Tuesday's Tip: Saving Energy in the Kitchen - FamilyEducation

Tuesday's Tip: Saving Energy in the Kitchen

June 08,2010
Sweet Pea Chef
Jessica Efird

Jessica, aka the Sweet Pea Chef, is a former U.S. Senate staffer/weekend gourmet turned full-time mom/family gourmet. She lives in Columbus, Ohio with her husband and two sons.

Perhaps it is the realization that vast amounts of oil are seeping into the Gulf of Mexico, or the fact that we recently turned on our air conditioning and I can almost feel the energy bill creeping up, but I’ve been thinking again about saving energy. It came to me that there are lots of ways to be “green” in the kitchen, many of which involve food usage. But you can support a green lifestyle through smart energy use while cooking. Here are a few tips to maximize your energy efficiency without having to go and buy new appliances: **If you have different size burners on your cook top, use the burner that is the correct size for your pot or pan, or even slightly smaller. Using a larger burner wastes energy. **When appropriate, you may be able to turn off the heat of your stove top and allow the residual heat from the pan to finish the cooking. One example we use frequently is the last batch or pancakes or when a recipe calls for cheese to be melted into a soup or other dish. **When boiling or simmering, unless the recipe calls for otherwise, put the lid on top to prevent heat loss. **The less liquid you use when boiling, the less energy you will consume. Of course, you don’t want to take this example to the extreme, but just be wise about how much water you plan to use when boiling pasta, for example. **If cooking for just 1-2 people, consider making a larger amount and freezing the item. Usually, reheating frozen leftovers takes less energy than making an entire new meal. **Generally, reheating or heating something in the microwave takes less energy than on the stove top. **Slow cookers and pressure cookers use less energy than stoves and ovens. ** Allow leftovers to cool before placing them in the refrigerator. **A full freezer and refrigerator cool more efficiently than one that is half empty. **Keep your fridge closed as much as possible, and the same goes for the freezer and oven too. Every time you open any of these appliances, you increase energy costs. Of course, it is impossible to cook without doing so, just be mindful of incessant “peaking.” I am sure there are lots of other good ideas to keep energy costs down in the kitchen. Any other tips? SPC