitchen, cheap, hacks, everyday cooking

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Comments (6)


5 months ago Redheaven

I use many of these hacks myself and can't wait to try the ones I didn't know. Also, I use a pillowcase and some swinging (not as forcefully as the woman in the clip) to dry my greens.


almost 2 years ago Karma Dreamwalker

mm this makes me want pesto!


almost 2 years ago Kate B

I, too, live with a kitchen the size of a salad spinner -there's no room for single purpose paraphernalia!
Sandwich or panini press - see cast iron skilled with heavy pot on top of food.
Non-stick pans - see cast iron skillet.
No extraneous knives - if you've got a 10 inch chef's knife and a paring knife, you have everything you need.
No pot holders - tea towels only.


almost 2 years ago Gabriella Paiella

Kate -- I love the "panini press" idea!


almost 2 years ago Jennifer

I have a food processor, but I'd never use it for pesto. Texture--and taste, I'd argue--are better in mortar & pestle. Oh, and it's fast, probably faster than getting your food processor out and cleaning it.


almost 2 years ago Gabriella Paiella

True! Cleaning a food processor is a huge pain.