Today we continue with the topic of budget-friendly (and healthy) eating. In my previous article I shared with you ten practical tips on how to save money on groceries. Today we are going to look at how you can further optimize your cooking behaviour in order to save money in the kitchen. Not everyone is aware of how much energy (gas/electricity) is lost in the kitchen.
Use as little water as possible when cooking
Are you making boiled potatoes? It is sufficient for the water in the saucepan to just cover the potatoes. So, it is not necessary to put a lot of water in the pan. Also important: choose a pan of the right volume. That means: take a small pan if you are only cooking a few potatoes.
And did you know that for cooking grains, including rice, you don’t need as much water as we normally use? For regular white rice and for almost all other grains, the rule of thumb applies: use two parts water for one part of grain. The exceptions to this rule are whole unprocessed grains such as barley or oats. Those you have to boil in three parts of water.
Lid on the pan
If you boil water to prepare pasta or vegetables, you should always put the lid on the pan. Then the water boils much faster and you save a significant amount of energy. You save 335 kWh per year if you always put the lid on the pan while boiling water. This is comparable to the annual energy consumption of your refrigerator or dishwasher.
Use your kitchen appliances smarter (=less)
We can’t avoid talking about kitchen appliances when talking about hot to save money in the kitchen.
You should not turn on the dishwasher if it is not full yet. And you should choose the most energy-saving regime. Basically, the higher the temperature the more expensive it becomes.
Most modern ovens are suitable for preparing several dishes at the same time. So, if you do turn on the oven, try to prepare everything you need in one go. For example, you can make a quiche on the grid below for the evening, and on the grid above you can simultaneously make banana bread for tomorrow morning. Obviously, you have to make sure that the temperature is the same for both dishes, otherwise this trick won’t work.
If you work at home and like to drink a lot of tea, make a large thermos of tea in the morning. This way you don’t have to turn on the kettle all the time.
Use your freezer compartment smartly
The freezer can help you save a lot of money.
Contrary to popular belief, frozen fruit contains about as much vitamins and minerals as fresh fruit. The texture of frozen fruit is different, of course, but at least you don’t have to worry about nutritional value if you consume fruit from the freezer. Frozen fruit is much cheaper than fresh fruit. I’m not advocating a full switch to frozen fruit but eating frozen fruit every now and then is a good strategy if you want to save money. Buy a few freezer boxes of your favorite fruits, so you can be sure that you will never run out of fruit. Let the fruit thaw overnight in the refrigerator if you want to eat it in the morning. And in some dishes, fruit is actually tasty if it has not been thawed. For example, in smoothies or healthy ice creams.
Some vegetables are also significantly cheaper if you buy them frozen. For example, I always have broad beans and peas in the freezer. They are only available fresh for a very short time (and then they are also very expensive). I like to use them in risottos, paella, salads or just as a side dish.
Make bigger quantities of your favourite meals and freeze some of it. Pasta, soups and dishes based on lentils are perfectly suitable for freezing. This way you not only save energy but also time.
Make it a goal to never throw anything away again
Saving money in the kitchen means throwing as little as possible food away, and preferably not at all.
Use storage containers in which food lasts longer. Preferably use transparent storage boxes. This way you can better see what kind of food you still have in your fridge.
When assessing the best before dates of foods in your refrigerator, rely on your own taste and smell. Most people think food after the best-before is not safe to eat. But that only applies to perishable foods, such as meat and fish. You can safely consume fruits, vegetables, eggs and dairy products after their best-before date.
Clear a shelf in your refrigerator where you put all the foods that need to be eaten quickly because you can’t keep them for long. When preparing meals, try to use as many foods as possible from that shelf.
For more storage tips, please read this article.