You'll wish you knew these tips sooner. 
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person spraying cooking spray on metal dry measuring cup
Credit: Jay Wilde/Meredith

You're probably already using cooking spray to keep food from sticking to your pots and pans, but that's just scratching the surface of what this pantry staple can do. Get maximum use out of that can sitting in your cupboard — you might just find you've been underestimating it all this time. 

1. Prevent plastic food storage containers from staining. 

If you have plastic food storage containers that are permanently orange thanks to tomato sauce, you'll wish you knew this tip earlier: Before filling a container with food, coat the inside with cooking spray. This acts as a barrier between the food and the plastic, which should prevent pesky stains from forming in the first place. 

2. Spread sticky ingredients with a spatula. 

Allrecipes Senior Editor Kimberly Holland suggests spraying silicone spatulas with cooking spray before spreading sticky foods, such as marshmallow treats. Genius! 

3. Grating cheese.

To prevent your cheese from turning into a clumpy mess as you grate, try spraying your grater with a little cooking spray first. This will make the cheese grate much more smoothly, and it will be easier to remove the debris afterwards. 

4. Measure sticky ingredients. 

person spraying pyrex liquid measuring cup with pam
Credit: Scott Little/Meredith

Trying to get every last drop of sticky ingredients (such as peanut butter, honey, or syrup) out of the measuring cup can be a pain. Instead of scraping it out with a spoon or spatula, first try coating the measuring cup in cooking spray — now the ingredient will slide right out!

5. Prevent water from boiling over. 

Apply a coating of cooking spray to the inside of your pot before you boil water for pasta, potatoes, etc. This will help prevent the water from bubbling over. If you notice your water starting to get a little too high, you can spray a tad more on the surface of the water as well. 

6. Prevent knives from sticking. 

Hate it when ingredients stick to your knife as you chop? Give your blade a light coating of cooking spray to prevent clinging next time you're doing meal prep. 

7. Hold parchment paper in place. 

Lining your pans with parchment paper makes for less cleanup later, but it can be a pain when the paper keeps shifting around. Give your pan a light dusting of cooking spray first to help the parchment paper to adhere to the pan. 

8. Use in place of oil for baking and broiling. 

person spraying white filets with cooking spray on baking sheet
Credit: Kritsada Panichgul/Meredith

Believe it or not, you can spray cooking spray directly on your food. In fact, spraying your food with cooking spray instead of brushing it with oil can help you to use less oil and get a more even coating for seasonings to adhere to.

Try spritzing breaded chicken or fish before it goes in the oven or under the broiler; this will give it a crunch and a beautiful golden-brown color. There are olive oil-based sprays if you prefer the flavor of olive oil over the traditional canola oil spray. 

9. Shape patties. 

For me, the most frustrating part of making burgers is forming the patties, because they often stick to my hands. Here's a serious game-changer: Coat your hands in cooking spray before shaping the patties to prevent sticking. Same trick applies to rolling meatballs, too.

10. Protect rising dough. 

If you're proofing dough in a bowl with plastic wrap, try spraying the inside of the wrap with cooking spray to prevent the dough from sticking to the wrap and tearing. 

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