What ways are there to cook in a greener way at home?
We could all make improvements in our lives for a more sustainable world. That may mean changing your lifestyle to eat less meat or trying to reduce your carbon footprint. Perhaps you want to start sourcing more of your food locally or you are considering reducing usage of your car in favour of transport or car pooling.
The world has taken a battering from humans and we can all do things to help the environment and at the same time help ourselves to have a brighter future. Understandably some people don’t know where to start or are put off by financial restraints. Isn’t it cheaper to eat takeout than buy organic vegetables and meat? Can you afford to replace your gas guzzler for a hybrid or electric vehicle?
There are some things you can do in the kitchen that won’t break the bank and will result in you living more cost effectively and quite possibly healthier.
Take a look at your water usage
We not only use water for washing and cleaning but also for cooking. Are you using it efficiently or wasting water unnecessary. Consider fitting water saving nozzles. These don’t just have to be in the kitchen you could put one on any tap in the house. They limit the water output in a similar way to a shower head and also shut off after a set time. There is also an invention called a quantitative tap that is preprogrammed with the exact amount needed to perform certain tasks such as filling a small saucepan or a kettle and it allows only this amount out of the tap when selected.
Composting your waste
When cooking we make a certain amount of waste. You can get a compost bucket or cabinet composter to store up your vegetable matter until it is full and moved to your compost heap. If you don’t have a compost heap or don’t want one then ask around your neighbours and see if they want to take your vegetable waste each week. There are even services that will pick up your compost.
Get imaginative with waste
Throwing those potato skins out? Why not use them for a tasty snack. Fry them up and after patting dry with a paper towel serve with a healthy dip to make up for the frying. Broccoli stems don’t need to be thrown out. Trim the hard exterior off and they can be used in many ways including soups and roasted.
Change your hob
If you are installing a new kitchen then consider putting in an induction cooker. These will save you energy and money and they are also safer than other cooking methods.
An Induction cook conducts heat over the cooking surface more efficiently than other flat surfaced cookers and they are intelligent too. Removing your saucepan for 30 seconds or so and the cooker will turn itself off. This means not only are you saving money but there is less likely to be a cooking related fire or accident. You can set how long the cooking time is along with the temperature so it will turn itself off when you want unlike gas cookers or traditional electric ones that won’t.
Change your cooking method completely
Do you find yourself frying or deep frying a lot? Perhaps you just really love fried chicken and other dishes that involve this type of cooking. You could make one simple change and improve your health, lifestyle and finances.
This is a modern way to make food that not only looks like it has been fried but also tastes like it. Before you get too excited there is a slight disadvantage in that the meals never quite come out as crispy as proper deep fried food but there are a range of other advantages.
Firstly you will save on cooking oil. Recipes for the air fryer require none or a minimal amount of oil misted over the food. This not only saves you money but is good for the environment. Less plastic bottles being purchased and less used oil being dumped. You don’t have the worry of how to dispose of old cooking oil either.
Possibly more important to you is that you will save on cooking time and therefore on energy as well. These types of cookers use more electricity than a traditional oven but because they cook so much quicker they use less over the whole period that they are on.
Another modern twist to an old way of cooking. An updated version of the pressure cooker your mother or grandmother may have had. They contain many useful features such as being able to pre-program the start time so you don’t even need to be in the kitchen to start cooking.
They trap steam and cook at such a pressure that the time taken to make a meal is reduced by up to 70%. This means you are saving all that energy as well which helps lower your utility bills. They also do not need added oil or steam as they use moisture to cook. They make healthy meals with better nutrient retention that steaming or boiling. One benefit is they can make a large range of food from boiled eggs to Japanese curry.
Another upside is you can use cheaper cuts of meat in an instant pot as it will tenderise the meat during the cooking process and still cook quicker than a regular oven.
Other ways to improve the greenness of your kitchen
As your containers or plastic products become worn, damaged or start to become stained and take on other smells and flavours replace them with more eco friendly materials. Do not throw out perfectly good plastic items as this will just create more waste but over time they can naturally be replaced.
Change power sources if this is within your means. Maybe consider alternative power sources such as solar energy.
Use alternative materials for everyday items. Bamboo or toughened glass straws, bamboo or silicone steamers instead of plastic. There are lunch boxes made from glass, ceramic and wheat based materials that can last for years.
Even just switching to a reusable coffee cup and visiting an ethical coffee shop that will let you bring your own cup in will help. 5 coffee cups a week equals hundreds of non-recyclable cups in landfills a year. The smallest things can help.