Contributor: Alex Smith
You care about your health and the environment. So, you most likely choose foods that are sustainably sourced, local, and high in nutritional value. Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins that keep your carbon footprint low are often highly cherished. However, have you considered how your choice of energy efficient cooking methods can have an impact on the planet?
Your Choice Is Important
When it comes to preparing a meal, even if you use the most ecologically friendly foods to nurture your body, family, and friends, you can take things a step further. Choosing kitchen appliances that conserve energy, and making small adjustments to how you prepare and cook meals can also be helpful.
Not only will switching to energy efficient cooking methods satisfy your desire to reduce carbon emissions and food waste; it also provides an opportunity to enjoy how you cook your food.
It is important to consider the methods we choose when cooking meals. Although we can get the job done with an oven, or cooking on top of the stove via boiling, sautéing or frying, our selected cooking method has an affect on food’s taste, texture, and nutritional value.
One of the most energy efficient forms of cooking, which helps open up the nutritional value of many vegetables and whole grains, is steaming. Steam heat allows you to gently cook vegetables in a shorter amount of time, using less energy than baking or frying.
Many vegetables actually lose nutritional value if they are overcooked – a little bit of crunch and bite behind some tenderness is welcome for the palate and gut health.
If you want to make your kitchen more energy efficient, then keep these points in mind.
- Choose cookware that has good heat retention, and distributes heat more evenly. Choose baking dishes and pans made from ceramic, stainless steel, or cast iron.
- Use the right size appliance or dish for cooking. You can actually increase cooking time and energy loss when you use an inappropriately sized pot or pan, relative to the amount of food contained within.
- Do consider preparing a one-pot style meal that can be cooked inside a steamer, crock-pot, or thrown together in one baking dish or pan. This method helps cut down the number of dishes and appliances used.
- Make sure to prepare your food before making a meal. Taking time to pre-chop, thaw, or measure out your ingredients before you start cooking saves energy. There is no reason to pre-heat your oven or pan while you get ingredients ready.
- Make the switch to appliances that use electricity as opposed to Gas appliances often create a lot more pollution than those that run on electricity.
- When you can, choose kitchen appliances that are energy-efficient. Maintain your appliances regularly, so that they work at a more optimal level and are not draining unnecessary energy to function.
Aside from being mindful to select foods on a seasonal basis, or picking up items that are grown locally, consider your dishware. Pots and pans made from cast iron or ceramic perform a lot better than more inexpensive options.
Choosing dish-ware that distributes and retains heat more evenly, and has a greater longevity with proper maintenance saves energy, and prevents unnecessary landfill waste.
Choosing an Efficient and Effective Cooking Method
Your chosen appliance and cooking methods can either save energy, or drain your wallet and the planet’s reserves. Here are a few suggested methods of cooking that can help you prepare delicious and delectable meals, without taxing your energy bills, or contributing unnecessarily to your carbon footprint.
An induction cooker, or an induction hob is a wonderful way to cook your food. The beauty of an induction hob is that when cooking with ferrous pans or dishware, such as a cast iron skillet, your food cooks faster and easier. When you touch the surface of an induction cooker, it is cool to the touch and will not burn your skin like conventional ovens or stovetops.
An induction cooker or hob only heats up specific types of cookware on its surface, and optimizes energy transfer, cooking time, and heat distribution.
– Steamers & Crock Pots
Crock-pots are perfect for cooking a family meal that can be made in one form of cookware alone. Reducing the need for multiple appliances and dishes helps save on time, dirty dishes, and energy.
Stews, soups, chilies, and bisques can be prepared in a crock-pot with varying cooking time. Crock-pots do not reduce nutritional content, and are helpful for cooking a one-pot style meal that can contain vegetables, grains, and proteins at the same time.
Different steamers may vary in their construction, but they all often allow you to cook multiple types of vegetable or grains all at once. While you have couscous, rice, or polenta cooking on the bottom level of a steamer, the upper levels can cook vegetables like carrots, green beans, or potatoes until slightly tender and ready to eat.
– Toaster Oven
When you want to bake a single serving of bread, a meat pie, or other tasty morsel, you don’t want to have to pre-heat, or even heat the average oven. Using a toaster oven is a great way to heat up smaller servings of dishes, or prepare a meal for smaller groups.
Toaster ovens are just as powerful as larger ovens, but are the perfect size for cooking up bagels, toast, or a diminutive quiche.
– Go Raw
The last method of energy efficient cooking requires little to no energy at all. Instead of preoccupying yourself with boiling, simmering, or sautéing some dishes, why not go raw? Choosing to make a meal that does not require cooking is a fun way to change up your diet, and appreciate fruits, vegetables, and other foods in a more natural state.
Make a Difference with your Cooking Method
Whether you make the effort to routinely prep your food before you get started on a recipe, or you use a steamer or crock-pot for a dish, you are making a step forward to conserve energy.
The planet’s energy resources are valuable, and the smallest lifestyle choices we make can bring a host of benefits for our own health and the health of others.
Learning to appreciate the value that energy efficient cooking methods can add to our lives can make cooking standard recipes more interesting, and improve the flavor, texture, and nutritional value of the food we eat everyday.
Bio: Alex Smith enjoys writing about health niche and other topics of interest. When she’s not found drinking a cup of chamomile tea, or whipping up some flash fiction, she enjoys crocheting. You can follow her various writing and musings via @gritnvinegar on Twitter.