When it comes to cooking, sometimes 15 minutes can feel so much longer than 15 minutes. In my head, I’ll know that I can prepare myself a nice, nutritious meal in roughly that amount of time, but it’s little things like getting out the right kitchen tools, chopping, getting my hands dirty, and especially cleaning up afterward that make the whole thing feel longer and more arduous than it really is. Enter these 10 hacks. The bits of time they’ve saved me add up—and they’ve made me so much more likely to choose cooking over takeout.
1. Grab a carton of liquid eggs
Eggs are nutrient-dense and protein-packed. Eggs are tasty and versatile. These egg-truths are self-evident, right? But here’s a more controversial fact about eggs: eggs can be annoying, sometimes. Hear me out before you egg my house: you never really know how an egg is going to crack, and sometimes it can make a mess. Plus, that step of cracking eggs is enough to make me think twice about preparing my own meal on days when I’m feeling less motivated. Enter the carton of pourable eggs. Twist off the cap, and let that good cholesterol cascade into your pan with messless grace. Looking to cut back on fat? There are liquid egg whites too.
2. Buy cut, frozen vegetables
Sometimes, picturing the colors and smells of fresh produce is enough to get me out of my apartment and over to my local grocery store to examine some yams. But despite my efforts, much of the most promising produce I select will spoil in my fridge. While I’ll never discourage you from trekking over to a farmer’s market for some Grade A asparagus, I encourage you to embrace frozen vegetables. Broccoli, carrots, corn, okra, green beans, peppers, ginger, artichoke hearts—they all hold on to their flavor (and nutrients) in a freezer, and to save even more time, you can get them pre-cut.
3. See all you can do with a nice pair of kitchen shears
I myself don’t fully understand what is so much more appealing to me about using a pair of shears as opposed to a knife. But slicing a chicken breast in half and maybe even trying to trim the fat with a knife feels simply laborious to me. Doing the same thing with a pair of shears, however, is borderline fun. On top of that, I can cut more precisely and more quickly with shears. Thanks to this time-saver, I find that prepping food to be cooked is a much smaller barrier to me.
4. Consider this super-efficient vegetable chopper
This gadget is a magical box filled with time-saving properties. And not just because it chops vegetables much faster than I can (I am, admittedly, not that fast), but because your fibrous fragments of veggies all collect in the box, which you can empty directly onto your salad. This means that I don’t need to take out, dirty, and wash my cutting board, but I get all the same help with digestion and satisfaction from my vegetables.
If you’ve been following The Noom Digest, I may be starting to sound like a broken record with this one. But my air fryer has been nothing short of a game-changer, cutting cook time in half and getting rid of pre-heating time to boot. (To top it off, my food is healthier for me and more satisfying too.) If you want proof of how an air fryer can speed up your kitchen time, I’ve made these 10 dishes in 15 minutes or less.
Okay, this is technically more of an energy saver than a time saver. But maybe an electric can opener shaves a second or two off of using a manual can opener, in addition to sparing you some forearm exertion? And just as important, an electric can opener is fun. I don’t care how many times you’ve used it, it is physically impossible to not watch as an electric can opener electrically opens a can. What’s that you say, the electric can opener has existed since 1931? Doesn’t make it less cool to me—it is an engineering feat, and it mesmerizes me every single time.
7. Use a programmable coffee maker
If you drink coffee, or if you have a complicated relationship with coffee, you might find that brewing it when you’re tired and groggy in the morning can be a challenge. To address that challenge, you can set a programmable coffee maker to start brewing your cup a few minutes before you wake up, so you can start the day with the motivation and alertness that caffeine might offer you. As with meal-prepping, this makes me feel like I’m setting myself up for success.
8. Keep your Parmesan cheese at room temperature
It will grate so much faster and more easily this way! Don’t worry, chefs the world over, alongside with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, agree that hard cheeses like Parmesan need not be refrigerated. This is a well known hack, but a hack nonetheless: The low-fat cheese in its shakable, pre-grated form will save you even more time.
9. Boil water in an electric kettle
Did you know? Electric kettles aren’t just cute; they also boil water faster than a stovetop flame. This is because of the size of the electric currents they produce, which create heat in quantities equal to the size of the current, squared. So, if spending a few minutes waiting for water to boil has ever gotten in the way of your culinary ambitions—some afternoons, making tea feels too ambitious—consider how waiting just 60 seconds might have made you feel differently.
10. Shred chicken with a hand mixer
I have Mexican night at least once a week, which sometimes means I’m ordering the whole wheat burrito from New York City’s Parada 47, but more and more often means I’m recreating it on my own. After cooking my chicken, using a hand mixer on it gives me a restaurant-grade shred in no time (about a minute) and with little effort. I recommend putting your mixer on the lowest setting.
Is there one thing on this list that speaks to you? Health journeys are challenging, but little tweaks—some frozen vegetables here, an air fryer there—can make a big difference. The Noom Weight program is stacked with practical tips and psych tricks for navigating the personal challenges of weight loss journeys. Over time, it helps you build new, healthier food habits, which facilitate making better-for-you choices in the kitchen. Maybe we can think of it as the ultimate hack?