Did you know you can use your favorite sodas in desserts? Here are two recipes that use Pepsi and Mountain Dew to create mouthwatering, indulgent sweets!

soda chocolate cake

DOUBLE FUDGE CHOCOLATE PEPSI CAKE (TIME: 55 MINUTES, SERVES 16-20)

Ingredients:

-1 cup Pepsi
-½ cup vegetable oil
-1 stick butter
-3 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
-2 cups sugar
-2 cups flour
-4 oz melted bakers’ chocolate
-1 tbsp. vanilla extract
-1 tsp. baking soda
-½ cup buttermilk
-2 large eggs

1)Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a 9×13 pan.

2) In a large bowl, whisk together flour and sugar.

3) In a large saucepan, melt the oil and butter before adding Pepsi and cocoa powder and bringing to a boil. Once it starts to boil, remove from heat and slowly pour into the flour/sugar mix, using a handheld or standing mixer. Allow batter to cool.

4) Add bakers’ chocolate, vanilla extract, buttermilk, and eggs. Lastly, pour in your baking soda.

5)Pour into greased pan and bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Allow the cake to cool before topping it with your favorite chocolate frosting. Make sure you use our bottle pump or can cover on your leftover Pepsi!

soda apple dumplings

MOUNTAIN DEW APPLE DUMPLINGS (TIME: 55 MINUTES, SERVES 16)

Ingredients:

2 8-count cans of crescent rolls
3-4 tart apples
1 ½ cups sugar
½ cup butter
1 tsp cinnamon
1 12-oz can of Mountain Dew

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a 9×13 pan.

2) Peel and slice apples into sixteen even pieces.

3) Roll each apple in one section of crescent roll.

4) Place into the pan in two rows, with extras lining the sides.

5) Melt the butter. Mix in the sugar and cinnamon and brush over the dumplings.

6) Pour Mountain Dew over the entire dish

7) Bake for 45 minutes.

This goes great with some vanilla ice cream or whipped cream but is wonderful on its own. Our Mountain Dew pump cap will make sure your soda stays bubbly before using it!

As much as we want to give our families home-cooked dinners every night, sometimes it feels like an impossibility. You’re far too busy to prepare even the most basic of meals. But you don’t need a lot of time to create something special if you use these recipes.

Pasta with beans and tomatoes

PORK AND BEANS PASTA
You really only need five ingredients for this dish: Italian sausage, pureed tomatoes, white beans, pasta, and garlic (and a splash of olive oil). The resulting meal is similar to Bolognese and is hearty and filling. Pair with a nice green salad for a healthy and balanced dinner everybody will love. You can see the recipe here.

CHICKEN FAJITA CASSEROLE
Fajitas are always a crowd-pleaser, so take the hassle out of them by turning it into a casserole. Mix all the typical ingredients- peppers, onions, chicken, and cheese- in a dish, and add tomatoes, beans, and rice. Bake for half an hour at 400 degrees. Do make sure you cook the rice before baking! To make things even easier, use our pepper tool during prep time.

Burgers wrapped in tortillas

FAJITA BURGER WRAPS
On the subject of fajitas, why not combine them with burgers? Kids adore the combination and they can be thrown together in less than an hour. The mix of lean ground beef, fajita seasoning, and peppers creates a wrap that will no doubt get your kids to eat their veggies. The full recipe is available over here.

BALSAMIC PORK TENDERLOIN
Just three ingredients, plus salt and pepper, go into this deceptively fancy meal. Simply season the tenderloin with salt, pepper, and thyme and roast. Serve with a balsamic vinegar reduction, potatoes or rice, and vegetable of your choice. Prep only takes five minutes, meaning the entire meal should be ready in about thirty minutes. This dinner is especially good when you have unexpected company.

Cripsy lemon chicken

LEMON CHICKEN
Mix up your chicken with a few lemon slices. You can make the breaded chicken yourself, but if you’re short on time, use prepacked chicken patties. Simply drizzle some lemon juice on before serving. It gives the chicken a more refined palate while still appealing to kids. Fun fact: many Japanese restaurants serve their fried food with lemon. (Oh, and use our lemon juicer for extra ease!)

ONE-POT CHILLI MAC AND CHEESE
It may not be the healthiest option, but after a long day, nothing is better. And this mashup of two family favorites is easier than you might think. In a Dutch oven, brown some beef, garlic, and onions. Then pour in the rest of the ingredients and let it cook. Add some cheese towards the end and serve straight from the pot. Check out the full recipe here.

Three hand pies on a cutting board

HAND PIES
These versatile single-serve pies are perfect for the nights when you can’t even sit down. Much like regular pies, you can stuff whatever you want into them: beef and Guinness, broccoli and cheese, or whatever else you can imagine. Just fold the crust over the filling empanada-style, bake, and grab whenever you need food fast.

STRAWBERRY SPINACH JAR SALAD
Here’s a twist on a fun favorite! With summer nearly here, fresh strawberries are coming into season, which means it’s the perfect time for strawberry spinach salads. To make what’s already an easy and quick dinner even more portable, serve inside of a Mason jar or other portable container. Of course, much like hand pies, you can make whatever kind of salad your family enjoys.

