In the oven
- Double-up on dishes. This can be as simple as baking foil-wrapped potatoes while another dish is in the oven. The baked potatoes can be stored in the refrigerator and added to other recipes throughout the week. Plan your meals ahead of time, choosing a main dish and a side dish that can both be baked in the oven, both at the same oven temperature. That way, you can cook them at the same time and save energy.
- Choose pans wisely. Glass or ceramic pans need 25 degrees less heat than metal pans, which means you can turn down the temperature on your oven.
- Skip the preheating. Unless you are baking something that needs precise temperatures, like bread or cookies, preheating wastes energy when nothing is in the oven. Just allow for a few extra minutes on bake times to make sure food is thoroughly cooked.
- Don’t peek. It can be difficult to resist the urge to check up on your meal, but every glance into the oven allows heat and costly energy to escape.
- Turn off the oven a few minutes before your dish is done. The leftover heat will continue cooking the dish, and the oven won’t have to produce any more energy.
- During the winter, leave the door open after your pan is out of the oven. The heat from the oven will add extra warmth to your home.
On the stove
- Steam vegetables instead of boiling them. Steaming means there’s less water to heat, and more nutrients are left in the veggies, an added benefit. If you have to boil, use as little water as possible. Extra water has to be heated along with the food.
- Keep the lids on your pans at all times. Cooking without lids uses three times more energy than cooking with them, according to Mother Earth News.
- Match pot size to burner size. Pots that are smaller than the burner aren’t using all the energy the stove is putting out.
- For flat cooktops, use flat-bottomed cookware. The best pan is one with a slightly concave bottom. The metal will flatten out when heated. The more contact between the cookware and the burner, the more efficient the heating process.
The little things
- Whenever possible, use smaller appliances like microwaves, toaster ovens and crock pots instead of the oven. According to Flex Your Power, using the microwave costs 6 to 18 cents an hour, while the oven costs 30 to 60 cents per hour. You can save a lot of money by forgoing oven time.
- Defrost frozen food in the refrigerator. It will take less time and energy to cook.
- Make double portions of a recipe, and freeze the extras. It takes less energy to reheat a dish than to make it a second time.
- When baking holiday treats, have more cookie sheets than can fit into the oven at one time. Have a filled cookie sheet ready to pop in the oven as you soon as you pull one out. This keeps the oven filled at all times.
… and more
- Turn down the heat before your friends and family arrive. You won’t freeze your guests because all those bodies in the house will raise the temperature naturally.
- Don’t feel guilty about using the dishwasher for all the extra dirty dishes. You’ll actually use less water and energy than washing by hand.
- Decorate for the holidays with LED decorating lights instead of incandescent bulbs.
Just a little effort can end up saving you a lot of money in the kitchen and around the house. Happy holidays, and happy entertaining!