I have a home office, so my workspace and my kitchen aren’t separated by very much, which might be why certain office supplies have migrated from my desk to my kitchen cabinets and counters — and stayed there.
As it turns out, food bloggers and pro organizers also vouch for this odd combination. There are a handful of office supplies that are at least as useful for cooking as for working. Here are the experts’ top picks — and a few of my own.
Black Sharpie Marker
First secret to saving money in the kitchen? Write on everything. Specifically, write down the date you stuck those leftovers in the fridge or freezer, the month and year you opened a new jar of spices, and so on.
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Don’t take my word for it; black Sharpies are an indispensable tool in commercial kitchens, too. Pro chefs rely on them to date and label food and identify their own personal equipment like knives.
You know you shouldn’t be using your knives to cut open food containers. (Right?) Best-case scenario, you dull the blades and shorten their lifespans; worst-case scenario, a combination of overly complicated packaging, wet hands and/or bad luck hits and you’re in the ER getting stitches.
There are a couple of reasons you might want to spring for a pair of proper kitchen shears — the blades comes apart for washing so there’s no chance of something sticky or gross getting trapped in there, and they’re designed to be used for cutting tougher stuff like chicken parts as well as packaging. But for when you just want to cut open bags of frozen peas neatly, a pair of plain old orange-handled office scissors will do the job and preserve your knife blades.
Masking tape (or washi tape, if you want a pop of color in your freezer) is indispensable for labeling leftovers that are in Tupperware or other containers you don’t want to mark up with permanent ink. If you really want to get fancy, you can use different colors of tape — to denote different types of food, declare certain items off-limits to your kids’ voracious friends, etc.
If you have a cherished collection of hand-me-down recipes scrawled on notecards or clipped from magazines decades ago, the bloggers at TheKitchn.com suggest investing in some clear sheet protectors. You’ll be able to whip up those family classics without having to worry about spills, tears or other hazards. (I’d also suggest that if you have any recipes that you’re really attached to, scan them and save a digital version just in case of a catastrophe).
If you have a whole slew of them, consider getting sheet protectors with holes to fit in a binder, so you can keep them all neatly corralled.
This might be more of a personal preference, but I have no patience for fussy bag clips. They’re either complicated, break easily, don’t create a good seal or some combination of the above. And don’t get me started on ones with magnets on the back that aren’t strong enough to stay on the fridge. The kitchen bag-clip experts (yes, apparently there is such a thing) at TheWirecutter.com sang the praises of the Gripstic brand of chip clips — but even they also conceded that regular old Scotch tape works pretty well, too.
For me, binder clips are the way to go. This file cabinet workhorse also has gotten love from the hive mind of foodies on Chowhound.com. They’re sturdy enough to be almost infinitely reusable, and keep a tight enough grip to keep your snacks from wilting in the humidity.
White boards aren’t good only for corporate brainstorming sessions. Get one with a magnetized back and it’s the perfect way to keep a running grocery list. That way, you won’t be wasting time or money dashing out to pick up the things you forgot you needed until after you got home and started cooking.
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