Bachelor food has a bad reputation. From bland frozen pizza to a diet of take-out and beer, single guys aren’t typically renowned for their great culinary skills. Even single ladies are guilty of eating lackluster meals. But if you believe that knowing how to cook is a basic life skill (and it is), you’ll probably be interested in ways you can make it easier on yourself. This list of seven simple food hacks will help you save time, waste less, and create tastier meals.
1. Make bacon crispy without the mess
Crispy bacon doesn’t have to mean cleaning out a greasy pan after breakfast is over. This simple trick from America’s Test Kitchen results in crispier bacon and streamlines the cleaning process.
Start by folding a sheet of heavy-duty aluminum foil accordion-style (fold at one-inch intervals). Unfold the foil (like you were making a fan) and then place on a baking sheet. Put the bacon on the foil rack and then cook in the oven at 400 degrees Fahrenheit until done.
“This technique makes cleanup a snap and elevates the strips so that grease drips into the foil during cooking, ensuring a crispier result,” notes America’s Test Kitchen.
2. Reuse pickle brine
Once you’ve finished off that jumbo jar of pickles, don’t just dump all that leftover brine down the drain. There are all kinds of clever uses for pickle juice — use it to brine your own veggies, like carrots, cucumbers, or radishes, or add it to a Bloody Mary.
Bon Appétit has a list of 13 more clever uses for pickle juice.
3. Use a waffle iron to make perfect hash browns
OK, so we get that not every bachelor has a waffle iron sitting in his kitchen cupboard. But if you do, you can make it do double-duty by using it to turn out delicious, not-too-greasy hash browns. This video from Food & Wine shows you how.
4. Keep bananas fresh with plastic wrap
Bananas: They’re cheap, they come pre-wrapped, and they’re packed with potassium. The only problem is that they can go from bright yellow to an unappetizing brown far too quickly.
To avoid the problem of overripe bananas, try wrapping the stems in plastic wrap. Doing this stops the release of ethylene gas from the stems, which is what turns your bananas brown, according to Philadelphia Magazine. To make this hack work, you’ll need to separate your bananas and then wrap each stem individually with a strip of plastic wrap.
5. Use an apple to keep potatoes from sprouting
Buying potatoes in bulk makes sense, but only if you can eat all those spuds before they start to sprout. If you find yourself throwing out potatoes that are soft and covered with sprouts, try this trick: Toss an apple in with the potatoes and they should stay good for weeks longer than they would otherwise, says Lifehacker.
6. Dunk an egg to tell if it’s fresh
Eggs can stay good long after the expiration date on the carton. This simple test (courtesy of The Kitchn) will show you if it’s safe to crack an egg even if it’s past its expiration date.
Fill a bowl with cold water and submerge the egg. If it sinks to the bottom and sits on its side, it’s still quite fresh and can be used for things like poaching. If it stands straight up, it’s still good to eat in most cases. (These eggs are perfect candidates for hard-boiling.) An egg that floats is past its prime and should be tossed.
7. Dry herbs in the microwave
Fresh herbs add flavor to your cooking, but the big bunches that are sold in most grocery stores tend to create a lot of waste. All too often you end up using a tablespoon or two of parsley or cilantro and the rest of it ends up it the trash a few days later.
You can make your herbs last longer by drying them in the microwave, according to Serious Eats. Simply pick the leaves from the stems and place them on a paper towel. Cover them with another paper towel and microwave on high until completely dry, usually about a minute. Delicate herbs like parsley require a little less time; hearty herbs like rosemary need a bit more time. You’ll know the leaves are completely dry if they crumble when you rub them between your fingers. You can also check out which herbs fare best in the microwave and how to store them after you’re done.
Follow Megan on Twitter @MeganE_CS