Holiday cooking is just around the corner, which means you’ll be spending more time and electricity than usual in the kitchen. Keep your Thanksgiving energy costs down by following these simple cooking tips.
Preparation Before Preheating
Do food washing, slicing, and final prep before turning on burners or preheating the oven. An empty hot burner or oven simply wastes energy, and many meat and vegetable dishes do not need a preheated stove. Lessen cooking time by defrosting foods fully in the refrigerator, but be sure to keep items covered during the process because excess moisture will force the appliance to work harder.
Save Energy with the Stovetop
Be sure to scrub your burners and drip pans before cooking, to help them reflect heat more effectively to your cookware. Match pots to the appropriate burner size. According to the energy.gov website, if you put a 6-inch pan on an 8-inch burner, more than 40% of your heat is wasted. To help pots heat faster, don’t use larger sizes for smaller food amounts, and go for flat-bottomed cookware to get maximum contact with the burner. Copper-bottomed pans heat quickly, and cast iron pots can be used at a lower temperature setting than other metals. Whatever you use, keep the lids on while cooking to reduce heat loss and cooking time.
Make Room in the Oven
For side dishes, baking with ceramic or glass dishes allows you to set the oven temperature 25 degrees lower and will cook food just as quickly. If you have several dishes, put them in together to save time. Free moving air in the oven allows the appliance to run more efficiently, so stagger multiple items on upper and lower foil-free racks. Avoid unnecessary overcooking by using a food thermometer, but keep the door shut as much as possible (a 25-degree temp loss every time you open!) and use the oven light instead to check for readiness.
Choose Cooking Alternatives
Smaller dishes can cook just as nicely in a microwave or toaster oven and save you up to two-thirds the energy of a full-size oven. A slow cooker uses considerably less wattage compared to an oven, so think about dishes that could be started early and left alone while you hustle around the kitchen. Pressure cookers are another useful item to reduce cooking time because the steam pressure cooks food at a higher temperature.
Time to Eat
With an electric stove, you can turn off the oven or stove top 5-10 minutes early, and the residual heat will keep cooking the food. After pulling out your food, use the oven’s residual heat to reheat your guests’ dishes and keep them warm until you’re ready to gather everyone to the table.
Besides being thankful for delicious food that you can share with family, you can up the gratitude by taking easy steps to save energy during Thanksgiving and the rest of the holiday season.