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11 Low Energy Cooking Tips

Cooking with WineEvery single week day, people come back home after a day of work and almost simultaneously start using lots of energy intensive-things; they turn on the television, the computer, turn on the lights if it’s dark, they plug in their cell phones and gadgets… And then they start cooking food.

We’re all getting more aware of our energy consumption when it comes to cars (hybrids and electric cars are getting more popular) and to lighting (compact fluorescents took over in only a few years), but most of us are still in the dark when it comes to energy-efficient cooking. Here’s a few common sense tips to get your started on the road to low energy cooking.

1. Hot and Cold
The first thing that you should become aware of around the kitchen is hot & cold. It takes a lot of energy to cool something down, and it takes a lot of energy to heat it up. That’s where the savings can be made.

For example, don’t leave the fridge or freezer door open longer than necessary. When the cold air escapes, this means that your fridge or freezer will have to work overtime to bring the temperature back down. Conversely, don’t use more hot water than you need to. Don’t boil a big pan full of water if you only need a little bit!

2. Size Matters
When heating something, make sure that the heat actually goes where you want it to. This means that you should be careful to match your pots and pans to the appropriate burners on your range. Otherwise a lot of the energy you’re using is just heating up the air in your kitchen (which can mean that the A/C has to work overtime in the summer, further wasting energy).

3. Consolidate: One-Pot-Meals are Your Friend
Another great low energy cooking tip is to cook one-pot meals such as casseroles, soups, stews and stir-fries. It’s easy to see why they save energy compared to recipes that require you to use two, three or even 4 burners at the same time. You can find a variety of one pot meal ideas here.

4. Consolidate: Schedule Your Baking
Whenever possible try to bake multiple things at the same time if there’s enough space in your oven and the recipes call for the same baking temperature, or one after the other all on the same day. That way you only have to warm up the oven once, and you benefit from the residual heat left over from the previous recipe.

5. Consider Getting a Slow-Cooker (aka Crock-Pot)
Probably the first thing that comes to mind when someone talks about low energy cooking, the good old crock-pot is hard to beat when it comes to making stew. You just need to make sure to set things up long enough before you need to eat since the cooking temperature is relatively low (that’s what makes it so energy intensive). Here are a variety of crock pot recipes to try.

6. Consider Getting a Pressure Cooker
It allows you to cook food faster, without heating up your kitchen as much, and using less energy. Hard to argue against that! Pressure cooking works because as the air pressure increases inside the sealed pot, the boiling point of water decreases. Only the microwave is more energy efficient (and you can’t do everything in the microwave).

7. Turn Off the Oven Before You Are Finished
Electricity stops flowing to your oven the moment you turn it off, but it will stay hot for a fairly long time after that (depending on how well insulated it is and how often you open the door). This is a good opportunity to save energy, especially with recipes that aren’t too capricious about exact cooking time and temperature.

8. Keep Lids on Pots, Don’t Open Your Oven Door
This one is self-explanatory. Every time you allow heat to escape, you’ll have to use more electricity or gas.

9. Eat more Raw Foods
Salads, raw fruits and vegetables are definitely the best way to go from “low energy” to “no energy”. Usually healthy food too, so dive in!

10. Use the Microwave When Appropriate
Microwaves are more energy efficient than stoves by a pretty large margin. They aren’t appropriate for everything, but if there are things that you cook on the stove out of habit but that could just as well be done in the microwave, you should considering switching.

11. Cook Large Quantities, Then Reheat Leftovers
It’s more efficient to make a huge lasagna (for example) and then re-heat leftovers for a while (especially in the microwave) than to make smaller lasagnas more often.

Planet Green Michael Graham Richard 10/26/2009

4 Comments
  1. I love cooking with my crock pot. Now that autumn is here I’m really getting into cooking again. Thanks for the great article!

    • My favorite crock pot meal, just make sure you get good pitas :)

      For the gyro meat:

      –1 pound ground lamb
      –2 t oregano
      –1 t paprika

      –1/2 chopped onion
      –3 cloves minced garlic
      –juice from 1 lemon

      For the Tzatziki sauce (optional, but not really):

      –1 small cucumber, peeled, seeded, and chopped
      –1 cup greek yogurt
      –1 T olive oil
      –3 cloves minced garlic
      –2 T chopped fresh mint
      –juice from 1 lemon

      Extra stuff (optional. for reals.):

      –pita bread (but we used corn tortillas)
      –lettuce
      –tomatoes
      –feta cheese
      –olives

  2. You mentioned using a crockpot as something which took my by supprise. I ran to my kitchen, and checked the labels on my crockpot, electric skillet, and electric stove burner.

    Both my electric skillet and my burner were marked at 1500 watts, were my slow cooker was rated at 250. Assuming I would use the first two for about a half hour in the preperation of a meal, and the other I would use for atleast 8, if not 24 hours, I came to the following conclusions:

    burner: 1500W * 0.5hr = 750 Whr
    crockpot: 250 * 8hr = 2000Whr
    crockpot: 250 * 24hr = 6000Whr

    Wow! That's a lot more energy, not a lot less, but there is a solution for those of us who really like a good slow cooker meal (and I am one of them). Use a "hay box". A hay box can be any home made box, with a tight fitting lid, stuffed with insulation, and with a cavity in the middle which will carefully fit your pot. The idea is, you put your food in your pot, just like a normal slow cooker, but put it on the heat and bring the fluid to a boil. Take it off imediately, and put it in the box. Due to the thick insulation, very little heat will escape, and the food can slow cook for the next several hours.

    This has the added benifit that the food was at one time brought up to a boil, and all of the germs will have been killed, were a slow cooker will only encurage their growth.

  3. the idea cost significantly for you to generate a weblog?

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