Top Kitchen Tips to Save Money and the Environment
The kitchen is often the center of the house: It’s where you cook, people gather during parties and families graze and talk during the holidays. When you think of “greening” your home, the kitchen is usually not the first place of which you think. There are, however, so many ways to make your home more efficient, saving you money and reducing your carbon footprint.
Top 5 Ways to Make Your Kitchen More Eco-friendly
- ENERGY STAR appliances: An ENERGY STAR label on an appliance shows both how efficient a particular product is and how much it costs to run it. Check refrigerator, microwave, stove, oven and dishwasher labels before you purchase a new one to determine if it’s ENERGY STAR-rated. Only purchase ones that provide you with the highest efficiency, but still fit your kitchen needs.
- Freeze/Preserve farmer’s Market fruits/vegetables: Fruits and vegetables are always the cheapest when they’re in season. Plus, if you shop at farmer’s markets, you’ll usually get deep discounts over grocery stores and be supporting your local economy. Freeze or can the fruits and vegetables, and use them throughout the offseason in soups, purees, pies and the like. You can also dry fresh herbs for later use. Wisely use leftovers as well. Create something different the next day, i.e. a turkey casserole after Thanksgiving or hash for breakfast after a steak dinner. Don’t waste food.
- Reusable bags: Skip the plastic grocery and lunch bags, and invest in cotton, reusable sandwich and grocery bags. Not only are these better for the environment, you can use them over and over again, saving you money in the long-run. If you’re the type of person that often forgets their reusable bags at home, buy a set for both the house and the car. That way, you’ll always have a set for when you hit the grocery store or farmer’s market. (Check out our line of eco-bags perfect for any occasion.)
- Keep it closed and covered: Every time that you open the oven or lift a lid off a pot, you’re wasting energy. Invest in pots with clear lids and ovens with windows. You can monitor the progress of your food without letting heat escape. Also, keep your metal burners and refrigerator coils clean. Dirty burners don’t heat properly, and dirty coils don’t cool properly. Also, you have different burner sizes. Make sure that your pot or pan isn’t larger than your burner. Food won’t cook evenly if the pan size is larger than the burner.
- Time for “slow food”: While we’re all busy, meals should be an occasion for slowing things down a bit. Cook at a lower heat. Spaghetti doesn’t need to boil for more than a minute or two. Meat cooked at too high of a heat may increase your chance of cancer, and it also dries out and mutes the flavor. Consider using smaller appliances like a rice or slow cooker to reduce your use of the oven and stove.
Teach these tips to the whole family to ensure that everyone is on the same page. In fact, you could make it a game with your kids. For every month that the electric bill is lower, give your kids a “bonus”, i.e. extra allowance, a special outing, etc. Your family will learn that being eco-friendly has its rewards.