5 Mini Weekend Projects to Make You Feel Like a Superhero

February 14, 2018

What can you do with just five minutes? Actually, way more than you think! Introducing Food52 in 5: your cheat sheet for speedy, delicious recipes, fun mini projects, and more.

Quick poll: Have you even been gung-ho when you started a weekend project—maybe repainting a room, finally teaching yourself to make croissants from scratch, overhauling your closet—only to find yourself hours later, knee-deep in whatever mess you made, reconsidering the whole endeavor? I'd be lying if I said I've never been there.

Sometimes a messy moment becomes part of the charm of whatever it is I'm making. (OK, maybe not the Ikea dresser I almost abandoned at the 11th hour, or that time I thought I'd re-dye my jeans with indigo in the bath tub...don't try it.) But more often, something I thought would be fun turns into just another chore to slog through, eating up my whole weekend.

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Which is why I find mini projects so helpful for those times I want to feel uber productive, without falling into the black hole of a DIY or household reorg. They're finished well before "turn back!" can even cross my mind. Should you feel the same, I've got a game plan for a few five-minute weekend projects that can all be finished by Monday. Tackle a few, or maybe just one. Either way, you still can use the rest of your weekend to do…whatever you feel like! Because you'll definitely have the time.

1. DIY your own home scent.

This sounds complicated, but it’s actually super easy, and there are a few different ways to make it happen. You can concoct your own diffuser, room freshener, or spray with essential oils and a few regular household items. Or for some right-now aromatherapy, simmer a scent on the stovetop.

2. Clean just one drawer.

It may not be the full-on kitchen deep clean of your dreams, but conquering one messy drawer is still an achievement. Take on a single drawer a day, and you'll never have to spend a whole morning sorting through wayward whisks and abandoned tape dispensers.

3. Sharpen all your chef's knives.

This is one instance where five minutes now really will save you time later—you'll be slicing through tomatoes and onions faster (and more safely) than you thought possible. If you're not totally sure how to do it, we've got a quick, handy guide (and a trick for anyone who doesn't have a sharpener at home already).

4. Make your own put-it-on-everything spice blend.

Mixing your own spices is an easy way to up your cooking game, and it takes almost no time. You can use these suggestions for blends to engineer, or just mix and match. You're the one eating the results, so you do you.

5. Make your dirtiest pan shiny and new.

We all have that one dish we thought was beyond saving (mine: a Pyrex baking dish with about 10 years of baked-on brown spots). But five solid minutes of elbow grease—plus some pantry products like baking soda, salt, citrus, or vinegar—will give it a new lease on life. Here's a guide for exactly what to use on different types of pans.

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It's here: Our game-changing guide to everyone's favorite room in the house. Your Do-Anything Kitchen gathers the smartest ideas and savviest tricks—from our community, test kitchen, and cooks we love—to help transform your space into its best self.

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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Sandi Schmitt
    Sandi Schmitt
  • AntoniaJames
  • Cory Baldwin
    Cory Baldwin
Cory Baldwin

Written by: Cory Baldwin

Food52's director of partner content Cory Baldwin has been an editor at food, travel, and fashion publications including Saveur, Departures and Racked.


Sandi S. February 24, 2018
anyone know what that gorgeous cake is on the NETFLIX link? wanna make it!!
Cory B. February 24, 2018
It's this one!!
AntoniaJames February 20, 2018
I’m glad to see Food52 devoting some editorial real estate to this "what can you do in five minutes?" approach, which I’ve been evangelizing since the earliest days of the site. Several years ago, one of the editors picked up on this to write a short-ish feature on tasks quickly done in the morning, to make the evening meal easier. I created a quick list, just off the top of my head, of the many 2 - 6 minute tasks that I do to take advantage of small “pockets” of time when I’m home. To share it with anyone who might find it helpful, I’ve posted a link to this (still somewhat stream of consciousness) list of quickly completed tasks.

(This general idea is not original to me. I have been doing this in my office since reading David Allen’s “Getting Things Done,” which was published the year I started my own law practice. It’s one of the most useful business books out there. But I digress . . . .)

I’ve added this overarching suggestion to the linked Google Doc about a month ago:

When I plan / review my menus for the following week to lay out my prep activities for the weekend and weeknight evenings, I create a list of every small food prep or other task that will eventually need to be done.  I put it on a medium index card, which I keep handy to consult whenever I have a few minutes of "downtime,” or to include in my longer prep sessions.  

Also, there are quite a few good suggestions of 5-minute tasks in this Hotline thread started last month: I’m guessing that many of these ideas will be the subject of separate posts in the near future . . . . . . .

Cory B. February 20, 2018
Thanks Antonia—what a great resource!