10 Kitchen Tips, Habits, and Hacks I Learned From Apartment Therapy This Year

published Dec 29, 2021
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Earlier this year, I did a deep dive into the history of the kitchen, speaking with professors, kitchen enthusiasts, and designers. All agreed that the kitchen will continue being the center of household activity, even as design trends change and technology continues to adapt to our high-octane lifestyles.

If you’re ready to upgrade your kitchen game in 2022, this list of kitchen habits and hacks we couldn’t get enough of in 2021 is packed with tips and tricks for seasoned pros and total newbies alike.

1. The Instant Pot is worth the counter space.

It’s been one of the buzziest kitchen gadgets for several years, but is the Instant Pot really worth its salt? According to Claire Lower, senior food editor at Lifehacker, yes! The Instant Pot was one of the items kitchen experts considered must-haves, along with immersion blenders and food processors. 

2. “Shutting down” your kitchen every night can make a world of difference.

Instead of simply tossing your dinner dishes in the sink to soak or loading the dishwasher and calling it a day, “shutting down” the kitchen like a restaurant and giving the entire space a quick but thorough clean at night can totally change your relationship with the space — and potentially create some great habits in the process.

3. Salt is key to keeping your cutting boards in optimal shape.

Is there anything this pantry staple can’t do? Natalia Vela shared some of her abuelita’s best kitchen and home hacks, including this genius tip to remove stains and odors from your wooden cutting boards: sprinkle salt on the affected area, rub it with half of a lime, and let it sit overnight. In the morning, rinse it thoroughly and let it air dry. So easy, so effective!

4. Coconut oil and olive oil can make stainless steel shine.

Who would’ve thought? A little dab of oil can give your appliances a shiny gleam. This tip, and 22 other essential kitchen cleaning hacks, will be a go-to for me in 2022.

5. Tomatoes do not belong in the refrigerator.

To refrigerate or not to refrigerate, that is the question. In the case of tomatoes, it’s best to preserve their flavor by keeping them at room temperature. Check out the rest of the list here.

6. Small kitchen? Expand your space with a cutting board. 

If your kitchen space is less than ideal and you wish you had more room to spread out and chop veggies or prep meat, simply grab a large cutting board and set it over your stove or sink to double your prep area. It’s one of the most simple and cost-saving tips we heard this year.

7. The best time to do your grocery shopping is in the middle of the week.

This tip was one of eight easy ways to save money on groceries. Instead of fighting the crowds on the weekend, visit your local grocer or Trader Joe’s on a Wednesday and you’ll have more space to browse, more options to purchase, and you may even get a better deal on items in your cart.

8. Cooking water makes great plant food.

If you’re trying to be greener and more sustainable in the kitchen, these easy habits and tips will help you save money and do right by the planet. Don’t dump that pasta water or hard boiled egg water down the drain when you’re done with it. Use it to feed your plants once it’s cooled.

9. Dull knives have gotta go.

No matter who we spoke to, every chef and expert said dull knives are one of the biggest watch-outs in the kitchen — and one of the most popular things to remove from your space ASAP. Sohui Kim, chef and owner of Insa restaurant in Brooklyn, said, “It’s more dangerous to work with dull knives.” She recommends having them professionally sharpened or learning how to do it yourself. 

10. There’s never a bad time to take stock of your kitchen supplies and do a clean out.

That gadget you never use, that burned pan, that sponge that has probably seen better days… we all have things like this in our kitchens, and the dawn of a new year is the perfect time to go through your drawers and cupboards to say goodbye to broken cutting boards, damaged pans, and the like. Chef Carla Contreras shared a few great ideas for getting started on your new year kitchen clean-out. Channel that fresh start energy and get to work.