ENERGY EFFICIENT COOKING TIPS FOR THE HOLIDAY SEASON
Everyone loves a delicious feast during the holiday season. We look forward to it each year. But cooking a feast is no easy feat and can be stressful. Here are some tips to help you save energy in the kitchen so that you can spend a little bit more on wonderful, whether that’s spending more time with family and friends or putting your feet up and watching your favourite series.
Here are some tips for energy efficient cooking this holiday season.
1. Make a Plan.
First things first. Planning saves your energy and reduces the power your kitchen uses. A solid plan will help make the stressful task of cooking a feast easier. You’ll know what you need to do first, what to do last and everything in between. Make a list or a timetable, so you don’t get too flustered, and you can spread your energy over the course of your cooking. You’ll know when you need to turn the oven and stove on and off, what you can cook at the same time, and when to defrost and when to prep. A solid plan will save you energy.
2. Prep Beforehand.
Let’s start with things you can prepare or cook well before hand. Gravy, stuffing, sauces and pudding can all be cooked in advance. In fact, the longer you leave your pudding the, the longer it will have to absorb all the flavours. You’ll just have to steam it on the day. Spuds can be parboiled and put in the freezer. Make sure to chop up all your vegetables and defrost any frozen ingredients before you turn the stove or oven on. Chop veggies into small pieces to make them cook faster. Plan ahead and defrost naturally.
3. Pick the Right Pans, Pots, and Baking Dishes.
Not all pots, pans and dishes are created equal. Choosing the right ones can make a significant difference. Pots and pans made from highly conductive materials allow you to get the same results while using less heat. For the stove, pans and pots with copper bottoms are great and glass or ceramic baking dishes are the best option for the oven. Make sure you match the right element size for the food you’re cooking. This will prevent heat from escaping.
4. Use the Right Small Appliances Whenever You Can.
Invest in a slow cooker or pressure cooker and you can cook dishes in the background while you’re working on other dishes. The microwave is another energy efficient appliance for cooking. Cooking your veggies in the microwave is way quicker and more efficient than the stove. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons of water, put a lid on and microwave them on high for around seven minutes. Cooking your veggies in the microwave is way quicker and more efficient than the stove. However, if you opt for cooking veggies on the stove, use a steamer. These use heat from a pan already on the stove, so you don’t have to turn on another hob. Air fryers are another great small appliance to think about using. Find the right balance between the oven, stove, and small appliances. Mix and match depending on what you’re cooking, allowing you to cook more at once and save time and energy.
5. Put a Lid on It and Don’t Peak.
Covering your pots and pans traps as much heat as possible so your food can cook quicker and with less energy. If you’re worried about your pot boiling over, placing your lid at a jaunty angle usually does the trick. Now, we know it’s tempting to open the oven to check on those cookies, they always smell so delicious. But each time you open the door, your oven loses a lot of heat and must work harder to get back to the right temperature. Instead, give the glass a good clean and turn your oven light on. The plan is to cook everything as efficiently as possible. The sooner you finish, the sooner you can put your feet up and relax.
6. Cook Everything Together.
Fill up that oven and put your exhaust fan on full blast. Think about what else you can put in the oven while you’re roasting your turkey. Fill the empty spaces on the tray around it with potatoes and kumara. Use as many shelves in the oven as you can. How many savouries or cookies can you bake at the same time? How many things can you cook on the stove at the same time? Put that steamer we talked about earlier to good use. The less time you spend cooking, the less energy you’ll typically use. Another handy tip for the oven, don’t cover your oven racks with foil. It stops air from flowing and reduces the amount of time it takes to cook. Make sure to use the fan setting to circulate heat faster.
7. Add Some No-Bake Items to the Menu.
Consider adding some no-bake recipes to your spread. These will save you time and energy. When it comes to appetizers, think of things like crackers and cheese, a vegetable and ranch tray, charcuterie board and a multitude of salads. These look colourful and delicious and will certainly impress your holiday guests.
8. Say “Yes” to the Dishwasher.
Let the dishwasher clean all your holiday dishes for you after your lunch or dinner, so that you can relax and spend time with family and friends. Yes, you could all team up and wash the dishes together, but that isn’t always that fun after a long day and most modern dishwashers use less energy than hand washing. So, it’s a ‘win, win.’ You get to relax and save energy. Make sure your dishwasher is fully loaded before you hit the start button.
Happy cooking and enjoy the holiday season!
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The information provided in this article is of a general nature and not intended to be a substitute for personalised, professional advice. Mercury recommends that you always seek appropriate advice from a qualified professional to suit your individual circumstances. Links to external, non-Mercury websites are provided as a reference only, and do not imply a partnership or endorsement of their content.