15 Ways To "Prep & Eat" Foods Differently Than You Currently Do

Here are 15 ways to make food a lot more fun at your house.

Food & Drink

I've got one friend who says she does her deepest thinking while she vacuums. Another, while she washes dishes. Me? I process a whole lot while I'm cooking. That's why, whenever I come up on a cooking hack, try it and it works, I get hyped like some of y'all get about a new pair of shoes (no joke). And since cooking is something that, at least most of us do, I thought I'd put you on to some hacks that have made food prep and eating a helluva lot easier and even fun. Ready?

1. Cut Salad Ingredients Differently


Let's start with salad prep. When it comes to your actual greens, stop cutting them up with a knife because all that does is bruise them. Instead, tear the leaves off with your hands; they'll remain fresher and last longer that way. As far as your other veggies go, be intentional about cutting them into small pieces. A lot of us miss the fact that a perfect salad consists of being able to get as much of what we put into the salad into every bite. Oh, and if you're prepping your salad for another time, leave the high-water veggies (like tomatoes and cucumbers out) until you're about to eat the salad. Watery foods will make your salad all mushy 'n stuff if you put them into your salad too soon. Yuck.

2. Also, Put Dressing on Your Salad Bowl—ONLY

While talking to one of my clients (I'm a doula), I teased her when she told me that she loved eating salad. On the surface, that's great, but I knew to dig a little deeper. See, salad is really only good for you when you're not piling on a ton of dressing, meat and Lord knows what else to drown out the freshness of the greens and other veggies.

If you can't imagine eating one with only a little bit of olive oil, salt and pepper, a cool hack is to pour the dressing into the bowl before putting your salad into it. That way, you'll typically end up with less dressing and your greens and veggies will get "equal" dressing love—instead of big clumps of dressing here and there—too.

3. Open Bananas from the Bottom Up


I don't know about y'all, but I'm a bit of a banana snob. It's got to be perfectly ripe (dry, not slimy with no bruises on it) for me to even consider eating one. And even then, it annoys me that those stringy things seem to always get in the way. The solution? Open your bananas from the bottom up. That way, the strings will come off along with the peel and you can enjoy your banana without all of the extra drama.

4. Put Ice Cream in a Plastic Bag

I'm thinking that this might be the kind of hack that some of you are already pretty familiar with, but for those who might've never heard of this before—if you want to keep your ice cream fresh and also avoid that nasty freezer burn that sometimes is on the top of it, all you've got to do is wrap the container up in a plastic bag (you know, like the bags you get from the grocery store). I've been doing this for years and I can definitely tell the difference from when I do vs. when I don't.

5. Apply Clothespins and Hangers Differently


My relationship with chopsticks is a bit of a hot and cold one. Sometimes, I'm able to master them perfectly; other times, it's nothing but mayhem. If you can totally relate, one way to put your chopsticks on training wheels is to pull apart one of your clothespins. The silver part? Wrap it in between the two sticks so that it serves as an anchor as you try and pick up your food. It will help the sticks to open up just enough without them flying all over the place. Pretty cool, huh?

As far as hangers go, if they're the kind that are plastic and have the clip attached, break off the clip. Why? Well, that way, you can use it to keep your potato chips and cookies closed. It's the cheapest way to keep bags of food fresh. Can you dig it?

6. Place Bread into Your Cookie Containers

If you adore homemade cookies but you don't want to eat the entire batch in one setting (good for you, girl), you can keep them nice and moist by putting a piece of bread into whatever container you're keeping your cookies in. Finally, a purpose for the ends of your bread, huh?

7. Cut Small Produce with Plastic Lids

This is definitely one of my favorite food prep hacks. When you've got tiny veggies (like cherry tomatoes) that you want to cut without them sliding all over the place or you running the risk of nicking one of your fingers, just anchor them in between two plastic lids that are the same size. Then take your knife and slice everything horizontally in between the lids. After a couple of tries, you'll wonder where this hack has been all of your life.

