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Cooking habits can save time, energy

Posted December 21, 2009

Changing cooking habits can save both time and money over the holidays, explains Jeff Hadley, head chef of the culinary arts program at Wake Technical Community College.

Cooking habits can save time, energy Cooking habits can save time, energy

First, make sure your equipment is clean and properly maintained.

"You're killing the efficiency, because you're not only heating the oven, but the dead food that's in there, too," Hadley said.

Second, if you're cooking something frozen, think about defrosting it.

"Most frozen foods you can thaw prior to cooking. You're going to save a bunch of time, up to 50 percent your cook time," he said.

Next, whenever possible, use a smaller appliance, such as a crock pot or microwave, to cook the food.

"Many people use the broiler to toast. That's killing energy," Hadley said.

Then, look through your recipes to spot items that can be baked around the same temperature. Bake them together in the oven.

"It's a great way to save time, and you've got more time to spend with your family and friends," he said.

Also, remember you don't have to preheat your oven for many foods. There are exceptions to that rule, such as breads and desserts, but holiday staples, including turkey and ham, can go in without preheating.

Lastly, don't open the oven door while it's cooking. Doing so lets heat escapes from the oven.

"The other side of that is before the food's done cooking, turn the oven off," Hadley said. "It's still cooking. You're not burning energy again."

Hadley said he has a simple motto for his kitchen: "Proper planning prevents poor performance."

Taking a little time to plan out your meal is a good rule for any kitchen, he said.
 

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  • whatusay Dec 21, 2009

    Even if you don't open the oven door the heat will dissipate back into the house, but at a slower rate. The heat can not dissapear without going somewhere. But, opening the oven door several times in the cooking cycle forces you to keep the oven on longer, thus wasting energy.

  • thefensk Dec 21, 2009

    One more thing about the bacon ... that "Turkey-flavored" bacon itself is delicious and I regret the day I told my wife and daughter about it.

  • JustOneGodLessThanU Dec 21, 2009

    Changing EATING habits can save alot more time and energy...and would surely extend your life...if you care, that is. ;-)

    And, newsflash donnied1952, meat is "dead", so why not describe it as such?

  • Bilbo Dec 21, 2009

    The reference to "dead food" is regarding spilled food and crumbs remaining in the oven from previous cooking endeavors.

  • Bilbo Dec 21, 2009

    "As an aside, it doesn't matter if you open the oven door or not after you finish cooking. The heat from the oven will transfer into your home anyway. There's no where else for it to go. The only thing that will change if you open the door is the rate at which the heat is transferred." drewbyh said

    You're correct regarding electric ovens, but vented gas ovens would ultimately lose most of their heat to the outside unless you opened the oven door.

  • donnied1952 Dec 21, 2009

    "You're killing the efficiency, because you're not only heating the oven, but the dead food that's in there, too," Hadley said.

    Dead Food that's in there is a little dramatic don't you think?
    How about the food that you are preparing instead.

  • drewbyh Dec 21, 2009

    @thefensk

    That is a great idea about the bacon. Very good way to slow baste. Everything is better with bacon.

    As an aside, it doesn't matter if you open the oven door or not after you finish cooking. The heat from the oven will transfer into your home anyway. There's no where else for it to go. The only thing that will change if you open the door is the rate at which the heat is transferred.

  • Scubagirl Dec 21, 2009

    "1) Always put the nozzle in the tank BEFORE pumping the gas!"

    And take it OUT afterwards, BEFORE driving away.

    I too, thought most of these tips were common sense, but then I know how to cook and not just open a box or frozen container!

  • Bilbo Dec 21, 2009

    Hey NCTravellinman - I agree that the excess heat helps to heat your home, just remember that the oven is not as efficient as your heat pump or furnace when it comes to heating your home. The oven is designed to create a large amount of heat for cooking, but as far as heating your home, dollar for dollar it is much more efficient to let the heat pump or furnace do that.

  • thefensk Dec 21, 2009

    Okay, I know this basting trick: cover your turkey with bacon ... the bacon bastes the bird for you. You need a gravy seperator but believe me, the gravy you make from the drippings is marvelous.

    I always crack the oven open after I'm finished using the oven to let that heat escape back into the house. I paid for it, I'm going to use it! Just be careful if animals or munchkins are about.

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