Say goodbye to the days of bulk freezing.

Melissa Locker

Storing leftover tomato sauce, stock, or freezer coleslaw in freezer-safe plastic bags can save a lot of space in the freezer. Simply put the cooled liquids in the bags, close the tops securely, and stack them flat in the freezer and you’ll have plenty of roasted pumpkin soup for a rainy day. However, there’s one small problem with the method, namely if you need just a cup of stock for a recipe or one bowl of soup for a lunch, you are stuck defrosting your entire supply. Over at Lifehacker, Heather Yamada-Hosley has a neat tip that can do away with that problem and all it involves is a pencil.

To freeze your stock (or sauce or soup) in smaller portions, pour the stock into a freezer bag leaving plenty of room at the top. Seal the bag well and then bend the bag over a pencil (or chopstick or wooden spoon) so the stock is divided into two sections. Leave the pencil as-is and stick the whole thing on a flat surface in the freezer. When it’s completely frozen, remove the pencil. The portion that was bent over the pencil will be easy to break off. That means soup for lunch, without defrosting the entire bag.

That’s not the only use for a pencil in the kitchen, either. Pencils are great for doing quick math when you want to double or triple a recipe for squash casserole. Designer Sebastian Bergne made a kitchen pencil that doubles as a wooden spoon, which makes it easy to adjust seasonings in recipes while you cook—and write down how much salt or paprika you added when you finally get the flavoring just perfect.

The folks at The Kitchn recommend keeping a grease pencil in your kitchen. These handy pencils, also called wax pencils or china markers, are incredibly useful when it’s canning season and you’re putting up a whole garden of vegetables. They can be used to label and date jars of peach jam, pickled okra, or chow chow as they work on almost any non-porous surface, including glass jars, metal canning lids, and plastic freezer containers. The labels last in the freezer, too, and then wipe clean with a quick swipe of a towel.Here’s Why A Pencil May Be Your New Favorite Kitchen Tool