Store grated cheese Pasta or pizza is always better with a dash of freshly grated Parmesan cheese. But who wants to bother with getting the grater out every time you want that taste? Instead, take a wedge of Parmesan cheese, grate the whole thing at once, and then double bag it in two self-closing bags to protect the freshness. Or stick the grater in the bag with the cheese wedge and pull it out for a short grate when the pesto gets to the table. That way you won’t have to clean the grater after each use.
Make a pastry bag Pastry bags can be cumbersome, expensive, and hard to clean. Stop scrounging around the kitchen drawer for the pastry bag tip. Place the food to be piped, be it deviled-egg mix or decorating frosting, into a sealable bag. Squish out the air and close the top. Snip off a corner of the bag to the size you want — start conservatively — and you are ready to begin squeezing.
Dispose of cooking oil Unless you want the plumber for a best friend, don’t clog your kitchen drain with used cooking oil. Instead, wait for it to cool, then dump it in a sealable plastic bag. Toss the bag into the trash.
Color cookie dough without stained hands Experienced bakers know what a mess your hands can be after coloring cookie dough. Here’s a clean idea: Place your prepared dough in a bag, add the drops of food coloring, and squish around until the color is uniform. You can use the dough now or stick it in the freezer ready to roll out when the next occasion arises.
Store extra ice cubes It’s a common experience. You open the freezer to grab some ice cubes from the ice cube maker and they’re all stuck together, sometimes clogging the ice cube dispenser on the front of the fridge. When your tray fills up, toss the cubes in a sealable freezer bag. They won’t stick together and you’ll have easy access to the ice.
Soften hard marshmallows You’re about to pull out that bag of marshmallows from your kitchen cabinet to make s’mores around the dying grill when you notice that the once-fluffy puffs have turned hard as rocks. Warm some water in a pan. Place the marshmallows in a sealable plastic bag, seal, and place in the pan. The warmth will soften them up in no time.
Melt chocolate without a mess Melting chocolate in a microwave or double boiler leaves you with a messy bowl or pot to wash. Here’s a mess-free method: Warm some water in a pan (do not boil). Place the chocolate you want to melt in a sealable freezer bag. Seal and place the bag in the pan. In a few moments, you have melted chocolate, ready to bake or decorate with. You can even leave the bag sealed and snip off a bottom corner of the bag to pipe the chocolate onto a cake. When you are done, just toss the bag.
Grease your pans If you’re never quite sure how to handle shortening and butter when greasing a cake pan or cookie sheet, here’s a tip: Place a sandwich bag over your hand, scoop up a small amount of shortening or butter from the tub, and start greasing. You can leave the bag in the canister of shortening for next time.
Use as kids’ gloves There’s nothing more welcome than helping hands in the kitchen. But when they’re little hands that tend to get dirty and leave prints all over the place, then something must be done. Before they start “helping” you make those chocolate chip cookies, place small sandwich bags over their hands. These instant gloves are disposable for easy cleanup.
Make a funnel That handiest of kitchen tools, the funnel, can be replicated easily with a small sandwich bag. Fill the bag with the contents you need funneled. Snip off the end and transfer into the needed container. Then just toss the bag when the funneling is done.
Protect your fragile breakables There’s a precious family heirloom, a statue, a vase, or a trinket that needs some extra padding when storing. Here’s what to do: Place it gently in a self-closing bag, close the bag most of the way, blow it up with air, then seal it. The air forms a protective cushion around the memento.
Save your sweaters You’re about to put away that pile of winter sweaters for the season. Don’t just throw them in a box without protection. Place each sweater in a sealable plastic bag and seal. They’ll be clean and moth-free when the cold weather rolls around again. Save the bags for next spring when the sweaters need to be stored again.
Create a sachet If your drawers are starting to smell musty, a sealable bag can be your dresser’s best friend. Fill the bag with potpourri — for example, flower petals along with a few crushed fragrant leaves and a couple of drops of aromatic oil. Punch a bunch of small holes in the bag. Then place in the drawer. Your drawers will smell fresh again soon.
Add cedar to your closet Cedar closets smell great, and, more important, they repel moths. If you aren’t lucky enough to have a cedar closet, you can easily create the next best thing. Fill a sealable bag with cedar chips — the kind you buy at a pet store for the hamster cage. Zip it closed, then punch several small holes in it. Hang the bag in your closet (a pants hanger is handy for this) and let the cedar smell do its work.