8. Reheat Pizza in a Skillet

There's not enough time or space today to get into why it's best to cook with an oven/stove instead of a microwave (Wellness Mama has a pretty good read on this very topic here). One of the main reasons why I tossed mine is because, when I used to try and reheat food in there, I didn't like how hard everything got if I didn't eat my food in five minutes or less; especially foods like pizza. If, like me, you want to be able to thoroughly enjoy the crust the next day (or day after that), put a little oil in a cast iron skillet and heat up your pizza that way. It will make your pizza taste so much better than any microwave oven can do.

9. Use Mason Jars for Meal Prep


If you don't want a billion plastic containers in your kitchen cabinets, one way to store your salad and grain food prep ingredients is to put them in a couple of mason jars. Speaking of mason jars, if you're sick of your asparagus and celery turning all rubbery and droopy, if you pour about three inches of water into a mason jar and stick those stalks in there, they will remain fresher and last longer than if you didn't.

10. Store Your Pancake (or Cake) Batter in an Old Ketchup Bottle

Know what gets on my very last nerve? Trying to make pancakes but the bowl makes it hard to get the cakes as round as I'd like. A good solution is to store your batter in a big, old, empty ketchup bottle. That makes the batter easier to pour and, it's a much easier way to store any batter that might be leftover. By the way, this is a cool way to utilize your cake batter too.

11. Wrap Hard Tacos with Lettuce


Tacos are great. There is something that annoys TF outta me when it comes to them, though. It's the fact that it's hard to bite into a hard one without it falling apart and the filling falling all over the place. A way to avoid that is to wrap your tacos up into a leaf of romaine lettuce so that it catches all of what's inside of your taco for you. Or, if you're someone who struggles with even getting your taco off of your plate, all you've gotta do is put the sides of the shell into a couple of teeth of your fork and lift it up that way. Voila.

12. Put Your Popsicles in a Foil Cupcake Liner

Listen, I enjoy a good popsicle as much as any kid does. But when it starts to melt and get all sticky, that is more than just a little irritating. The solution? Ram your popsicle stick through a foil cupcake liner. That way, any of the drippings will fall into it rather than onto your hands. (Parents, you're welcome.)

Speaking of cupcake liners, if you cut a slit into non-foil ones, turn them upside down and put a straw through the slit, you now can enjoy your drinks while you're sitting outside because the glasses will be covered and you won't have to worry about flies or debris getting into them.

13. Turn Your Tongs into a Juicer


Money is tight out in these streets. If you want a juicer for convenience's sake, but it's just not in the budget right now, slice open your fruits, put each slice in between a pair of tongs and squeeze the juice out that way. You'll be able to get a good amount of freshly-squeezed juice without creating a mess in the process.

14. Cut Your Burgers with a Glass

Are you someone who likes to make fancy burgers? Like maybe one that has an egg in the middle of it, but the problem is you can never get raw meat to cooperate with you? If you want to make the circles perfectly round, here's an idea. Take one of your glasses, turn it upside down and cut through the middle of your burgers that way.

Speaking of meat, if you need to defrost some and you don't want it to take for-e-ver, try washing it off and then wrapping it up in some aluminum foil. Foil naturally draws heat to it, so it can help your meat become room temperature in a fraction of the time that it would take if you didn't wrap it up at all.

15. Have Fun with Your Ice Cubes


I've got on more and some might say that I saved the best for last. Even if you've got an ice maker on your fridge, still make sure to keep a couple of ice cube trays around. Use one tray to put leftover sauces (like pasta sauce) in. That way, they will last longer than being in the fridge and you'll be able to save more space in your freezer. Another cool ice cube hack is to pour your coffee into them. If you're a big fan of iced coffee, this will help you to enjoy it without it getting all watered down 'n stuff. Just put a couple of cubes into a glass, add some more freshly-brewed coffee and you're all set. A final hack is to mix some of your favorite milk (or milk alternative) with some crumbled-up cookies (like Oreos). Put the combo in your ice trays and set them in the freezer. Once everything is frozen, put a couple of cubes into your milk (or milk alternative) and you'll literally be drinking a tall glass of milk and cookies! Dope. Dope. DOPE.

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ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.


We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
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