Falafel on a wooden counter

FALAFEL
Falafel is fantastic as it only needs a few other easily-prepared dishes to make it a full meal. When short on time, pack the falafel, some pita, and salad separately. Then eat as you go, maybe dipping in some hummus if you have the opportunity. For a more complete falafel, mix in other vegetables or even some kind of meat into the falafel mixture.

Let us know down in the comments what your favorite on-the-go meals are!

When you’re a busy parent, you find yourself wishing for even just a few extra minutes. This is especially true with summer vacation arriving. Whether you’re planning a trip out of town or indulging in a “staycation,” whatever you can do to save some time is extremely welcome. Here are a few ways to shave the seconds and beat the clock.

PREMADE MEALS
Making meals that can be grabbed and eaten on the go are great for when you need energy between drives. Likewise, dinners that just need to be popped in the oven- or even just pulled from the fridge- are fantastic for nights when you don’t have the time to cook.

THE GO BAG
Do you always forget something at home? Do you end up needing something left behind more than you thought you would? Try using a Go Bag. Simply take any bag- an old diaper bag is fantastic for this- and fill with stuff like laundry pens, medicine, sunscreen, and other necessities. Leave it in your car and you’ll never be without those vitals ever again!

mom carrying shopping bag

SHOP ONCE, SAVE BIG
If you go to the grocery store multiple times a week, try condensing it into one larger trip. While this visit may take longer than the usual quick shop, it’ll ultimately save you time the rest of the week. Find coupons and check offers before shopping as well, and make sure to prepare a list. If you know what you’re after, you’re less likely to waste time browsing (and waste money on unneeded food).

DEAL WITH THE MAIL

When you grab your mail, take care of it immediately. Don’t throw it onto the table to deal with later; you’re wasting time by revisiting it. Throw out the junk, separate the coupons from the bills, and read any letters or cards you received. If you’re on your way out the door or already late, wait to go through it until you can without being rushed.

sticky notes on car wheel

USE YOUR COMMUTE
If you’re a working parent, take advantage of rush hour by turning it into you-time. Practice singing or a foreign language. Record an audio journal or plan your tasks for the next week. Just be careful to stay aware of traffic. The last thing you want is to get too involved and forget to actually drive!

PLAN YOUR WARDROBE
If you find yourself spending too much time staring into your closet, try planning your outfits in advance. Hang a top and bottom on the same hanger with any accessories you want to include for that day, then you just need to get dressed and slip on your shoes. Our hanger pockets are great for holding jewelry and other accessories with each outfit.

child doing chores

THE CHORE CHART
The bane of kids everywhere but the savior of parents: the chore chart. Schedule everybody’s tasks for the week, making sure they don’t overlap or get done twice. Make sure you include yourself (and your spouse) on there to make things fair for the little ones. If you need added incentive, promise allowance or prizes like trips to the movies for chore completion. Just make sure you pay up!

PLANNING AHEAD
Hang a family calendar in a communal area, like the kitchen or hallway. Tell your kids that whenever they make plans, they’re to write when and where it is on the calendar. Keep pens and a step stool nearby for younger kids who might be unable to reach. Now, whenever you need a refresher on where you’re headed, just check the calendar and you’ll know! (For extra security, add the events to your phone so you’ll remember on the go.)

What are your tips for saving time, busy parents? Let us know in the comments!

When you travel somewhere, do you tie a ribbon to your luggage so it stands out from the rest? Have you ever used an ice cube to get gum out of someone’s hair? Maybe there’s a tennis ball hanging in your garage so you know exactly where to park your car without hitting the wall. All of these are examples of solutions people have found to everyday problems that help make life a little easier.

person on pinterest

If you do an internet search, you’ll be amazed at the number of blog posts, websites, videos and Pinterest boards are out there that are devoted to tips like these. There are easy ideas like putting your cell phone in an empty pint glass to form a makeshift speaker or using your knuckles to figure out which months have 31 days. If you’re a little more adventurous and crafty, you could save money by making your own liquid hand soap using a cheese grater and a less expensive bar of soap. There are an infinite number of ideas that can help bring out that little bit of MacGyver that’s in all of us.

Some people call them Lifehacks, and other people just call them tips or tricks. But no matter what you call them, these unique solutions have been around for a while…and they probably all can be traced back millions of years to fire.

campfire

It was 1.8 million years ago that our predecessors discovered the controlled use of fire. This is arguably the ultimate in life hacks, and without a doubt it revolutionized the world as we know it today. But, while controlled use of fire changed how we were able to survive and evolve, starting a fire is something that people today still struggle to perfect. If you do a google search of “how to build a fire,” you get over 12 million results, all claiming to be the best.

But we all know that there is no “one size fits all” approach to anything…even building a fire. We all live different lives with different obstacles and different preferences…we all even hold pens differently. That being said, there is no way one hack works for everyone.. Thanks to the internet, however, we have a chance to find the perfect solution for each of us.

