Energy Efficiency and Cooking

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Planning how you cook, can save energy. The savings in the utility bill may be slight for each meal, but that does add up.

Last night, I decided to try something new when preparing my meal to see if I could cook in a healthier style, but this may have been an energy efficient style. I was boiling ingredients to warm them up to imitate a stir fry served over cous cous. The result looked like a stir fry, even though texturally you could feel that the meal was not a stir fry. What I have wanted to do was save on the number of pots and utensils that I was using to save on clean-up. One pot meal are becoming popular with me. I do take conscious steps to reduce the amount of energy used in the kitchen on a normal basis, and I thought these tips may help others when planning out their meals.

    To begin, you have to lay out your entire cooking process from preparation to cleaning to find ways to save energy. During each step, you will see that there are factors which will cause more or less energy to be used. How messy the preparation of the meal is will effect how much cleaning will need to be done. Do you cook in the oven? What method do you use when on the cooktop? Even temperature settings will matter. When planning your dinners, you may wish to consider these elements, and how you may be using energy when cooking. Here are some suggestions.
-I think that it is better for the home cook to have all of the ingredients cut and/or laid out before you start cooking.You want to reduce your cooking time, so having everything ready means not slowing down to hunt for the item later.
-Consider how a meal can be prepared where you use fewer utensils, dishes, and other cooking implements. I use my chef’s knife for all my cutting needs, including paring. The more knives that I use means more clean-up later. Instead of using a strainer, I try using the tongs which I used for other parts of the cooking process. Then I try to use as few pots, pans, and skillets.
-How do you defrost? Do you use a microwave or an oven? If you have thought about the meal ahead, you may let the meat defrost in the refrigerator by setting it in there the previous day.
-Having several burners going on the cooktop is not good. When roasting a chicken, for example, I will place a casserole with the rice in the oven to cook too. Then I add a foil bag with vegetables, or I roast the vegetables. I find ways to only use the oven.
-Higher heat means shorter cooking times. If all your ingredients are ready, then stir frying at a high heat will go quicker. Yes, high heat means more energy, but reduced cook times mean less energy. There is a balance which you need to find.
-Turn heat off when it is not needed. You can turn off the heat when rice comes to a boil, cover the pot, let it sit for ten minutes, and the rice will be done. Cous Cous and bulghur can have boiling water poured over them, and covered. They will be ready sooner. When a potato is almost ready, you can turn off the heat, and let it sit in the water till done, or drain the water to let it steam in the covered pan. 
-Consider how you can make a one pot meal. Sure stews cook in one pot, but if you cook pasta, you may want to use that hot pot for making the sauce after you have drained the pasta out. Place the pasta in the pan to reheat it before serving. You may find other ways to create one pot meals.
-Be creative in how you cook. The boiling dinner involved cooking kohlrabi in chicken stock. After it was done, I placed them in a covered bowl. I used a dutch oven, which has a tight fitting lid, so I reached boiling point quickly, and then I could turn the heat down. I used the boiling stock over my cous cous. Then I added my carrots, green onions, and shredded chicken (previously cooked) into the stock. Covered for a minute. I took these items out, and placed them with the kohlrabi, turning off the burner. Then I poured my sauce over this dish. The carrots and onions did not have the same crunch as they get during a stir fry, but they did have a bite, and I used hardly any oil, which is healthier. (There was a little oil in the sauce, and I had taken the fat out of the stock).
– fewer items to clean means less energy needed to clean them up.
-consider using your dishwasher late at night, when you have it fully loaded. This saves energy and water.
-Less items also means a faster clean-up for you.

What ways would you use to reduce the energy when cooking? It only takes a little fore thought.

2 Responses to “Energy Efficiency and Cooking”

  • Granville Oberson says:

    This blog is great. How did you come up witht he idea? 7 2 5

  • Frank Schulte-Ladbeck says:

    A Houston home inspector + a love of gardening + a love of cooking = this blog
    I thought that these posts needed their own site, but they are still partly related to ideas that float around my main site. Thank you for coming by.

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This site came out of my desire to write about my love of gardening, but also to connect it to my knowledge derived from home inspections. That is why I tied it to the home inspection site.If you have questions, you can email them to me (frank at For home inspections, call 713.781.6090.
Happy gardening, Frank


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