Tips – Food

Appliances

  • Electric vs Gas Stove
    • Electricity has twice the carbon footprint of Natural Gas
    • Induction ovens use only half the power of a gas oven – but because they run on electricity (a fuel which emits slightly over twice as much CO2per kWh as natural gas), they still damage the climate more than gas ovens
    • When possible, switch to Natural gas or Liquid Petroleum Gas
  • Microwave Oven 
    • Energy
      • From an energy perspective only, use a microwave instead of the oven as much as possible – not just for reheating and defrosting, but for fresh food too.
      • Microwave ovens use on average half as much energy as electric ovens – but the real saving depends on the type of food
      • Microwaving a frozen ready-meal rather than cooking it in the oven can halve your energy use
      • Traditional microwaves which don’t have built-in microcontrollers use much less energy than ovens
      • Newer microwave models waste more and more energy left on standby to power clocks and digital displays.
    • Nutrition:
      • There are claims  that microwaves destroy the health benefits of fresh food (seeNew Scientist’s Microwaves Zap Nutrients, for example)
      • Microwaves can be the least-damaging way to cook your veggies because they minimise cooking time and temperature. \
      • Do not cook vegetables in a lot of water in the microwave,  watery broccoli cooked in a microwave loses from 74-97% of its antioxidants, according to one study
      • Raw vegetables are good but cooking can release nutrients that your body would otherwise be unable to absorb.
  • Pressure Cooker
    • Cooking with a gas pressure cooker can reduce the amount of gas needed to cook food by 50% because it allows food to be cooked at a higher temperature, more quickly
    • You can buy pressure-cookers which can sit on top of any hob – gas or electric
  • Solar Cooker
    • If there is sufficient sunlight in your area, try using a solar cooker

Cooking Technique

  • Use just enough water to cover vegetables and put a lid on the pan. This will minimize cooking time.
  • Simmer instead of boiling. It takes a lot of energy to boil water but once water has reached boiling point, it takes far energy to maintain a boil.
  • Cut food into smaller pieces to speed up cooking
  • Roasting food in the oven can use more energy than boiling it. Boiling potatoes in a pot can use ten times less energy than roasting them in the oven
  • Cook mulitple things at once. Once you are finished cooking one item, there is still residual heat in the cooking element. Put it to use to cook other things. For example, reuse hot water used to boil vegetables or pasta in part of the sauce. Or, if it’s not dirty, reuse it to wash dishes with
  • If you are using the oven to cook just one thing, plan so that you can cook more things in the oven. The additional energy to cook 2 or 3 items instead of 1 is minimal.

What you Cook

  • Make one-pot meals with more volume of food – stir-fries and stews save energy on both cooking and washing-up. It takes less energy to make one large pot of food that turning the element on many times to cook many smaller pots of food.
  • Eat poultry rather than beef or lamb. Lamb has the most embodied energy/resources of any meat. Beef is next and poultry is far less than both.
  • Buy local. Better yet, grow your own to reduce on embodied energy costs
  • Canned vs dried pulses? Cooking small portions of any food at home is far less efficient than cooking it in industrial vats. It is lower ecological footprint overall to buy pre-cooked pulses. See Guardian article.

Efficient Use of Equipment

  • Always use the right size of pan for your cooking ring
  • Use pans that can divide into sections so you can cook several items at once
  • Take any shelves you don’t use out of the oven, and don’t keep opening the oven door while you’re cooking
  • Use a kettle to boil water for cooking instead of boiling water on the stovetop – it’s far more efficient
  • Use only as much water as you need to prevent wasting both energy and water
  • Turn the oven off ten minutes before you serve the meal – the residual heat can continue cooking
  • In winter, minimize use of the hood fan because it transfers all your warm air outside

Economy of Scale

  • Cook larger portions of food to minimize the number of times you turn the oven on
  • Freeze what you don’t need for future meals
  • If you’re going to put food in the fridge or freezer, let it cool down to room temperature first to save energy required to cool it