Simple Kitchen Tips & Summer Kitchen Finds

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Starting out…

When I got my first apartment, I was so excited to be on my own and play “grown-up.” I got a lot of hand-me-down furniture from people and stocked my tiny little kitchen with some items my mom gave me, plus a few new purchases. It was so exciting to finally have my own place and do things the way I wanted.

I sure learned some things along the way, however. Today’s post is all about kitchen tips and hacks that I have learned over the years. Some have been from experience, dating back to that first apartment. Others are tips that I have picked up from others, particularly my mother. (My mom is the best, just so you know. She’s full of wisdom!)

This is one topic that I wish I had paid attention to sooner. We’ve gone through our fair share of cutting boards and wooden spoons.

  • Don’t put wood cutting boards, spoons, or knives in the dishwasher. The water from the dishwasher is too hot and can cause the wood to dry out and split.
  • Don’t let wood utensils soak in water. (Same point as above; excess water can ruin the wood.)
  • Don’t use wood cutting boards for raw meats. The bacteria from the meat will be harder to clean out.
  • Hand wash all of your wood kitchen accessories with warm water and soap and allow to air dry.
  • If a spoon or cutting board has taken on a strong scent from cooking, either use a diluted vinegar solution to help remove the odor, or designate that particular board/spoon for cooking certain foods, and have another set for other recipes with less odors.
  • If your cutting boards or spoons are dry, try rubbing them with a food-grade mineral oil to help condition them. This oil has gotten some pretty good reviews, so I’m thinking of trying it out.

Speaking of wood boards and utensils, if you are looking to update some of your wood cooking and baking utensils, I’ve rounded up a few items below.

These are all great items, and if you follow my tips listed above, they should last you for quite a long time!

This is something at which I am not perfect, but I am slowly getting everything in our kitchen (and our house) organized. When we moved in, we just quickly put things in drawers and I had every intention of fully organizing things within the first few months. Two years later, I’m just now getting around to it! Here are just a few ways that I have organized two drawers. (Yes, just two. But hey, it’s a start, right?)

The drawer of plastic bags had gotten messy and the boxes kept getting hung in the drawer, making it hard to open. These bamboo storage boxes have been so nice to use in their place.

Our junk drawer had gotten completely out of control. It took me ten minutes to organize this drawer, and look at the difference! You can shop the organizers here. Here are just a few of my tips for organization:

  • Have a designated junk drawer. Just the sound of the word “junk,” can stress people out, but it’s been my experience that most people have a “catch-all” area in their home. Having a designated space for those items can help. But do yourself a favor and buy some kind of organizing bins like the ones pictured above. It will mean that everything has a space. It might not be pretty, but it is functional and much easier to see what you have.
  • Buy some sandwich bag organizers! You might not think that these are useful, but they really keep the bags in place and you don’t have to worry about ripped cardboard boxes getting stuck on the drawers. Plus, they are really nice to look at.
  • Use pretty snack bowls in your drawers for extra organizing. I found two snack bowls at Hobby Lobby and I use one for extra twist ties, and the other for small chip clips.

Without further ado, here is a list of random (and maybe weird?) kitchen tips and hacks that I have picked up over the years.

  • Have expired baking soda? Don’t throw it out! We have a stainless steel sink and we use baking soda to clean it. Just wet the sink and sprinkle some baking soda in. Let it sit for about 5 minutes, then use a wet brush to scrub the sink.
  • Tired of cleaning smudges off your stainless steel fridge and dishwasher? Use a Norwex cloth to get them completely clean AND streak-free. (I use these cloths and I do my windows, mirrors, and appliances once a week. They are the only thing that keep my appliances streak-free.)
  • Want to restore the beautiful copper color on your pots and pans? Use ketchup! I learned this tip from my husband. Just spread a liberal coat of ketchup onto the copper portion and let it sit for about ten minutes. Wash off and you will be surprised at the beautiful copper shining back at you!
  • Freeze unopened packs of yeast to help extend the expiration date on the label. (Thanks, Mom, for this tip!)
  • Clean baked-on food from the inside of your microwave by microwaving a bowl of water until it is steaming. Let it sit in the microwave for about ten minutes and then open the door and wipe the gunk away easily with a paper towel.
  • Keep your garbage disposal fresh by adding chopped up lemon pieces and running the disposal about once a week. (If you aren’t a fan of a garbage disposal, you should still run it a few times a week with some warm water and maybe a little baking soda just to keep it from smelling.)
  • Another garbage disposal tip (this time from my husband) is to dump a few ice cubes down the disposal and run it. It helps to clean out any gunk that might have formed.
  • Keep a little handheld vacuum in a drawer of your kitchen for quick touch-ups. Bugs love crumbs but if you keep the area pretty clean, they won’t be as tempted to stay.

I’d love to know other kitchen tips and hacks you practice on a regular basis. Share your thoughts in the comments. I’m always willing to learn a new trick or two!

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