Who needs more clutter in your drawers? Here are twenty great substitutes for kitchen tools, including DIYs and easy replacements for common kitchen necessities.
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Make your own turkey baster
Speaking of turkey baster, you can make your own with a water balloon, a straw, and a utility knife. (Read this article from eHow.com for step-by-step instructions.) MacGyver would be proud.
Free trussing twine!
If you want to truss your turkey—i.e., tie the wings and legs of a bird down for more even cooking—you don’t need to buy trussing twine. Use dental floss! Not only does it come in a small container, it’s very strong and won’t burn in high heat.
If you have extra ceramic tiles left over from a home improvement project, you can use them as trivets. Protect tables and countertops from hot pots and dishes by affixing peel-and-stick felt corners underneath each tile.
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Cooling rack stand-in
Keep your cool during holiday baking days. When you’re covered with flour, have no idea where the kitchen table used to be, and just pulled the fifth blisteringly hot tray of gingerbread men out of the oven, simply flip over cardboard egg trays (you’ll need two, spaced a little bit apart) and set the baking pan on top.
You can also use butter knives for cooling racks: Place them in rows on your counter, alternating directions. They’ll keep hot baked goods elevated.
DIY bowl scraper
Have you ever seen those bowl scrapers in kitchen stores that sell for $3 to $10? These circular, plastic tools are easy to make at home. Simply take the lid of a round take-out container, cut it in half, then remove the rim. Instant savings!
Substitute rolling pin
If you’re in need of a rolling pin, look no further than that bottle of vodka you have in your freezer. The chilled glass will result in a flakier pastry. Even a wine bottle will do.
Who needs cookie cutters?
Rather than buying a biscuit cutter or cookie cutter, use a wine glass or a clean, empty aluminum can. If you’re making donuts, use the mouth of an empty water or soda bottle to cut out the center hole.
A simple flour sifter
Julia Child probably used a flour sifter while preparing fine pastries, but you can keep things simple by putting a mesh colander over your mixing bowl, filling it with the needed amount of flour, and gently tapping or shaking it until the flour sifts through. You can use this for powdered sugar as well.
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Replacement pastry brush
An unused toothbrush is the perfect substitute for a pastry brush. A paper towel will also work in a pinch!
Easily make a funnel
If you have aluminum foil in your kitchen, you don’t need a funnel. Simply fold a sheet of foil in half width-wise and roll into the shape of a funnel.
You can also use an “egg shell with a hole pierced in it” for a funnel, according to the book Thrift for Troubled Times, published in 1917 by Britain’s “National Training School for Cookery”!
Tenderize meat without a mallet
An unopened can of beans or vegetables makes a great meat tenderizer. Cover the bottom with plastic wrap and pound away on the meat just as you would use a mallet.
Substitute jar opener
You’ve seen those nifty, colorful jar openers in cool houseware shops, but you might not realize you’ve got a bunch of tools that are just as effective lying around your garage or basement. Using an X-Acto knife, slice open an old tennis ball and you’ve got two handy openers—game, set, match! Now pass the olives.
Handy stem remover
Hate grapefruit, and wondering what to do with those grapefruit spoons that came with your set of silver? Use their serrated edges to carve the stems out of tomatoes and strawberries.
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Make your own juicer
Instead of purchasing a handheld juicer (also known as a reamer) for fruit, simply use one blade from a hand mixer instead. Halve the fruit and twist the blade into it for easy juicing.
Homemade potato masher
The only thing better than homemade mashed potatoes is a homemade potato masher. Interlace the tines of two forks together (the forks should be facing each other) and mash away.
DIY garlic press
The tines of a fork can also be useful for mashing garlic. Just place the tines flat against a cutting board and rub a whole, peeled garlic clove against them.
Replacement martini shaker
Who needs a martini shaker? Instead of buying this expensive bar tool, simply use a stainless steel thermos with a screw-in lid. If there’s no way to close the sipping hole on the top, cover it with your thumb while you shake!
Easy bag clip
Kitchen supply stores sell bag clips to keep your half-empty bags of snacks and cereals more airtight. What’s cheaper, and available at the 99¢ store? Clothespins! Or use binder clips.
How to make a utensil holder
If you need a kitchen caddy to hold the utensils you do have, read how this intrepid blogger made homemade utensil holders with plastic Beanie Baby boxes. Who knew?
For more second uses for everyday items, follow our Clever Second Uses Pinterest board! For more great kitchen tips, check out our eBook, Cooking Made Easy, available for Kindle and Nook.