As a mom, I probably spend more than half my time at home in the kitchen, preparing meals, grabbing snacks, and cleaning up all those dirty dishes. With so much time and energy spent in the kitchen, it’s a great place to focus your attention on being greener.
Eco-friendly cooking is actually very easy, and it not only makes your home more energy efficient, but it can also cut down your costs and save you time (like all good green tips). Here are a few simple, energy-efficient cooking tips to get you started:
Equip Energy-Efficient Appliances
One of the biggest steps you can take toward making your kitchen greener is investing in energy-efficient appliances. Look for the Energy Star label when you shop for stoves, refrigerators, and other kitchen appliances. Not only will these models minimize your energy use while cooking, they will also save you money on your power bill in the long run. Many cities even offer rebate programs to offset the cost of new energy-efficient appliances.
Find the Right Cookware
If you’ve had the same set of pots and pans since you moved into your first apartment, you might want to consider recycling that set and starting fresh. Any dents or uneven surfaces on a pot or pan can make it difficult to heat properly, which means you might spend more time cooking than you would with smooth, flat cookware.
The size of your pots and pans also matters when it comes to eco-friendly cooking. The less surface area a pan has, the less time it takes to heat; so if you’re cooking something that’s small, choose a smaller pan to conserve energy.
Watch Your Water Use
Cleanup is a big part of cooking. From washing utensils to sanitizing hands, all that water usage adds up and expends the energy required to heat it. While keeping my hands clean is a necessity while cooking, I try my best to make sure I’m conserving as much as possible. For example, I typically try to hold off on running the dishwasher until I have a full load. Make sure you check any drips and fix leaks as quickly as possible.
Your water use in cooking is important to regulate too. Just as a large pan takes longer to heat than a small one, a large amount of water takes more time to boil. Try to use just enough water to cover what you’re cooking and no more. Your water will heat quicker, which also means the macaroni and cheese will be made faster—a huge bonus in my house.
Pressure cookers have come a long way from the questionable, semi-volatile device your grandmother had in her kitchen. Safer, electronic versions now make pressure-cooking a snap (even for novice chefs). Dishes can be cooked in less than half the time they normally would. The upside to this, besides saving time, is that it also cuts down tremendously on the energy consumption you would have otherwise spent using appliances in your kitchen.
Make Big Batches
Despite taking hours to cook, it can actually be much more energy efficient to cook stews and soups in your slow cooker than on the burner. This is due to the appliance’s low wattage. The other reason slow cookers are better for eco-friendly cooking is the fact you can use them to whip up big batches, and that means plenty of leftovers. Whenever I make a dish in my slow cooker, it lasts my family for at least two nightly meals. Now I don’t have to spend any time cooking the next night, conserving even more energy in the kitchen.
Spending just a few minutes each day (or week) planning for meals that last a few days—or figuring out some shortcuts to cook faster—help you work more efficiently, which will let you cut down on energy use. How do you like to stay green in your kitchen? Share all your tips with us on Twitter.
Image sources: Flickr | Sher Warkentin
This article was brought to you by Tom’s of Maine. The views and opinions expressed by the author do not reflect the position of Tom’s of Maine.
Why It’s Good
Eco-friendly cooking makes your kitchen more energy efficient and can also save you time and money. It doesn't require a tremendous amount of change, so it's a small change that makes a big impact.