How To

Common Kitchen Mistakes That Cost You Money

If you spend enough time in the kitchen, you’re sure to make a mistake.

Luckily, many common cooking mistakes, like over-salted food and lumpy gravy, are fixable. Unfortunately, others aren’t, which means you end up wasting food or worse, destroying an expensive kitchen gadget.

Frugal Foodie recently rescued one of her expensive chef’s knives from the dishwasher, where a guest helping clear the kitchen had loaded it with the other dirty dishes. Good thing she noticed it before it was too late because a spokeswoman from cooking community Kitchit says that common mistake often results in knives getting dull or warping.

Tread lightly in the kitchen to avoid similar problems, such as these other seven common kitchen mistakes:

Letting knives air-dry.

“The blades of your knife dull when they are wet,” says Carrie Rocha of pocketyourdollars.com. “Your best bet is to wash and towel dry them right away so they stay sharper longer.”

Peeking in the oven.

It lets hot air escape and cold air enter, which can affect cooking time. “If you’re baking, the shift may be enough to make your cake sink or fall,” says Reyne Hirsch, owner of Houston-based cupcake company Icing Cupcakes. If your oven doesn’t have a window that lets you observe, then make sure it’s properly calibrated so you can trust the recipe’s cooking time frame, she says.

Scratching nonstick cookware.

It doesn’t look pretty and extensive scratching means that foods will actually stick to the pan and take serious elbow grease to scrub off. Shavings of the coating can also end up in your food. The chefs at Kitchit suggest avoiding metal cooking utensils in favor of pan-friendlier ones made from silicon or wood.

Microwaving melamine.

“It gets very hot to the touch, which I learned the hard way,” says home cook Robyn Coburn. Some melamine can also make its way from the dish into your food, which, in addition to the obvious safety concerns, can also make the dish brittle and prone to breakage.

Ignoring hand-wash instructions.

“Not everything is meant for the dishwasher,” say the chefs at Kitchit. “Wooden cutting boards will warp and crack in the dishwasher,” a spokeswoman says. “Knives will dull or warp, and plastic will crack or get cloudy.” Wash those items by hand instead to keep them in good working condition.

Wasting energy.

“Boiling cold water without a lid on the pot, pre-heating the oven for too long, and keeping the refrigerator temperature too cold all add to your energy costs,” says certified kitchen designer, Susan Serra. Stick to good habits like using lids and setting a timer to minimize energy use.

Picking convenient spice storage.

Putting them on a shelf above the stove might make for easy access while cooking, but the conditions aren’t ideal if you want to get the most mileage out of your spices. “Heat, light and moisture all cause spices to deteriorate,” says Chrysa Duran of thriftyrecipes.com. ”Move them to a different cupboard or a drawer.”

Frugal Foodie is a journalist based in New York City who spends her days writing about personal finance and obsessing about what she’ll have for dinner. Chat with her on Twitter through @MintFoodie.