If you’re anything like me you immediately think about food when you hear the word “holidays”. Winter months are great for getting the family together and sharing some special time, but they are also fantastic for unbeatable food. If you’re trying to watch your wallet or just trying to be a little “greener” we have some ways for you to cut down on your energy wattage usage this season.
Leftovers! Leftovers! Leftovers!
Of course, absolute best way to cut down on power usage is to just use none of it at all. If you don’t want your holiday delights to go to waste, then make sure to plan ahead. Write down a few ideas you might have for leftover holiday meats like sandwiches, soups, stews, and even pot pies. Now, as you can see some of those leftovers will take additional heating or cooking, but you can always choose things that can be made with the items you already have available. At least if you’re heating up something new that contains already cooked items, you won’t have to “cook” it for too long. It’ll be more of a reheating, which definitely uses less energy.
Reuse your sides as much as possible. Green beans and mashed potatoes can pretty much be paired with anything. Get as creative as you want to. Check out some recipes online to see what kinds of interesting ways you can incorporate stuffing, cranberries, and maybe even some yams into things you wouldn’t have ever thought of before. Now, we don’t have to tell you what to do with desserts right? Pie doesn’t last too long around many houses, but if you ever run into that problem you better believe the internet has a solution – pumpkin pie breakfast casserole.
Crock Pot or One Pot Meals
In between holidays you may be inclined to stick to your normal cooking routine. However, we would advise, with all the cooking you might be doing on the actual holidays themselves, to mix it up a bit. Try to throw together some one pot or crock pot meals that can be put on a low setting and cook all day long. This uses less energy and doesn’t let any energy go to waste like a stove does. When you pop on your stove to cook something heat is released along the sides of the pan and it lost in the air. While this isn’t a huge money sucker, it is wasteful. So, around the times that you’ll be entertaining most, saving a few bucks is always nice.
Let’s put this into perspective. Just to give you an example, running your crock pot for a full 8 hours will only cost you about 20 cents on average. Crock Pots actually use about 75% less energy than an electric oven does. Put this together with another item that is often left in abundance after the holidays is alcohol. One way to use this up is to try some beer or wine infused crock pot meals. This delicious looking chili recipe uses much less energy and calls for beer in the recipe. You could even toss in some ground up turkey instead of the beef if you’re still swimming in poultry leftovers.
When You Must Cook, Do it the Right Way
We’ve talked about leftovers and in between holiday meals, but how do you save energy when you’re cooking your actual holiday meals? Well the first tip is to cook low and slow as long as you can. Keeping your oven or stovetop on high heats for extended periods of time really eats up energy and ultimately your money. So, if you can toss in some food earlier in the day and watch it for several hours this is really the best option.
Another great idea is to cook as many things at one time as you can. There is no harm in squeezing multiple dishes into the same oven. As long as all the food is safely and securely able to fit into the oven try this method. Most holiday treats can be cooked at around the same temperature so this really shouldn’t hurt anything. If the oven calls for a higher temp it’s usually just got a shorter cooking time. Cooking it for a little bit longer works just as well if you have the patience. If you’re making breads or something that needs proofing this may not work, but most non-bread items should be okay just take a look at your recipes.
Lastly, when your item is just a couple minutes away from being done just turn your oven or stovetop off. The remaining heat in the pan and in the oven will do the rest of the cooking for you. If you leave your oven on it is constantly trying to maintain the same level of heat, which you don’t really need at the end of a cooking session. Sometimes just taking it out of the oven and leaving it in the pan for a few minutes will do the job. Just make sure you don’t take it out too early. This should only be done right at the end of cooking – no one likes raw pie, yuck.
Hopefully employing a few of these tips during the holiday season will help you save some money and energy this year! Let us know of any other money saving or energy saving tips that you use this time of year. Happy Holidays!