by Debra Caffrey

As a lover of cooking and kitchen stuff, I get excited thinking about all the kitchen gadgets, appliances, and accessories on the market.  But as fun as it is to fantasize, I refrain from buying a lot of culinary gadgets. A minimalist at heart, I know that often certain devices in the kitchen can serve double duty, and it can also be fun to experiment with how you can “hack” the items you own to perform multiple functions. A bit of improvisation and creativity in the kitchen can save you money on unnecessary gadgets and save you a ton on precious kitchen space!

Here are a few of my favorite kitchen hacks to minimize the number of fancy gadgets in your drawers and cabinets:

  • Juice glass to cut biscuits. You don’t need anything special to cut your biscuit dough. All you need to do is turn a small juice glass upside down, flour the rim a bit and cut away! This can also work for rounded cookies.
  • Egg slicer to cut multiple foods. Let your trusty old egg slicer serve more than one purpose! It can also slice mushrooms, strawberries and bananas into perfectly uniform pieces great for snacking, kiddie plating or as ingredients. Slice up a bunch of produce to freeze for ready-to-make smoothies!
  • Your mixing bowl can take taco salad to the next level. It’s easy to make your own taco salad “shell” or bowl. Just take a large flour tortilla, spray it with a little cooking spray or butter, flip a medium-sized oven-safe mixing bowl upside down, and mold the tortilla onto the bowl. Place it in the oven and bake until it “takes the shape” of the upside-down bowl and hardens a bit (perhaps 8 minutes or so). Once hardened, you can remove it from the bowl, turn it right side up, and fill with all your favorite Southwestern salad fixings!
  • A super heavy skillet serves double duty as a panini press. You don’t need an expensive panini press or similar appliance to make special sandwiches at home. Place your (clean) heaviest-bottomed deep skillet on top of whatever you’d like to press. The weight of it will press your sandwiches the same way. Done!
  • Cookie cutters can make fun pancakes and eggs. Make Sunday morning a little more fun by using all the cute metal cookie cutters you have in your collection to make fun pancake shapes. Grease metal (don’t use plastic, they will melt!) cookie cutters with cooking spray, place on your buttered griddle or skillet, and then pour your pancake batter into the cutter and bake. The same concept also applies to eggs!
  • Regular plastic bags can double as piping bags. You don’t need to buy special piping bags for frosting when a regular plastic sandwich bag will do the trick. Use scissors to cut a tiny hole in one side of the bottom of the bag, spoon your frosting into the bag using a spatula and then squeeze away!
  • A can of beans can tenderize meat. If you need to tenderize meat, you don’t need a separate gadget—a can of beans works just as well. Make sure the bottom of the can is clean, place a sheet of wax paper over the meat and whack the meat a bit! You can also use the can of beans to thin out too-thick chicken cutlets and crush up nuts, Oreos to make crumbles or even herbs!

Once you give these ideas a try, it’s fun to think outside the box and experiment with other ways you can hack your already-existing kitchen tools to serve double or sometimes triple duty. Not only will this concept save you space, but money, time, and dishwasher room as well! What other ways can you try using what you already have?