Today, you can find a slew of products, tips, and blog posts with simple (and not-so-simple) solutions to everyday problems. People with arthritis have used (and broken) their teeth to open bottles until someone created a product to help open bottles with ease. Mathematicians have taken the guesswork out of when it makes the most sense to play the lottery. Have rotten bananas? Use a banana hook to keep them fresher longer. Want to clean your computer’s keyboard? Use a post-it note. Wrinkled shirt and no time to iron? Hang it in the bathroom while you shower. If you really want to make your own ice cream sandwiches, there are even videos that show how by using a knife to cut slices out of the pint and putting them between two cookies you can create a culinary treat that parallels something you’d find in a five-star restaurant.

While some of these solutions may seem trivial, if you added up the time you saved, not to mention the reduction of frustration and stress you feel, people are really changing their lives by incorporating a few products or simple tips into how they do things.

microwave

One of the biggest areas where people are looking for ways to make life easier is in the kitchen. In 1967, the first domestic microwave was introduced and that dramatically changed the way we did things in the kitchen. The microwave cut down on cooking time, reduced the need to use so many pots and pans (thus reducing cleanup time), and allowed us to reheat leftovers almost instantaneously. Today, approximately 97% of American homes have microwave ovens. But the microwave is just a starting point.

There are an infinite number of kitchen gadgets available on the market today. While people living in the Bronze age used kitchen utensils made of (obviously) bronze, the Iron age brought more sophisticated food tools and as we evolved, we added strainers and the mortar and pestle, which eventually paved the way for jello molds, indoor grills, salad spinners…the list goes on and on. Today, you can even buy a fork that will signal to you with a flashing light if you are eating too fast for your food to be properly digested.

According to Gourmet Insider, the kitchen tool and gadget industry took in $59.8 million in 2016, an increase of 6% from the year before. The number is expected to rise as people entertain from home more, return to canning their own foods, and focus on portion control. The innovations in the industry are never-ending. Whether you want a tech-fueled kitchen or a back-to-basics setup, there is a gadget or two that will help you save time.

wheel

We all know that making life easier doesn’t just stop in the kitchen. The amount of gadgets out there, whether fueled by cutting-edge technology or not, is astounding. The earliest example of a gadget would be the wheel. Can you imagine life without the wheel? It made a huge impact on our society, and nowadays, almost everything uses the wheel in some way or another. One of the most amazing facts about the wheel is that, while most inventions are inspired by nature, the wheel was completely thought of by man. According to the Smithsonian, there are no wheels that exist in nature. You never know where great ideas will come from, you just have to be open to them.

If you are struggling to find a way to simplify your life in one arena, you are probably not alone. Not only that, but given our technological advances and availability, when it comes to gadgets, if you can dream it, it probably exists (or you could make it!). From smartphones to aromatherapy socks you put in the microwave, the options are endless. When Bill Gates said, “Never before in history has innovation offered promise of so much to so many in so short a time,” maybe he wasn’t specifically talking about life hacks. But it applies, and it’s application should inspire us to find new ways to do everyday things.

The importance of gadgetry doesn’t go unnoticed. According to google analytics, people search for different types of gadgets over 100,000 times per month. And you can get even more specific by looking for tech gadgets, kitchen gadgets, and even gadgets to help improve your yoga practice are out there on the market. “There’s a way to do it better–find it,” urged Thomas Edison. Even if someone else’s lifehack idea is not quite what you are looking for, it may inspire you to create your own.

But it’s not just about the gadgets. A simple tip to doing things differently or a motivational quote to keep you inspired are also considered ways of making life easier.

recycled art

Of course, there are also people who will show you ways to repurpose items you already possess in new ways you never imagined. There are artists whose entire visions are based on repurposing everyday objects, even trash we would normally throw away, into art. You can get step-by-step instructions to learn how to make beads from plastic grocery bags or turn an old ladder into a bookcase. If you have a t-shirt drawer filled with shirts you don’t wear anymore, or clothes your kids have outgrown but that have too much sentimental value to give away, you can repurpose them into a quilt out of clothes you no longer wear.

Finding gadgets and tips to make our lives easier doesn’t make us lazy. It really has a lot more to do with prioritizing. If you can save time by doing your banking online with an app, or keep your jeans lasting longer by putting them in the freezer instead of washing them, why wouldn’t you? It also makes for great conversation to share things you are doing in life to make it easier. People love to hear a good tip and the more offbeat, the better.

lifehack cords

What does this all mean? It’s pretty simple, actually. As humans, we constantly realize we want to live our best lives ever. If there are products out there to help us achieve that, then most of us are willing to give them a try. If there is a tip that will save us time at work or in the kitchen or help us keep our finances in order, then we will use it. If our goal is to live a fulfilling life, then gadgets and life hacks are a big part of reaching that goal. The benefits of saving time doing the mundane so we can focus on what makes us happy are reason enough to keep searching for these tips and tricks as we go through each day.