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Neighbors Growing Together | Oct 31, 2014

Save when you reduce, reuse, recycle in the kitchen

By PATRICIA STEINER, Nutrition & Health Program Specialist Iowa State University Extension | Apr 04, 2013

Many of the ways you recycle to save energy can also save you money. Here are some kitchen ideas to consider in your home.

Check them out — you might get an idea that will save you some pennies and reduce your energy use at the same time!

When shopping…

1. Take your own shopping bags. Take reusable, paper, plastic or canvas shopping bags with you to the grocery store.

2. Avoid excess packaging. For example, buy large bottles of juice or frozen juice concentrate instead of juice boxes; get large sizes of products rather than individually wrapped ones (portion them out into reusable containers when needed).

3. Buy only what you need — just enough food that you can use or store before it spoils. Proper storage helps keep food fresh.

Unopened canned foods aren’t perishable, as fresh and frozen foods are.

When cooking…

4. Use appliances efficiently. Turn them off when you don’t need them. Cook in smaller appliances such as slow cookers, toaster ovens and microwave ovens. Use smaller pots and pans.

It’s estimated that microwave ovens use around 50 percent less energy than conventional ovens, especially for small meals.

5. Use smaller pans. Think about what food you’ll be cooking and use the smallest pot or pan to do the job; match the pan size to the burner size. Cooking without lids can use up to three times more energy, so keep a lid on it; as a bonus, your food will be ready more quickly.

Use residual heat — instead of taking a dish out of the oven, sprinkling with cheese and baking for 10 more minutes, just turn off the oven, sprinkle the cheese over the top, and place it back in the still-warm oven for 10 minutes.

6. Substitute ingredients. Keep your kitchen well stocked so you don’t have those make those last-minute grocery runs that waste both gas and time.

Think about using substitutions in your recipes if you don’t have an ingredient.

For example, use the fish you have in your freezer instead of chicken. Substitute walnuts for pecans or the type of cheese you have on hand rather than one you need to buy.

7. Prepare properly. Prepare the right amount of food and store leftovers safely. Burned or poorly prepared food can end up in the trash, so plan ahead and follow recipe instructions carefully.

When washing dishes…

8. Turn off the water when you have enough and aren’t rinsing, rather than letting it run. It’s estimated that washing a load of dishes in a dishwasher uses 37 percent less water than washing dishes by hand.

However, if you fill one side of your sink with soapy water and the other side with rinse water and don’t let the faucet run, you can use maybe half as much water as a dishwasher does for a small load.

9. Fill up the dishwasher. Save water by running the dishwasher only when it is full. Turn off the heat setting and let the dishes air dry instead.

10. Repair dripping faucets. One drop per second can waste 700 gallons of water over the course of a year.

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