Thursday, July 11, 2013

Five Cooking Tips to Save Energy in the Kitchen

We’re all looking for ways to save money and consume fewer resources for a greener planet. Some of the ways to save energy, like turning the thermostat up or down, seem fairly obvious and don’t feel as if we’re doing enough.  One great way to amplify your efforts is to look room by room at how you can save energy.

If you've been reading our Cooking From Scratch blog, you know how much I love to cook! So today we're going to talk about what is perhaps the most energy-hungry room in your home - the kitchen.  Here are five cooking tips to save energy in the kitchen:

Large and small skillets
Large and small skillets on different sized burners. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
#1.  Use the right size pan for the cooking job and make sure to match it to the right sized burner.  It may sound silly but you can waste a lot of time and energy trying to boil a giant-size pot of potatoes on an itty bitty burner.  And you can waste a tremendous amount of energy warming up a small pan of sauce on a giant burner.  If you can see more than a half inch of overlap, either the pan overlapping the burner or the burner overlapping the pan, see if there’s a better fit. 

Additionally, if you only have to boil three potatoes you don’t need to get out the giant 5-quart pot.  And if you have to boil twenty potatoes, you absolutely do need a large pot with an appropriate amount of water – just enough to cover the tops so you don’t have to spend too much time and energy heating all that water.

#2.  Don’t preheat your oven.  Have you ever been pressed for time and just shoved that tray of chocolate chip cookies in an oven that hasn’t been preheated?  What happened?  Presumably you may have had to add one or two minutes to the cook time but it certainly didn’t add ten minutes or more to the cook time.  With many ovens it takes 10-15 minutes to warm up to 350 degrees, and that’s wasted energy.  Don’t waste your time and energy preheating - get those cookies in the oven and enjoy!

#3.  Use smaller appliances for smaller jobs.  If you’re making an open-faced sandwich, warming up leftovers or eating those frozen and ready-to-cook cookies, then skip the oven and use your toaster oven instead.  It uses less energy to heat up - and it also won't put off as much heat into the house so you won't have to run the a.c. as much.  Additionally, if you use a microwave, it can be used to steam, reheat and even to make eggs, melt chocolate and warm up canned foods in much less time and with much less energy.

English: A pressure cooker with a simple regul...
A pressure cooker with a simple regulator and an oval lid. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
#4.  When you are making soups, stews and even some barbecue recipes or roasts, consider using a slow cooker instead of cooking them for hours on top of the stove.  Slow cookers use less energy and you can cook your meals during low energy times in your home. For example, if you’re using the air conditioner during the day and also cooking, you’re going to make your a/c work harder because your cooking will add heat to the home.  However, if you can cook your roast overnight when your a/c isn’t running as hard then you’re saving energy. It also won't heat up the house as much as using the stove or oven.

#5.  Grab your mother’s pressure cooker and embrace it for its amazing power to cook foods in a tenth of the time!  However, if your mother’s old pressure cooker scares the heck out of you, the newer models are significantly safer, and easier to use. 

You can save a tremendous amount of energy focusing your attentions and habits on one room at a time.  And what better place to start than in the kitchen, the core of your home and probably your biggest user of energy? 

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