By Kathryn Peck
Moms with newborns and infants (ok, even toddlers) quickly learn to do kitchen tasks one handed. And moms of toddlers and preschoolers quickly learn the little tricks that make meals easier to manage.
Here are 8 kitchen shortcuts and the everyday utensils you need (and probably already have) that make them way more useful than you think.
- Twisty straws always seem like a lot of fun, until you have to clean them. For years, I treasured the tiny straw brush that came with a sippy cup I bought, but like most things in my house, it soon went missing. Sub in pipe cleaners. That’s right. Just use a crafty pipe cleaner dipped in a small amount of dish soap to clean out straws and rinse with hot water.
- If you’re making meals for older children with a baby in your arms, try using a pizza cutter for cutting waffles, pancakes, crusts off sandwiches, and more. A cutter is also great for cutting cheese, beans, fruits and vegetables into smaller bite-sized pieces. It’s a one-handed job – a must for moms.
- If you can’t find your pizza cutter and it’s pizza night, use a scissors for cutting slices into bite-sized pieces for little ones.
- Speaking of one-handed meal prep, which moms must master, don’t overlook your immersion blender for just this purpose. Use it for mixing juices from concentrate (way better than breaking up that partially frozen lump with a spoon), instant pudding, and quick bread mixes.
- I have always hated making pancakes. The pancakes cook too fast, tiny drips of batter burn, the butter cooks and makes the kitchen smoky, all the while my kids are either want more pancakes or want some with chocolate chips, some with blueberries, and some just plain. I recently discovered the Whiskware® pancake mixer & dispenser. No longer do I fear the homemade pancakes breakfast. This amazingly simple container mixes the batter as you shake it thanks to the stainless steel BlenderBall® inside. Squeeze the bottle to dispense the batter in perfect shapes on the griddle with hardly a spill. The removable base doubles as a stand to easily add ingredients, and it’s easy to clean. Now our pancake breakfasts are calm, collected, and I even make them for dinner.
- You know your egg slicer? The one the kids like to pretend is a guitar or a harp, that’s the one. Try using it for slicing strawberries, kiwi fruit, and other soft (but not too soft) fruits.
Ick, a dirty, disregarded microwave. Instead of scrubbing, which is always awkward because it’s either high above your stove or low under the counter, try steam cleaning your microwave with a glass of water. Fill a microwave safe glass with water (add a slice of lemon), set the microwave to cook for 2-3 minutes, and allow the steam loosen baked-on food. They’ll be much easier to wipe clean with your sponge or washcloth after this.
Having trouble opening that jar of pizza sauce? I do, because we often use half a jar and the sauce on the rim dries and makes it difficult to open a few days later. Syrup, molasses, jelly – all problematic. Keep a thick rubber band around the lid and it’ll be much easier to open.
About the author: Kathryn is the owner of Bicycle Pie and mom of 4 little ones. Also a writer, editor, and former owner of one of Boston's premiere baby boutiques, she continues to write about motherhood, children's products, family life, and all other things that test our skills and patience as parents.
Photo credit: iStock.com/Martin Barraud