Local News

Cooking habits can save time, energy

Posted December 21, 2009 5:33 a.m. EST
Updated December 21, 2009 7:36 a.m. EST

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.

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.